Touched down at the Savannah airport yesterday evening with a big smile on my face. Thankful, of course, for safe landing with tropical storm Nate on my tail but also especially grateful for a few days afield with great guns and great friends in a place that—if you’re a bird shooter—is in that rarefied stratum of “Oh Lordy, does it get any better than this?”
This story actually began to unfold almost a year ago when I bumped into Krieghoff COO Alex Diehl at the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, airport. We were both coming off pheasant hunts in the state, and, after comparing notes, Alex mentioned that he had been hunting with a prototype of a new Krieghoff game gun. This shotgun would be in production in 2017, so Alex suggested we get together and put this new addition to the Krieghoff lineup through its paces with a pheasant hunt the following season.
I could think of no better place for this hunt than Sporting Classics’ 2017 “Hunting Lodge of the Year,” Cheyenne Ridge Signature Lodge, which is just some 20 minutes from the Pierre airport. Great guides, great dogs, and exceptionally hard-flying pheasant make the hunting at Cheyenne Ridge top shelf, and the accommodations and cuisine are exceptional to boot. Executive Chef/GM Sean Finley prepares a variety of signature entrées, with his prime rib and bone-in rib eyes rivaling the top steak houses in the country.
If you know Krieghoff, you know the company built its shotgun reputation on the K-32 and, beginning in 1980, the more modern and improved K-80 model. Available in a wide variety of configurations for trap, skeet, and sporting clays, these guns have and continue to be among the most sought-after competition guns in the world. One big reason is the rock-solid nature of the K-80 action. According to the factory, it’s not unusual for a K-80 to have a million rounds under its belt.
This near-indestructible design is at the heart of Krieghoff’s newest offering, the K-20 Parcours. Slimmer and lighter, it nonetheless has all the technical features of its “big brother” and is specifically built for the smaller 20 gauge, not just a small-gauge barrel set in a normal-size receiver.
The result? An over/under shotgun weighing in at just under seven pounds, sporting either 30- or 32-inch barrels (these are light barrels, and their extra inches over the traditional 28-inch “field length” help maintain the momentum of your swing), and available with either a traditional Prince of Wales hunting-style stock or a sporting stock with adjustable comb.
The secret sauce? In my opinion, it’s the K-20 action. First, it centers the weight of the gun right between your hands, promoting an exceptionally smooth swing and the perception that the gun is lighter than it is. Second, at its weight and with the legendary reliability of its action, this is a 20-gauge gun ideally suited for high-volume hunting—such as driven pheasants or doves in Argentina—as well as year-in, year-out sporting clays competition.
What more could you ask for? I don’t know. All I can say is the K-20 looks as good as it shoots.
It was a privilege to hunt with sportsmen and sportswomen that included not only Alex Diehl but also Dieter and Betty Krieghoff, as well as a number of Krieghoff aficionados.
Ken Pfau, general manager at Rio Ammunition, provided us with the company’s new Royal Pheasant loads. These shells feature true copper-plated—not just washed—shot together with a new wad design and powders designed for higher payloads.
At Cheyenne Ridge Signature Lodge, they like to say that they’ve set a new standard for an old tradition. Appropriately, the same could be said for Krieghoff’s new K-20 Parcours.