Back in ’09, my college buddies and I spent the occasional afternoon at the local trap and skeet club. One of our crew shot for our school’s rifle team; he busted clays with a gorgeous Beretta 686 Onyx. While he was generous with his trigger time, pride (and greed) demanded that I buy my own shotgun. Uncle Sam’s tax refund check (a.k.a., my federally-funded contribution to the firearms industry) hadn’t been quite as healthy as usual; I was strapped for cash. So I sought alternative solutions. Enter the Yildez SPZ ME 12-gauge over-and-under shotgun . . .
A shooter outside our circle rocked-up to the range one day with a Yildiz O/U shotgun. I shot it side by side with the Beretta. I was smitten. The Turkish-made firearm wasn’t quite as polished as its European cousin—in the sense that a Swatch watch lacks the refinement of a Patek Phillipe Calatrava. But the $1400 price differential between the two guns clearly said “we don’t need no stinkin’ refinement!”
Also true: I like a gun that’s a work horse, not a race horse. Truth be told, I’m sometimes less than responsible with my guns’ care and feeding; I’ve been known to go a few days before I clean them. OK, a week. Sometimes two. My guns have also been known to ride around the ranch in my pickup uncased. Ding! And needs must; I’ll shoot any ammo I can get my hands on.
So the Yildez joined my firearms family, impoverished as it was. Academy Sports and Outdoors provided the gun. As the markings on the gun indicate, they’re the sole American importer of these Turkish guns. Not available on-line. So if you’re a bargain-hunting shotgunner, here’s hoping you live in or near Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee or Texas.
Your $400 buys you the gun (obviously) and five chokes (two in the barrel, three in the box, from modified to full). You also get a choke tube tool. And that’s it. But hey, we’re talking a real walnut stock (nothing synthetic) in a shotgun that’s a genuine joy to move through the air.
The Yildiz SPZ ME is perfectly balanced; unlike a number of, uh, value-priced guns, it’s neither nose or ass heavy. She swings like a couple at Plato’s Retreat (RF’s reference). I’ve shot 200 rounds through the 5.8 lbs. Turkish shotgun in a single session without fatigue. The sight picture is easily acquired. Do I wish the gold bead was a bit easier to see? Evet! But, I don’t often find myself shooting clays at night, so it is a non-issue.
Of course, you don’t get what you don’t pay for. When I first took delivery of my Yildiz, I noticed the following.
The shotgun’s action is stiffer than a double shot of moonshine. This gun ships DRY. Unlike your Nagant, buyers need to take the Yildiz home and start adding chemicals. I oiled all the pivot points, trigger, and firing pin assemblies from the start. And . . . it’s still tight. It starts to loosen after a few hundred cycles, but $2000 Beretta smooth it is not.
Barrel selection is not marked. Maybe I’m nitpicking, but I only shoot the gun a few times a year and I often forget which barrel is going to go boom first. Safe is the position to the rear. Select either top or bottom and slide forward for Fire. This control is extremely crisp with positive feedback and an audible click to let you know what position you have it in. To open the breech, swing the lever counterclockwise. This might be an awkward movement for you lefties.
As you can see in the pictures, I have mounted an aftermarket recoil pad. At only seven pounds, with no real factory pad to speak of, this thing kicks like a mule. I shot the first twenty-five shells and immediately drove to my gun store to pick up a recoil pad. The pad added about an inch to the length of pull, making this gun fit like a dream. It already felt good in the store, but that extra inch took it to the next level. [ED: So to speak.]
The Yildiz SPZ ME has treated me extremely well. Bystanders not so much. The Turkish shotgun ejects shells like a Marine unit lobbing mortars. Anyone standing within five feet of the shotgun may get shelled. More importantly (for the shooter), in the last two years, the Yildiz has had zero reliability issues. Any gun that can hold its own against a $2k shotgun for less than a quarter of the price gets my vote. At least until I can afford the alternative . . .
Metal Finish: Blued
Product Weight: 5.8 lbs..
Barrel Length: 28 inches
Total Length: 45.5 inches
Capacity: 2 (3” chamber)
RATINGS (Out of Five Stars)
The only time I don’t hit my target is when I forget how to swing a shotgun through the air or when my targets escape the useful range of my ammo. Otherwise, it seems to be dead on.
Fit and Finish *** ½
Everything fits together really well. In fact, it can fit together a bit too well. It is pretty easy to ding surfaces trying to put the gun together if you store it in two pieces. Additionally, the chokes are not of stainless steel and can corrode easily if stored in a humid environment or not properly oiled to prevent such things
Ergonomics * * * *
I can barely tell the difference between this and a much more expensive gun. The length of pull might have been a bit too short, but the recoil pad remedied that problem.
Reliability * * * * *
A breech-loading shotgun doesn’t exactly lend itself to having reliability issues. In hundreds of shots, I have not had a single FTF or FTE. It eats anything that you put in the cylinder.
Overall Rating * * * *
The stiff action, recoil, and lack of barrel markings prevent the Yildiz from getting the full five stars. These are all really small squawks that can be easily corrected. I have been extremely impressed with my gun, as have other shooters. When ya guy who owns a $2000 Beretta admits you have a nice gun, you must be doing something right.