It is an accepted fact in the gun trade that the name engraved on the barrel may not identify the actual maker (this includes ‘best’ English gunmakers who happily had their 3rd and 4th grade shotguns manufactured for them by makers with good but less illustrious names, leaving their own workers to concentrate on the expensive stuff).
In the 1970s and thereabouts, Miroku, a Japanese company, made side-by-side shotguns for a number of American distributors (e.g. Charles Daly and Montgomery Ward) in both 12- and 20-bore, as well as selling the same models under their own name.
For people of a certain generation, the phrase ‘Japanese-made’ has not always been a recommendation; however, Miroku have been making firearms since 1893 and currently manufacture Browning shotguns and Winchester rifles as well as highly-regarded shotguns under their own name.
The bulk of modern clay pigeon shooting is conducted with 12-bore over/unders (“O/U”), and a typical 12-bore O/U is my own Japanese-made Miroku MK70.
Despite this, I have a strong attraction to small-bore side-by-sides, and my eye was caught recently by an advert for a Miroku-badged 20-bore at an affordable price (no-one in the UK associates Miroku with side-by-sides, only O/Us). After negotiations which saw shipping and opening the chokes from the original ½ and Full to ¼ and ½ wrapped into the asking price, all I had to do was fulfil the legal requirements and wait.
Double-barrelled shotguns need some means of joining the barrels at the breech; traditionally, on high quality guns, this been by means of integral extensions at the bottom rear of each barrel (‘chopper lumps’) which are brazed together. Around a hundred years ago an alternative system (‘monobloc’) was devised where a single breech block with two chambers is press-fitted and soldered to barrels manufactured separately from the breech block.
Both systems work well, neither has serious failings, but chopper lumps are generally seen as ‘superior’. Amazingly, on what appears to be a very straightforward, relatively inexpensive shotgun, this little beauty has chopper lump barrels. I would have liked to illustrate this in a photo, but the join is so fine it isn’t detectable at screen resolution.
The Miroku M500 is a boxlock, non-ejector (“BLNE”) weighing in at 6lb 6¼oz (2.915kg). Not particularly light for a 20-bore but, for that reason, it is very comfortable to shoot with typical 28gm loads. The gun has seen only moderate use; there is some wear to the bluing and some light marks on the lefthand side of the woodwork.
The bores, however, are mint and, as mentioned, I had the original ½ & full chokes opened up to ¼ & ½ (good enough for me to straight a couple of stands at the monthly 100-bird).
Read more about these proof marks via this link.
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