It’s always a pleasure to review the latest offering from Miroku Firearms of Japan. Miroku guns have made a huge impact since being introduced into Australia just on half a century ago, their engineering and excellent assembly with strict quality assurance meaning they’re probably the best value-for-money shotgun on the market, given their reputation for reliability.
Miroku have also not been afraid to modify their offerings, for example the Invector choke system of the 1980s and ’90s has been replaced by the longer Invector Plus system of choke tubes when it was decided to adopt over-bored barrels for their shotguns. Having used 0.728^ barrel diameters in the early years, they introduced 0.737^ over-bored barrels to prevent the crushing of pellets for improved patterns and a marginal increase in downrange velocity.
The Grade 3 walnut with oil finish used on the limited run ML 11 Silver Edition, with only 50 guns made in the production run, is something to behold. But let’s take a closer look at this limited edition sporter and see what uncanny modifications Miroku have made to their latest line of shotguns, the ML models progressing from the previous MK series.
These are typically finished in a deep blue/black which has been a Miroku hallmark of the past three decades. Their earlier models in the Stirling had a matte finish with a blueing colour closer to European manufacturers but more recently a semi-gloss polished surface supporting a deep blueing colouring has become the norm. From my observations this darker colouring also looks to have greater resistance to corrosion.
Manufacture of the barrels is faultless and I’ve never seen residual soldering salts or any other imperfections on a set of Miroku shotgun barrels – they’re always perfect. The top ventilated rib is parallel throughout its length and measures 10mm. There’s a white bead at the muzzle for the front sight and smaller white bead midway down the rib to help prevent gun ‘canting’, where the barrels are not mounted to be vertical. The purpose of the two beads is to coincide as a figure-of-eight, one behind the other, when the gun is mounted correctly and the barrels perfectly vertical.
As mentioned, the Silver Edition is fitted with Invector Plus choke tubes. These are 60mm long and the various constrictions of the four choke tubes supplied are in the specifications table. My only disappointment is that a flat choke tube key is supplied for use on a gun selling for around $3600. If I owned this gun the first thing I’d do is store the key away and buy a Briley speed wrench, a much-preferred design to a fiddly flat key.
The side ribs joining the barrel set are also ventilated which often helps prevent severe wind playing havoc with the gun while shooting, or to balance the weight of the barrels in respect to the overall weight of the gun. These are well regulated and complement the overall structure of the barrels. At the chamber end the famous Browning-style two-piece ejectors expel fired cartridges well clear of the breech. Chamber length is such that the gun is suited to either 2¾^ (70mm) or 3^ (76mm) cartridges, while extensive jewel polishing about the monobloc is excellent for retaining lubricants.
This is impressive with silver inlaid ducks and pheasants on both sides. Being a boxlock gun and underpinned, Miroku have tried to improve the swing and balance by lowering the standing height of the receiver which, in effect, lowers the gun’s centre of gravity and gives it a better feel of ‘balance’ for a smoother swing. The 30^ barrels also assist in attaining this quality so the overall design of the gun is excellent.
Being an inertia trigger system gun, the second barrel can only be fired if a successful first barrel shot is fired. Trigger pulls were measured at 2.2kg for the under barrel and 1.8kg for the over barrel, 5lb and 4lb respectively, which I felt were a touch heavy as I prefer around 3.5lb for the under and 4lb for the over barrel on a full-on competition sporter shotgun.
There are three gilt trigger feet supplied which are not only interchangeable for shooter comfort but additionally adjustable for length of pull, an Allen key also supplied for relevant adjustments and interchange of the trigger foot. Shape of the triggerguard is quite generous and complements the style of the gun and would easily enable a shooter to wear gloves when necessary.
Design of the top lever is superb, comfortable to operate and positive in its action of locking and unlocking the barrels from the receiver. Just below the top lever is the barrel selector-cum-safety catch, also well designed and adjusted for ease of operation. Sliding the catch forward puts the gun on ‘safe’ and the barrels can be selected, slide it rearward and you’re ready to fire. U signifies the under barrel, O the over barrel and S for safe. All too easy.
Stock and fore-end
Made from quality Grade 3 walnut the stock and fore-end match nicely in colour and grain, the tulip or Schnabel-styled fore-end well shaped while the belly filled my hand for great gun control.
Chequering about the stock and fore-end is around 18-20 lines per inch and applied faultlessly, obviously by laser-guided machine. The fore-end has a generous coverage while the pistol grip on the stock is also well covered and supports a palmswell. I found the palmswell a little uncomfortable during shooting as it was set back further than I prefer but someone with a bigger hand would be quite comfortable. The provision of a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad on the butt is a pleasing addition, great for positive gun mount and improved comfort, especially for 3^ hunting loads.
In the field
I took the gun out several times for assessment. It partnered well with the Cleaver loads supplied and demolished targets at Frankston Gun Club’s Sporting Clays ground during practice, other shooters who fired the gun being suitably impressed. For some unknown reason the ML 11 caused me to freeze on the trigger a couple of times (shooter error) as this is caused by not completely releasing the trigger forward after the first shot is taken. I’d never experienced this before and that’s one of the reasons I prefer a mechanical to an inertia trigger system.
In conclusion, the Miroku ML 11 Silver Edition is every bit a pedigree shotgun as many high grade Miroku shotgun models before it, the engraving and Grade 3 walnut timber with oiled finish about what you’d pay for a gun in its price bracket.
I found the Miroku ML 11 well balanced and sufficiently weighty should you decide to take it into the field for hunting. Being chambered for 76mm loadings (3^ cartridges) it’s obviously suited beyond 28g loads in 70mm for sporting clays, as such chambering will also enable the hunter to ply his skills with some enjoyment.
The versatility of interchangeable choke tubes is always welcome but an improvement in the choke tube spanner would seem appropriate. At $3600 the gun represents good value and carries a five-year warranty mechanically and two-year discretionary warranty on the woodwork.
Maker: Miroku, Japan
Model: ML 11 Silver Edition
Action: Boxlock, underpinned gun jointing system with single trigger and selective ejectors
Calibre: 12 gauge, 76mm chambered and steel shot compatible. Bore diameter 0.738^
Barrel length: 760mm (30^)
Barrel weight: 1.48kg (3lb 4oz)
Overall weight: 3.59kg (7lb 15oz)
Overall length: 1205mm (47½^)
Chokes: Four Investor Plus choke tubes – ¼ choke 0.735^, ½ choke 0.737^, ¾ choke 0.717^, full choke 0.707^
Stock: Stock and fore-end are Turkish walnut treated with semi-matte oiled finish. Test gun fitted with non-adjustable stock, drop at comb 35mm, drop at heel 55mm, length of pull 380mm
Distributor: OSA, Melbourne
Warranty: Five years on mechanicals, two years discretionary on woodwork