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October 31, 2007

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New Guns From Weatherby

Sbs_orion_triggerThis past week, I was the guest of Weatherby, who know how to throw a party. This year, Weatherby has opted out of its long-standing arrangement with SKB, who made their shotguns, and gone with an Italian gunmaker named Fausti. The result is an entire new line of nifty new o/u and side-by-side shotguns that range in price from modest to pretty damned expensive. They're callled the Four-Lock series, because the actions lock up at four points, and they are altogether nifty guns. I quail hunted with an o/u and a side-by-side on two successive days, and if I can hit a quail with anything less than a 10-gauge, it must be a pretty damn good gun.


However, the shotgun is a silly and unimportant machine; it's rifles that count, and there are two neat new Vanguards.

One is called the Sage Country, and it's blued with a Desert Camo stock. The other, which is really hot stuff, is the Back Country, and has a fluted 24-inch stainless steel barrel, a black synthetic stock, and weighs only 6 ¾ pounds.



Vanguards don't get nearly the press they should because they've been around for a long time, but as Weatherby points out, these are the guns that keep them in BMWs and caviar, not the Mark V. Vanguards come in all sorts of configurations, and this year will have better-adjusted triggers than before. The one that intrigues me the most is the Vanguard Sub-MOA, which is guaranteed to put three shots under an inch. When they pick these guns out, they actually select rifles that group from .250 to .750, which is pretty durn good shooting. Do they make them left-handed? Oh hell no.



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OK - I'll bite.

"However, the shotgun is a silly and unimportant machine..."

Petzal is surely skilled at picking fights. I wish I could sell tickets to the comment section of this blog from this post forward.


Hey Jack,

Really...what the hell?

I guess on windy and rainy days when you don't want to sit on stand and wait....

I love leaving the 30.06 in the truck, pulling the 12 gauge out with buckshot and slow stalking through the silent woods. Looking to jump a deer, or creep up on one in the thick stuff. Great day for a shotgun. And I don't even bird hunt!
I think he is just getting our goats though.

I have a question for a gun nut. Keep in mind I have only hunted for four years...please. I took my fourth doe of the year yesterday, and the 150 grain from my 30.06 did the job again - straight down!

But, it keeps destroying the shoulders. I hate wasting meat! Should I go to a different grain bullet? If I do, will I lose knock down power?

Someone help me please!


Oh and even if I put the shot right behind the shoulder it is still doing it. What to do?


I'll bite too. C'mon, Dave, can't you at least show us a full picture of the "silly and unimportant machine?" I know you are a rifle guy, but these shotguns are NEWS. By the way, I hope you are locked in a bunker somewhere when the upland gamebird community comes after you for that comment!

Brian T

Shotgunning for birds is a gentleman's game that DP can't comprehend. Seems intellectually bankrupt on the point. Pity that heredity can do such cruel things.


When you go to these shows do you bring up the southpaw situation? I don't even know what the per cent of left-handed shooters is. It seems like there are a lot of us.

I shoot a 30/30. Always aim for the heart. Always take out at least one front shoulder. I guess that's a rule. If I had a scoped rifle and time I think I would try a head shot or maybe neck. I still hunt so I rarely ever get that time.

Graziano Carreri

At last I understand why the Anson & Deeley sxs shotgun was not at first place in the classification of the best 50 guns.It's because "the shotgun is a silly and unimportant machine". It doesn't matter if the Anson&Deeley platform is the most diffused in the world because, probably, is the most sure,handy, efficient, polyvalent and, let me say,nice hunting tool ever made. I am really sorry, mr Petzal it will stay that way for a long, long time. As you may observe,mr Petzal, after many years of absence, almost all the great U.S. manufacturers offer in their catalogues an increasing number of sidexside shotguns.And they are not silly.

Ralph the Rifleman

Hey...Dave was just back from a Weatherby HIGH, so he probably was not aware of what he said about shotguns? Anyway, Fausti does make some very nice field guns as reasonable prices; considering I have seen some really beat up ones that keep on going in the field. I think weatherby made a good move.
As for the Vanguard, it's a silent success for them, and they know it! Pretty darn good guns for the $$.Now how about a Vanguard laminate version in stainless chambered in .340Wby?


I don't hunt Grouse much anymore but my 1st hunting was after birds with a .410. It was a lot of fun! If more people start hunting because of shotguns, great. We need them. If they enjoy, they'll migrate to rifles.

Well put Yooperjack,

Guess what my first gun was? Long before I ever thought I would want to hunt. And bamm!!!! Once I realized I did, I had a 12 gauge shotgun ready for buck shot. 4 deer later, 4 years ago and I ws hooked!!!!!!


That was me.

Hey Dave,

Seriously. You were kidding right?
I have the 30.06 too, which I prefer, but I love just shooting my freaking shotgun - and I don't even need clays!

You wanna answer my question about the 150 grain thing? Please!!!


It was me again, I don't know why the name keeps coming off.

