When a new shooter asks me, “What shotgun should I buy?” TriStar almost always makes the list. The reason is that the Kansas City–based gun manufacturer, which imports Turkish over/unders and other guns, is serious about quality and functionality. Owner Gus Bader will randomly select a TriStar gun from the warehouse and put it through his own torture test to ensure it’s up to standards.
The Trinity over/under is a shining example of the value that TriStar offers. The 20-gauge that I tested (the model also comes in 12 and 16, and there’s an LT model with an aluminum receiver, to reduce weight) retails for less than $750. That makes it one of the most affordable O/Us on the market. I patterned, shot skeet with and hunted with the Trinity to see how it performed.
Pheasant season had not yet arrived in Illinois when I was testing the Trinity, so I shot skeet and took the gun squirrel hunting to get a feel for how its 6-pound 5-ounce heft carried. But first I patterned the gun at 40 yards, shooting 2¾", ⅞-ounce loads of No. 7½s through the Full choke in both barrels. The top barrel produced a 50/50 pattern, but the bottom barrel shot below point of aim. I moved 10 yards closer and got a similar result. Then I shot every choke and two more loads from different manufacturers—and all patterned low. This must have been an anomaly, because every TriStar I had hunted with previously had shot accurately. Which is why—even with this particular sample’s low-patterning bottom barrel—I believe that the Trinity is a very good value at $745 and that it would serve shooters well in the field and at the range.
Our gun had 26” chrome-lined barrels, although 28" tubes are available. (The 12-gauge has the same options, but the 16 can be had only with 26" barrels.) There is a 7mm vent top rib with a red fiber-optic sight and a vent mid-rib. Chambered for 3" shells (the 16 is chambered for 2¾"), the gun comes with extractors and a set of five flush-mounted chokes: Skeet, Improved Cylinder, Modified, Improved Modified and Full. Each choke is etched at the top for identification when installed, although there is no ID on the choke walls. The chokes are stored inside a plastic case and installed with a key wrench.
The rounded silver receiver includes acid-etched floral engraving on three sides, with 24-karat-gold inlays and an enamel finish. “TriStar” appears in gold on the bottom of the receiver.
The single trigger is mechanical, so it doesn’t need recoil to reset itself if the first shotshell doesn’t fire. The bottom barrel averaged a 6.8-pound trigger pull, while the top barrel was significantly lighter at 4.1 pounds. The tang safety is manual and can be moved right or left to select the barrel.
The stock, which has a 143/8" LOP to the back of a ½"-thick recoil pad, is machine-checkered around the pistol grip and on either side of the Schnabel forend. On some “affordable” guns the checkering is cut too deep, making the grip and forend feel like sandpaper—but that isn’t the case on the Trinity. The checkering made the Trinity a joy to handle. The wood grain of the Turkish-walnut stock was above average for a price-point gun and had a semi-gloss finish.