Testfire: Sulun TAC-12 shotgunsBy Cam Moir
- 27th Jul, 2020 Jul 27, 2020, 1:00 PM
- 2 Comments
The Sulun TAC-12 is a Turkish made copy of the Benelli M4. Just like the M4, it is a 12-gauge shotgun with a tactical look sporting a semi-automatic dual gas chamber operated action with a smooth bore. In similar fashion to the Benelli, it has that same rugged and tough appearance.
If you were to place them alongside each other, you might think they are both the M4. The separation here is that the TAC-12s are a fraction of the price!
Each shotgun comes standard with a ghost ring sight, rail and are available in either 14.5” and 18” barrel lengths. They are chambered to handle 2-3/4” and 3” shells. Mag capacity is 5+1 when using 2-3/4” ammo. Delta Mike Ltd offer these at the very reasonable price of $1199.95.
For this you get the shotgun, 5 interchangeable chokes with choke tool and a hard carry case. Great value.
The TAC-12s are currently available (Delta Mike Ltd) in 3 separate versions:
- Sulun TAC-12 - Fixed: Conventional sporting stock
- Sulun TAC-12 – Pistol: Conventional stock with a pistol grip
- Sulun TAC-12 – Telescopic: Extendable butt stock with a pistol grip
When I visited TJ at Delta Mike to pick up the two shotguns, I was impressed both with TJ and the shotguns. TJ has done plenty of competition shooting in New Zealand and was only to happy to talk about his passion… anything shooting!
He and his business partner Alex have a vast amount of knowledge and gave me a good run down on the shotguns as well as some other cool products (watch out for more reviews in the future!).
After explaining that the purpose of the review was to be based around an agricultural or pest control aspect, we agreed that both lengths of barrel would be worth a look at.
I also wanted to try out the adjustable stock pistol grip versions as I was interested in the robustness of the stock as well as the fit.
I was not disappointed. The stocks fitted well for both myself (6’ 2”) and my partner (5’ 9”) with more adjustment remaining for smaller bodied shooters.
I had booked both barrel lengths to see how much louder the short barrel was over the longer barrel as the shorter model would definitely have the advantage of manoeuvrability when jumping in and out of ute cabs and in and around quad bikes. Something you do a lot of when performing pest control.
After picking up the shotguns I headed over to H J Smith Outdoor World to grab a mixed slab of shotshell ammunition. The good buggers there have a wealth of knowledge to assist with any shooting supplies you may require. The ammo I chose consisted of #7.5 trap loads, some #3, #4 game loads as well as some buckshot.
This I hoped would provide a general overview on the firearms loading and cycling performance. I also opted for a mixture of different ammunition brands such as Falcon, Federal, Remington, Rio, and Winchester to see how well the shotguns would cycle a variety of ammunition types and loads.
HITTING THE RANGE
My primary usage for these guns was to conduct some pest control. However, before shooting any live animals, I wanted to familiarise myself with the TAC-12s operation.
I put the ammo in the ute and headed off to the range to set about testing the loading, firing, spread patterns and general feel of the guns. To test the action, we initially loading the chamber with one round in the magazine. The guns cycled perfectly. Awesome!
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After concluding that they would pick up one shot and cycle well I loaded full mags and fired both shotguns in quick succession to see if this would cause any loading issues. No problems there, I was really starting to like these guns.
The buckshot was to be used on any larger game that we might encounter so I rattled off a few shells down range. Again, everything ran smoothly.
Handling wise, they came up to the shoulder smoothly and we were able to point, aim and shoot quickly and easily. I checked both the adjustable stocks and neither had any movement or creep, great.
With that out of the way, the next step was to see how they would perform during some pest control duties.
We were headed to my partners parents for the week as their station has plenty of hares, rabbits and possums that need to be dealt with on a regular basis. From there myself and a good friend set out each night to give the shotguns a thorough workout.
When shootings shotguns at night, one would assume you’d be either strapped into a side by side ATV or up on the back of the ute, however the weather was rubbish so we decided instead to shoot out of the cabs in an effort to keep as dry and warm as possible! Not a given during wet and cold nights in the deep south!
The short barrels really came into their own here making it easy to work into the shoulder and get the shotguns on target out of the windows.
The shorter barrel model does create a decent amount of muzzle blast, which while certainly entertaining, makes target acquisition more of challenge after that first shot.
