Back in 2015 we reviewed the Blaser F3 Supersport, concluding it was one of the finest competion guns anywhere – and that’s still my impression. Blaser (pronounced blah-zer) was established in 1975 by Horst Blaser in Germany with the aim of producing high-quality hunting rifles and, more recently, there’s been a great deal of time and effort put into producing the F3 and lower-cost F16 series of shotguns which we also reviewed favourably.
The most recent Blaser F3 Vantage is a fixed rib version of the F3 with a high stock and double ventilated rib and when I opened the deluxe Negrini carry case that comes as standard, I thought Australian Blaser agents Outdoor Sporting Agencies had sent me a Trap gun. The high rib and substantial stock suggested this would be a high-shooting gun designed for fast-rising departing targets.
The reality is this is a sophisticated sporter which shoots 60/40 patterns above and below the point of aim. It’s a striking looking firearm with svelte black finish and lack of decoration and engraving save for the F3 logo coloured gold on both sides of the action. The Grade 5 timber is impressive, all the more so as the black action highlights its beauty.
Unlike the other high-grade Beretta DT11, Krieghoff K80 and Blaser F3 Supersport we’ve reviewed previously, this gun has a high straight stock with no adjustable comb or Monte Carlo but features an excellent recoil-absorbing KICK-EEZ pad. Stock drop dimensions are roughly 1.4” to 1.9” (37-48mm) along the gently sloping comb, length of pull 14.8” (375mm) and it has a pitch down measurement of 84 degrees. At extra cost you can order the Supersport Monte Carlo stock with or without adjustable comb from the factory.
The F3 Vantage will interest anyone familiar with standard stock dimensions. It looks like a Trap stock but is actually the perfect height for someone with a normal-to-longer neck and, in combination with the high rib, gives a nice upright head position and considerably improved view of the targets than a conventionally lower-ribbed gun.
An upright head position allows you to shoot with maximum vision and reduced recoil effect which of course relies on mounting the gun properly (but comfortably) higher in the shoulder pocket. There’s a little ‘cast off’ of 3mm at heel and 9mm at the toe of the stock for right-handed shooters and my right-handed mates loved it. Left-handed stocks are also available with the same dimensions but ‘cast on’ for all you lefties out there. Checkering is superb and complements the fine satin-finished walnut on the stock.
The trim, extra-full pistol grip and right-handed palmswell give a comfortable and positive grip and position your trigger finger in perfect alignment with the trigger, which is adjustable backwards and forward from centre position to allow for finger length and comfort. This doesn’t change length of pull as adjusting the trigger doesn’t lengthen or shorten the stock.
In terms of adjusting length of pull, you can always have a couple of recoil pads in different thicknesses rather than cutting the stock and potentially regretting that in future. Changing length of pull by installing a thinner pad or extending the stock with a thicker pad can make a world of difference to consistency of handling when shooting, especially in hot or cold weather where more or less clothing may be needed.
The F3 Vantage is available with 30” or 32” barrels, the test gun equipped with the former. The deluxe Negrini gun case also has a place for another set of barrels and spare fore-end which is handy if you decide on a second set for a different purpose, perhaps 32” Supertrap barrels for Trap shooting or for those who like conventional 32” barrels for Sporting Clays.
The barrels on this gun are an attractive matte black velvet (powder-coated nitride) finish which is said to be hard wearing and rust-resistant. The subtle bells at the end of the barrels accommodate your choice of the five colour-coded Briley extended Spectrum chokes which come supplied, ranging from Skeet to Full with the usual suspects in between.
The barrels are over-bored at 18.7mm with long forcing cones and feature a very shallow 2.5 degree lead into the forcing cones which minimises disturbance and thus damage to the shot as it enters the barrel, these features contributing to a noticeably lower recoil sensation using high performance Trap or Sporting 28-gram loads. The barrels are steel shot proof and chambered for up to 3” (76mm) shells, half choke the recommended maximum in this gun if shooting steel shot (half equates to full with steel shot compared to lead). The three-quarter and full chokes carry a warning not to use them with steel shot.
The F3 Vantage is a smart-looking shotgun and the low profile matt black action is a big contributor to this. The mechanical triggers are perfection, lock time incredibly fast and trigger pulls are both 1.4kg and break like glass. The barrel firing order is selected by a small lever in the trigger guard in front of the trigger, much like a Krieghoff K80.
Lock up of the action is achieved by a substantial underbolt which engages a space in the barrel lump under the bottom barrel and it’s still a surprisingly shallow action, especially when you allow for this under-locking method which secures the gun when closed. The action also features a removable breach plate, a fine piece of engineering designed to give easy access to the direct in-line firing pins and springs.
