Gun Test: CZ USA Sharp-Tail Coach Gun
The term “coach gun,” just as you’d expect, comes from the horse-drawn, four-wheeled conveyance. After all, it’s how “riding shotgun” entered the lexicon. While always popular with some as a defensive arm, the coach gun received a new lease on life with the popularity of cowboy action shooting. Most of the guns you see working their way through a shotgun stage are side-by-side doubles, typically with short barrels, and sometimes with exposed hammers. CZ USA already offers a Hammer Coach, but has now expanded into the more elegant, hammerless Sharp-Tail Coach. Both guns are made by Huglu (Huglu Hunting Firearms Cooperative) in Turkey. Although also offered in 20 gauge, our example was a 12 gauge with 3″ chambers.
Based on an Anson & Deeley-style boxlock action, the Sharp-Tail Coach has a CNC-machined receiver tastefully adorned with false sideplates. Save for the barrels, trigger and safety assembly, all visible metal parts are color-casehardened in rich blues, browns and grays. All screws are timed, and there is humble scroll engraving on the receiver, the sideplates, the fore-end iron and the trigger guard.
Lockup is via tried-and-true dual Purdey underlugs, which are fastened by dual bolts in the receiver. Pressing the top lever to the right pulls the locking bolts to the rear, clearing the underlumps and allowing the breech to open. This is an extractor-only gun, meaning that it does not have ejectors, and there is one extractor for both chambers. We found with most loads that simply raising the barrels up allowed the fired 2 3/4″ shells to drop free, a practice encouraged at cowboy matches but that can get you kicked off the skeet range.
Barrels are 20.1″ long with fairly thick walls measuring 0.056″ at the muzzle, and no interchangeable choke tubes. Described as cylinder and cylinder, the bores measured 0.727″ for the right and 0.724″ for the left, making them a little closer to skeet than cylinder. There is a raised top rib tapering from 0.43″ at the breech to 0.26″ at the muzzle. It is grooved to reduce glare and topped with a white bead 0.20″ back from the muzzle. Barrels are black-chromed and are joined to the monobloc with a band of engraving to cover the joint.
Coach guns traditionally have double triggers, but not the Sharp-Tail, which has a single, selective mechanical unit. There is a selector on the tang-mounted safety. Push it to the left and two dots are revealed, allowing the left barrel to fire first. Conversely, if it is pushed to the right a single dot is revealed and the right barrel fires first. Barrels may only be selected while the safety is in the rearward or “off” position, and the safety is not automatic.
The buttstock has a fairly open semi-pistol grip, and it has a bit of cast-off for a right-handed shooter. Grain of the Turkish walnut stock was straight and fairly open, with good figure on the fore-end. There’s 18-l.p.i. checkering in a bordered point pattern on the grip, and the butt is topped by a rubber recoil pad with a harder insert at its top, which allows the gun to be mounted without snagging. The comb was fairly straight, more like that of a modern bird gun than an Old West coach gun, which typically had far more drop at the heel than the guns of today.
The fore-end has a fairly wide beavertail shape with machine-cut checkering. It is retained by a centrally located Deeley & Edge fore-end latch that was actually fairly well-fitted. Overall, wood-to-metal fit was impressive for a gun in this price class, with the wood around the fore-end iron and around the trigger guard’s rear left deliberately proud.
We fired the Sharp-Tail Coach at sporting clays, especially the rabbit stage, and at steel as would a cowboy action competitor. As well-heeled cowboy shooters are the likely target audience, we patterned with No. 7½ shot. The gun was notably stiff to open out of the box, but wore in after a couple hundred rounds. While the short barrel was tough to follow through with on fast crossers, it actually swung better at clays then we thought it would. There were no failures, and the lack of ejectors meant less scurrying after spent shells at the end of the station.
For those not looking to go cowboy, CZ offers the Sharp-Tail with 28″ barrels that accept interchangeable chokes in 12, 20 and 28 gauges, and in .410 bore and 16 gauge, but the latter come with fixed chokes. For those who like a little classy, yet subtle, ornamentation and the handling of a short-barreled, modern side-by-side for a defensive use or cowboy action shooting, the CZ Sharp-Tail Coach is likely just the ticket.