“We totalled 147 rabbits, hares and possums for the week with around 120 of those by way of the TAC-12s. A good result on the pest control side of things and a great performance from both the shotguns.”
Over 3 nights we shot a selection of different weights and lengths including Falcon 28 gram, 36 gram, Remington Nitro steel 46 gram, SX Duck load #4, Rio #4 and Rio Steel #2.
The purpose of this was to recreate what most people are likely to encounter, or expect from a tactical styled shotgun, when hunting or running pest control. We also allowed the guns to get very wet, covered in mud and muck. They handled the rough treatment with ease and lived up to their tough appearance.
We totalled 147 rabbits, hares and possums for the week with around 120 of those by way of the TAC-12s. A good result on the pest control side of things and a great performance from both the shotguns. Unfortunately, the deer and pigs didn’t want to play the game, so the buckshot went into targets during the daylight.
Our findings from a week of rugged use were impressive. More so when you consider that the TAC-12s retail for under $1200.
Reliability: Like all semi-automatic shotguns you can have all the features and looks in the world, none of that matters though if it doesn’t cycle or operate well. Out of 275 shots we had a total of 2 jams.
These occurred after the guns had been exposed to a lot of direct moisture and with dirty barrels and components. On both instances, the shotgun didn’t eject the shell properly and it was a simple case of working the bolt to load the next shot.
Note: The TAC-12 uses an auto regulating short stroke piston system. The dual gas pistons are located just forward of the chamber where the propellant gasses burn hotter and cleaner, resulting in less fouling and more reliable cycling.
Each piston has a release valve that acts to equalize cycling pressure under varying loads, meaning no adjustment is required when changing between 2-3/4” and 3” shells.
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- Clean operation
- Reduced maintenance
- Fast cycling
- Reliable with any load
- No need to adjust settings or change gas plugs between loads
Sights: Although the front sight are somewhat large and bulky, (same sights as the M4) they do work well during the day and were easy to use on targets.
At night however, with low light and smaller targets, the target disappears behind the front bead and at about 20m this made follow up shots more difficult as you have to look over the gun to see if the animal was hit.
The good news is that the sights on the Sulun are interchangeable. There is a screw under the front sight that allows you to replace the sight to something more suitable for whatever application you might use the shotguns for.
Stock: We endured rain, sleet, mud, and fog and throughout this both the pistol grip and fore-end grip performed great. There was no slipping in your hands and overall, they are very comfortable.
The telescopic (9 positional lengths) stocks never moved from their position and there is very little play, they are a quality piece of work. The pin feature is awesome as the stock goes out to full extension without coming off completely meaning that quick length changes are a breeze.
Safety: The push through safety is a large button located behind the trigger. It is easily located with the finger coming back to the trigger naturally after each operation. It worked every time, locking the trigger mechanism securely.
Overall: The Benelli M4 is renowned for its reliability and if I am being honest, I was sceptical that this Turkish clone, at a quarter of the price, was going to be able to keep up with it. As it stands, the Sulun TAC-12s did just that. No problems were encountered and in general, it was an enjoyable shooting experience.
Extended use and prolonged time in the field would be the real test, though everything so far points in the direction of a robust and built-to-last firearm.
If you are in the market for a tactical styled shotgun that loves the heavier shot required for longer shots and one which needs to sit in a tight space in the ute cab or on the front of a quad bike, the TAC-12s are definitely worth considering.
The TAC-12 is a great point ‘n’ shoot gun that shoulders well and points quick. It is ideal for use on rabbits and hares. Its compact size makes it a viable option if operating within a confined working space.
“It is worth reminding a potential buyer that these shotguns retail for under $1200, which is almost a quarter of the price of a Benelli M4, yet with all the same features! ”
I did prefer the 18” barrelled version as the reduced muzzle flash (when compared against the 14” model) meant any follow-up shots were easier to make and ultimately, more accurate. The TAC-12s are a little forward heavy. This is to be expected though due to the lightweight stock and tactical front end.
It is worth reminding a potential buyer that these shotguns retail for under $1200, which is almost a quarter of the price of a Benelli M4, yet with all the same features!
Sure, you don’t get the Benelli M4 name, but what you do get though, is a solid, no nonsense workhorse of a shotgun. And for the cash, I know what I would rather buy.