Retay Gordion: An Affordable Inertia Hunting Shotgun?
Well-built inertia-driven hunting shotguns are not cheap, and cheap ones are seldom good. There are, however, exceptions to every rule. Few Americans are familiar with the Retay brand, but that is quickly changing. Are they a passing fad, or is this name changing the game and here to stay? Guns.com checks out the Retay Gordion shotgun.
Just when we thought all Turkish-made shotguns fell into the cookie-cutter budget category, Retay Arms swoops in with inertia-driven semi-autos for hunters and do-it-all shooters seeking higher dollar features at more reasonable than average prices. Retay Arms has been flying under the radar for a few years, but they’re a secret no longer. The Konya, Turkey, rooted company has its USA headquarters in Easton, Maryland, and puts out two major shotgun lines, the Masai Mara and the Gordion.
Innovative features set them apart from the competition in a crowded hunting shotgun market. The Masai Mara offers a sweet, quick release trigger group, which comes free without tools and allows for both safe storage and quick clearing of debris in the duck flats.
Both the Masai Mara and the Gordion use an “easy unload” system that allows the magazine tube to be cleared in seconds without racking live rounds through the action. In another sweet turn of engineering, Retay’s Inertia Plus floating bolt system is intended to eliminate the misfires that have plagued other such inertia systems from major manufacturers.
The semi-automatic hunting shotgun market is packed, yet Retay manages to offer something new in the inertia-driven game. The Turkish-made Gordion line of semi-automatics uses what the company calls an Inertia Plus action and bolt system. It features oversized controls, which are ideal for hunters.
The Gordion can be had with either a 26- or 28-inch barrel dressed with a TruGlo red fiber-optic front sight. Finish options include a matte or polished black receiver and barrel, as well as full camouflage coverage. The guns weigh 6.5 to 6.75 pounds, depending on the barrel length. Shooters have a choice of black synthetic, Turkish walnut, or several camouflage patterns.
The Retay guns boast an “easy load” port as well as an “easy unload” system that allows the magazine tube to be emptied without racking the action. The guns ship with a stock adjustment shim kit for drop and cast.
The whole thing comes packed in a TSA airline-approved hard case with five flush-mount choke tubes in full, improved modified, modified, improved cylinder, and skeet. Retail price on the Gordion starts at $799.00, which puts it at the bottom end of inertia-driven hunting shotguns and immediately garners interest.
Our test gun came as the standard black synthetic Gordion with a 28-inch barrel, all matte blued, and rather unassuming. We appreciate the Gordion’s construction using a one-piece aluminum alloy receiver. The included shims make it easy to customize for fit.
While the features are innovative, there are a few areas of concern to be addressed before making a purchase. While we don’t often address shotgun triggers, as they’re generally ho-hum, our test model Gordion’s trigger is heavier than most. For hunters who wish to mount an optic for hunting, it’s important to note our test Gordion is not drilled and tapped but does have a grooved receiver. The turkey models, however, are fully optics ready.
The other instantly noticeable point, especially when firing magnum hunting rounds, is the recoil. There’s no way to measure felt recoil for the individual shooter. But after passing the Gordion around to several different hunting buddies, the consensus was greater than expected recoil. While the action does its job just find, we instantly found the recoil pad to be a source of concern. It is exceptionally stiff, without the give or fit we’d expect on a hunting gun built for heavier loads.
Felt recoil is substantial when firing 3-inch hunting loads. Though this is subjective, it feels sharper than shooting 3.5-inch hunting loads through my Winchester SX3, or more comparably, stronger than 3-inch hunting rounds through the CZ 1012. Chalk that up to the weight of the gun, the stiff recoil pad, or whatever, but buying this baby as a semi-automatic and expecting lessened kick may be disappointing. That may discourage some buyers, but make no mistake, the Gordion remains an attractive purchase as an affordable, feature-packed inertia-driven hunter.
That’s not all doom-and-gloom, however. Recoil pads can be replaced and triggers worked out, though many hunters wouldn’t even bother with either of those issues. At the end of the day, the Retay Gordion is more affordable than most in its category, and it beats some in price by a country mile.
A big plus is the improvement to the inertia-driven action on the Retay. The Inertia Plus system solves the dreaded “click” that can occur on more popular brands after slow-closing the action in the field. To verify this, we did indeed gently and quietly close the action on a live round, as we would in the field with game present. Even when attempting to set the bolt lightly into battery, it almost snaps itself forward. The gun locked up tight and functioned perfectly. Doing this with some of the big-name brands often yields bangless results, which is not what you want on a hunt.
Another design bonus is Retay’s “easy unload” feature. This allows shells to be ejected through the loading port rather than being cycled through the action, the way most semi-automatic shotguns function. Not only is this safer than chambering each round, but it’s quicker and quieter as well. While we’d like to say our test Retay ran flawlessly out of the box, it did not – though that’s more than partly our fault.
We tried some sporting clays with both heavy and light loads, but the lighter target loads often failed to cycle. Had we read the fine print in the middle of the manual, we would have noticed: “Warning: When your shotgun is new and before beginning to use it normally, a breaking-in period may be required before your new shotgun works perfectly with light loads. If you experience any initial functioning problems, we recommend firing three or four boxes of standard hunting loads.”
While that’s a lot of thumping rounds and added cost for ammunition, our gun did indeed function flawlessly after following those directions.
The quality of the included five choke tubes was proven on the range and in the field with solid patterning. Further, we were more than impressed with the included airline-approved hard case that came with the Gordion. If we can say one thing, after the break-in period, our Gordion did not miss a beat even in cold, wet, and icy conditions.
Gobbler hunters will want to take a peek at the forthcoming XT Turkey Masai Mara as well as the already launched, and quite appealing, Gordion Turkey. Both come dressed in full coverage of the latest Mossy Oak and Realtree patterns. Besides longbeards, additions to Retay’s waterfowl editions make life easier and more accessible to duck and goose chasers wanting in on the inertia market with all the features but significantly lower price points than larger competitors.
The 3.5-inch magnum Masai Mara Air King looks the part with full Cerakote coverage, a host of camouflages, and oversized controls. It backs up those good looks with smooth, fast cycling of the hardest hitting high brass loads.
We were lucky enough to have the chance to bag a nice gobbler using our test Gordion shotgun. The shotgun earned its time in the turkey woods after doing well with the included full choke at the patterning board. The Tom fell to one shot of Hornady Heavy Magnum Turkey, and when we trust a gun on a hunt, that says something.
It's not wrong to wonder how long new brands will stick around, especially with Turkish-made shotguns coming and going. Retay initially launched an all 12-gauge contingent. But since then, it has been building up the flagship Masai Mara family as well as adding 20-gauge models. They are true, scaled-down 20s and not merely built on the larger frame.
The Retay brand continues to grow and expand, with upgraded offerings coming regularly. New for 2021 to the Retay brand is a family of turkey-specific Gordion 20-gauge inertia-driven semi-automatics. They also ventured into the slide action market with a budget-priced short-throw pump shotgun called the GPS, short for Geometric Pump System. The guns include a limited 5-year warranty.
Only time will tell how Retay fares over the long haul, but the amount of thought and innovation going into the guns is surely a solid sign of a bright future. While the guns may not be perfect, few are. Besides, how often can hunters grab a solid-functioning inertia-driven shotgun for well under a grand?