Last year we reviewed the silver-actioned Miroku ML11 All Clays shotgun imported by Outdoor Sporting Agencies in Melbourne, a gun designed by Rod Laidlaw at OSA to be a more than useful medium to high rib competition sporter. It was equally suitable for Trap or Skeet shooting due to the gun’s versatility with raised rib and adjustable comb to elevate the pattern for those wishing to shoot the Trap disciplines where targets are all rising and going away from the shooter.
The MK38 MC Trap gun under review here is essentially the same firearm mechanically but is the original MK38 model which has been popular in the UK for many years, numerous writers and commentators saying this option is the one all other mid-priced alternatives are compared to there.
BC Miroku Manufacturing of Japan has been making firearms since the late 1800s and is located on the small southern island of Shikoku. The firm has grown rapidly since the end of World War II when, after several years, it was allowed to again start producing various firearms and has become one of the world’s most successful manufacturers.
Stock and fore-end
This MK38 has a moderately figured and lacquer-finished walnut stock that’s unusual nowadays considering we’re so used to oil finished stocks in Australia. The finish on the stock and fore-end is more American in style and reminiscent of the US Browning Citori of earlier days. Should you scratch it it’s harder to bring back to new but is far more waterproof than an oil finish and certainly comes across as smart, setting the tone for what is a good-looking gun. Even the Miroku emblem under the pistol grip is laser-etched perfectly.
The non-adjustable Monte Carlo stock worked well for guys who tried the gun, encouraging an upright head position. Short-necked shooters would be better with a conventional Trap stock while medium to longer-necked shooters will find this gun comfortable to handle. Stock measurements are a fine example of typical Monte Carlo Trap dimensions, the stock registering 1.5^ at the front of comb and 1.5^ at the rear. The drop at heel is 2^ which is standard on other Monte Carlo-shaped stocks and provides a pretty good compromise for the average shooter.
The parallel section ensures the same sight picture wherever the cheek is located along the comb, facets designed to allow the shooter to look down on the rib and out to the target and shoot elevated patterns. At the plate the gun patterned 80 per cent above the aiming mark and 20 per cent below for me, ideal for rising, departing targets so you can touch the bottom of the target as you pull the trigger and follow through. If this is too high for your requirements the parallel section would have to be lowered by a professional stockmaker and refinished.
The gun appeared to have a small amount of cast off and the comb seemed tapered ever so slightly off for a right-handed shooter. I guess that’s why as a lefty I got along well with it. The stock has a thick, well-shaped Trap pad that looks like it was made by Pachmayr for Miroku. It’s comfortable when mounted in the shoulder pocket and spreads recoil over the shoulder area as effectively as possible to help reduce felt recoil and fatigue, highly relevant if you need to line up for a shoot-off at day’s end.
The generous competition-style pistol grip combines a substantial and comfortable palmswell for right-handed shooters but felt fine to this lefty. The fore-end is of the beavertail style, a shape invariably associated with Trap guns where a precise and repeatable grip is an advantage. They’re usually parallel sided so wherever they’re gripped the hand is in the same relationship to the barrels. There’s an old theory that the closer your hands can be to the axis of the shotgun the better you’ll shoot - one I’m inclined to believe - and the narrower beavertail fore-end may well benefit the shooter in this regard. It certainly felt good to me.
This fore-end is easily detached from the barrels with a single lever like all Miroku shotguns. The chequering on stock and fore-end is fine, generous and well executed, giving a comfortable and secure grip without feeling noticeable and potentially affecting concentration.
Barrels and rib
The barrels are 30^ long with 2¾^ chambers and bored for concealed screw-in Invector Plus chokes with three supplied in the classic Trap shooter’s constrictions of half, three-quarters and full. It states on the tube that steel through this modified choke is actually full choke - do not shoot steel through the tighter chokes.
Another outstanding feature is the medium high rib which steps up quickly in a slightly concave curve from the breach to a height of 10mm then gradually back to 6mm high at the muzzle. It’s supported by 12 posts of varying heights to allow for the rib dropping down to the muzzle.
The rib itself is 9mm wide over the action and tapers to 7mm at the muzzle, drawing the eye nicely out to the target and I believe this rib configuration in combination with the Trap stock dimensions is the secret to this gun’s excellent performance on Trap targets.
Between the barrels the rib is ventilated. There’s one fine white centre bead and a green hi-viz front sight at the narrower muzzle end with other coloured replacement hi-viz tubes provided. The barrels are beautifully blued and over-bored at 18.6mm and the forcing cones extended which contributed to a comfortable shooting experience and lack of first barrel muzzle jump, meaning the second barrel can be used much more quickly if needed.
This MK38 features a silver nitride action with the classic decorative engraving pattern we’ve seen on these guns in shooting magazines from the UK over the years. Some people prefer game scene engraving but this pattern really complements the gun.
Miroku shotguns have a full width hinge pin which provides a substantial surface area for smooth opening and closing, lock-up achieved with a full width flat bolt that fits into a bite beneath the bottom chamber.
This method of locking up the action is immensely strong. The gun opens smoothly and closes with an impressive click rather than a clunk due to amazingly tight tolerances in the CNC manufacturing process and is as impressive as some far more expensive guns.
The opening lever and trigger selector incorporated in the safety are equally precise, the gold-plated trigger also adjustable for ‘length of finger comfort’ and the gun provided with two other width trigger shoes to accommodate personal preference. The trigger pulls broke cleanly at around 4lb, ejectors worked immaculately with factory loads and the metal-to-wood fit of action to stock and fore-end iron is excellent.
I had a successful session on the Trap range with this MK38 where its speed of handling made getting on to targets quickly and precisely a breeze. The 30^ barrels contributed to this liveliness and the gun balanced perfectly over the hinge pin.
I was surprised at how well the Monte Carlo also worked on the Skeet layout but with half and three-quarter chokes I missed a couple due to those tight constrictions (that’s my excuse for what it’s worth). However, the other targets were ink-balled.
A couple of mates tried it at Skeet and found the Monte Carlo suited them as well. Clearly this is a good specialist Trap gun but a bit of fun experimentation on other types of targets doesn’t hurt. The medium-height stepped rib meant targets could be picked earlier shooting from the gun-up position with no distraction in the field of view from the barrels below, a feature many Trap shooters take seriously with this cleverly designed and tapered rib. It encouraged a comfortable upright head position which aids enormously when it comes to improved vision and target acquisition.
This gun is expected to retail for about $2300, amazing value for such a well-designed and specialised Trap gun. I’m told it can be had with a basic plastic Negrini-style case for about another $100 or a combination lock case for $160 (check with your dealer). This is a genuinely impressive competition gun which comes highly recommended.
Manufacturer: BC Miroku Japan
Model: MK38 Monte Carlo Trap
Action: Box-lock inertia cocking
Trigger: Single selective, tang safety, two spare trigger shoes
Barrel length: 30^ with 2¾^ chambers
Rib: Medium height, 10mm maximum tapering to 6mm, 9mm wide tapering to 7mm at muzzle.
Chokes: Three Invector Plus. Half, three-quarters and full.
Stock and fore-end: Quality walnut with polyurethane type finish, medium pistol grip and slim beavertail fore-end
Stock dimensions: 1.5^ at comb and 1.5^ rear comb with 2^ at heel. Almost neutral cast-off (slightly right-handed) with 360mm (14.25^) length of pull
Weight: Approximately 8lb (3.7kg) subject to walnut density
Accessories: Choke wrench, instruction manual
RRP: Approximately $2300
Distributor: Outdoor Sporting Agencies, Melbourne