Derya Lion Practical: the sporting semi-automatic shotgun in a detailed shooting range test

It was a bit like reuniting with a good acquaintance who got especially dressed up for this meeting. Tester Frank Flumm had tested one of the eye-catching red and black autoloading shotguns in the standard version in 2016. Back then, he was completely thrilled by the Derya Lion's absolutely reliable function with virtually any type of ammunition and by its very good accuracy. In the meantime, a lot has changed at Derya. 

New, eye-catching look: the exterior of the Derya Lion Practical LP-104

There have also been various changes to the semi-automatic shotgun featuring the characteristic red receiver. For example, the aluminum receiver of the new version of the Derya Lion Practical LP-104 is no longer anodized in glossy red, but has a much brighter red matte finish. And for those who prefer a more restrained look, the Practical version is also available in a completely black finish, in which case it is called the LP-101. Technically, Derya continues to rely on the tried and tested with the Lion: the gas-operated autoloader has a rotating bolt and an interchangeable choke. Controls do not pose any riddles. Delivery is in a plain cardboard box. The manufacturer includes two additional chokes and the matching choke wrench, a magazine extension with a longer magazine spring, a cleaning cloth, a QD sling swivel and a safety flag for the chamber. The magazine extension is painted red, as is the shell holder for a spare cartridge mounted on the right side of the fore-end. Unfortunately, the finish on the test gun did not prove to be particularly durable, as the receiver and magazine extension showed visible scratches after only a short time. So: watch out.

In our test variant, matte red color accents applied by painting showed up on the Derya Lion Practical.

Technical features of the Derya Lion Practical semi-automatic shotgun

The Derya Lion Practical's ventilated barrel rib can be adjusted in height using the wheel (left). On the right in the picture, the rear sight with fiberglass inserts is embedded in the barrel rib.

The Lion Practical shows at first sight what kind of spirit it is. Not only the IPSC logo on the right side of the receiver indicates its intended use, but also the numerous technical and visual modifications compared to the old standard version. For example, the loading port on the underside of the receiver has been massively enlarged to facilitate double or quad loading. In addition, the controls such as the charging handle and the bolt release button have been significantly enlarged to prevent operating errors under competition stress. The synthetic stock with rubber inserts on the grip and fore-end has integrated recoil padding and ends in a non-slip rubber cap. The shotgun features a height-adjustable, ventilated barrel rib. The barrel rib also features a green fiber optic front sight and a rear sight with two red fiber optic inserts. In bright light, these sights provides excellent contrast and a very good target picture. In moderate lighting, however, the sights are less visible and aiming becomes much more difficult. Obviously, Derya specifically relies on these rib sights with the Lion Practical, because unlike the old standard version of the Lion, the top of the receiver does not have milling for 11-mm mounts, which makes it easy to fit a  Picatinny or Weaver adapter rail. Now there are millings for a special mounting rail similar to Beretta, Fabarm or Winchester.

The loading port has been generously widened at the front to make lightning-fast reloading easier on the Practical version of the Derya Lion.

Controls and function

The shotgun's oversized controls are a marked improvement over the old standard version, in contrast to the loading port which has also been significantly enlarged. Reloading two cartridges at once (double load) was easy and very quick to do. However, this worked just as well with the old standard version. With the so-called quad load, where four cartridges are picked up at once, the testers had to largely pass the buck though. If at all, the quad load could only be performed quite slowly. Here, the high spring force of the carrier and the fact that the magazine follower protrudes a bit into the loading port put the brakes on. This makes feeding the cartridges difficult. You have to position them very precisely to insert them into the tubular magazine, and that takes time. The trigger pull weight of the gun varied by about 1.7 lb/800 grams in our measurements. The average from ten measurements was 6.8 lb/3,100 grams. Nevertheless, the trigger is sufficiently smooth for fast shooting in competition.

With the Derya Lion Practical in 12/76 on the shooting range – or how an initial disappointment turned into enthusiasm after all

Co-tester Jan Böhringer with the Derya Lion Practical in action on the shooting range.

