(Below) The new Blaser F16 Sporting gives you great looks, reliability and the renowned Blaser performance. Ditto for the Blaser F16 Game Gun (Above). Either way you choose, you have a winner.
Blaser of Isny Germany is world famous for their outstanding hunting rifles. Since 2004 when they began importing their F3 over/under shotguns into the U.S., they have been gathering unto themselves a fair share of the clay target O/U market, particularly after Team Blaser shooters Bill McGuire and Cory Kruse won the NSCA Nationals Main Event Championship in consecutive years — 2011 and 2012. It was Cory’s second Nationals title. He first won it in 2003.
The new F16 Sporting Gun comes equipped with the famous Briley Spectrum Extended screw-in chokes. For the sporting clays competition at the Blaser event, we were provided a 30" and a 32" version of the F16 with IC and Light Mod chokes.
Blaser has evolved the innovative F3 over/under through a series of competition versions. The Blaser Super Trap, Super Skeet and Super Sporting models all feature the highly sought-after modular concept where any set of F3 over/under barrels will simply, quickly and precisely fit onto any F3 receiver with full functionality assured. This one feature alone is worth the price of admission. Add it to the list of other features that include the full range of adjustability provided by the adjustable comb hardware, the adjustable rib, trigger blade adjustability for reach within the trigger guard, fine-tuning of overall weight and balance of the gun provided by the balancer system of stock and barrel weights, and you can begin to understand there is virtually no shooter who cannot be more than satisfied with the choice of a Blaser F3 shotgun. By the way, interchangeability between F3 receivers is not limited to barrels. Most major components, such as stocks, forearms and internals, can be swapped out with little or no fitting.
A shotgun that offers so much probably has a rather intense price tag hanging on it. Alas, this is very difficult to avoid. Although the F3 line of competition guns provide a lot to you, they can take a noticeable bite out of your wallet. While offering a superb shotgun, Blaser realized this situation was not allowing them to gather much of the market of the mid-range price arena of over/under shotguns. It was time to seriously consider how to remedy this predicament.
It was obvious simply eliminating expensive-to-produce features wasn’t the best or smartest way to go. This required heavy thought of what features were considered non-negotiable and which were expendable or at least available for tweaking.
The factors were: the gun had to be priced between $4K and $5K. It had to have great pointability and great balance (neutral balance) with weight situated between the hands. A low profile and great triggers were necessary.
The resulting product from Blaser is their latest model over/under — the F16. I know, you are probably wondering, “Wait a minute. The first model was deemed the F3, now you come out with the F16? What became of the 13 models in between? A good question with a rather simple answer. The year of first design and/or production accounts for the model designation. The F3 had its production beginnings in 2003, and the latest F16 version began in 2016.
So how is the new F16 equipped to hold its own with the F3 in the way of quality, features and reliability yet maintain a lesser price point in a market where guns selling for $8K to $10K are commonplace? Let’s look into that a bit closer.
First of all, I will tell you having shot an F3 for nearly 10 years, I can recognize Blaser quality. Rest assured, there is plenty of it in the new Blaser F16. The fit and finish of all metal parts are very typical of Blaser; no snags, burrs or scratches caused by improperly fitted or finished parts. Ultra-smooth surfaces that almost feel velvety to the touch abound on the F16. Lock-up, which is slightly different than the F3, is still very secure, strong and silent. The lock-up employed on the new F16 is not the full bite, underlug style of the F3. It is more of a wedge design that protrudes into both sides of the mono-bloc on either side of the lower chamber. Simple, but strong and efficient.
Functional design is exhibited in the F16 by the shaping of the receiver. The new F16 sports what Blaser calls a “Semi Round Body” receiver. This streamlined receiver aids in both the pointability of the F16 and to a certain degree the carryability of the gun. When you look at the F16 with barrels attached and closed onto the receiver, you will notice a slightly different look to the upper barrel shroud versus the F3. The F16 has fewer edges in this area. The shroud, as I call it, seems to blend more into the water table. A “sexier” look is what we were told at the launch of the F16 event in Texas.
Along with the modular concept, another highly prized feature of the F3 is the trigger group and its performance, primarily the very fast lock time. The inline hammers and straight-line mounted firing pins are replaced in the new F16 by a more typical rotary hammer system that utilizes the more traditional angled positioning of the firing pins. While more traditional in design, this trigger group does not fall far from the standard set by the hallmark F3 triggers. The F16’s mechanically operated triggers are very crisp, breaking at 3.6 lbs. and near as fast as the F3. The trigger blade is adjustable for the reach of your trigger finger (LOP).
The major feature of the F3 series of Blaser over/unders — barrel interchangeability from one receiver to the other is not a part of the makeup of the F16 series. This ultra-precise machining is costly. With the design parameters aimed at making the new model affordable to more prospective buyers, this feature was not included. Current F3 barrels will not fit onto F16 receivers or vice versa.
Finish of the F16 receiver is corrosion-resistant due to treatment called PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) resulting in a Gun Metal Grey colored finish. The F3’s Triplex bore design consisting of an internal bore diameter of .735, a 3” Chamber and Long Forcing Cone (1.4 degrees) makes the F16 a hard hitter only at the serious business end of the gun. In my hands, and even with an unfitted out-of-the-box gun, recoil was quite manageable. Overall weight and balance on the Sporting version can be tuned with the available barrel weighting system and internally mounted stock weights. Weight of the Sporting gun is approximately 7.5 to 8.4 lbs., depending on barrel length and wood density. This weighting system is standard equipment on the Sporting gun and optional on the Game gun.
