The Huglu Ventus – a great upland hunting shotgun

The Huglu Hunting Firearms Cooperative was established in 1914 and is one of many Turkish gunmakers whose products have found their way to our shores. I first reviewed the Huglu 12 103CE in 2008 when the guns were being brought into Australia by the original distributor. They have since found their way into the hands of Winchester Australia and appear to be one of the better-made ‘Turkish delights’ presently available.

The trademark of many Turkish guns seems to be a connection to their harsh climate or hunting conditions whereby the makers black chrome the barrels of their guns to protect them from the elements. Black chrome is much superior to the traditional blued finish found on most shotguns throughout the world, the only drawback being if the black chrome surface is severely scratched or damaged it is not so easily repaired.

I was pleased to find the character and quality of the walnut fitted to the Huglu to be above ‘basic’ in character and grade for a gun priced under $1000, although a little light in density. Given the reported shortage of good quality walnut stock wood, this was certainly a bonus.

The barrels

These were 760mm or 30” in length and fitted with interchangeable choke tubes and a green translucent barrel sight at the muzzle. The ventilated top rib was complemented by solid side ribs which gave the gun a little more weight forward of the barrel pivoting point. The choke tubes were quite short compared with those produced by other makers, measuring a mere 25mm when choke tube lengths of 90mm and longer appear to be the norm now.

The squat tubes were marked with red rings about their circumference to indicate their constriction and a friction choke tube accessory was supplied for fitting and removal. There were no notches on the ends of the choke tubes to identify their constriction as often found with other gunmakers. Once installed, the red indicator rings were also concealed so it was difficult to determine what choke was fitted at a glance. A handy plastic case was provided for the storage of the chokes and the fitting accessory.

At the chamber end of the barrels the sides of the monobloc were jewel polished for retention of lubricants and the action was bifurcated to permit a lower receiver profile. The pivoting pins in the walls of the receiver were able to be replaced should excessive wear occur, which is a positive. The ejectors were quite basic in construction but well-timed in operation. Chambered for 76mm loads, 3” shells on the old scale, the Huglu Ventus was, according to Winchester, suited to High Performance steel shot loads. This was an added extra for the hunter who’s in the market for an all-round performer in the field both as an upland game gun for rabbits, foxes, quail and pheasants along with a variety of waterfowl.

The receiver

This was coloured black to match the chrome of the barrels. There were some flourishes each side of the receiver that were printed on to the gun, while the underside carried the maker’s name. The bifurcated jointing of the gun gave it a lower profile than an underpinned one, with the wood-to-metal fit completed without fault. The top lever was easy to operate and the tolerances of the receiver to the barrels were excellent as the barrels had to be perfectly aligned to accept the receiver. Once in place they came to a close with a minimum of effort as the top lever snapped into position to lock the barrels to the receiver.

When taking the gun apart, once the fore-end piece was removed the barrels were simply dropped down as the lugs in the barrel dislocated from the receiver. When removed, a small tab to the rear of the receiver floor could be released to enable the tension from the top lever to be loosened for storage of the gun. This easing of tensions preserves the tautness in the operating spring.

The safety was in its traditional position on the rear of the top tang that ran into the stock. The catch was positive in operation and would select either the under barrel to shoot first for going away targets, the top barrel to shoot first for incoming targets or it could simply be returned to the safe position which would be recommended once the gun is unloaded and for readiness to change choke tubes or for storage.

Design of the triggerguard was generous, functional and black in colour to match all other metal parts. The trigger pulls on both barrels were a little heavy at 5lb each whereas a 3½-4lb weighting would be preferable. The triggers released fairly crisply with a little travel and could be of some concern for the competitive shooter used to lighter 3½lb, crisp trigger releases. Operated by a mechanical selection device, preferred for a hunting gun, the Ventus offered the hunter very good value, especially with the two-year warranty.

The stock and fore-end

The stock and fore-end of the Huglu Ventus were made from Turkish walnut. The quality of the wood was above standard and the chequering on both pieces was novel. Flourish patterns intersected with the chequering which was completed at around 18 lines per inch. Design of the fore-end was along the lines and shape of a ‘Trap’ fore-end, having no ‘tulip’ shape around the end defining it as a Schnabel fore-end. The catch was standard as with most shotguns in that it had an accessible lever which was raised to release the fore-end from the barrel set so the gun could be dismantled.

On the butt of the stock was fitted a secure ‘slip’ pad of sufficient thickness to make all shooting comfortable. The top section of the buttpad is constructed of a plastic polymer to prevent clothes from catching when mounting the gun, which might occur if the pad was made entirely of rubber.

In the field

The Ventus had a variety of outings to assess its ability to crunch clay targets. Additionally it was taken to shoot some vermin of the feathered variety at an olive grove and also on the rice fields of NSW.

It proved quite acceptable for clay target shooting, firing entirely 28-gram loads of size seven and eight shot with a minimal amount of recoil. The Improved Cylinder choke in the lower barrel combined with Improved Modified in the upper saw most clay targets fired upon smashed, unfortunately just not all in the one round.

These results gave me a great deal of confidence when a friend invited me to address a concern she had with vermin storming her olive grove, approaching harvest. The Huglu Ventus acquitted itself well with this task using full- and three-quarter choke. However, more birds were scared than shot as many soon learned to avoid the noise of the shotgun and a human presence in the vicinity.

In summary, the Huglu Ventus is well priced for an entrance level shotgun. With its steel shot proof and great set of five choke tubes, it would suit the beginner clay target shooter or the upland gunner looking to chase rabbits, hares, foxes or quail. The light weight of the gun would be well appreciated while walking long hours in search of game and the weight should not be a concern for the limited amount of shots you should take to score a bag of ducks.

Being sold and serviced by Winchester is also an advantage and the two-year warranty a sound fall-back should anything go wrong. A very good buy at under $1000.

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