Stoeger Uplander Special
Typically, the combination of the words “affordable,” “28-ga.,” “side-by-side,”and “well made” is used only when describing a fanciful object that does not exist outside that fancy. But leave it to Stoeger, one of America’s oldest names in high-value firearms, to scour the world and find a maker that could combine those attributes into a tangible shotgun. The Uplander Special, part of the Stoeger Uplander line of side-by-side shotguns made by E.R. Amantino of Brazil, combines rugged, no-frills features, including double triggers and nonselective extractors, with cosmetic niceties such as a nickel-finished receiver and hand-rubbed, oil– finished, straight-wrist stock.
The boxlock double barrel is available in 12-, 20- or 28-ga. versions with different barrel lengths and screw-in choke tubes in 12- and 20-ga. guns. We received a 28-ga. sample for evaluation. True to the commercially offered gun, the sample had 26″ barrels and fixed improved cylinder and modified chokes.
Lockup is by way of the classic Purdy double underlump system with the lumps being true chopper lumps machined as part of the monobloc. The dual locking bars are held forward in the locked position by a powerful coil spring. Pressing the top latch to the right retracts the bars to unlock the action for loading or unloading and simultaneously causes the guide rod for the aforementioned coil spring to press the automatic, top tang-mounted safety back into the “safe” position. There is no practical means of converting the safety from automatic to manual.
Cocking is by a pair of rods in the bottom of the receiver that are pressed back by the fore-end iron as the fore-end is lowered. Those rods push back massive C-shaped hammers against the pressure of mousetrap springs. Holding the hammers in the cocked position are a pair of long, bottom-mounted sears. Their tails rest on extensions of their respective triggers, and an extension hanging from the automatic safety button is positioned over those tails, blocking them from being lifted to release the hammers and fire the gun. Spring-retracted firing pins are retained by bushings in the breechface for easy replacement in the unlikely event of a broken firing pin.
Outwardly, the Stoeger Uplander Special is mostly business. Our sample came stocked with dark, straight-grained Brazilian hardwood fitted with a 3/4″-thick, solid rubber recoil pad. Checkering on the wrist and beavertail fore-end is in a bordered pattern and is obviously hand-cut at a rate of about 18 lines per inch. There were numerous flat points and overruns.
A modified Anson pushrod-style fore-end latch secures the fore-end to a single hanger soldered to the bottom rib. The nickel finish is well done and contrasts nicely with the polished, blued barrels and trigger guard. Wood-tometal fit, while perhaps crude to well-heeled sideby-side aficionados, is nonetheless very good for a shotgun in this price range.
We patterned the Stoeger Uplander Special at 40 yds. with the results shown in the accompanying table. Patterns were fairly well-centered and even, indicating aboveaverage attention to barrel regulation for a valuepriced side-by-side. Chokes, though billed as improved cylinder and modified, actually measured cylinder and improved cylinder, and patterned a tight improved cylinder and a loose modified, respectively. We function-fired the Uplander Special as it was intended to be used– on upland birds-and in our case, early-season ruffed grouse.
We found the Stoeger Uplander Special not as lively as we would have liked for such tight shooting. The muzzles were sluggish to respond and the sticky, rubber recoil pad hindered quick gun mounts. Change the beavertail fore-end to a splinter-type and make the buttpad thinner, harder and slicker, and you’d have an ideal, low-priced 28-ga. side-by-side for “in your face” woodcock, quail or grouse.
As it stands, though, the Uplander Special is responsive and agile enough for late-season grouse when there is less foliage and more opportunity for longer shots. It should also prove outstanding for released game birds, and given the sturdiness of its construction, the Uplander Special should reward the cost-conscious shooter with a lifetime of reliable performance.
Copyright National Rifle Association of America Apr 2003
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