This dog took the bird right out of the sky. The bird had barely taken two flaps off the ground and the dog said, “Oh no you don’t.” Incredible!
Inset > One of our pointers on the morning hunt hot on the scent of a bird. A beautiful point. Watching these dogs do their stuff in the field is amazing. It really is in the blood!
Blasers are known for chunking spent hulls a long way out of the gun, and the F16 keeps up the family name in this regard. The famous Blaser EBS (Ejection Ball System) easily gets spent hulls out. The more important aspect of the design of the EBS is how it only cocks the ejector in the correct chamber when the shot is fired, not before. So resistance in closing the gun is always kept to a minimum.
The stocks of the F16 are currently available with the following dimensions: LOP – 14 ¾”, Drop – 2” with an optional dimension of 2.2”. Cast of 1/8”, ¼” and 5/16”. A left-hand stock and adjustable comb are in the works but not yet available.
The beautifully built trigger group for the new Blaser F16. It incorporates the more traditional rotating hammers instead of the inline hammer design of the F3. This trigger system provides a very crisp and clean break of the sears at 3.6 lbs.
The forearm on the F16 comes in what is called an English style. The Anson-style latch, part of the F3’s makeup all along, is kept on the F16. This latch arrangement works well, and the forearm can be adjusted by way of a new eccentric camming system within the forearm iron, a welcome system, to be sure.
The low profile of the F3 has always helped the shooter to be more fluid and precise when pointing. Interestingly, the F16 is 1mm lower in receiver height than the F3. When I was the Gun Sales Manager at the retail store of my former employer both in Alexandria, VA, and Dallas, TX, I made it a point to demonstrate to my prospective customers how a low-profile receiver helps a shooter to point a shotgun more precisely. The centerlines of the gun and the hands when positioned closer together lets the shooter point more naturally and precisely than when holding a gun with a more massive, taller receiver. In essence, the gun shoots much closer to where you look. This is a good thing.
The beautiful Main Lodge at Joshua Creek Ranch.
When writers were assembled at the Joshua Creek Ranch in Boerne, TX, a few miles northwest of San Antonio for the US launch of the Blaser F16, we were introduced to the Game gun as well as the Sporting version of this new model. The Game gun differs little in overall appearance to the Sporting version of the F16. While the Game gun and the Sporting F16 models are currently (and for the foreseeable future) offered only in 12 gauge, the Game gun is available with 28” or 30” barrels and the Sporting with 30” or 32” barrels.
The ornamentation of the Sporting receiver is quite Spartan, as it is on the Game gun. The only noticeable markings are the F16 logo on the bottom rear of both sides of the receiver, with the Sporting model having a red color filling the letters and the Game model’s logo filled with a dull white color. Additionally, the Sporting gun has a fluorescent-style front bead, while the Game gun sports a round, stainless bead at its muzzle.
The first morning of testing was reserved for the writers to familiarize themselves with the F16 Game Gun. This was done on a two-hour morning hunt on the Joshua Creek Ranch property with quail, chukar and pheasant being the quarry. I used this opportunity to go out with a pair of writers, the guide and his dogs to take photos of the action. The afternoon activities would be where I would have my chance to test the Sporting version, as we would be teamed with several of the Team Blaser pro shooters on a 15-station sporting clays course.
The F16 receiver is laser-hardened and has a Gun Metal Grey finish. This view shows the receiver with the trigger group removed. Like the F3, the F16 receiver uses a stainless-steel hardened faceplate on the breech face that can be removed to access the firing pins.
I suspected the F16 would perform to expectations, and I was not wrong in my assumption. The course was not brutal, but the targets required planning and good technique. The F16s for all the teams were equipped with Improved Cylinder and Light Modified Briley Spectrum extended screw-in chokes in the bottom and top barrels respectively. RIO one-ounce target loads with 8s were supplied to us. The chokes and loads worked well. The F16 moved responsively but not too whippy to the targets. All teams were provided two guns, one with 30” barrels and one with 32” barrels. I shot the 32” version for all but one station. I must say the triggers on the F16 felt very much like my triggers on my F3, very crisp breaking and lightning quick on lock time.
Recoil was not harsh even to my arthritic shoulder. Too many years of serving 100+ miles per hour serves in tennis and hundreds of thousands of 12-gauge shotgun and rifle calibers have taken their toll.
With the Blaser name on it, you can expect quality. The F16 will attract buyers with its styling, reliability, fit, finish, performance and price. By the way, the price will have an MSRP of $4,195 for the Sporting version and $3,795 for the Game gun. And, should you ever need service on it, Blaser maintains outstanding customer service.
If you have ever dreamed of owning a Blaser, now you have no reason not to. The new F16 gives you the quality and performance you have always admired in a Blaser. See your local Blaser dealer about the new F16 or better yet, call one of the dealers in this magazine who handle Blaser and be sure to tell them you saw their ad in Shotgun Sports. SS