Bushmeister BA-X12 lever-release shotgun

Review: Bushmeister BA-X12 Tactical lever-release shotgun

The Bushmeister BA-X12 is a handful of a gun that’s capable of chambering any load that’s powerful enough for hunting pigs, goats and deer over the moderate distances encountered in thick bush. This Turkish-made shotgun was designed to shoot the most powerful 76mm magnum shotshells as well as the most recent steel-shot loads, repeatedly and continuously.

The Bushmeister is one of the new repeating shotguns with innovative features such its Push & Shot system, designed specifically to ensure fast and safe functioning; a front-locking rotary bolt; and a trigger assembly containing all of the trigger mechanism, carrier and guard.

Bushmeister BA-X12 lever-release shotgun
The receiver and barrel are bronze coloured and contrast with the matte black synthetic stock. Bolt release at rear of receiver is the Push & Shot lever

The Bushmeister’s appearance is businesslike and its purpose versatile — made for hunting all kinds of game, feathered or furred, that’s suited to a scattergun. 

On this version, the Tactical, the barrel and alloy receiver are a distinctive bronze colour while the forearm and buttstock are matte black polymer.

The barrel is fitted with a set of open sights and the receiver is drilled and tapped for a Picatinny rail which will take a red dot sight or a riflescope. The ramped rear sight has a U-notch with a red dot on each side and is adjustable for windage and elevation; the front sight is a hi-viz green dot.

The Bushmeister’s stock has sleek, sculptured lines. The drop at comb is 35mm (1⅜”) and the drop at heel is 60mm (2⅜”). The buttstock has a rounded comb and nicely curved open pistol grip. 

Bushmeister BA-X12 lever-release shotgun
Bushmeister with barrel and forearm removed to fit in a case for ease of transportation

A contoured, ventilated recoil pad reduces felt recoil, and in addition a bolt-travel recoil absorber reduces the stress caused by the bolt’s impact as it cycles through the shot sequence. This softens the bolt impact vibrations that are transmitted to the shooter.

The forearm is rounded on the bottom with finger grooves along the upper edges. There’s no traditional chequering. What you feel when you grasp the forearm are grooved, moulded dots that give an even more positive feel than the best of chequering. 

There’s no chequering on the pistol grip, either. Instead, it’s the same myriad dots in the high-strength techno-polymer buttstock, affording a firm grasp of the gun.

A sling swivel stud is a fixture in the bottom of the buttstock and there’s also a swivel stud at the base of the end cap.

Bushmeister BA-X12 lever-release shotgun
The Bushmeister shoulders nicely, lining up your eye with the sights. Note the bolt release lever near the right hand, where it can easily be pressed by thumb or forefinger

The Bushmeister’s stock is well-designed with a hand-filling forearm for speed and sureness in pointing and for taking up some of the recoil, and it extends far enough forward so that the left hand will have plenty of leverage. 

The buttstock puts your eye right in line with either the open sights or a red dot sight.

The Bushmeister comes with a full complement of accessories, in addition to sling swivels — stock drop and cast spacers, five choke tubes and choke-tube key. A moulded hard-shell carrying case affords the gun protection during travelling. The case has no locks, but a padlock through the handle should make it secure.

The five choke tubes that come with the gun — full, improved-modified, modified, improved-cylinder and cylinder — are designed to withstand the stress of continuous heavy steel-shot use. They feature a gradual restriction to minimise shot deformation and improve shot patterns.

Bushmeister BA-X12 lever-release shotgun
The gun comes with a muzzle brake attached to a cylinder choke together with four other interchangeable choke tubes

The maker describes the Bushmeister as being a ‘lever-operated’ shotgun, not to be confused with ‘lever-action’ using the traditional under-lever. It combines its inertia operating system with a rotating, locking bolt that bears a close resemblance to Benelli’s Montefeltro.

Two large bolt-head lugs lock into a barrel extension which is rigidly attached to the receiver and in turn mates perfectly to its indexing lugs and an extended surface contact area. The result minimises barrel movement caused by shooting powerful 76mm loads, which also improves accuracy.

The rotation of the bolt is controlled by a cam cut in the bolt slide. A pin fitted to the bolt rides in the cam track in the receiver sidewall. Unlocking is very rapid — a 1.6 millisecond sequence — and returns to zero at the end of the unlocking cycle. Total rotation is only 30 degrees, and this is controlled by an efficient helical cam on the unlocking stroke.

Bushmeister BA-X12 lever-release shotgun
Rotating bolt head locks into recesses in the breech end of a long barrel extension

As the gun fires, the breech bolt moves about 4mm forward, compressing a small spring between the bolt head and carrier, providing an excellent time delay before unlocking occurs. This allows chamber pressure to drop to a safe level before the bolt head rotates and opens. Spring weight has been set to compensate for the varying pressure levels produced by different cartridges, with no adjustment necessary.

Residual gas pressure drives the bolt to the rear where it is caught and held by a system called Push & Shot. Thus, the Bushmeister utilises the kinetic energy of the gun’s recoil to drive the bolt rearward to compress a spring housed in a tube in the buttstock. At the same time, it withdraws the fired shell from the chamber and ejects it.