Doch But how does this shotgun perform in practice? Immediately after unpacking, the magazine extension with the extended magazine spring was mounted. This was done without any problems and unlike some other shotguns, no helper had to be recruited to thread the magazine spring. The first range visit was unfortunately disappointing. The test gun was practically a pure single-shot gun with any ammunition. Apparently, the gas pressure was not sufficient to set the bolt fully in motion. The English instruction manual told us that when using light loads, one should remove the two gas pistons, turn them around, and reinstall them reversed. Unfortunately, that didn't work in this case, because the barrel was too tight in the receiver for disassembly and the testers didn't want to use force unnecessarily. No big problem: the shotgun was sent back to the importer for a check. After checking, the piston system was turned around for light loads. In addition, all functional parts were generously treated with GunCoating from Fluna Tec, a high-quality ceramic fine lubricant. The gun was then test-fired by the importer, and function was found to be good. And indeed: on the second attempt, the shotgun was unrecognizable on the shooting range. Now it cycled with all shotgun shells from 12/60 up to 12/76 magnum slugs without any problems. Even the very weak KO Cleanspeed Short posed no problem whatsoever, although with this load most other semi-automatic shotguns would have to pass. The 12/60 from Brenneke is really only for pump-actions. But that didn't matter to Derya's auto-loader: even with a deliberately loose grip, the shotgun now worked absolutely trouble-free with all cartridges used, including the 12/60 – chapeau!

The accuracy tests were carried out in the proven manner by several shooters. All ammo types were tested several times by several shooters for accuracy. The best five-shot grouping of 45 millimeters was achieved with the Coated Competition Slug Black from GECO, closely followed by the powerful 12/76 Extra Line Magnum from Rottweil. Presumably, even tighter groupings could be achieved by using a red dot sight. Due to the range lighting, it was not quite easy to fully explore the accuracy potential using the rear and front sights. On a closed and well-lit shooting range, however, the Derya sights provided very good results on the target. The reliability of the shotgun, even with very weakly loaded ammo, was simply outstanding and cycling with buckshot was just as convincing as with slugs. Regardless of whether shotgun ammunition with 24- or 28-gram loads was used, the test gun cycled absolutely reliably, and the testers had a lot of fun felling drop plates. The Lion Practical's reduced recoil and pleasant shooting characteristics made for very fast shooting times with reliable hits. One or two testers could well imagine the Derya for their own use.

Without the magazine tube extension, the Derya Lion Practical's tubular magazine holds four rounds. With the extension, it holds eight rounds, and even nine rounds in 12/60.

Derya Lion Practical specs and price

Derya Lion Practical
Price (MSRP): 
699 euro
Magazine Capacity: 
4/8 + 1 rounds
Overall Length: 
44.8”/1,140 mm
Barrel length: 
24"/610 mm 
Length of Pull: 
13.7”/350 mm
Trigger Pull Weight: 
6.8 lb/3,100 g (average of 10 measurements)
6.6 lb/3,000 g
Gas operated auto-loader, aluminum receiver, rotating bolt, adjustable barrel rib, interchangeable chokes, flared loading port, magazine extension. Two colors available: red (as in the test) and full black.

Wrap-up: what the Derya Lion Practical can do

The Derya Lion Practical is a very good shotgun. For 699 euros, it is an effective and very affordable alternative to the auto-loaders from well-known manufacturers. A more even trigger pull weight and a more durable finish would be a good thing. However, function and reliability were beyond reproach, and the uneven trigger pull weight was hardly noticeable during rapid shooting. Despite the minor shortcomings, the price/performance ratio can only be described as very good. 

 What we liked:

 What we liked less:

Excellent function
Not very resistant finish (somewhat sensitive to scratches)
Very good shooting behavior
Fluctuating trigger weight
Attractive price/performance ratio

For more information about the Derya Lion Practical and the other shotguns from the company please visit the Derya website.

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