Steve Comus – GUN TALK

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Muzzle brakes might be ugly — but they work

Dickinson Plantation Side-By-Side scores well!
Pheasant hunting with a side-by-side shotgun is about as classic as one can get. So, that’s what I did on a trip to Nebraska this fall.

The gun: Dickinson’s 12-gauge Plantation side plate model with 28-inch barrels, straight grip and delicious

color case hardening on the metal. We’re talking beautifully shiny, 28-inch deep luster blued barrels with thin screw-in chokes and Schnabel forend. Both forend and straight grip feature hand-cut 24 lines per inch checkering.

dickinsonplantationDICKINSON PLANTATION 12-gauge side-by-side shotgun handles like a dream and carries well on upland bird hunt. Color casehardened metal parts, including the sideplates, and carved teardrops on each side of the stock just fore of the grip are really nice aesthetic touches. Hand-cut checkering on the stock and forend are both functional and graceful. The gun came with ejectors that kicked both shells out, landing within a couple of inches of each other — nicely tuned.

Both stock and forend are made from premier grade Turkish walnut and metal parts are hand-engraved in an English scroll (25 percent coverage). By any measure, this is one heck of a handsome shotgun. A hunter could get style points by just carrying it around the field. But that’s not what was in store for this particular shotgun.

In addition to pheasants, chukar partridge and bobwhite quail were on the hunt agenda, and the Dickinson engaged them all with the style and grace of a classic. What a lot of fun!

Since the hunt called for hunting over a combination of pointers and flushers, I opted for cylinder in the right barrel and improved cylinder in the left. A pre-hunt trip to the patterning board showed that the choking was very slightly tight for each level, which meant that the combination used should be about perfect.

By the time the hunt was over, it was confirmed to be the perfect combination for the circumstances encountered. The dogs didn’t flush the birds far out, but there were some shots that weren’t close, either.

The gun comes with five choke tubes, wrench and a box to carry them in. Other chokes are modified, improved modified and full. Chambers are 3-inch, but all I used were 2¾-inch shells. Should the hunter want to take this model waterfowling or use it where non-toxic shot is required, the more open choke tubes (cylinder, improved cylinder and modified) can handle steel shot.

THE AUTHOR SHOWS a pheasant he took with the Dickinson Plantation shotgun. The gun worked great on pheasants, chukar partridge and quail.

Of particular note is the single non-selectable trigger (Plantation models are available with selectable and non-selectable triggers). The trigger system is mechanical as opposed to inertia. For this specific gun, that translated into a clean, crisp 5¾-pound pull for each barrel (really nice when the trigger breaks the same for both barrels).

For me, the comb on the stock delivered patterns that were ever so slightly high (like 60 percent above line of sight). For game birds like pheasants, chukar and quail, this is perfect

The gun weighs 8¼ pounds, which is about where a double 12-gauge should be. It carried extremely well, as we covered several miles of mixed cover fields over a couple of days. Balance of the gun is such that it goes to the target quickly and instinctively, and also carries nicely in the process. There were a few occasions when it was necessary to swing significantly to get the birds, and the Plantation proved that it could swing as smoothly as it pointed quickly. Very nice.

Some of those dynamics I ascribe to the 28-inch barrels. I don’t know specifically why, but for 12-gauge side-by-sides, 28-inch barrels on upland hunts seem to be magic. Nothing wrong with 26- or 30-inch double tubes, but there is just something about 28.

The secret to shooting this particular shotgun was to go fully instinctive by watching the birds rise from the cover and then just instinctively pointing at them and allowing the gun to go off at the right time. Whenever I did that, there were puffs of feathers and birds fell limp from the air. The dogs seemed to appreciate easy retrieves.

Overall, the Dickinson Plantation side-by-side is a high-performance, classic gun for upland birds, as well as general hunting. It represents a whole lot of bang for the buck.

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Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a WON Guns and Hunting Guns Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at

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