CZ Hammer Classic, not your grandpa’s side by side

There’s just something about a double barreled shotgun. In the world of double barreled shotguns, there is something special about a 12 gauge, side by side that feels like you reached deep down into the darkness of the Well of Time and pulled out a relic, steeped and patina’d in history and Americana. Visions of the OK Corral and Billy the Kid, or wagon trains of pioneers heading west and settling America, keeping food on the table hunting “buck and ball”, with a slug in one barrel and pellets in the other ready to shoot any game that they had the opportunity to shoot, feeding their whole family with the one gun they could afford, a double barreled side by side. Simple to operate, simple to maintain, simple to repair, something reliable enough that they could trust with their lives, because as they strayed far from civilization, their lives did, in fact, depend on their old side by side. One tool that could fill the pot with everything from grouse to grizzlies, and everything in between, and also handle dangerous pests from rats and snakes, to hostile Native Americans and bandits.

The side by side was a fixture in America from it’s birth in the 18th century, to the mid 20th century, when newer and more powerful cartridges came into being, where those old, soft barreled shotguns could no longer handle the power of the newer ammunition, and over/under shotguns began to be manufactured that were preferred, and the advent of screw in chokes, and slowly those old side by sides ceased to be manufactured and were relegated to mantle pieces and collections.

Then came the wicked and reliable pump action shotgun, and the bell tolled for the old American side by side.

Today, most side by sides being manufactured are coach guns, short barreled fixed choke shotguns that are used mainly for cowboy action entertainment, where Americans put on their cowboy boots and hats and go to competitions and re-enactments to compete in shooting competitions and theater. They are not meant for real hunting, or sport clay shooting.

There is, at least, one exception. A modern, affordable side by side shotgun, where 19th century design meets 21st century technology, and best of all, it’s affordable!  We’re talking significantly under a thousand bucks, roughly the price of a canoe or a decent bicycle.

Meet, the CZ Hammer Classic, the 12 gauge side by side that you can bring on your hunting trips or your trap competitions.

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You see those hammers? Those are not just for show, they are real, functional hammers, just like those old movie shotguns. Those barrels are 30 inches of black chromed steel. The heat gaurd and leather sling are my own additions.

So, what makes the Hammer Classic so awesome, and so much better than just buying an old side by side at the gun show? I’m glad you asked.

Let me say first that if you are one of those people that loves intricate engravings and gold and silver ducks on the reciever…this is not that gun. This gun hearkens back to the common man’s shotgun, the pioneers’ shotgun. It is a tool, but it is not without it’s own aesthetic pleasures, just check out the case hardening coloration.

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To me, it’s beautiful, and the meager engraving and coloration carries over into the trigger guard as well.

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When you get your Hammer Classic, it will come in a decent plastic carry case, with four sliding locks, and inside the shotgun will be wrapped in velvet bags to protect it.

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One of the things that really sets this gun apart from other modern side by side shotguns is that it takes screw in chokes.

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And she comes with a full set of chokes included, with a choke wrench.

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The CZ Hammer Classic is made by Huglu Firearms Company, in Huglu, Turkey, a town that has been making shotguns since before they had electricity, and they make and sell a wide variety of shotguns that have a reputation for being affordable, reliable, and perform. These are not guns you bring to the shotgun club to show off. Nobody is going to be impressed by your Huglu made shotgun, but if your just looking for a good tool for hunting or recreational shooting, that you won’t have to get a second mortgage to buy, you couldn’t do better.

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OK, but what if you just want to shoot clays, but your local club has gone green and only allows for steel shot?  No problem! The CZ Hammer Classic is rated to shoot steel shot, too! How many guys at the club are going to be rocking a side by side at the trap field? One, you! Just you. If you like being different, this is the ticket. Especially when your thumb reaches for that hammer and you hear the satisfying click of being locked and loaded, how many people there have even seen a hammer fired shotgun being used before? Probably none.

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And speaking of the hammers, just look at them! They look like they were ripped straight off an old pioneer’s gun. Nothing modern looking about them, just a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing form.

Lastly, as all double barreled shotguns, you have two barrels, of course. So there is a barrel selector switch, right? No sir. We’re are talking basic, functional versatility here, check this out.

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Two triggers! With this, you can truly go “buck and ball” just like the American settlers of yore, and not try to guess ahead of time which cartridge you will need. Pull the front trigger, the right barrel fires. Pull the back trigger, the left barrel fires, and it doesn’t have to be in that order. Just remember to cock the hammers first, and if need be, put the safety on, which is located on the back of the receiver as is common.

Maintenance? What maintenance? Talk about simplistic. If you just need to give it a quick cleaning, it’s easy as pie, especially if, like me, you’re a fan of bore snakes.

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I typically run a patch of Hoppe #9 through the bore first, give it a minute or two, and then one or to pulls of a bore snake, and she’s good to go.

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I give the innards and receiver a little wipe with a patch that has just a dab of oil on it,  and that’s it, except for one more thing. The chokes. Always remember to take out your chokes, give them a quick wipe down, and wipe the threads on the barrel to keep your chokes from getting gunked up and stuck in your bore.

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Then, just pop them back in and your ready to go in 5 minutes. Remove the handgaurd, slide the lever, and your shotgun is clean, disassembled, and ready to put to bed.

One thing is for sure. Bring your Hammer Classic to the range, or to the field, or to the woods, and you will always get attention, a few questions, and many requests from the other folks if they can take a couple of shots with it. Very few folks have ever had the pleasure of shooting a genuine hammer fired side by side, with double triggers.

The gun has extractors, not ejectors. For myself, this is what I prefer. I don’t like picking up shells at the range if I can just put them in my pocket in the first place, and for those reloaders out there, we love extractors, don’t we?

With 30″ barrels, this shotgun sits right in the comfort zone of being a proper small game hunter, a bird hunter, a trap shooter, a duck hunter, or most anything you could possible need a shotgun for. The Hammer Classic can do the job. It’s only drawback really, is that it is a bit heavier than your finer hunting shotguns, so be prepared to bear that burden if you’re planning on a day in the upland bush. I would definitely recommend a sling, and/or a shotgun holster to help bear the brunt of that weight.

But for fun, and pleasure, and cool factor, the Hammer Classic has no equal in my opinion.  When you feel and hear those hammers going click, click, BOOM!, you’ll be addicted, too.

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