MagTech's Model 199 Shotgun Offers Good Design, Good Value

by Larry Sterett

There's a new kid on the block, the first since the Ithaca Gun Company Model 66 single-shot shotgun. MagTech, the firm which has been distributing some excellent Brazilian-manufactured rimfire rifles and centerfire handgun ammunition in the US in recent years, has a new shotgun model, the break-action, underlever-operated Model 199.

The firm introduced a well-constructed pump-action shotgun in several versions in the 1990s, and a great autoloading .22 rimfire carbine in 2000. (A good bolt-action rifle was available earlier.) The handy carbine featured an action similar to that of the Marlin Model 60, but with a different safety position, a more adult size stock, and a detachable box magazine.

The latest shotgun, the Model 199, is available in 12, 16 and 20 gauges, plus .410 bore, and it has all the features of a winner. Plus, it has the possibility of rifle caliber barrels later.

The test gun in 12 gauge, weighed 6 pounds, 6 ounces, with a barrel length of 27-7/16 inches, and an overall length of 43-11/16 inches. The weight may be a bit light-especially considering the barrel is chambered for 3-inch shells-but when used with light 12-gauge loads it could make an excellent small game and bird gun. Then, if a few shots at geese or turkeys are needed, it will accept the magnum rounds.

Stock Dimensions, Design
The walnut-finished hardwood stock features a good, adult-size length-of-pull of 14-1/8 inches, but could be cut to a shorter length to fit a youth or smaller-statured shooter, if needed.

The buttstock does not have a conventional "small of the grip," with a raised comb and pronounced nose, but the lower portion of the receiver breech blends into the curve of the pistol grip. The upper surface of the receiver breech flows immediately into the comb portion of the stock, following a slight drop. (Drops at the comb and heel of the stock measured 1-7/16 and 2-1/4 inches, respectively.) The minimum circumference of the pistol grip measured 5 inches, while the base of the grip featured a smooth, flat surface flowing directly into the belly of the stock. (There is no cap on the base of the pistol grip, nor any checkering on the pistol grip or the forearm.) A well-fitted black, plastic plate graced the butt of the stock.

The forearm measured 8-7/16 inches in length, with a maximum width of just under 1 inches. Featuring a slightly rounded tip, the forearm is flat on the bottom with slightly rounded inward-sloping sides. It is attached to the barrel via a single large slotted-head screw passing through the forearm iron into an extension of the barrel monobloc.

It's an excellent, sturdy design, one which reduces the number of needed parts and time required to install them. (Unlike most single-barrel, break-action shotguns in which the barrel rests partially within the forearm, approximately 80% of the 199 barrel rests on the forearm, with only 20% within the barrel channel.

The 199 utilizes the monobloc type of barrel constuction, with the plain barrel having a deep blue-black, semi-gloss finish, and a 0.120-inch brass bead near the muzzle. Chambered for 2-1/2-inch and 3-inch 12-gauge shells, the barrel is marked as being choked "modified." (Examination of the barrel muzzle indicates the choke is swaged.)

The 199 is a conventional break-action, operated by an underlever hinged at the forward edge of the trigger guard bow. In place of a loop, the underlever is curved around the trigger guard, ending in a 0.625-inch-wide spur with a dozen narrow ridges on the top surface. Pushing down on the spur withdraws the bolt from the bite on the rear of the barrel lump, below the ejector. (On the test gun, the extractor/ejector took a bite on the shell rim equivalent to the 0.370-inch chord of an arc.) A hook on the face of monobloc lump engages the 0.393-inch diameter full length hinge-pin to permit pivoting of the barrel assembly. An upward projecting stud on the hinge pin slips into a recess on the underside of the lump to engage the ejector shank as the shotgun is opened.

The 199 features a centrally-mounted outside hammer which must be manually cocked to fire the shotgun. The hammer has a pronounced, ridged spur, and if not in the cocked position it obstructs any view of the barrel muzzle when shooting. The nose of the hammer rests on the shotgun frame when the hammer is not cocked, and a transfer bar is incorporated into the system to prevent accidental firing. (The shotgun cannot be fired by dropping it on the hammer spur, but only by cocking and pulling the trigger to activate the transfer bar.) If the hammer is cocked, the shotgun cannot be opened, although the hammer can be cocked if the shotgun is open.

The 199 trigger is located just aft of center in the guard bow, leaving sufficient room for a lightly gloved finger. The face of the trigger featured a smooth, slightly convex surface, and let-off on the test gun measured 4-1/4 pounds.

To field strip the MagTech 199 for cleaning, or transporting taken-down, make sure the chamber is empty and then remove the large, slotted-head screw on the forepart of the forearm iron. (DO NOT remove the smaller Phillips-head screw on the underside of tie forearm forward of the forearm iron.) Rotate or pivot the forearm off the receiver knuckle and lay it aside. With the butt of the shotgun resting on a solid, padded surface, grasp the barrel with one hand and press down on the underlever spur with the thumb of the other hand. Slowly pivot the barrel assembly downward until the hook on the lump can be disengaged from the hinge-pin and lifted off the receiver. No further disassembly is necessary or recommended.

