By Bruce Buck
Česká zbrojovka a.s. Uherský Brod (CZ to those of us who don’t live in the Czech Republic) is one of the 10 largest firearms producers in the world. In addition to offering handguns and rifles, the shotguns the company carries are locally made by Brno and in Turkey by Huglu. The Huglu Hunting Firearms Cooperative is also quite large, producing more than 40,000 shotguns and rifles per year. In the US, a good bit of the Huglu shotgun line is sold by CZ-USA.
Photographs Courtesy of CA-USA
In addition to pumps, autoloaders and over/unders, CZ-USA sells six side-by-side Huglu guns. There are two hammergun models, a Bobwhite G2 field gun and Sharp-Tail models in coach, target and field versions. Comparing the two field versions, the Bobwhite G2 is a plain boxlock in 12, 20 and 28 gauge with an English stock, double triggers and a starting price of $655, whereas the Sharp-Tail is a fancier sideplated side-by-side in 12, 16 and 20 gauge at $1,072 and in 28 and .410 at $1,289. Since everyone loves the 28 and we all deserve fancy, our review gun is the Sharp-Tail field 28-gauge.
Some shooters are wary of Turkish gun quality, but that has not been my concern in the half-dozen I’ve reviewed. A CNC doesn’t care what language it is programmed in. One look at the Sharp-Tail 28’s tiny receiver should lay any doubts to rest. It’s a miniature work of art. Measuring 1¼" across at the base and 1¾" high, it is certainly petit. But that doesn’t mean weak. The receiver is CNC’d from a single piece of high-tech steel. The bottom tang, top tang and vertical riser are machined into the receiver steel. A separate slim triggerplate is fitted into the lower tang. Hammers pivot on the bottom tang; sears are suspended from the top. That the action uses extractors, not ejectors, limits complexity. This action is simple, clean and well made.
The Sharp-Tail is an evolution of the previous Ringneck side-by-side. Improvements include horizontal coil springs operating the hammers, redesigned sears and floating firing pins. The Ringneck’s Greener crossbolt has been replaced by Purdey double underlugs. All of the Sharp-Tail’s internal parts are held in place by solid steel pins. There isn’t a hollow roll pin in sight.
The Sharp-Tail comes with only a single selective mechanical trigger. I wish that it could be had with classic double triggers, but there it is. The trigger on our test gun was quite good, though. It had a tiny bit of take-up and creep, but then a crisp, reliable 4½-pound pull on both sears.
The barrel selector is built into the safety lever, as is common on Berettas and others. It worked correctly but in its own way. When one dot was exposed, it fired the left barrel first, then the right. Every other gun I’ve tried has been the opposite: shooting the right barrel first when set to one dot.
The little receiver is case colored inside and out. It is done with a chemical process, not bone and charcoal, but it is attractive. The engraving is a minimal tasteful scroll covering about 20 percent of the surface. It appears under my 10X jeweler’s loupe to be hand cut, not lasered. The ornamental sideplates are intended to give the action a bit more grace, and they certainly do. Little touches, like the engraved and timed exterior screw heads, are pleasing.
The barrels are 28" long, with no length options. They are finished in a black hard chrome. In 28 gauge, the chambers are 2¾" with modest ¾" forcing cones. Barrel bores were .544" on the right and .547" left. Nominal 28 bores are .550", so these were close. That they were .003" different sounds odd, but in the real world .003" doesn’t really matter. Barrel inside-diameter differences are more common than you might think.
These barrels are screw-choked. Five flush-mounted chokes come with the gun. They are 1¾" long and have a ½" parallel at the muzzle to stabilize the shot. The only constriction designations are rim notches one through five, so you have to look carefully to see what’s in place. Based on a .546" bore, I measured the actual constrictions as the equivalent of Light Full, Modified, Improved Skeet, Light Skeet and Cylinder, although the catalog lists them as Full, Improved Modified, Modified, Improved Cylinder and Cylinder. The two tightest chokes are not recommended for steel shot, but the three more-open chokes are. A functional plastic wrench accompanies the chokes in a plastic box.
On the outside the barrels’ black hard-chrome finish was a low gloss and well applied. It should withstand the worst conditions when pushing branches aside as you wade through dense grouse cover. The top rib is flat, solid and slightly raised above the barrels. It tapers from 3⁄8" wide at the rear to ¼" at the muzzle, where there is a single white Bradley bead-on-a-block. The top of the rib is scribed to prevent glare. There is a slight muzzle jugging due to the chokes, but you have to look really hard to see it. Barrel solder seams were correct, with no gaps or holidays.
The wood on our test gun was plain (read: strong) walnut, and the wood-to-metal fit was excellent. The stock has a full pistol grip, and the rounded Prince of Wales and flat English stock more commonly seen on field guns like the Bobwhite G2 are not available. Stock dimensions were: 14¾" length of pull, 17⁄16" drop at comb and 23⁄8" drop at heel—just a touch higher and longer than standard. At the back of the stock is a ½" solid rubber pad with a plastic insert at the top to facilitate mounting without snagging.
Make & Model:CZ Sharp-Tail
Action: Break-action side-by-side
Finish: Case-colored receiver, black chromed barrels, 20% engraving coverage
Barrel length: 28”
Weight: 6 pounds 4 ounces
Chokes: Five screw-in flush chokes
Stock: Pistol grip, rubber butt pad
Accessories: Case, chokes, wrench, manual, five-year warranty
Price as tested: $1,289
The forend is quite interesting. In the rear it has a hand-filling beavertail, but then it tapers to a splinter at the front, ending in a slight Schnabel. The forend attaches to the barrels with a Deeley lever rather than the more common Anson button at the front.
While the wood showed little figure, the finish was well applied and fully filled the grain. Many Italian makers leave some grain open, and they could benefit from seeing how the Turks do it. The simple checkering pattern appears to be mechanically cut in a flattop style and a moderate lines-per-inch. In all, it looks appropriate and practical.
The only wood downside I could find was that the inside of the head of the stock was left raw and not coated with finish to forestall oil-seepage damage. A few coats of Tru-Oil would quickly solve that.
The CZ Sharp-Tail comes in a serviceable PVC takedown case. I’m not sure that I’d use it for air travel, but for tossing in the back of the truck it’s just fine. The case contains the broken-down gun wrapped in velour sleeves, the plastic box containing the five chokes and wrench, and a rather generic manual that does nicely cover how to clean and lube the gun. CZ warrantees the gun’s mechanics for five years. CZ has an excellent service reputation.
Shooting the gun didn’t result in any surprises. It was mechanically correct in all respects. It happily digested my grotty 28-gauge reloads as well as different brands of factory ammo. I would have preferred the convenience of ejectors to extractors, but that wasn’t a big deal.
The gun weighed 6 pounds 4 ounces, not the 5 pounds 14 ounces listed in CZ’s brochure. But just more than 6 pounds is about right for a 28-gauge field side-by-side. The gun balanced about 2" ahead of the hinge pins, indicating that the barrels were proportionally a little heavy. On a gun in the low-6-pound area, heavier barrels are actually a good thing because they keep the gun from being whippy. The light weight along with the stability of the heavier barrels make for a gun that is easy to carry and shoot. The lack of availability of an English stock and double triggers will cause some to consider this more of a lightweight target gun than a field gun, but that is strictly personal. This gun is certainly a shooter. The pistol-grip stock aids control and pairs well with the single trigger. In all, the CZ Sharp-Tail 28-gauge is an eminently serviceable side-by-side both in the field and for casual target shooting. It shows that a Turkish gun at a modest price can be both practical and attractive.
For more information, contact CZ-USA.