I am also looking to purchase a combo rifle, and the 9.3x74R/12ga combination is (most likely) my first preference.
About 6 months ago I started a number of threads on this forum about how to 'best' upgrade from my current combo gun (a Savage 24 in .30-30/12ga) and I received numerous responses to my thoughts/ideas/opinions from dougk, Drilling Man, and many other members. There seemed to be a generally held opinion that the Valmet 412 was head and shoulders above all the other 'affordable' combo rifles that were, or are, commonly (or uncommonly) available in North America.
In the intervening months while I continued to research my purchase options, I've not found one example of a Valmet 412 in 9.3x74R that's come up for sale. So, not wanting to wait any longer, I began to look a bit closer at the FinnClassic 512.
After reading various comments on the internet stating that the FinnClassic 512 was an 'improved' version of the Valmet 412, I contacted Russ Gould of Network Retailing LLC about the FinnClassic that they import and sell.
In response to my question about the differences between the Valmet 412 and the FinnClassic 512, Russ responded:
"I have and use both a 412 and a 512 and the 512 is definitely a better gun cosmetically, esp the wood finish/grain/checkering. The rifle bbls on the new guns are made from Lothar Walther blanks ... the best barrels in the world. Marocchi makes their own shotgun bbls, that is their forte, and they certainly know what they are doing in that regards. The older 412s are ugly, the ejectors break, and they also suffer from blueing salts bleeding out of the monobloc. I suspect what you are reading is a bunch of folks who want to talk up what they own, and if they already own a 412, I very much doubt they also own a 512 so the comparisons are not likely to be fact-based. In any case, the matter is academic as new 412s are unobtainable. Marocchi made these guns for Valmet for a while, and then for Tikka, before they bought the product line."
I don't know enough about either of these rifles to pass judgment on what I'm being told. However, all of what I read and hear sounds perfectly plausible in it's own right to me. I really do wish though, that I knew what was the truth in all this.
I've never held a Valmet 412 in my hands. I will most likely have to purchase a combo rifle sight unseen. Armed with what would seem to be conflicting information/opinions, I'm not really looking forward to choosing between the 412 and 512.
I'll take a stab at this one...
How a gun looks and feels is a personal thing. There were quite a few different models of 412's made with different "wood" on them. So Russ could be right or wrong on that, depending on what YOU prefer. I'd say most folks wouldn't complain if they there were trimmer, but all the metal is the same size on both guns so.....
I have never even one time had to repair a 412 ejector, and i've used loads that stuck cartridges when i was developing a 9.3x74R loading manual. I still have the very first 412 that came to my shop in early 1980, and it's been fired thousands of times. Customers have dry fired it hundreds ? thousands ? of times, and it's never failed in any way shape or form. I'd not be afraid to put the 74R bbls on it today, and track down a wounded brn bear.
I was the Valmet distributor for the state of Ak. for many years, and i had VERY few bbls/actions come back do to ANY problem that the customer didn't cause.
I had a few bbls come back with rust creeping out from under the bbl bands but NEVER from the action. Not even one!
I saw a few actions ruined, from customers trying to fit bbls themselves that they bought out of shotgun news. Most folks think, just because the bbls go on and the action closes, that means the bbls are properly fit! I've seen this posted on several forums. It's a good way to trash an action, and then i supose "that" would be Valmets fault? I've had at least one customer say that it was.
Marocchi made these guns for Valmet for a while, and then for Tikka, before they bought the product line.
True: The "key word" is WHILE. And it was a very short while! lol
I suspect what you are reading is a bunch of folks who want to talk up what they own
AND, what is Russ doing??? lol lol
Here's a TRUE story... Some time ago, i was selling off some Valmet stuff. Russ contacted me and wanted to buy everything i had. When i wouldn't give him a VERY low price, he went into his "dealers should give dealers a low price, to help eachother out" mode. (i was already giving good prices, and GBO members were buying the stuff from me FAST. Anyway, i again refused, and boy did he ever fly off into a rant! I won't repeat any of that here. lol
SO, i'd say Russ is doing exactly what he accuses everyone else of doing, and i wonder why he wanted all of my 412 "junk" so badly??? lol Surely he wouldn't want to screw HIS customers with all that fat, ugly, oversized, rust bleeding, ejector breaking junk! lol lol
Would i be afraid to buy a 512 and hunt with it? no... Would i trade a new 412 for a new 512? no.
I'll tell you this, dam few people ever shoot any gun enough to break or wear it out!