The Miroku gun factory in Japan has been a leading maker of fine grade firearms and well on par with Italian and English-made mass production shotguns. Miroku shotguns came to Australia more than 50 years ago under the Stirling banner, imported by Fuller Firearms of Sydney, and are now distributed by Outdoor Sporting Agencies in Melbourne. As the years have passed so the quality has improved and, based on the John Moses Browning schematics of almost 100 years ago, these modern-day masterpieces of engineering refinement have well and truly stood the test of time.
The Miroku MK70 Grade 1 game gun in 28-gauge is a very well made and finished sporting shotgun with great features and excellent value at just under $2000. The bonus of buying a Miroku MK70 is the gun will last a generation and beyond as the firearms are so well engineered and parts readily available. So let’s take a closer look at the MK70 28-gauge game gun as interest in sub-gauge shotgunning, especially in sporting clays and simulated field, is growing.
The 760mm (30^) barrels are immaculately blued without a blemish in solid dark blue. The top rib is parallel at 6mm for its entirety and ventilated to provide quicker cooling and both side ribs are firm and extended most of the way along the barrels, being short just under the fore-end woodwork.
At the muzzle end the barrels are fitted with Miroku Invector choke tubes, three supplied along with a flat spanner for fitting and removing. Measuring 50mm in length these sit just behind the muzzle and offer a variety of hunting or shooting options (see specifications).
The breech of the gun is strong and well designed, utilising the two-piece ejector format that’s been in vogue since the days of Browning’s patents for the B25 in the mid-1920s, along with the next generation under-pinned jointing system for the barrel’s connection to the receiver.
Unlike many other shotguns, especially those from Italy, Miroku barrels are joined to the receiver via a hook under the barrels giving the gun a slightly higher profile in most instances, which can marginally affect swing and handling. This by no means detracts from the fine design of the gun, it just means if you prefer a higher receiver profile the Miroku MK70 in its many gauge offerings would be a great choice.
The gun is chambered for 70mm (2¾^) cartridges and capable of firing 26 grams of lead shot in the hunting loads available from Baschieri & Pellagri and Gamebore and 19 grams of lead shot in size seven for clay target shooting. For a considerable size down from a 12-gauge this was not too critical as most clay target shooting these days is done with 28-gram (1oz) loads. The field loads really commanded close shooting.
Being a game gun the little Miroku MK70 in 28-gauge is well suited to upland game such as rabbits, quail, partridges and stretching the limit to pheasants under 30m with well-placed head shots. Hares and foxes are a little out of its league except for shots under 20m as the limited range of shot sizes, restricted to size six, seven and nine shot meant that applications, as described, were somewhat restricted.
Waterfowl hunting over decoys would be a challenge with the selection of loads available as steel shot is mandatory on all wetlands throughout states having seasonal shoots. I’d also prefer a blued or black receiver for such to avoid glints from the reflection from a low rising sun.
Scroll engraving is attractive on both sides of the receiver and underside of the gun. As an MK70 model I’d liked to have seen game scenes on the sides but the overall engraving is tastefully completed.
The top lever of the MK70 28-gauge was a little stiff to operate as you’d expect from a new gun but over time will doubtless wear-in and become easier to operate. The safety catch-cum-barrel selector is conveniently located on the top tang and functioned faultlessly with a firm and positive movement. This is what has come to be expected of Miroku shotguns since their import into Australia and I’ve never reviewed or used a dud. They’re extremely well made and finished to perfection.
The triggerguard isn’t scaled down to fit in with the smaller-framed gun but its shape and design are well suited to shooters with both large and small fingers, with room to move if thin leather gloves are worn in cold weather. The triggerfoot is comfortably raked although not adjustable and trigger pulls are around 3½-4lb each.
I was surprised to find the trigger selection operating system inertia driven and not mechanically selected, which is often the case with small gauge guns. The system works well with a variety of loads and never failed. Miroku has obviously overcome adjustments with its inertia trigger system to deal with reduced recoil from the lighter loads required.
The stock and fore-end
Made from walnut with grain travelling parallel to the barrels, the MK70 28-gauge is well featured with a game stock for field shooting/hunting (see specifications). The Schnabel or tulip-style fore-end wood design is comfortable to hold and, with significantly reduced recoil compared with a 12-gauge shotgun, this one is smooth to shoot.
While recoil isn’t an issue, for junior shooters I’d favour a rubber recoil pad fitted for correct gun mounting and to absorb the little recoil that results. A junior shooter who tried the gun during my evaluation said he too would have preferred a rubber recoil pad (the plastic Miroku buttplate was a touch uncomfortable for his light frame).
Chequering about the fore-end and pistol grip of the stock is around 20 lines per inch and looked like it had been done with a hand-held electric tool as there were a few slight overruns on the inside border line (there were twin border lines) which normally doesn’t happen with computer-guided laser chequering equipment. The end result was clean and great to the feel for a good, positive grip.
In the field
As much as I’d have loved to take the MK70 28-gauge out on quail, it wasn’t that time of the season but I imagine the gun being perfect for that purpose, shooting a selection of seven and nine-shot loads. A hunt on rabbits would also have been fun for the lightness of the gun, and its ‘speed’ of pointing and swinging would be appreciated as the bunnies bolted from underfoot, but dry conditions have resulted in rabbit populations in surrounding areas to Phillip Island being well down, except within town limits where they seem bountiful but shooting is prohibited.
A couple of trips to local gun clubs for clay target shooting proved enjoyable, with the speed of the smaller gauge gun taking a bit of getting used to after the heavier 12-gauge guns I’ve been familiar with. My scores were reasonable but it’ll take time to become accustomed to the liveliness of the lightweight 28-gauge which weighed in at 3.20kg (7lb 1oz) compared to the 8lb-plus 12-gauge guns. A kilogram of difference certainly affects your shooting as I over-led many targets with the faster gun.
In summary, the Miroku MK70 28-gauge game gun was a treat to use despite the challenges of overcoming my bad habits from using a heavier 12-gauge. There’s little doubt in my mind that targets out to 40m could be broken as convincingly with the 28-gauge as with a 12-gauge, beyond that I couldn’t say as such targets avoided my pattern, much to my disappointment.
The firearm is ideal for the beginner with a light frame or slender lady shooting clay targets and will be a dream gun for hunting quail where you might have to walk for kilometres to find birds in a paddock. The nimble feel of the MK70 28-gauge in such circumstances would put it in its element.
Manufacturer: Miroku Firearms, Kochi, Japan
Distributor: Outdoor Sporting Agencies
Overall weight: 3.20kg (7lb 1oz)
Barrel weight: 1.38kg (3lb)
Overall length: 1210mm (47.64^)
Barrel length: 760mm (30^)
Chamber and bore: 70mm/2¾^ with a 28-gauge/0.555^ nominal bore size
Proof: Steel shot compatible (size 3 shot and smaller; 4, 5, 6 shot), modified choke and more open chokes, improved cylinder and cylinder (see instruction manual)
Chokes: Invector choke tubes, 50mm long, three supplied. Full choke, half choke and improved cylinder. Flat multi-gauge T-piece spanner supplied for changing and installing
Trigger pulls: Under barrel 1.6kg (3lb 8oz), over barrel 1.8kg (4lb)
Stock dimensions: Length of pull 380mm (15^), drop at comb 37mm (1.46^), drop at heel 58mm (2.28^)
Case: Cardboard box with styrene insert
Warranty: Five years mechanical, two years discretionary on woodwork