Assembly of the MagTech 199 is in reverse order, taking care to make sure the hook on the lump is fully engaged with the hinge-pin prior to rotating the barrel assembly to a closed position. The forearm should be placed on the receiver knuckle at approximately a 45-degree angle to insure clearance of the securing stud on the lump extension. After the forearm has been rotated onto the barrel assembly, replace the large slotted-head screw in the forearm iron to complete re-assembly.

Patterning of the 199 with factory loads took place at 35 and 40 yards. Five shots were fired with each load used, and a 16-yard field pattern was used as a standard for comparison.

At 35 yards, the first load checked was Remington's RemLite, containing 1-1/8 ounces of size 8 shot, or an average of 497 pellets-per-shell by actual count. Centered 1/2-inch above and just under 1-1/4 inches to the left of the point-of-aim, the patterns averaged 66.2%, with 35.6% of this total within the four center fields.

The second load was Winchester's AA Lite-Handicap containing 1-ounce of size 7-1/2 shot, or an average of 351 pellets per shell by actual count. Centered slightly more than 7-1/4 inches below and just over 1-1/4 inches to the left of the point-of-aim, the patterns averaged 76.1%, with 39.7% of this total within the four center fields.

40-Yard Test
Moving back to 40 yards, patterning continued, beginning with the Hull Game loading containing 1-ounce of size 6 shot housed in a tube length of 2-1/2 inches. This load, which contained an average of 182 pellets-per-charge by actual count, produced patterns averaging 65.4%, with 37.0% of this total within the four center fields. Centered just above the point-of-aim, the patterns were less than 2 inches to the left.

The second load at 40 yards was Winchester's Xpert Light Field load (3-1/4, 1, 6) containing an average of 222 pellets-per-shell by actual count. Centered slightly more than 2 inches below and 2-1/4 inches to the left of the point-of-aim, the patterns averaged 60.8%, with 35.6% of this total within the four center fields.

The final load patterned was Federal's 3-inch Classic Magnum round containing 1-1/8 ounces of size 3 steel shot, or an average by actual count of 168 pellets-per-shell. Loaded to a velocity of 1,450 feet-per-second (fps) this round produced patterns that were centered 9 inches below and just over 1-1/4 inches to the right of the point-of-aim. The patterns, which covered the 4-foot square pattern board, averaged 57.7%, with 27.3% of this total within the four center fields.

Except for the magnum steel shot load, the test gun produced patterns in keeping with the modified choke designation. It's also possible a different size steel shot might produce patterns with a higher average, as might a magnum or high velocity steel shot load. (The Model 199 will handle the 3-inch loads without a problem, but an extensive diet is not much fun with a shotgun weighing less than 7 pounds.)

To determine how the test gun would perform on moving targets, it was taken to the practice range along with an assortment of factory loads and handloads. Some loads contained size 7-1/2 shot, others size 8, and the balance size 8-1/2 or 9. Regardless of the shot size the targets broke equally well, and the modified choke 199 can pulverize them. The fact the 199 centers its patterns low did require some additional concentration, but no problems were encountered with the test gun. Fired hulls were ejected one to two paces to the rear of the firing point, and operation of the underlever and the outside hammer presented no problems.

The MagTech 199 is a well designed, solidly constructed single-shot shotgun. The receiver and all metal parts are steel, with the majority being investment cast. All assembly pins are solid steel, not rolled, and the springs are spiral. With the exception of the polished, blued barrel, all metal parts have a matte black finish, and fit was better than on many small arms in the same price range. No burrs were noted on the metal parts, although mould parting lines were on several of the larger parts, such as the underlever.

For shotgunners wanting a good knockabout single-shot shotgun for small game, the MagTech 199 is an excellent choice. It's easy to use, and safe with an outside hammer which is easily cocked as the shotgun is brought to the shoulder. Its only drawback seems to be the fact it patterns low with most loads tried. Raising the comb should raise the pattern centers, and even a -inch less drop at the comb and heel would be an improvement.

Gauge: 12-gauge, magnum length (3-inch) chamber (Also available in 16, 20 and .410)
Action: Single-shot, break or tip-down barrel via underlever
Weight: 6 pounds, 6 ounces
Barrel Length: 27-7/16 inches
Overall Length: 43-11/16 inches
Sights: 0.120-inch brass muzzle bead
Stock Dimensions: Length of pull: 14-1/3 inches; drops at comb and heel: 1-7/16 and 2-1/4 inches, respectively.
Importer: MagTech Ammunition Co. Inc., 337 Boston Post Rd., Suite 12, Dept. GWK, Madison, CT 06443
Manufacturer: CBC, San Paulo, Brazil

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