Peer Review: Krieghoff K-80 Pro Sporter
Call me crazy, but when I started shooting the 12-gauge Krieghoff K-80 Pro Sporter the first thing that came to mind was not another shotgun – but a car.
And it wasn’t just any car, but the BMW X6 M sport utility vehicle.
What do the Krieghoff K-80 Pro Sporter and the BMW X6 M SUV have in common?
Essentially, they share an engineering philosophy that combines elements of their best products to create a new paradigm that delivers stunning results.
The BMW X6 M starts out as a basic BMW X5 SUV, but a radical sloped coupe profile turns a boxy silhouette into a sexy head-turner. The engine compartment contains the V8 from other BMW models, except in the X6 M it’s tricked out with twin-turbos that raise the horsepower to a ground-shaking 555 – making its zero-to-60 performance of on par with a Ferrari 360 Modena.
While the engineers at BMW’s headquarters in Munich, Germany were devising the revolutionary X6 M, some 75 miles to the east in the gun-making hub of Ulm their counterparts at Krieghoff were hard at work on the K-80 Pro Sporter.
One look at the Pro Sporter and an amalgamation of K-80s starts running through your mind.
You notice the high rib and Monte Carlo style stock associated with the K-80 Trap Special over/under, yet you wonder why someone would be using it on sporting clays.
Although the K-80 Pro Sporter features the adjustable comb of a Krieghoff trap model, the recoil pad is the flat sporting version rather than the concave one you would find on their trap guns.
Upon closer inspection, the K-80 Pro Sporter is topped by the tapered rib on the K-80 Trap Special. Although both have the 12-8 mm dimensions, the rib on the K-80 Pro Sporter “floats” above the barrel so that you can insert an adjustable wedge near the front bead to change the point of impact from 50/50 to 60/40. In fact, you can also achieve a 70/30 point of impact by using the 60/40 wedge and a figure-8 sight picture, which is used by a significant number of trap shooters.
When it comes to the stocks, first impressions of a near match with a trap model give way to the tale of the tape. Krieghoff’s #6 Adjustable Comb Stock Trap Monte Carlo stock has a 14 3/8- inch length of pull and a drop range of 1¼ inches to 1 5/8 inches.
Measuring Krieghoff’s #3 Pro Sporter stock yields a 14½-inch length of pull and a drop range of 1 5/8 inches to 1¼ inches. These dimensions also differ from the #3 Adjustable Sporting Stock, which has a length of pull of 14 3/8 inches and a drop range of 1 5/8 inches to 1¼ inches.
Clearly, the K-80 Pro Sporter draws inspiration from other Krieghoff models, but at the same time is unique unto itself as a high-performance, clays-crushing machine. Ultimately, with the K-80 Pro Sporter, Krieghoff has thrown down the gauntlet on the best possible way to shoot sporting clays, skeet, 5-Stand and FITASC.
If you observe most clays shooters, they tend to lean forward so that their balance point is the ball of their lead foot. As you lean forward in this position, your face creeps up on the stock and in order to see the targets you try to find them by tilting your eyes toward the top of their sockets. This means you tend to obscure your natural, predatory binocular vision. Stand upright to shoot, however, and you turn into a clays killer.
The higher rib and stock of the K-80 Pro Sporter force the shooter to stand more upright – or as I think of it – more predatory. A characteristic of a successful predator is to identify the target and strike it in the shortest possible time. The more upright position that the K-80 imposes on you actually presents a more expansive sight picture…reducing your reaction time.
Krieghoff’s design philosophy of upright shooting is also reflected in the receiver of the K-80 Pro Sporter. Krieghoff takes it as a point of pride that the receiver on the K-80 Pro-Sporter is “fairly long and high,” according to Alex Diehl, Krieghoff’s General Manager.
The shotgun’s flat, easy swing is largely attributed to the receiver serving as the center of gravity. The shotgun’s center mass rests in the hands of the shooter versus having a weight bias on the gun barrel, or in the stock as with many other manufacturers. All K-80s, including the Pro Sporter, are individually balanced around the hinge. The payoff is that there was never a muzzle-heavy feel, even with the 32-inch barrels, on the K-80 Pro Sporter that I shot.
The ambidextrous palm swell and tapered forend certainly enhanced my control of the K-80 Pro-Sporter. A straight plumb line down from the receiver to my right knee and foot created a light, fluid pivot for crossing targets.
For example, like other K-80s, the Pro Sporter doesn’t need side ribs on the barrels for strength or extra ballast. The free-floating barrels separated by the famous Krieghoff adjustable hanger improve aerodynamics (and heat dissipation), but more importantly complement the overall balance when you consider the receiver as a center fulcrum. The K-80 Pro Sporter swung as though it were on ball bearings.
This smooth handling was a virtue felt throughout.
The K-80 Pro Sporter minimizes felt recoil without relying on hydraulics or springs. So many shotgun manufacturers tout their recoil- reduction systems such as built-in shock absorbers, rubber inserts in the stock or other apparatus, which look and function like recoil prosthetics.
Okay, the Pro-Sporter weighs nearly 9 pounds so of course it will absorb gobs of recoil. But what I’m talking about here goes beyond taming Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of physics. I’m referring to the meticulous engineering behind a near-perfect, clays-shooting experience: even though the K-80 Pro Sporter is heavy, it is also nimble, balanced and comfortable. After blasting 1-ounce loads for hour after hour, the K-80 Pro Sporter was about as comfortable as a day behind the wheel of that cushy BMW X6 M.
