Some hunters have learned that the 28 gauge is a formidable game cartridge, and Weatherby’s new sleek and racy SA-08 Deluxe will find a warm place in the hearts of these true believers. Made in Turkey to Weatherby’s specifications, the SA-08 28 tips the scale at under 6 lbs. Weight is distributed similarly to other gas-operated semi-automatics that have a slightly barrel-heavy feel. That isn’t all bad, because the forward hand guides the shot, and a bit more weight there helps steady the gun and prevents slowing and/or stopping of the swing.
From the butt, the SA-08 carries a “sporter-style” soft rubber pad with a slick plastic insert at the heel for a snag-free mount. With the very mild recoil of the 28, a pad is more a luxury than a necessity. The buttstock and fore-end are of plain hand-checkered walnut. The Turkish shotgun industry still does some things the old-fashioned way. When it comes to checkering, for instance, it is hand-cut, unlike that in most of the industry, which is laser-cut. It appears to be about 22 lines to the inch, and while the diamonds are not needle-pointed, they afford a good firm grip, which is what it’s supposed to do. To Weatherby’s advantage is the inclusion of several shims to adjust the stock for drop and cast. While not a professionally fitted stock, the owner can adjust the stock to best fit himself with the shims, and that’s a real advantage for a field gun where shots are often quick, and a well-fitting gun is the difference between fried quail for breakfast and Cheerios.
The receiver is machined from a hard aluminum alloy. The Turks may hand checker, but the machining is done on state-of-the-art CNC centers that ensure tight tolerances. The fact is that all the forces and pressures of firing in most semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns are taken up by the breech bolt and its engagement with the barrel extension. Some guns employ rifle-style rotating locking lugs and others, such as the SA-08, use a rising block in the bolt that engages a matching cut at the rear of the barrel extension. It is a hardened, machined piece of steel threaded onto the breech end of the barrel. When the action cycles and a live round is picked up from the magazine and pushed into the chamber, the last bit of forward thrust pushes a projection on the bolt carrier under the rear of the locking block that in turn rises into the cutout on the barrel extension, locking everything tight for the shot. It’s a system employed by Remington since the 1940s with the only difference being the SA-08 bolt locks up at the rear, and the Remington in the front.
Disassembly for cleaning is easy. The magazine cap is unscrewed, freeing the fore-end to slide off, and allowing barrel removal. The action is then taken apart by removing the charging handle, which is a little tricky. Close examination of the space in the bolt in which the bolt handle rides will reveal a slight half-moon cut on the top a little more than an inch rearward from the bolt face. With the butt resting on a bench, grasp the sleeve that surrounds the magazine tube and slowly pull back, observing the bolt. When the half-moon reaches a point parallel with the charging handle it can then be pulled straight out. Once out, it can be examined and found to have a flat side and half-moon-shaped side, indicating reassembly, again lining up the cut with the bolt handle. The test gun’s bolt handle was very hard to remove and necessitated a rag-wrapped pliers to extract. Replacement was easier.
Further disassembly required only pulling forward and withdrawing the magazine sleeve, action bars and bolt. The trigger assembly drops out after removing the single pin that holds it in place. Be sure to apply the safety when removing the trigger group, to avoid releasing the hammer. It’s not damaging, just annoying. Normal cleaning rules should be followed, including very light lubrication since lube attracts dirt, and semi-automatics don’t work well when dirty.
The barrel is chrome-lined and carries the gas cylinder and piston slung beneath it. Of note is that the SA-08 comes with two gas pistons, one labeled “LIGHT LOADS” and the other “HEAVY LOADS.” Because there are only two loads for the 28-ga., 3/4- and 1-oz., it seems a bit strange when compared with the 12 and its wide variety of loads. Still, changing the piston is about a two-minute job, and the presumption is that heavy loads are those carrying 1 oz. of shot. The difference between the light- and heavy-load pistons are slight with the light-load having a 1/16th circumferential spring in the same place as a solid, machined band on the heavy-load piston. Presumably, the spring contracts, easing the friction against the gas cylinder; and the solid area on the heavy-load’s piston provides more friction, slowing it and thus impacting the action with the same velocity.
The barrel’s bore measured 0.548", and the three choke tubes, improved cylinder, modified and full, offered additional constriction of 0.005", 0.012", 0.021", respectively.
Overall the gun is nicely finished with a deep black-anodized and highly polished receiver. The barrel is also a deep black that matches the receiver. In fact the only parts not polished black are the trigger, bolt and bolt release and the carrier.
Shooting any 28 gauge is a pleasure, and the SA-08 is no exception. The gun’s minimal recoil, light weight, and svelte shape, combined with the 28 gauge’s excellent ballistics, make this a great choice for grouse, bobwhites, game farm pheasants and surely a youngster’s first gun.
Action type: gas-operated semi-automatic shotgun
Gauge: 28, 2¾"
Receiver: anodized aluminum alloy
Trigger: 8-lb. pull
Magazine: four shells with supplied plug reducing to two
Barrel: 28" (also available in 26") with screw-in choke tubes
Sights: ventilated rib with brass front bead
Stock: high-gloss, select walnut: length of pull, 145⁄16"; drop at comb, 19⁄16"; drop at heel, 25⁄16"; cast-off 1/8"
Overall Length: 48¼"
Weight: 5 lbs., 11 ozs.
Metal Finish: polished black-anodized receiver, black barrel
Accessories: cable-style lock; heavy-load gas piston; three choke tubes (improved cylinder, modified, full); flat, stamped choke-tube wench; stock adjusting shims
Suggested retail price: $849