By Bruce Buck
Photographs Courtesy of Connecticut Shotgun Mfg. Co.
Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company continues to pleasantly surprise me. The firm’s shotguns are proudly 100 percent made in America and are highly thought of. With some prices for its custom Galazan sidelocks exceeding $100,000, they ought to be. But CSMC also makes less-expensive guns that, while less ornate, are very nicely done. The popular Inverness over/under rounded-action boxlock starts around $9,000 today, while the mechanically identical Model 21 O/U runs from $3,995 to $16,000, depending on grade. Although worth it, these prices are not inexpensive. So you can imagine my surprise when at the beginning of this year CSMC introduced the extremely attractive Revelation rounded-action O/U with a list price of $2,995 but a temporary introductory price of $1,995.
The Revelation is mechanically identical to the current Inverness and Model 21 O/U but lacks many of the styling additions that those guns have. There is no engraving, laser or otherwise; no long trigger tang; no grip cap; no glossy barrel bluing. That said, it is not the worse at all for its simplicity. Its appearance is cleanly classic and all the better for it. It is flat-out gorgeous.
One of the ways that the price was kept down was by limiting the options. The Revelation currently comes only in 20 gauge. Barrel lengths are 26", 28" and 30", and the stock is either English or pistol grip. There is also the option of upgraded wood for $350. That’s it. It certainly makes choosing less confusing and inventory more manageable. Our test 20-gauge Revelation came with 30" barrels and upgraded wood.
The action hinging and lockup of the Revelation/Inverness/Model 21 O/U follows the typical Italian paradigm as seen in B. Rizzinis, Caesar Guerinis, Faustis, Franchis and others, with the exception of Berettas and Perazzis. Main lockup is by a wide locking tongue located in the bottom of the receiver, much like on Brownings. Hinging is on replaceable hinge stubs built into the sides of the receiver that engage cutouts in the sides of the monoblock. Passive lockup is by two lugs on the bottom of the monoblock that fit into cutouts in the bottom of the receiver. The lugs do not penetrate the receiver as they do on Brownings, which keeps things cleaner.
The tempered steel action is basically two pieces. There is the main action body with top tang, and then there is the separate triggerplate with vertical rear riser. Inside, the hammers pivot on the bottom plate while the sears are suspended from the top. Hammers are driven by horizontal coil springs. The trigger is inertial, not mechanical, so the first shot must go off to set up the second. The safety is automatic, engaging each time the gun is opened, but this is easily altered to manual by removing a connecting wire. The safety switch on the top tang includes a lateral toggle to select the barrel, much like on Berettas. For increased durability, all the pins used in the interior action are solid, not hollow roll pins. The hammers are hard coated in gold titanium nitride. In all, the action design is standard, proven and well executed. Cosmetically, the action is properly sized to the 20 gauge and has a nicely rounded underside for an attractive appearance and comfortable field carry. The action is beautifully case colored too. And this isn’t the chemical cyanide case coloring often used in Europe. It’s the good stuff: the real bone-and-charcoal process.
The barrel tubes are joined at the rear by the monoblock and in front by solid side ribs extending back 19" from the muzzles, leaving the barrels under the forearm without side ribs and transferring a bit of weight forward. The top rib is vented and blessedly flat, with no humps, ramps or center beads to get in the way of a clean sight picture. Up front there is a single Bradley bead with a red dot. The barrels are matte blued and the top rib machine scribed, both of which will reduce glare. The ribs are soldered, not lasered as on the CSMC A-10 American, but on our gun the work was neatly done and the seams were correct. Lasering is more durable than soldering and does not subject the barrels to potential heat warpage.
I measured the insides of the barrels at .612", a tiny bit snugger than the 20-gauge nominal .615". The barrels were chambered for 3" shells and proofed for steel shot. Chamber forcing cones were standard length, not the trendy elongated ones. Five 1½"-long, flush-mounted screw chokes with standard conical/parallel interior designs were supplied: Skeet (.615"), Improved Cylinder (.610"), Modified (.600"), Improved Modified (.595") and Full (.590"). The chokes were stamped with the dimensions but did not have notches on the rims to indicate the constriction while in the barrel. There was the slightest barrel bulging for the chokes at the muzzles; however, you had to look really hard to see it. It is interesting that the 30" barrels of the Revelation 20-gauge weighed 4.4 oz more than the 30" barrels of the A-10 20-gauge. Then again, the A-10 was not chambered for 3" shells.
The wood on the gun was very nice indeed. CSMC has a supply of great wood, and the $350 upgrade on our Revelation was reflected in a nicely grained stock. It was well worth the money. Our review gun had a relaxed pistol grip stock (not shown). It was nicely done and quite suitable on a field gun. The laser-cut checkering is 24 lines per inch and done in a conservative pattern. The finish is high-gloss oil. Stock dimensions are listed on CSMC’s website as 14½" length of pull, 1½" drop at comb and 23⁄8" drop at heel—and that’s exactly what our stock measured. And because it has no cast, it would be suitable for a righty or lefty. The stock ends in a hard rubber buttplate, so appropriate on a field gun.
Make & Model: Connecticut Shotgun Mfg. Co. Revelation
Action: Over/under boxlock
Finish: Case-colored receiver, no engraving, matte-blue barrels
Barrel length: 30"
Weight: 5 pounds 5 ounces
Chokes: Five screw-in flush-mount chokes
Stock: Pistol grip, oil finish, 14½" LOP, 1½" DAC, 23/8" DAH
Accessories: Choke wrench, one-year warranty
Price as tested: $2,995 ($1,995 introductory)
The forend is a slender classic field design. It is attached with an Anson pushbutton rather than the usual Deeley latch. This makes the tip of the forend just a little deeper than necessary. The insides of both the forend and the head of the stock were coated with finish. This is a nice touch to forestall future oil damage. The Revelation was shipped with limited extras, to keep the price down. It arrived in a simple cardboard box and came with the five chokes, a choke wrench and a one-year warranty.
Shooting the gun had its problems. Good problems. It was hard to get it away from fellow shooters who were handling it. Everyone thought the gun looked absolutely smashing and that the price was wonderful. It really is a gorgeous gun, made even more so by its classic proportions. The fancy wood didn’t hurt either.
I found the 30" barrels to be a little heavier up front than I would like for walk-up hunting. The balance point was a full 1½" in front of the hinge center. That’s a long way from neutral. My preference would be for the quicker handling of 26" barrels for quail, grouse and woodcock, while the 28" tubes would be fine for more open field work on pheasants. I’d save the 30" barrels for doves and clays. But I was outvoted. Most of those I loaned the gun to loved the weight-forward feel of the 30" barrels and wouldn’t have changed it. Many felt it would have been ideal for sub-gauge sporting clays too. There you go. Shows what I know. But if you do consider the gun, try to handle the different barrel lengths to find your own preference. Let me emphasize here that barrel length isn’t a sighting plane thing as much as it is a balance issue.
When shot, the Revelation functioned well mechanically in all respects. The trigger pulls were extremely crisp, with virtually no take-up or slop. That was just as well, as the under barrel was 3½ pounds while the upper was pretty light at only 3. The Revelation had a good 20-gauge carry weight of 6 pounds 5 ounces—exactly what is listed on the website.
In all, I think that Connecticut Shotgun has done a heck of a job with the Revelation. It is nicely made, mechanically correct, flat-out gorgeous and priced very well. The line forms to my right.