Review: Retay Masai Mara Shotgun

Retay’s inertia-action Masai Mara shotgun delivers fit and finish above its price.

Review: Retay Masai Mara Shotgun

The Turks make beautiful, excellent-functioning firearms. 

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere for the last 15-20 years, you’ve seen a larger and larger number of firearms imported from Turkey. Now, thanks to high demand and a return to the purchasing of sporting arms over the fear-based buying done in the past decade, some of those same manufacturers have developed their own brands and are shipping them stateside. 

I was recently fortunate enough to test the new Masai Mara shotgun from one of those manufacturers — Retay. 

My introduction to Retay came at NRA 2018. I saw them from another booth and was attracted to the fine lines and beautiful walnut. I commented to the folks there on the fit and finish of each gun I handled, and especially how I was fond of inertia actions due to their simplicity, durability and reliability.

I was then informed by Thomas Ferney & Co. CEO Chris Handy, the U.S. Importer for Retay, that not only did Retay have an inertia-based operating action, but it also had applied for a patent on certain modifications that keep the bolt in battery — something that many inertia actions have had trouble with over the years.  

I’m quite a gun nut, and while I’m constantly writing about rifles and optics, my true passion is shotgunning.

From the time I was in high school all the way up until today it’s rare that I don’t put at least a few boxes of shells through one of my smoothbores each month — and often many, many more than that.

Fast-forward several months and after a few emails back and forth with Christian Handy of Retay, I had a test gun in hand. 

What’s In a Name?

Thanks to a plethora of movies, television shows and documentaries, when many people envision the native tribes of sub-Saharan Africa  two indigenous tribes generally come to mind. The Zulu tribe with their cowhide shields and Assegai spears and the Masai with their unusual height, red-stained hair and garments and 6-foot-long spears. The Masai are a people of Africa who build their lives around vast herds of cattle. Young Masai boys are charged with guarding their family or tribe’s herd with only a herding stick and, later, a spear. They are also known for being brave and fierce warriors.

A Masai boy becomes a man only when he kills a lion with his spear — usually standing or inducing a charge from one of the deadliest game species on earth.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is a large game reserve in Kenya that’s contiguous with the famed Serengeti National Park in the Mara Region of Tanzania. It is named in honor of both the Masai people and their description of the area when looked at from afar: “Mara,” which is Maa (in the Masai language) for “spotted,” an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savanna and cloud shadows that mark the area. It is also known as one of the most beautiful places on earth.

After experiencing the Masai Mara shotgun, I believe it is aptly named.

The first thing that stood out to me on Retay’s shotgun was, once again, the impressive Turkish walnut it wore. One would expect that walnut of this grade would be reserved for much pricier guns, and there certainly are many more expensive guns, including ones that I own, wearing less impressive dress.

This is a very attractive firearm in wood dressing, but is also available with a synthetic stock and several camouflage finishes. Whether you’re an upland hunter, clays master, tactical or 3-gun shooter, or a waterfowl specialist, Retay has an inertia model for you.

Over my lifetime, I’ve spent significant time in waterfowl marshes and blinds that collectively add up to years of all types of weather. I realize the value of a durable finish that requires little maintenance and is impervious to the elements. I have a sincere appreciation, however, for pretty guns. My last inertia-action shotgun was purchased the year it came to market and wore a gloss blue metal and satin walnut finish. 

First Impressions

When removing the Masai Mara from its included hard-side case, I immediately noted its balance and light weight centered nicely between my hands — ideal for an upland bird gun. It had unique and fine curving lines that made it all the more attractive. I had visions of rising coveys of quail and cool mornings spent in the dove field as part of my test — but that would have to wait almost a month, so off I went instead to the sporting clays course. 

I had a cameraman/photographer with me and we planned to get some video and photographs. We set up the video camera at the first stand. When the photographer called, “Ready,” I called for the bird, mounted and swung the gun. As I pulled through I heard an audible click but no bang.

When I removed and examined the shell, I could see the primer was dented but the round did not fire. I then loaded the same round into the magazine and called for another bird. The gun went off and everything came together smoothly as the clay disintegrated. 

Several rounds later, it happened again. 

Another dozen rounds, and it happened again. Back at the clubhouse, I dismantled the gun and noticed the firing pin was striking the primer well off center. But every round that misfired would fire when loaded into the gun again. A quick call and some pictures as well as description of the problem with Retay determined there was likely a problem with the bolt face. I was overnighted an entire new bolt system and the gun functioned flawlessly for my next several tests. 

Birds Beware

I requested some more time for my evaluation, as I really wanted to see what this gun could do in the field.

The Arizona dove season was about to begin and a friend of mine had just received permission to shoot doves and pigeons at a nearby dairy.

With several of us in the field, everyone wanted to try the new gun. Everyone commented on the gorgeous wood and wanted to know where they could get one of these guns.

Over the course of three weeks, I shot incoming and outgoing birds, left and right crossers and even passing pigeons as far out as 60 to 70 yards without a hiccup. The gun and I had become quite the team. 

Coming Clean

One of my least favorite parts of hunting and shooting is cleaning my guns.

Though necessary to preserve and ensure the best performance of your firearm, and much easier today with improved CLPs, solvents and tools, I have always considered cleaning simply the work necessary in order to have fun.

Luckily for all of us who dread this task, Retay’s innovation and new technology does not end with their patented inertia action. The Masai Mara has a feature not found on any other semi automatic shotgun on the market today.

When the time comes to clean your Masai Mara, the entire trigger assembly can be removed from the action with the simple press of a button located near the trigger. No more knocking out pins or lining up holes to tap them in again.

I expect to see this feature on many more shotguns in the future. 


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