The new Celikarms Buckmaster PB 12 shotgun features a unique gas/inertia operating system which recycles faster and shoots smoother than any lever-action or straight-pull.
Pig shooters want a fast repeater for hunting in brush and high grass where shots are close and targets are plentiful. In recent years, this has led to the importation of a number of slick-functioning lever-action and straight-pull field guns. Now an even faster reciprocating action has hit the market — the Celikarms Buckmaster PB 12.
The Buckmaster is entirely different, a unique design utilising an in-line gas/inertia system which cycles in a similar way to many conventional self-loading designs and, in doing so, it all but eliminates muzzle rise during firing. Yet it is not self-loading and cannot be converted to work that way.
The gun is packed with a number of unique features that make it evolutionary, fast functioning and pleasant to shoot.
Its forearm contains not only the recoil spring, but most of the working mechanism. Like some straight-pull and auto-loading shotguns, the recoil spring is wrapped around the magazine tube inside the forearm and not housed in the receiver or buttstock.
The magazine tube fits through a black steel gas chamber made integral with the underside of the barrel which houses a piston, then progresses through a short stainless steel tube some 4.5cm (1¾”) long welded to an action arm with twin operating rods, one on either side. These rods, in turn, are attached to the bolt and slide forth and back to compress and decompress the powerful recoil spring sandwiched between the steel tube and the front of the receiver.
When the gun is fired, residual gas tapped from the underside of the barrel blows the bolt back, to where it is caught and held open until the shooter’s leading hand presses a square button in the left side of the forearm. This releases the bolt, allowing it to slam forward and load a fresh shell into the chamber. At the same time the carrier is forced down, allowing the next cartridge to be pushed out of the magazine under spring pressure.
A valuable safety feature: If you don’t release the trigger after firing the gun, the hammer will follow the bolt and prevent it from firing. This feature also prevents the Buckmaster being converted into a semi-auto.
The design of the gas system minimises the leakage of powder gases, thus reducing the amount of residue which might get back into the mechanism to foul the spring and action arm.
Only slightly larger in diameter than the breech end of the barrel, the streamlined receiver is slim and sports a black, non-reflective finish that matches the barrel and stock. It is machined out of high-strength corrosion-resistant alloy that results in a strong, lightweight receiver.
The barrel cannot be pulled out of the receiver once the nut on the end of the magazine cap is removed. It can only be freed from the receiver by unscrewing a locking nut on the front end of the piston housing.
The receiver has a loading port in its bottom. To load the magazine, you lock the bolt back and press the bolt release button in the side of the receiver to free-up the cartridge carrier. Thumb five shells into the tubular magazine, then press the button at the rear of the carrier plate. Pull the cocking handle back again and press the button on the side of the forearm to release the bolt and return it to battery. Once you become familiar with the loading operation, you’ll carry it out automatically.
Disassembly and reassembly of the mechanism is described in a booklet accompanying the gun and is a relatively simple process.
The Celikarms Buckmaster is chambered for 76mm (3”) magnum shells and is available with a choice of a 20- or 28-inch ventilated rib barrel with five screw-in interchangeable chokes to give you a choice of choke restrictions. The tubes screw into the barrel at the muzzle and are completely retained within the barrel. The Buckmaster comes with a wrench for installing and removing the choke tubes.
Each tube measures 54mm (2.12”) in length and they are identified by a full, 3/4 (imp-mod), 1/2 (modified), 1/4 (imp-cyl) and cylinder, as indicated by a number of notches from one to five, cut in the threaded end of each choke tube. This allows the Buckmaster to handle multiple targets in a very short time frame. Incidentally, some of the choke tubes are steel-shot compatible.
The constriction of a full-choke 12ga is rated as running from 0.8-1.0mm (.030” to .040”) with an average perhaps 0.9mm (.035”) and throwing patterns of 70 percent. Modified (1/2) choke boring usually has a constriction of from 0.4 to 0.5mm (.015” to .020”) and should produce patterns of 55-60 percent. Improved-cylinder boring generally has a constriction of 0.15mm to 0.25mm (.006” to .010”) with patterns running 40-50 percent.
Beside the three standard chokes, Celikarms also includes improved-modified which is supposed to pattern about 65 percent, and a strong improved cylinder which has about 0.25mm (.010”) constriction and is supposed to pattern 50-55 percent, challenging the modified boring. The cylinder tube has no constriction and most throw a 35-40 percent pattern at 40 yards.
You can screw in the cylinder choke tube and use it with rifled slugs for hunting deer and other four-legged big game. Combined with the Buckmaster’s speed of fire, five choke tubes contribute to a versatile shotgun suited to a multitude of different tasks.
With its 76mm chambers, the Buckmaster is capable of using magnums, high-velocity 70mm (2¾”) field loads and trap loads without adjustment. It is also capable of chambering any load up to pig-busting Super-X 76mm 00 (15 pellets), which are bad medicine for hogs out to around 40 yards.
What determines the ideal choice of screw-in chokes depends on where you hunt and the game you go after with a shotgun. A choke that works best on flushed quail is less than ideal for shooting ducks from a blind, or walking up rabbits darting between blackberry bushes. Many shooters probably opt for more choke than they actually need and would bag more game with less.
