Shotgun Review: CZ Drake

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.**

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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 O/Us and doubles are good. They were very popular around here when we had lots of pheasants, and people liked them a great deal.

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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, with a weight forward balance that makes it swing and point surely.

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The gun is pretty basic: single mechanical trigger, manual safety, extractors not ejectors, no side ribs on the barrels – either to save weight, money or both --- and a rudimentary thin black rubber buttpad. Its lone frill is a white Bradley-style bead on the rib.

Appearance-wise, it’s simple as well. The walnut is satin finished and very straight-grained, with machine-cut checkering. The metal is matte black with some perfunctory scroll on the receiver and that’s all there is to the Drake.
But, it 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.

This story first appeared in Field & Stream.