Pressing down on the “cartridge drop lever” positioned on the right side of the receiver, within easy reach of the forefinger or thumb, releases the bolt. Pushed by the strong spring in the buttstock, the bolt slams forward, feeding a fresh shell into the chamber to repeat the cycle.

Bushmeister BA-X12 lever-release shotgun
The Bushmeister is versatile. It not only safely handles large shot and slug loads, but the chokes are steel compatible

Upon shooting, the hammer spring forces this drop lever upwards, disengaging it from the carrier latch which, pulled by another spring, rotates clockwise to release a cartridge from the tubular magazine below the barrel. As the bolt moves backwards, the carrier lifts up the shell, ready to be rammed into the chamber for the next shot.

An added refinement: with the bolt locked back, pressing a button on the right side of the receiver elevates the chromed steel cartridge carrier and unblocks the magazine, enabling the shooter to empty the magazine for quick and easy ammunition changes.

A round button-shaped, cross-bolt safety is located at 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 in the side of the receiver in front of the guard.

My test gun was equipped with a muzzle brake having 15 large holes. This device is an integral part of a screw-in cylinder choke. No doubt intended solely for use with slug loads, it threads into the muzzle of the stubby 20” barrel. Choke tubes can be interchanged to modify patterns, but this muzzle attachment is also meant to reduce recoil. It works well as it really softened the blow to my shoulder when firing slug loads.

Bushmeister BA-X12 lever-release shotgun
The muzzle brake made the rifle pleasant to shoot by softening the felt recoil when shooting heavy 515gn rifled slugs

After fitting the brake/cylinder choke, we moved the point of impact until the slugs were hitting the centre of the target. By holding dead on the bullseye, the groups were about three inches (76mm) high at 50 yards (46m). Using Sellier & Bellot’s Special Slug load throwing a 525gn projectile, the Bushmeister shot two three-inch groups at that range. Only three-shot groups were fired and were measured centre to centre of the widest spread. The best result was a nice 2” group.

The shooting at 100yd was from a solid benchrest with an Aimpoint red dot sight. Later, I used the iron sights to shoot a couple of groups at 50yd offhand, which measured 3.5” and 4”. These sights were easy to see; the green hi-viz dot stood out boldly and accuracy was aided by having a manageable trigger pull that let off at 2kg (4.5lb).

Projected killing power of the 12-gauge slug has been compared to the good old .303 British. However, past 100 yards, velocity drops off fast and the big slugs are more aptly compared with a stone from a slingshot; great for knocking out Goliath’s eye maybe, but it’s not going to worry a tough old stag.

Sighted in 3” high at 50yd, the Bushmeister bird and bunny buster should manage a clean kill on a standing deer out to about 100yd. At least 90 percent of slug sales are in a packet of three to five rounds, certainly not enough ammo to sight in a smoothbore with a red dot, scope or iron sights. My advice is buy a couple of boxes and fire off just enough slugs to know where they will hit.

Bushmeister BA-X12 lever-release shotgun
Shooting at a pig target with open sights at 50 yards grouped three rifled slugs into four inches

In this country, however, the likelihood of choosing a smoothbore for deer hunting is remote, since ranges are generally too long.

Fitted with the full-choke tube, the Bushmeister’s pattern of 15 pellets of 00 buck effectively covers a pig’s head and chest out to 75yd. This 3” buckshot load is the one I’d choose to use for deer in brush, but 00 buckshot would be better for pigs in lignum country.

The Bushmeister is built to handle steel-shot loads because of the controversy over the pollution from lead shot, but the majority of waterfowl hunters prefer lead shot for its improved lethality. Still, the option is there for those who might want or need it.

There are a lot of shotgunning applications for which the improved-cylinder or modified choke can improve a gunner’s shooting capability to a really eye-popping extent, all the way from upland game birds, rabbits and the like. Needless to say the improved cylinder or straight cylinder is deadly medicine for quail and the unpredictable corkscrew flightpath of snipe.

Bushmeister BA-X12 lever-release shotgun
The Bushmeister is available in a number of variants, including walnut, black synthetic, camo and this Marine model with silver Cerakote finish. Longer 28” barrels are also offered

For the economy-minded hunter, a shotgun with sights like the Bushmeister’s would appear to be the all-round, all-purpose gun — what you might call an all-round piece. You shoot a pig now, then next day you’ll go to shoot a dozen ducks or a swag of quail.

The Bushmeister BA-X12 proved its versatility to my satisfaction on pigs, on targets, at the pattern board and in all function tests. And the price is right. There’s innovation galore built into this Turkish field gun, and I’m betting that Aussies are going to love it.


  • Manufacturer: Recarms, Turkey
  • Action: Blow-back bolt with lever release
  • Gauge: 12; accepts 70 and 76mm magnum (2¾” and 3”) shells; steel shot capable
  • Barrel length: 51cm (20”), threaded for five choke tubes (supplied)
  • Overall length: 105cm (41.5”)
  • Length of pull: 355mm (14”)
  • Drop at comb/heel: 35mm (1⅜”)/60mm (2⅜”)
  • Weight: 3.3kg (7¼lb)
  • Safety: Sliding button cross-bolt
  • Magazine capacity: 5
  • Finish: Bronze metalwork and matte black stock
  • Price: Typically advertised around $900-$1100. Other models start from about $750-$800
  • Distributor: NIOA




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.