As noted in the first review, the F3 differs from most shotguns in that it cocks the ejectors on firing – with other guns it can be more difficult closing them as they cock the ejectors on closing – and if you find yourself with a gun which takes a bit of forcing to close, this can cause loss of concentration. I’ve never experienced this but the F3 Supersport and this Vantage close solidly with a feeling of total precision.
The rib on this gun is not adjustable and quite high, approximately 14mm at its highest point, tapering down to 10mm at the muzzle. Its width over the action is 10.5mm and tapers to 8.5mm above the muzzle. It consists of two layers of ventilation almost like a rib on a rib, very distinctive looking and lives up to the Vantage name in that it gives an excellent view of any target presentation and has a visual feeling of precision that draws the eye out to the target.
It has one slim red fibre optic Hi-Viz bead at the muzzle though I’d like to see a small metal mid-bead on a competition gun like this and I’m sure it could be supplied with one if specified. The height of this rib in combination with the relatively high stock gives a comfortable head and neck position and yet shoots very flat at about 60/40 as noted. It’s the height of the rib at the muzzle that effectively pushes the barrels down to give a flatter shooting gun. Very clever.
Blaser balancing system
Like its sister F3 Supersport, this gun is fitted with the Blaser weight adjustment and balancing system. You can add or subtract four small 42.5g (1.5oz) weights which attach to two panels and are themselves attached between the barrels and covered by the fore-end. There’s a balancing system in the stock with two weights that move up and down on the threaded rod which holds the stock to the action. I shot without weights and also with all four installed and for me the six ounces made a big difference. Without the weights the gun is neutrally balanced over the hinge pin and quick to handle, with all four weights installed the balance is slightly ahead of the hinge pin and somewhat slower and smoother to swing. Remember too, a heavier gun exhibits even less felt recoil.
This F3 handles perfectly and feels ‘alive’ in your hands and while it’s a sporter, I think it could be shot in any discipline with confidence. It worked perfectly at Skeet and DTL, putting its patterns with suitable chokes installed exactly where I was looking and destroying targets when I got my act together.
I like a flat-shooting gun for everything so not to confuse myself between disciplines, particularly relevant in the Sporting discipline where a huge variety of target presentations are possible. The clever combination of high rib and complementary high stock makes this Vantage a flat-shooting gun with an upright head position for excellent target acquisition and shooter comfort – no more jamming your head down on the stock and having a sore neck.
It’s this clever combination of stockwork and barrel technology that makes Blaser guns tame recoil and be so pleasant to shoot. If I was buying this gun, I’d choose a left-handed Monte Carlo Supersport stock matched to the Vantage barrel dimensions as I have a long neck and the dimensions of this stock with more drop at heel would suit me better.
Exceptional engineering and performance come at a price – this gun retails for around $14,500. Higher grades with even more spectacular timber, nickel silver action and varying degrees of engraving – including the option of sideplates to allow more engraving space – will really have your wallet vibrating.
This is a thoroughly modern gun with many innovative and impressive features, beautifully made with the wood-to-metal and metal-to-metal fit just perfect. The Vantage is a fine addition to the F3 lineage and will reward the serious shotgunner looking for that extra target which can make the difference between winning your grade or possibly the High Gun prize. I can’t recommend it too highly. More at www.blaser.de (click for preferred language in top corner of home page) or www.blaser-usa.com.
Manufacturer: Blaser, Germany
Model: F3 Vantage
Gauge: 12 gauge 3” chambers, steel shot proof
Trigger: Single selective mechanical, barrel selector in front of trigger guard.
Barrel length: 30”
Barrel weight: 1580g without weights attached
Rib: Fixed multi-ventilated, elevated 14mm at highest point, width 10.5mm tapering to 8.5mm
Chokes: Briley Spectrum, five chokes, Skeet through Full, open chokes to half choke are suitable for steel shot
Safety: Two-position, tang mounted
Sights: Red fibre optic front
Stock and Forend: Grade 5 Caucasian walnut, straight stock non-adjustable, palm swell, slim beavertail fore-end, others available
Weight: Approximately 3.75kg ( 8lb 5oz) depending on density of walnut in stock and fore-end and weights employed in balancing system. Max weight approx 8lb 11 oz.
Barrel weights: 2x70grams for threaded stock bolt, 4×42.5g (1½oz) for attaching under fore-end.
Accessories: Stock wrench, Briley choke wrench, Allen key to install weights, Briley grease, Blaser protective slips for stock and barrel
Warranty: 10 years
RRP: As tested about $14,500
Distributor: Outdoor Sporting Agencies