Play it straight
Pointer’s budget shotgun well worth a look, says Paul Miller
With the issues around owning semi-automatic shotguns in Australia and the general requirement in all states for a special licence and need to justify ownership of such firearms, we’ve seen an increased interest in alternatives – especially for hunting – which can be bought with a category A licence, the same category that permits ownership of side-by-side and over-and-under shotguns which only allow two shots loaded.
The advantage of straight-pull shotguns like the Turkish-made Pointer 12-gauge under review here is a four-shot capacity plus one loaded in the chamber, which obviously provides more available cartridges per loading for hunting and is especially suitable where multiple targets like rabbits or feral pigs are engaged.
Stock and Fore-end
The Pointer has a very well-shaped stock and fore-end made of a hard-wearing grey polymer material which should withstand lots of abuse in the field. The stock has a substantial rubber recoil pad which helps locate the gun comfortably in the shoulder and reduces recoil of the often hard-kicking field loads you’d expect to use in a gun like this.
There’s a fairly full pistol grip which aligns the trigger finger nicely with the trigger and feels very business-like. Checkering on both stock and fore-end is moulded in during manufacture but is sharp and very effective for securing a comfortable grip, the fore-end nicely shaped and feels great in combination with the pistol grip. The overall look of the Pointer is much enhanced by this modern-looking stock and fore-end design and, as a hunting firearm, it’s fitted with studs for attaching an optional sling to carry the gun when not in use.
The Pointer has a matte-finished 28” barrel with a smart looking slightly elevated rib and single brass bead sight which draws the eye nicely. The matte finish is ideal for a hunting gun where shiny light-reflecting surfaces are often a disadvantage, the finish said to be extremely hard-wearing though only time and use will tell if that’s the case. The barrel is fitted with five flush-fitting Mobil chokes from Improved Cylinder to Full which gives the owner a considerable degree of choice from open-choked bird hunting and slug use in the Open choke right through to longer range shooting with the Full.
With only one barrel you have to make a bit of a compromise compared to double guns and the availability of two chokes but generally you can get by with intelligent choke selection on single-barrel shotguns like this. Steel shot should only be used in the more open chokes with half choke the limit for steel shot use (don’t use in the three-quarter and Full choke).
The straight-pull action as already noted has become more popular in recent times and looks like a semi-automatic but operates with a charging handle that’s only available in right hand. The action is easy to cycle and locks in place for the shot with a rotating head – fire the shot then pull back all the way on the handle and release it to reload the next shell.
The chambering process is quick and efficient and rate of fire pretty similar to a pump-action shotgun, so lock-up and functioning of the action is essentially the same as a pump-action but you need to get used to cycling the action with the charging lever rather than moving the fore-end back and forward as you do with a pump gun. This cycling with the charging handle takes very little getting used to and works efficiently, a large rubber grip supplied that fits over the charging handle though I preferred to go without.
Loading the gun is the same as a semi-auto through the bottom of the action and you can accommodate four shotshells in the magazine while a fifth can be loaded ‘up the spout’ for the maximum five shots in the field. The trigger-guard is robust and well-shaped, the safety incorporated behind the trigger and easy to use.
The Pointer weighs about 3.2kg (7lb) and this light weight makes it easy to carry and quick to bring into action. The balance of this gun is neutral, it’s fun to shoot and when I tried it on Skeet targets it handled very well. It was never meant as a clay gun and I mucked up a few second barrels being unfamiliar with cycling the charging handle until I became used to it. We have one member at our club who blew everyone else away by shooting a 25 straight though to be fair he’s extremely capable with any type of shotgun.
Interestingly, as a lefty I’d no problem operating the charging handle with my right hand when I grew used to it by supporting the gun through the pistol grip with my left hand and keeping it firm in my shoulder between shots. This meant my trigger finger stayed with the pistol grip rather than leaving it to charge the handle as a right-hander does and then having to relocate the trigger hand and finger to take the next shot. A couple of my right-handed mates had a go and liked it and while we didn’t put speed of reloading between right and left-handers to the test, perhaps we should have.
We were unable to do any field shooting due to huge local rainfall and incredible grass growth which was great for the farmers but meant a reprieve for local rabbit and fox populations. We mounted a Nikko Stirling red-dot sight on the receiver as it’s ⅜” dovetailed for this purpose and fired a few shots with Eley Alphamax 34g buckshot at 20m to sight it in. This would certainly make a nice outfit for close-range pig shooting and we even tried slugs, the results being well inside ‘minute of pig’ at 30m. For single slugs we used the most open improved Cyclinder choke and with buckshot we used Full.
This Pointer distributed by Outdoor Sporting Agencies is amazing value when you consider it retails for around $650 and can be found even cheaper by shopping around. As a knockabout field or farm gun it should work very well, it was comfortable to shoot and looked good into the bargain. More at www.osaaustralia.com.au
|Model:||Pointer ST 1000|
|Trigger:||Single selective, tang safety|
|Barrel length:||28” with 3” chamber|
|Chokes:||Five Mobil chokes, Improved Cylinder to Full – restrict steel shot use to half choke and more open chokes|
|Stock and Fore-end:||Grey polymer|
|Stock dimensions:||38mm at comb, 55mm at heel, cast 3.5mm for right-handers, 14.75” length of pull|
|Accessories:||Choke wrench, instruction manual|
|RRP:||About $650 but shop around|
|Distributor:||Outdoor Sporting Agencies, Vic|