What the Dickinson?

Right price no nonsense bolt-action shotgun

John McDougall

Made in Turkey and distributed by SJS Trading of Melbourne, the Dickinson straight pull, bolt-action 12-gauge shotgun is certain to win a following in Australia and will ideally suit those hunters who like an extra shot (or three) above the two offered by an under-and-over or side-by-side shotgun.

Totally unlike a self-loading shotgun but styled along those lines, this in-line straight pull bolt-action is much like a gas-operated option but with the restriction that it must be manually worked. You need to pull the bolt handle back each time it’s fired to chamber another round then upon firing, pull back on the cocking handle to eject the fired shell in order to reload.

As a long-time licensed user of self-loading (Category C) firearms it can be a bit frustrating as I had to relearn from prior experience, instead of just continuing to pull on the trigger foot with nothing but the first round firing. Those familiar with pump-action firearms would be in better stead while those who’ve never had the chance to use either will be in prime position as old habits will not have to be overcome.

Priced from around $895 and with a two-year warranty, this is a good introduction level sporting arm for the enthusiastic pig, deer, fox or duck hunter.

Barrel

The single barrel measuring 700mm (27½^) is well constructed with a ventilated rib and perfect black satin finish. There were no traces of residual solder from fixing of the ventilated rib to the barrel which is always a good indication of the quality assurance undertaken at the factory.

There are five chokes supplied, all packaged into a convenient plastic box holder along with the choke tube spanner and ranging from cylinder (no choke) through to full choke. The full choke is the only one with an extended collar beyond the muzzle while all other choke tubes fit flush with the muzzle.

Notches are marked into the ends of the choke tubes for ready identification - one notch for full choke, two for improved modified choke, three for modified, four for improved cylinder and five for cylinder - the standard nomenclature used by gun manufacturers worldwide. At the chamber end the gun is suited to be used with 3^ (76mm) cartridges with all steel shot sizes able to be safely fired with no tighter than half choke (modified). Bore size is 0.723^.

Receiver

This is made from aluminium alloy and is extremely robust. The gun, because it’s an in-line slide/bolt-action, is capable of firing five shots - one in the chamber while holding four in the magazine (advice from the distributor indicates a two-shot extended magazine tube will be available late this year for an additional $100, taking firing capacity to seven shots). This still enables the gun to be accepted as a Category A firearm and not Category C with its more severe restrictions.

The Dickinson T1000 is easily loaded. Once the breech is opened by pushing the small black button on the underside and to the rear of the cartridge carrier, the bolt can be pulled back and locked in position to load a cartridge into the loading/ejection port then chambered by pushing the silver button on the same side, just below the loading/ejection port. When this is closed the remaining rounds can be fed into the magazine via the carrier on the underside of the receiver.

Directions for disassembly are quite straightforward by following the instruction booklet supplied, barrel and fore-end removed first by unscrewing the fore-end cap. The wooden fore-end may need to be jiggled to clear the inner mechanism about the magazine tube but otherwise it comes apart simply.

With the bolt in the closed or forward position, a screwdriver or similar is used to pry the bolt-action handle from the bolt which permits the bolt and attached rails about the magazine tube to be released. A simple pin retains the cocked trigger mechanism that can then be removed (the trigger mechanism must be cocked to assemble and disassemble).

To reassemble the process is reversed ‑ cocked trigger mechanism installed first into the receiver, bolt and connecting rails next, cocking handle third then the barrel and fore-end can be replaced with the magazine cap retaining all under spring pressure. Note that when assembling, it’s imperative to sit the locating lip on the rear of the wooden fore-end into the groove in the receiver front. This may take some fiddling to install but is necessary for correct functioning and to avoid damage to the fore-end wood.

Design of the triggerguard is reasonably generous, permitting a snug fit for those who wear gloves in cooler conditions. The safety catch is conveniently located to the rear of the trigger mechanism and a red line about the button shows whether the trigger is in ‘fire’ or ‘safe’ mode. Choke tubes should also only be changed with the gun unloaded. The trigger release measures 1.8kg (4lbs), quite acceptable for a hunting firearm.

Stock and fore-end

To accommodate as many shooters as possible with correct gun fit, the manufacturers  have provided a selection of five shims that fit between the stock and to the rear of the receiver. These adjust the stock for cast-on or cast-off depending on whether the shooter is left or right-handed as well as raising and lowering the stock to suit. Such accessories are usually only found on more expensive shotguns but are provided here as standard.

The quality of the walnut stock and fore-end is excellent and the chequering is, while not as extensive as I’d have liked, well finished and provides a reasonable grip, the grain and colour matching well. I was delighted to find a well-designed slip-pad fitted to the butt of the stock to provide fine gun mount and some stability while shooting heavier field loads. Design of the pistol grip on the stock is comfortable and provides a firm and positive hold with relaxed reach to the trigger.

In the field

I took the review gun to Frankston Australia Gun Club to ascertain the handling in regards to balance, swing and pattern performance along with a test of my dexterity to manoeuvre the firearm. The Dickinson mounted well straight out of its cardboard box and quite a few clay targets, including some report pairs and a simulated pair, were bought to grief. On this occasion I’d inadvertently left the full choke tube in and probably overtaxed myself on closer targets, but further and mid-range clays out to 30m were convincingly destroyed.

Operating the gun was simple but was always going to be a test for me as a new set of skills was required. By the end of my second round of 25 targets my brain began to realise I not only had to operate the in-line bolt slide to reload another cartridge, but also had to activate the bolt handle to eject the last empty cartridge to ensure the gun was safe, the bolt remaining open for all to see.

Distributor Steve Sayers revealed many right-handed shooters were opting for the left-handed model so they could direct the bolt by supporting the gun by holding on to the stock. As a right-hander I chose a right-handed gun that required me to support it by the fore-end while operating the trigger and action with my right hand - forcing me to release my hold of the pistol grip. By the end of my first round of 25 targets, and with a greater degree of concentration, I was operating the gun as intended.

Conclusion

I found the Dickinson a delight to use albeit a challenge for someone like me. The standard model was excellent and I couldn’t help thinking about shooting a few foxes or pigs with the added firepower of a five-shot capacity shotgun, particularly the synthetic model with a Holosun red dot sight fitted for deer hunting in heavy scrub.

Steve also distributes these and set one up on the synthetic model for photographic purposes. The Dickinson T1000 is the wooden version but there are also camo, tactical and synthetic stock options as well as a combination set with every model available in left or right-handed option. Prices start from $895 for the basic model up to $1190 for the combination set with two barrels, the Picatinny rail for the scope mount is around $35 and with the Dickinson having a two-year warranty, it offers excellent value for the keen medium-sized game hunter or waterfowler.

Specifications

Manufacturer: Dickinson, Turkey

Model: Dickinson T1000

Distributor: SJS Trading Co., Melbourne.

Configuration and chamber: In-line, bolt-action five-shot, 12-gauge shotgun, 76mm chamber

Overall length: 1280mm (50½^)

Barrel length: 700mm (27½^)

Overall weight: 3.16kg (6lb 15oz)

Proof: Guaranteed by Turkish Government. Steel shot compatible with no tighter than Modified (½) choke

Bore size: 0.723^

Chokes: Interchangeable choke tubes; Cylinder 0.722^, Imp. Cylinder 0.712^, Modified 0.702^, Imp. Modified 0.694^, Full 0.683^

Trigger pull: 1.8kg/4lb.

Warranty: Two years

Packaging: Supplied in cardboard carton with accessories and instruction booklet

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