Does it have even less felt recoil than a standard K-80 sporting or skeet gun? Perhaps…
After all, if you’re leaning forward in a more conventional stance, your shoulder pocket takes the brunt of the recoil. By comparison, the more upright stance of the K-80 Pro Sporter has a tendency to distribute the effects of recoil to a wider area of softer tissue. I haven’t proven this notion scientifically, but it seems to make sense after you shoot the gun for a while and you experience a gentle push instead of a kick.
From my perspective, there’s a fine line between comfort and intuition when it comes to the character of a shotgun. You can often find the perfect blend in bespoke British shotguns that connect so fully with the shooter that it comes as second nature to effortlessly shoot game birds. It’s no surprise that Robert Churchill, whose method of instinctive wingshooting rocked the world, was a son of the British double gun.
In the K-80 Pro-Sporter, comfort meets intuition in the remarkable trigger. Your brain tells you when to pull the trigger and your index finger easily obliges.
The K-80 Pro Sporter shares the same legendary trigger with other K-80s. It has a single, selective, mechanical trigger. The hammers and sears are operated by coil springs, a typical configuration for boxlocks like K-80s.
With a pull of about 3¼ to 3¾ pounds, the trigger is crisp and intuitive. The trigger shoe is contoured to your finger and can be adjusted back-and-forth. Lock times are between 25-30 millionths of a second. Release triggers are also available from Krieghoff.
The K-80 Pro Sporter is an affirmation of evolution rather than revolution in the lineage of the K-80’s ascent from Krieghoff’s first-generation competition shotgun, the K-32.
One feature that has remained in the K-80 Pro Sporter is Krieghoff’s trademark sliding top breech. The top latch slides forward to secure the barrels to the receiver at the best possible point. It also helps maintain a solid fit regardless of how much you shoot it. The sliding top breech is strong and secure, and personally I find it easier to keep clean than the more popular underlug.
The Pro Sporter is also equipped with the K-80 non-automatic sliding safety. It’s located on the top tang just behind the opening lever. The K-80’s safety can be locked “off” so that no targets are lost through engaging the safety by mistake.
Is this a gun that you will fall in love with at first sight? Not the base model I shot. The standard scroll of a single wreath flourish on the case-hardened nickel receiver seemed gratuitous. I would prefer the plain, modern look of a Blaser F3 as the entry-level design. Still, you only need to move to the next option called the Super Scroll Nickel and the K-80 receiver becomes a pallet of fine engraving. Ultimately, Krieghoff can have your K-80 Pro Sporter custom engraved.
The standard Turkish walnut on the K-80 Pro Sporter was attractive enough. Nicely figured and hand chequered, it’s finished with a protective satin epoxy. And like the engraving, the sky’s the limit on the amount of money you can spend on upgraded wood from Krieghoff.
As with Krieghoff’s Sporting models, the K-80 Pro Sporter comes standard with five titanium chokes: skeet, two improved cylinders, modified and improved modified.
The K-80 Pro Sporter is a shotgun that will definitely change your game. For proof, look no further than Gebben Miles. He picked up a K-80 Pro Sporter only five weeks before the 2009 Sporting Clays Nationals and won his first major title with the shotgun.
Now let’s hear what the Shotgun Life Peer Review Posse has to say about the Krieghoff K-80 Pro Sporter…
Gun of Choice: Benelli Super Sport
“First of all I was impressed with the gun with regards to the weight. It doesn’t feel like a traditional K-80. It feels lighter. I thought the balance was great. It was just perfect. I like the high rib, because you can stand more erect and see the target better and it gives you better peripheral vision because my head is up straighter. The trigger was fine. It felt very good. I didn’t notice any recoil and I was shooting those Black Mamas and they’re pretty good hitters. The gun feels good in your hands. The swing was very smooth. I would definitely buy the gun.”
Gun of Choice: Beretta 686 White Onyx
“The trigger pull was excellent. There was no creep whatsoever. It was very easy to swing. The gun felt well balanced. The weight is a little heavy for me, and the gun was too long. It shot very well.”
Profession: Millwork Salesman
Gun of Choice: Caesar Guerini
“The balance is very nice, and allows for the gun to swing very smoothly and evenly. You can’t miss a target with it. I would prefer that the rib isn’t as high as it is. For example, at station low one on skeet, I saw the rib instead of the bird on the pair but at stations three, four and five the swing is just wonderful. It’s a heavy gun, but the weight is evenly distributed, and allows for very little felt recoil even with 1?-ouce loads. The trigger had no play in it at all and was very smooth. The length-of-pull was just about right for me. It fit me very well. The wood is very nice on it, but I’d expect that on a Krieghoff. The wood to metal fit is very good. The ejectors are not over-sprung to avoid accidentally hitting somebody with the spent shells.”
Profession: Commercial HVAC
Gun of Choice: Browning Ultra XS Skeet
“The gun had very little recoil. It gave me a bigger sight picture. I was able to see the full target. The trigger was crisp, real good. It’s a comfortable weight. It’s not a hard swinging gun, the swing is very light.”
Irwin Greenstein is Publisher of Shotgun Life. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.