Steve Comus – GUN TALK

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019
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Wednesday, December 18, 2019
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Dickinson Sideplate Plantation Over/Under
A handsome shotgun!

Over time, we have been looking at the various models in the extensive Dickinson line and this time the subject is the Plantation Model over/under with sideplates and action that are color case hardened. Handsome shotgun, indeed.

The Plantation series is several cuts above the average in ways both large and small. For this effort, however, we checked out a rather specialized specimen – a .410 bore with 26-inch barrels, 3-inch chambers and choked full and full. This model features a single selective trigger system that is mechanical. This is proper because the .410 doesn’t deliver enough recoil for the internal inertia weights of an inertia trigger system to reset between shots.

COLOR CASE HARDENING gives the Plantation .410 a distinctive look and adds to the overall visual appeal of this well-performing gun.

When it comes to a hunting .410, that’s about as good as it gets. It combines a light (7 pounds even) and responsive gun with a pattern dense enough at all normal shotgunning distances to get the job done. For those who want an even lighter .410 over/under, Dickinson also offers a Hunter Light model that weighs 6 1/2 pounds.

Typically, the shot payload for .410 is 1/2-ounce for 2½-inch shells and 11/16-ounce for 3-inch shells. For doves, the 2½-inch shells with No. 7½or No. 8 shot work fine. When it comes to steel shot loads for the .410, a common combination is 3-inch shell, 3/8-ounce of No. 6 shot.

First, I took the .410 to the patterning board to see what kinds of patterns it shot, as well as where it shot them. My patterns looked similar to the pattern on the patterning target supplied with the gun – just a hair above 50/50 (which means it shoots right where you look) and dead-on left to right. Within the pattern, pellets were evenly distributed and the patterns from the top and bottom barrels fully overlapped, which means that the two barrels are perfectly regulated – something that is found only in better doubles.

The patterning board suggested a tight pattern, so I kept that in mind for a quick trip to the sporting clays range to do some pre-hunt checking out of the handling dynamics, etc. I am pleased to announce that all went well and when I did my job, clays were crunched at distances to 35 or 40 yards. What I did learn on the sporting course, however, was that the tight choking allowed almost no forgiveness. I was either on-target or missed totally – no chippers, for example.

With that info, I headed to the open desert for some early season doving. Any question about whether this is a valid hunting shotgun was answered quickly as a beautiful white-winged dove jetted just above the high bush line from right to left at almost exactly 20 yards. Although that is a bit closer than most shots at doves in the open desert, it was an almost perfect skeet shot from post 4. I visually focused like a laser on the bird as I mounted the gun, swung to it and just through it as the bottom barrel reported a loud “pop.”

CUT CHEKERING, COMBINED with an accent drop point in the stock, coupled with jeweling of the monoblock result in a gun that looks as good as it shoots. That’s nice.

A small cloud of feathers floated in the air as the bird dropped directly to the ground with an audible “thump,” stone dead on impact. A quick check of the bird showed that it took basically the whole load of No. 7 1/2 shot from the 2 1/2-inch shell.

Most of the remainder of shots that day were in the 30- to 40-yard range and when I hit the birds, they came right down. The most effective shooting style was to mount the gun while coming from behind and then torching off the round just as the muzzles went a tiny distance in front of the beak.

When the gun is lively and responsive, this is easy and effective. It should be fun to see how the gun works on quail. My guess is it will do just fine. Also, this would be a great rig for pheasants and chukar over pointers on hunting preserves. One thing is certain. It is a great bet for those who don’t want to lug a boat anchor around the hunting fields all day.

And, appropriately, the entire gun is scaled to the gauge. That means everything is the right size and shape for a proper .410. Balance is such that the gun is neither barrel nor butt-heavy. Often, .410s are barrel-light, which means they are hard to track and tend to go quickly past the bird. Not so with the svelte Dickinson.

This gun feels really right in the hands. It has a thin pistol grip and forend, with a Schnabel tip on the forend wood.

THE SVELTE DICKINSON .410 not only bagged doves, but was a real performer on the sporting clays range before the hunt.

Well-done point checkering in both pistol grip and forend enhance the purchase, or hold, which is instinctively firm. There are two nice touches on the stock. One is the way the checkering comes fully around the top of the pistol grip where the patterns from both sides meet attractively dead center atop the grip. This is something that is limited to serious guns that are as interested in aesthetics as function.

Another nice touch is the presence of “teardrop” drop points on either side of the stock just aft of the sideplates. The Turkish walnut stock and forend are both done extremely well. The fit of the sideplates in the stock is superb.

This is a handsome shotgun all around, and especially the color case hardening of the metal parts of the action and forend. The ventilated rib atop the top barrel features a single brass bead sight. The rib itself is cross-filed to reduce reflection and there are full side ribs between the barrels. A rubber butt pad completes the ensemble.

It looks like Dickinson has done it again. These folks are paying close attention to all details and the results in the field reflect how effectively this is done. Great gun. Lots of fun.

THE DICKINSON PLANTATION .410 over/under proved its mettle during the early dove season, taking both white-winged and mourning doves. Here, author shows a white-winged dove he took with the Dickinson gun.

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