One of the travesties of the 1996 buyback was the loss of pump-action shotguns to all but those who qualified for a Category C (or higher) licence. At the time the whole push of the paid confiscation was supposed to be about removal of self-loading firearms from the community, so what gives? A pump-action shotgun is not self-loading and pump-action rifles weren’t banned. The banning of the pump-action shotgun was a complete anomaly as it was the only firearm type outlawed that wasn’t self-loading.
Basically their removal prohibited sporting shooters, in 99 per cent of cases, from owning any form of repeating shotgun because at the time, lever-action shotguns in circulation amounted to a handful of old original Winchester 1887s still kicking around. In recent years thankfully there have been several new options with the advent of more modern lever-action shotguns and a welcome trend has been development of the straight-pull shotgun. It would seem some industry folk have in effect reverse engineered certain designs to make them legally compliant.
Let me explain. All repeating firearm designs are by virtue ‘bolt-action’ in that they have a bolt. In what we call a traditional bolt-action format the bolt is operated by hand, lever-action by a lever, pump-action with a pump or slide and finally in a self-loading firearm the bolt is deployed by either gas or inertia. So if you built a shotgun which used many of the features of a self-loader but didn’t include any of the key elements which would make it a self-loading firearm (no gas or inertia system), you’ll have a manually operated bolt-action firearm. It would appear this is the case with the Adler 220/230 shotgun options
Australian distributor Nioa sent Australian Shooter a couple of new Adler B-220s for review and at time of writing they have five model variants of the Adler straight-pull available – the B-220 All Weather, B-220 Pistol Grip, B-220 Rifled Pistol Grip, B-230 Tactical and B-230 Tactical FDE. For review we have a B-220 All Weather and B-220 Pistol Grip.
The B-220 comes with an owner’s manual, yellow plastic safety flag, ambidextrous bolt handle and a small plastic box containing spare chokes and choke removal tool, the three screw-in choke tubes provided being Full, Modified and Improved Cylinder. When you open the box you’ll note the yellow flag in the receiver which serves to retain the bolt when the bolt handle is not installed. To assemble the Adler B-220 you remove the magazine tube cap and slide off the fore-end then draw back on the action bar, remove the flag and line up the bolt handle slot on either side to insert the bolt handle. Once the bolt handle’s installed nothing can come out.
Next step is to place the fore-end in position on the barrel and insert the chamber end into the receiver while lining up the fore-end channel over the magazine tube. Lastly, screw the magazine cap back on to hold everything in place. The magazine is loaded via a gate on the bottom of the receiver directly below the ejection port – simply place a cartridge on the loading gate (cartridge lifter/carrier) and shove the cartridge forward into the magazine tube until caught by the cartridge stop, then repeat until the magazine is full.
To have the Adler B-220 running, place the gun on ‘safe’ by pushing the cross bolt safety at the rear of the triggerguard housing from left to right. To charge, drop the first cartridge through the ejection port on to the lifter and press the bolt release on the right of the receiver which allows the bolt to fly forward, picking up the cartridge and loading it into the chamber. You then top off the magazine and you’re ready to go.
One difference I noted from other shotguns I’ve used with tubular magazines is with the B-220 the cartridge stop (the catch which holds cartridges in the magazine) is not released when the bolt is charged or cycled, but rather is activated by the fall of the hammer when the trigger is depressed. This means you can cycle the bolt to eject a loaded round from the chamber without the next round in the magazine releasing on to the cartridge lifter, which could be handy in the field if, for example, you decide you need a slug when the chamber and mag are full of buckshot. Simply pull the bolt handle back to eject the loaded round, drop your slug in and let the bolt go.
Likewise the bolt won’t lock to the rear unless the trigger is pulled and bolt cycled on an empty magazine. My immediate thought was how do I unload the magazine without firing? Interestingly the manual doesn’t cover operation ‑ only safety, disassembly, choke tube usage and warranty – you have to work the rest out yourself, which I did.
To unload and clear the gun with the safety on, work the bolt to eject the loaded cartridge and let the bolt run fully forward on an empty chamber then roll the gun over and, while pushing the lifter up through the loading port, press the bolt release. In this position it also releases the cartridge stop, allowing loaded shells back out the magazine the same way they went in.
I also discovered how to lock the bolt open without pressing the trigger once the gun is completely empty. At the back of the cartridge lifter where it hinges just forward of the triggerguard is another small catch or plunger. With bolt forward and hammer cocked the cartridge lifter sits up about 8mm into the receiver. If you press this plunger the lifter springs down and when you pull the bolt back it will lock open. Likewise if there are rounds in the magazine this will release the next cartridge on to the lifter, so technically you could also unload the Adler by cycling rounds out this way.
One question that came to mind was which side should I mount the bolt handle on? I came up with my own method which varied between the two models. In the All Weather version with its conventional stock I ran the bolt handle on the right. For this I had my left hand on the fore-end to hold the gun in position and my right hand operating bolt and trigger. On the Pistol Grip I ran the bolt on the left and with a strong hand grip found I could keep the gun on point while operating the bolt with my left hand for rapid follow-up shots. The beauty is the bolt handle can be swapped from one side to another so users can experiment as to what works best.
Both guns felt light and easy to handle, carry and bring to point but with 12-gauge shotguns the lighter they are the more recoil you’ll feel. Both guns produce stout recoil when using heavy loads and while an effective soft rubber recoil pad as standard on all models dampens recoil, you know about it when you drop the hammer on hot and heavy shells. I ran both with a variety of shells from No.6 shot all the way up to solid slugs with both high and low brass hulls and all seemed to feed, fire and eject without issue.
Using the All Weather with its raised-rib fixed-notch rear and fibre optic front ramped sight post, I fired some solid slugs offhand at 25m and, grouping true to windage, they impacted on average about 3-4″ high on the GlowShot 8″ target which should land in the vitals out to just past 100m on a pig or similar-sized game.
Other features on both guns tested were front and rear sling loops, the front rotating around the magazine tube so the gun can sit flat to either side when slung across your back. There’s about 75mm of tactical rail on the front edge of the fore-end for mounting a light or laser and the top of the receiver also incorporates a ⅜” dovetail, common on rimfire rifles for optics fitting.
All up the Adler B-220 series seems a versatile package in either model. I liked the finish and ramped three-dot sights pattern of the All Weather but also the controllability and ergonomics of the Pistol Grip and one of the most impressive things about a straight-pull is the price – an online search showing them selling well below $700. For a working shotgun with good capacity, at that price how could you go wrong? And did I mention they have a five-year warranty?
Firearm: Adler B-220 All Weather and Pistol Grip
Calibre: 12-gauge with 76mm (3″) chamber
Capacity: Five-round tubular magazines (as tested)
Barrel: 20″ (510mm)
Barrel spec: Hard chrome bore and chamber with screw-in chokes (x3)
Front sight: Ramped fibre optic (AW) Gold bead (PG)
Rear sight: Ramped notched (AW) Vent rib (PG)
Rear sight Alt: ⅜” dovetail for optics mounting
Finish: Nickel Cerakote (AW), Matte black (PG)
Stock: Black polymer
Weight: 2.95kg as tested, 20″ barrel
Length OA: 1050mm