column By: The Upland Almanac Staff | March, 21
On the Bench
To begin with, imparting a strong first impression, the metal parts on the exterior of this shotgun are coated in an olive drab Cerakote. While not absolutely waterproof, the coating effectively seals the gun from harsh weather.
The second – and unique – feature on the double-barreled models of the All-Terrain shotguns are the rare earth magnets located in the chamber area of the barrels. These ensure you never accidentally or unintentionally drop another shell when the barrels are open.
Weight on this over-under shotgun is conserved through the use of an alloy receiver, light walnut stocks and ventilated barrels. The Turkish walnut stock both offers a distinct, classic-looking sporting gun appeal and dampens recoil more effectively than a synthetic stock would. The steel-shot rated barrels have easily removable extended choke tubes.
The trigger function is mechanical, and the follow-up trigger pull has a clear reset point and reasonable weight for hunting use. On the top tang is a familiar barrel selector/safety combo. The safety mechanism operates in the hunter-preferred nonautomatic mode.
The gun also includes an oft-neglected feature on over-under shotguns: An integrated sling stud is welded midway on the bottom barrel. A matching stud is screwed into the stock near the butt. Another European-style feature, the sighting is by a front white bead only, no mid-bead.
Catering to the needs of a wing shooter, the Upland Ultralight in CZ’s “All-Terrain” series redefines the idea of a “rainy day” gun.
At the Range
While shooting, said Rick Thomas, the gun “felt good in the hands,” and its nice balance helped to obtain “quick target acquisition.” Ed Moore noted the gun’s balance and how it “points well and shoots nice. I shot it very well and didn’t notice much recoil.” All the shooters found it “UltraLIGHT,” true to its name, though Holt, who likes a heavy gun said, “It’s almost too light for my liking.”
On a couple of rounds, Holt had some “issues closing the barrels, unless the shells were firmly seated.” Another time, Thomas had difficulty closing the gun until he noticed a speck of debris lodged between the extractor and breech; he felt this showed the tight tolerances of the gun.
Holt mentioned the stock and forend seemed plain but “in a ‘bad weather gun,’ this is better than a composite stock.”
The earth magnets holding the shells were a strong feature. And the price. All the shooters felt at its MSRP the gun was a “strong value.”
Said Thomas, “This is a nice, beautiful, two-trigger side-by-side that won’t break the bank.” Moore felt the MSRP was “spot on.” Holt agreed and said he thought the gun represented “a value for the beginner side-by-side shooter.”
In the Field
The CZ Upland Ultralight “All-Terrain” series shotgun arrived late enough in the summer with a generous enough review period to allow me for the first time to put one of our test guns through its paces during hunting season.
In many ways, shotguns are like wristwatches that run in price from $15 to $35,000. Each is built to perform a single, primary, basic task: to tell the correct time of day or to send birdshot in the direction in which the gun is pointed. In other words, at lunchtime both a Rolex and a Timex will indicate “12 o’clock.” And we hope that after lunch, both an English classic side-by-side and a modern Turkish shotgun will deliver their shot appropriately.
I have nothing but a gut feeling for saying this, but I sense that in the past decade or so, the quality of Turkish-made shotguns has vastly improved: better mechanisms, nicer wood in many cases but still a wallet-friendly price.
The intriguing thing about the CZ’s “All-Terrain” series of guns is their immediate visual appeal, even though they don’t have an inch of engraving on them. Also, the well-fitted Turkish walnut stock and forearm just seem to be a grade or two above what one historically expected from Turkish guns. Used to be the wood on Turkish guns looked like the legs that had been whacked off cheap tables and carved to look like gunstocks.
Dave Miller, Shotgun Products and Events Manager for CZ-USA, says he got the idea for coating these guns during a duck hunting trip on saltwater in south Texas. Several other gun manufacturers apply Cerakote onto pumps and semiautos, he says, but “hardly any apply it to over-unders and side-by-sides.”
Just because the gun has that coating, that doesn’t make it 100% impervious to the elements. Miller says you can’t just come home from hunting in a driving storm and stick it in a corner in its gun bag until you’re ready to hunt again.
“I’d never recommend leaving a gun wet, let alone storing one that way. Cerakote is a very durable finish, and it holds up against the saltwater. But at the least you should lube the ejectors/extractors and the mono-block, which is not treated. I recommend a thin layer of grease to be reapplied after every use. It lubes the action and preserves the metal.”
Once the CZ and I hit the woods for an extended field test last fall, another splendid feature became the most important.
Those rare earth magnets retain most modern shells in place in the barrels even when the gun is turned upside down. And that is HUGE!
I couldn’t believe how many times during a hunt I’m likely to open the action for safety’s sake. Switching out dogs, getting them a drink, tightening the boots, wiping the brow, checking the compass, crossing a fence, performing a balancing act on some forest detritus or creek side rocks, basically any action that includes carrying the gun while focused on another action — with the barrels open and the magnets holding the shells, there’s no worry about them slipping out if the gun gets placed in an awkward position.
These magnets are especially helpful when you get tired of carrying your gun at port arms but don’t want to leave it locked and loaded while dangling at your side. Like those times at the end of a hunt when you are on the trail just moseying back to the vehicle and you want to carry your gun a bit more casually — just break it open, and you don’t have to worry about the shells falling out along the way.
This feature enchanted everyone I showed the gun to. And there’s a very simple reason behind its existence, says Miller.
“Necessity is the mother of invention. I am an avid upland bird hunter, and I have had my shells slide out into the tall grass one too many times.”