For most of my field shooting, I find improved-cylinder the most useful, with modified in a distant second place. Improved-cylinder is the choke that many prefer for sporting clays. Waterfowl gunners usually start with modified when shooting ducks over decoys with steel shot, but are likely to switch to full for passing shots. That’s one of the great advantages of screw-in chokes; in the field, if you discover that the barrel on your gun is choked too tight or two loose, you simply reach in your pocket for a better choice.
When calling foxes to the gun, there’s no flies on a heavy load of BBs and a full choke. A full grown fox can be tough to put down, so you want to concentrate a thick swarm of shot on his head-neck area out to 30 yards or so.
The barrel is chrome-molybdenum steel, cold hammer-forged to length and shape, then reamed to gauge. The barrel, bolt and carrier are a dull black to blend in with the black anodised receiver and polymer stock. The barrel features a flat ventilated rib with a single front brass bead to aim with.
Starting at the breech, the Buckmaster has a long forcing cone, after which is an over-bored increment of 18.7mm (.736”), a fairly moderate increase over the nominal 18.5mm (.729”) that is standard in 18.8mm (.740”) bores. The bore tapers down over a span of 205mm (8.07”) to 18.4mm (.725”). This gradual amount of restriction helps keep velocity up while limiting pellet deformation.
The shot charge then enters the screw-in choke. The chokes, which are conical-parallel, form a rounded bulge inside the muzzle of the gun.
The full choke tube used for testing had an inside diameter of 17.1mm (.672”) at the rear, gradually flaring to 18.4mm (.726”) at the muzzle end. There is barely any visible flare on the outside of the barrel; it expands from 28mm (1.10”) behind the choke tube to 28.1mm (1.108”) at the muzzle. The slight bulge at the muzzle is hard to discern and in no way intrusive.
The Buckmaster’s maker wisely advises against using steel shot in the full choke tube, recommending instead to use steel shot in the modified choke for long range hunting of game birds where shots of about 30 metres are common. This will be the equivalent of a full-choke pattern with lead shot, and will be true with all steel shot sizes up to and including No 2. The improved-cylinder choke, on the other hand, will produce the equivalent of a (lead) modified choke pattern. They also say that all steel shot larger than No 2 should be used only with the improved-cylinder choke tube.
There’s a positive crossbolt safety located in the rear of the trigger guard, where it is easy to reach. The removable trigger group is easily detached by punching out a single pin located on the rear of the receiver. The trigger is very good, breaking cleanly at 2.9kg (6.5lb).
The Buckmaster measures 124cm (49 inches) overall with a 28-inch barrel and weighs 3.4kg (7.75lb).
The synthetic stock’s pistol grip and forearm have moulded-in chequering, and an ergonomically designed recoil pad graces the butt. Drop at comb is 38mm (1.5”) and at the heel 64mm (2.5”). An enhancement feature is a short 73mm (2.9”) Weaver-type rail moulded into the underside of the forearm, which enables you to attach a torch for night shooting.
I enlisted the aid of Nick Jnr to test the gun on thrown clays and to allow me to check how long it took the gun to empty the magazine, and it ran dry in about 10 seconds. The maximum rate of fire has little to do with game hunting, since the gunner has to recover from the recoil and adjust his aim before firing at a fresh target, but you can be sure the gun will be ready if you are.
The first good shooting test load was Trust Competition Trap loaded with 32g (11/8oz) of hard #7½ shot. This charge is listed at 1250fps and it simply powdered the clay targets. The two game-shooting loads we tried were Winchester’s 70mm Super Ranger and Bushman ammo. The former is loaded with 32 grams of hard No 4 shot at 1350fps and the latter with 34 grams of BBs at 1275fps. Both loads threw excellent full-choke patterns out to 40yd.
Sales of over 2000 of these guns give an indication that hunters are aware of what it is capable of. Overall, the Buckmaster is a pretty impressive performer, certainly a versatile all-around field gun. It handles in a lively fashion and is well balanced. It never malfunctioned, no matter what we fed it, just as long as we followed the instructions and treated it properly.
The gun’s mild recoil is hardly felt and shooting and swinging proved that the handling characteristics were spot-on. It swung smoothly and encouraged a smooth follow-through, critical for hits on crossing targets. Obviously, the shooter was pointing the gun correctly and kept it moving because it smashed clays most convincingly.
The Buckmaster is a rugged, reliable gun that combines rapid firepower with reliable functioning and versatility. It will handle almost any 12-gauge cartridge you feed it for any kind of hunting, from waterfowl to pigs and deer. Because of its durability and being able to withstand a tremendous amount of shooting with minimal maintenance, I can recommend it to pig hunters without reservation.
- Maker: Celikarms, Turkey
- Operation: Gas/inertia
- Gauge: 12; 76mm (3”) chamber
- Barrel length: 28” (as tested; 20” option); 5 interchangeable choke tubes
- Weight: 3.4kg (7.5lb)
- Overall length: 124cm (49 inches)
- Safety: Crossbolt through rear of trigger guard
- Sights: Ventilated rib barrel with brass bead
- Stock: Black polymer, moulded chequering with vented recoil pad (walnut also available)
- Length of pull: 36cm (14”)
- Drop at comb/heel: 38mm/64mm (1.5”/2.5”)
- Finish: Barrel and receiver anodised matte black
- Magazine capacity: 5
- Features: Picatinny rail under forearm to attach torch
- Price: $1575 (February 2023)
- Distributor: Hunts Shooting Supplies, kayhunt @ bigpond.com