Generally speaking, you get what you pay for in this life, and shotguns are no exception. Spending more doesn’t guarantee you a happy, trouble-free gun owning experience, but it lowers the odds of getting a bad gun, which is why I usually steer clear of cheap shotguns and urge others to do the same.=
That said, it always makes me happy to be able to recommend a bargain-priced shotgun. CZ’s Drake is definitely one worth a look. The Drake, like all CZ USA shotguns, is imported from Turkey, where it is made by Huglu (the “g” is silent), one of Turkey’s best gunmakers.== CZ has been working with Huglu for a long time, and they’ve done a good job of making the Turks elevate the quality of their guns to the level U.S. customers expect. CZ also stands behind its guns and has a service center in Kansas City.
The price of Turkish labor being what it is, CZ is able to sell their guns at very attractive prices. I can’t vouch for their pumps and semiautos, but their over/unders and side-by-sides are good. They were very popular around here when we had lots of pheasants, and people liked them a great deal.
The Drake is new this year, and it’s a bare-bones O/U hunting gun, available in 12 and 20 gauge with 28-inch barrels. The 20-gauge, which I’ve been shooting, weighs in at 6 pounds, 9 ounces, which isn’t too heavy for a day of carrying in the field, but is enough heft to shoot easily and to absorb recoil. That’s a good thing, because the gun is chambered for 3-inch magnums, although it will also shoot any 2 ¾-inch loads as well.
Controls and Mechanisms
The gun is pretty basic: single mechanical trigger, meaning that the it doesn’t rely on the gun’s recoil to reset the trigger mechanism to the second barrel after the first shot, as guns with inertia triggers do. (That’s a nice feature if you reload your own ammo and your quality control sometimes slips. If the first shot is a dud, the second will still fire.)
The Drake has a manual safety, which stays in the “off” position when you open the gun. Manual safeties are preferred over automatic safeties by many target shooters, because automatic safeties go back on every time you open the gun. Target shooters usually take a safety off at the beginning of a round and don’t put the gun back on safe until they’re done shooting. A safety that keeps going back on distracts them and sometimes costs them a target. A barrel selector, which allows you to choose which barrel fires first, is located on the safety switch in the form of a button that slides back and forth.
The Drake has shell extractors in place of the ejectors found on most O/Us. Extractors lift the shells partway out of the chamber so you can pluck them out, rather than popping them into the air the way ejectors do. Some prefer extractors in a field gun because they don’t throw empty hulls away into the grass, as ejectors do, meaning you need to find the shells and pick them up. If you reload, you want to keep every empty anyway. And if you can’t find them, you’re littering.
Appearance-wise, the Drake is simple as well. The walnut is satin finished, very straight-grained, and kind of a muddy brown color on my sample gun. Turkish guns are often known for the quality of their wood, but this is kind of meh, which you should expect from a budget priced gun.
Wood to metal fit it quite good, with no unsightly gaps. The wood is slightly proud (higher than the metal), meaning there’s enough there that the gun could be refinished once without taking the wood below the level of the steel.
Checkering on the stock and forend helps you keep a grip on the gun. Like almost all checkering today, this has been done by machines, not by hand (the giveaway is that it’s too perfect to be hand-work). The metal is matte black with some perfunctory scroll on the receiver.
The Drake’s barrels lack a side-rib, which was probably done to save weight, or perhaps to cut costs a little. Side ribs serve no real function anyway, other than to keep sticks and twigs out of the gap between your barrels. The lack of side ribs gives the gun an unconventional look, but it’s not unattractive. The muzzle is tipped with a white, Bradley-style bead, and that’s about all there is to the Drake’s appearance.
Shooting the Drake
I shot the Drake at a steel pattern plate to check its point of impact and get an idea of how well it fit me. Patterns printed about 60 percent above point of aim, 40 percent below, which I think is about ideal in a field gun—high enough to let you see the whole target above the gun’s barrels, but still flat enough you don’t overshoot.
Then I shot the Drake at Skeet from a low-gun start to get an idea of its handling and swinging characteristics. The gun feels slightly muzzle heavy in balance, which is a good thing in a gun that will be used for birds and targets both, because a little weight forward helps smooth your swing.
The gun’s trigger broke cleanly at 5 ½-6 pounds, which is slightly heavy, but not terrible, and certainly not at all unshootable on a shotgun, since the trigger is more often slapped than pulled like a rifle trigger.
As I mentioned earlier, the gun weighs enough to absorb recoil, but the buttpad is quite thin, and as a result my shoulder could definitely tell the gun was going off when I shot it. It wasn’t terrible and is certainly fine for a field gun, but I might have a thicker, softer pad put on it if my intention was mostly to shoot clays with the Drake.
The stock dimensions are 1 ½-inch drop at the comb, 2 ¼-inch drop at the heel. It has a 14-inch length of pull and no cast I could detect. Smaller shooters might need to have the stock cut slightly shorter, and having the stock cut would be a perfect excuse to add the aforementioned softer recoil pad.
But the Drake feels good when you swing it on a target, it comes with a hard case and five choke tubes, and you get all of that for $629, which is a bargain in O/U shotguns. If I didn’t have too many guns already, I’d want this one as a backup gun, and one to shoot on rainy days, and maybe on nice days, too, come to think of it.
= There are exceptions: H&R and Savage 220 slug guns; Beretta A300 Outlanders. Me, I afford the guns I want by buying them used.
== And yes, they do have some good gunmakers. Not every Turkish gun is junk.
CZ Drake Over/Under Shotgun
Gauge: 12 and 20
Barrel length: 28 inches
Chokes: 5 flush screw-in (F, IM, M, IC, C)
Stock: Turkish walnut with pistol grip
Forend style: Snag-free
Receiver finish: Gloss black chrome
Barrel finish: Gloss black chrome
Rib: 8mm flat vent
Weight: 7.4 lbs. (20 gauge: 6.5 lbs.)
Length of pull: 14 1/2 in.
Drop at comb: 1 3/8 in.
Drop at heel: 2 1/4 in.
Trigger: Single selectable
Safety: Manual tang
Overall length: 45.75 in.