Dave Petzal

To Tommy: Yes, I was kidding. Shotguns are extremely important, although their use continues to baffle me.

Anyway, about the 150-grain thing. There's no such thing as knockdown power. Animals go down when their brains run out of oxygen or when the brain or spine is stuck.
The .30/06 is way, way more gun than you need to kill a deer. For the past few years, I've been using a 7mm/08, a 6.5x55, and a 7x57, which put them down just as well and do less damage. The best combination I've found is the 6.5x55 with the Norma Oryx 156-grain bullet.

Get something with a lot less power and particularly less velocity and you will have more shoulder. Also, it will give you an excuse to buy another rifle.

Dave Petzal

That should have been "struck," not "stuck."

Mike Diehl

The shotgun adds a touch of class and general purpose utility to an arsenal of otherwise specialized arsenal of usually inelegant firearms.

If I had the surplus cash I'd buy a Weatherby Athena d'Italia Deluxe *ANY DAY.* Although it's a work of art as much as craftsmanship, I'd hunt with it because a firearm like that deserves to fulfill its destiny.

G Miller

"Silly and unimportant"??? Like Petzal?

Dave M


May I conclude by your comments that, by extension, the rifle is a most serious and important machine?

If so, I'll agree.

However, since Gene Hill, Nash Buckingham, or Bob Brister are not around to point out one minor fallacy in your original comment, I will: A fine shotgun, unlike any rifle, is not a machine at all, rather it is an extension of one's very heart and soul.

As Rifles and their accurate use are the sceince of the shooting world, fine shotguns and shotgunning are the pinnacle of our art.

Jimmy S

Wow!! I finally found a blog on a hunting related item that has comments that don't read like they were written by second- graders. I cringe when I read some of those other blogs. Not only can the participants not disagree in a calm and logical manner, their communication skills, or lack thereof, make each of us look like the stereotype the antis would make us out to be.
My compliments to each of you.


I tried loading up birdshot in my .416 Remington for the last grouse hunt. Took off the scope and added a pretty little ivory bead to the front of the barrel. Gunsmith didn't even charge me for it - just asked to take a picture of his handiwork.

Problem was that I forgot to pattern the loads beforehand so didn't hit a thing. Never got a third shot - not as fast with that bolt action as I should be. Was a wee bit heavy to get up to the shoulder, too. Had a hell of a time convincing the CO that I was actually shooting birdshot. Last I saw of him he was sitting on a log with tears in his eyes, with a bunch of grouse rolling around next to him. Darn things know where they are safe. My dog had spotted the birds but must have been hurtin' - he was on his back next to them and pantin' hard - must have bit his tongue since there were tears in his eyes, too. Dumb mutt still had wet red eyes the next morning.

Been trying to get the lead out of the barrel for a few weeks now. Next season I might try a quicker handling gun and smaller caliber like my Rem 760 30-06. Pump action should help on followups. Will be sure to pattern it this time, though. I might try some paper wraps to keep the lead fouling down, too. I'm open to any of your suggestions there, Dave.


Thanks Dave,

I knew you were kidding. So any manufacturer or combo you would advise in the $400 to $500 range?
As far as what you advised me on?

Thanks again.

Dave in St Pete


Unless you want to pay a lot for hard to find ammo I'd go with more usual guns like a .270 or .243.

Lots of them out there in bolt and single shot flavors at reasonable prices. Get you ammo at Wal-mart or any place that sells any ammo at all, much the same as the 30-06.

Dave in St Pete


Heck if your shots are 100 yards or less get a 44 magnum lever gun.

Chad Love

I can't speak to the rifles, since I've never shot one of those hideous-looking things, but I think on the whole Weatherby probably made a good move on the shotguns.
For some reason I have never really warmed to the SKBs, even though I have an old 20-gauge Ithaca SKB O/U that belonged to my wife's grandfather which I shoot very well and wouldn't trade for anything.
I briefly owned a 12-gauge SKB 600 in college solely because it was pretty and it made me look like I was a serious shooter. Which I was. Seriously bad, so I sold it.
I've never shot a Fausti, so I can't speak to it, but on the whole I think the Italian guns are just a bit more graceful than the Japanese guns, which seem more robust, more substantial, at least in the O/U's.
I know my Berettas handle differently than my Mirokus and my one remaining SKB. Trimmer barrel profiles, shallower receivers, you know, sexier, more Italian.
I guess I can charecterize them this way: my Italian guns are my bird hunting guns, my Japanese guns are my duck hunting guns.
So since there's arguably more marketing cachet in the gentrified upland hunting market than in a duck blind, perhaps Weatherby figured an Italian O/U was a more fitting representation of their ideal than those clunky SKBs.
Now if they could just do something about those gawdawful paeans to tackiness they call rifles...

Dave Petzal

To Tommy: I would look for a good price on a Tikka T3. As for a .243 or a .270, they do a lot of damage. The minute you get a bullet moving at 3,000 fps, or close to it, it's hamburger city.

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