In this installment, we take a look at Legacy Sports’ rugged and affordable Escort line of shotguns. Last fall, I had the opportunity to try out both Legacy Sports’ over/under and semi-auto offerings.
The Silver Synthetic is a sharp-looking 3-inch 12-gauge over/under with a silver-colored, nickel-finished receiver and contrasting blued 28-inch barrels. A fiber-optic front sight and steel mid-bead sit atop the flat vent-rib. The mid-rib between the barrels is also ventilated. Five flush-fitting Mobile-style chokes are included — skeet, improved cylinder, modified, improved modified and full.
The barrel selector is integrated into the tang-mounted safety and the mono-block is jeweled. To keep costs down, empties are removed via extractors, not ejectors.
The black synthetic stock and forearm are offset by gray-colored soft rubber cobblestone grip inserts, which provide a sure grasp of the firearm. The unique two-piece stock is probably the gun’s most alluring feature. An adjustable comb allows drop to be raised or lowered by simply removing a retaining pin, sliding the comb forward and off the stock, then moving it up or down a set of grooves.
Three recoil pad spacers for adjusting length of pull allow further customization. The Trio recoil pad, also gray in color, is extremely soft and curved to fit perfectly into the shoulder pocket. At least it fit into my shoulder pocket perfectly, despite my large shoulders. I shot the Silver Synthetic well, thanks to the gun’s ergonomic recoil pad, adjustable comb and flat rib, all of which combined to provide precise barrel-to-eye alignment.
The Silver Synthetic’s sole shortcoming was the top lever, which periodically snapped back to the closed position while the action was still open, keeping the gun from being closed until the lever was pushed back to its proper position. While not much of an issue when shooting targets, it could be problematic in high-volume situations. This phenomenon isn’t unique to the Silver Synthetic, either, as I’ve seen the same thing happen on other economy models. Keep in mind — Turkish-made over/unders aren’t fine Italian doubles or British best guns, nor do they claim to be, and they are priced accordingly. That’s what makes them so attractive for the abusive job of waterfowling.
The second gun tested was Legacy Sports’ Escort Extreme Magnum, a 3½-inch semi-auto that will be of particular interest to waterfowlers. The Smart Valve gas piston cycles a wide range of 12-gauge ammo, from light 2¾-inch target loads to heavy 3½-inch magnums. Test loads included 1 1/8-ounce Estate 7½s at 1,200 feet per second, 1-ounce Cheddite 8½s at 1,250 fps, 1-ounce Winchester Xpert steel 7s at 1,325 fps, and 1 1/8-ounce Winchester Super Target 7½s at a sedate 1,145 fps. According to my notes, there was only one failure to eject with the low-flow Super Target load, which isn’t unusual with such a low-velocity round. Otherwise, the Escort Extreme digested everything I fed it just fine. My notes also indicate I hit every clay target I shot at with it.
To illustrate the Extreme’s extreme versatility with a wide variety of waterfowl ammo, I loaded a 2¾-inch, 1-ounce Winchester Xpert round at 1,325 fps, followed by a 3-inch, 1¼-ounce Hevi-Shot Speed Ball round at 1,635 fps, followed by a 3½-inch, 1½-ounce Kent Silver Steel round at 1,450 fps. The gun cycled and ejected all three loads perfectly, despite their differing lengths, payloads and velocities.
The Escort Extreme 3½-inch Magnum is available in basic black synthetic and Realtree AP and Max-4 camo patterns. The 28-inch nickel-chrome-moly-lined barrel is proofed for steel shot and has a vent-rib and Hi-Viz front sight. My test gun had a short, green, fiber optic front sight installed, but a long Hi-Viz light pipe set consisting of two red and two green pipes was also included.
Non-slip, soft, rubber grip inserts are strategically placed on the synthetic stock’s pistol grip and forearm to provide a sure hold in all sorts of weather. While the forearm’s thin rubber strips looked precarious, they stayed on during testing. The bottom of the forearm is vented near the front to release excess gases. Sling studs on the magazine cap and stock are standard.
The bolt handle is large and smooth. The safety is conveniently located behind the trigger, and the trigger guard is large enough to accommodate gloved usage. A nice surprise was the trigger, which was checkered! I’ve never seen a checkered trigger on a shotgun, but it certainly makes sense on a waterfowling gun.
The bolt release button is located on the bottom of the carrier, just as on a Remington 11-87. This is a great place for a bolt release button, as it facilitates fast and easy reloads, without any fear of the bolt handle hitting your hand when the bolt closes. The magazine cut-off button was somewhat stiff, but conveniently located on the right side of the receiver where the bolt release button is normally found on many semi-autos.
The Escort Extreme comes with five flush-fitting chokes — skeet, IC, modified, IM and full — plus an extended modified waterfowl choke, which I used for all my testing. An extended turkey tube is also available. It should be noted that the Extreme’s chokes are threaded differently and not interchangeable with the over/under. Three LOP shims, two stock drop spacers (my gun actually included an extra duplicate spacer), and one stock cast spacer are included to provide a wide range of fit customization. My only gripe is the hard rubber butt-pad. On a 3½-inch gun, a soft rubber recoil pad should be mandatory.
One option that’s sure to appeal to southpaw shooters is the availability of true left-hand models of the Extreme Magnum. Legacy Sports’ also offers a 20-gauge left-hand version of the wood-stocked Supreme Magnum for small-bore fans. Noted waterfowler, Fowl Life star, and lefty Chad Belding has this to say about the Extreme Magnum: “After three seasons of abuse on my Escort, I’m sold on the performance, reliability and amazing cycle rate speed of these guns. The best part is I can get them in left-handed models, which some manufacturers don’t offer, are extremely hard to get, or are ridiculously overpriced.”
Legacy Sports also offers the Standard Magnum pump, with a tough, black, synthetic stock and extended forearm that reaches all the way back to the receiver for quick, short-stroke, follow-up shots. The 12-gauge has a 28-inch barrel, while the 20-gauge has a 26-inch barrel, both with 3-inch chambers. Three chokes — modified, IM and full — are provided. IM is a particularly nice touch, because not many shotguns include this constriction from the factory, but all three of these Legacy Sports guns do.
Best of all, Legacy Sports’ shotguns are priced much lower than their name-brand counterparts — an extremely attractive feature for guns destined for a life of abuses in the waterfowling world.