By Lewis Potter
Thursday, 19 June 2008
This Lincoln Premier EM Basic shotgun is all the more enjoyable to use due to its understated styling and lack of adornment.
At one time a very famous Birmingham gunmaker produced some fairly plain guns and, while mechanically identical to others in their range, they sported sound but non-fancy walnut and only the most basic borderline engraving.
Most importantly, though, the workmanship was just as good as the more upmarket products, regardless of price.
I feel, with the Lincoln Premier Basic, that David Nickerson has, to a certain extent, followed this sort of principle.
Fitness for purpose
The styling of the Premier Basic is attractive with clean, uncluttered lines that indicate a fitness for purpose. From the 29.25in barrels, through to the practical pistol grip stock, it appears to be a tool to do a job.
Good wood for the money
Decoration is cut to a minimum with only some fairly fine laser work around the silvered action, though personally I would find it equally acceptable if it were matt-black with just a borderline.
On close examination the stock appears to have better wood than the basic specification at first suggests, with some fiddleback and flame effect in the butt and tightly grained walnut for the fore-end.
A tough and hardwearing reddish matt silk varnish is used as the finish, which does not enhance the grain like an oil finish would do that, on this gun, indicates the stockwood is really even nicer than it first appears. As for the laser-cut chequering, it is not, perhaps, quite so crisp as the more expensive models, but still tidily applied and giving that all important non-slip grip.
Apart from the chequered thumbpiece, the top-lever is devoid of unnecessary decoration, as is the trigger-guard and the nicely curved trigger is finished black instead of gold. As part of the 'Basic' package this gun has fixed chokes, but go one step up the price ladder and an option of screw-in interchangeable chokes is available.
There is some simplification in the lockwork that we will come to later and this model is supplied without the distinctive blue Lincoln travelling case. That is about all the differences, otherwise it is Lincoln-quality as usual.
This Lincoln balances right on the fore-end knuckle, mounts easily to the shoulder and has that steady, confidence-inspiring feel. At around 7lb it is not an especially heavy gun but neither is it going to be exceptionally quick handling, not the sort that can be flicked from one target to the next.
It really seems the type more useful for obtaining good steady results. The curve and dimensions were suited to my largish hands and the fore-end provided a good handful without being in any way bulky or clumsy in appearance.
With some right-hand cast and toe-out, the stock dimensions followed a well-proven formula. Length of pull (from the trigger to the middle of the butt) is 14.6in, with drop measuring 1.5in at the tip of the comb, falling to just a touch short of 2.5in at the heel. For many users this means, with the target bird seen just on the foresight bead, the bulk of the shot pattern will still be thrown just a little higher than dead centre.
The barrels, as one has come to expect with most over-unders, are built on the well-proven monoblock principle. This is where the breech end that fits into the action body is machined from one piece of forged steel and the barrel tubes spigoted into it.
The whole assembly is well finished, the outside of the barrels especially well struck up and glossily blacked.
Around the lower breech area there is a jewelled finish, while the sprung extractors are plain steel bearing signs of careful hand-fitting. The side ribs are well laid, as is the non-glare ventilated top-rib, and I find the plain brass foresight bead, as fitted to this gun, still the most suitable form of shotgun sight.
Proofed for 76mm (3in) cartridges, the shiny, clean barrel bores were both on the proofed size, the bottom barrel actually being a little tighter at a thousandth of an inch undersize, which is no bad thing.
Effectively both barrels were around the mid-size of the permissible 12-bore size range.
The action is a standard representative of its type. The barrels hinge on pressed-in hinge discs, which the English trade most often refers to as trunnions, utilising the principle of bifurcated lumps, which sounds rather complicated but simply means cut-outs either side of the monoblock.
A full-width locking bolt engages with a single bite to lock the gun shut. In the lockwork department things were pretty much as expected. The lock is a modified trigger-plate design, where the hammers, trigger, inertia block and helical springs fit on the trigger-plate and the sears hang from the top strap.
Virtually all the parts are matt-black, exhibiting quite clearly their investment cast origins. Polishing of lock parts is always undeniably attractive, but contributes nothing to the mechanical efficiency and on a keenly priced model would be an unnecessary extravagance.
In the field
First impressions were of a slightly stiff action, and this was reinforced by the rather firm operation of the safety button/barrel selector.
However, this is a brand new gun so allowance always has to be made for a running-in period, and a bit of lubrication never goes amiss.
Very much on the plus side was the operation of the mechanical changeover to the second barrel. Substituting snap caps for first barrel operation, either top or bottom, and the second barrel selection was never once missed. As for the auto-safe, this, partly due to its stiffness, snapped back on to 'safe' most convincingly once the top-lever operation released the barrels.
Trigger pulls were also good for a gun of this type with only the slightest creep, with pull weights hovering around 4.75lb to 5lb.
On the pattern plate, using some Eley 30gm Hi-Flyer, the results inspired me to do a proper pellet count. This showed a tight three-quarters pattern from the top barrel and from the bottom barrel a count falling about equidistant between half- and quarter-choke. Results like this, of course, do vary a little depending upon the diet of cartridges used.
Having ascertained that all was in good order, that primer strikes were well centred and sufficiently deep, ejection strong and well timed, it was time for my good deed of the day.
This consisted of a road casualty rabbit as bait for two magpies that had been marauding along a hedgerow stripping songbirds' nests of their contents.
Using only the choke barrel, the Lincoln did a very convincing job, resulting in just two shots for two magpies. A little understated this gun may be, but it does just the same job as any other.
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