With wild boar shooting becoming ever more popular in this country there is a renewed interest in double rifles.
Italian gunmaker Fabarm, famous for its shotguns, now offers a double express rifle. The new Asper looks similar to Fabarms Axis shotgun with the firms distinct blend of modern design and traditional finish, but the rifle has its own identity. It has a fixed barrel configuration with an express sighting system, twin independent ejectors and a choice of three different finishes. The Prestige is the premium model with a superbly figured walnut stock, deep engraving with a silver nitrate finish and a leather case. The other models have less ornate engraving and the same metalworking with a titanium-finished action. One has a traditional oiled walnut stock and the other has a wooden stock overlaid with a synthetic wood pattern transfer. All three are compact, highly pointable double rifles, perfect for fast-action sport.
Barrel and sights
A German manufacturer based in Suhl supplies the barrels, which can be chambered in .30-06, .30R Blaser, 8x57JRS or 9.3x74R. The 21Σ/¬in barrels are all monobloc. They are conjoined by a rib so there is no method to adjust the aim other than with the open sights. These are, in fact, particularly good on the Asper, with a four-dot ultra-quick fibre-optic sight plane. The rearsight, mounted on the top barrel, has a U-notch with two gold fibre optics on either side and a single gold optic at the bottom. These line up with the adjustable foresight, which is red.
An optional scope mount attaches to the receiver via twin locating clamps and is fastened by a quick-release lever. The mount is available in a standard or Weaver-type rail, or 30mm ring sets, and you can opt for a lowpowered scope for boar or a fast-handling red dot sight.
There is a sling-swivel loop on the bottom barrel and the rifle has extractors or ejectors that sit under the rim of the case.
Most Fabarms handle very well and the Asper is no exception. The fore-end is very comfortable with a palm-swelled rear and gently scalloped, semi-Schnabel tip. There are two panels that are laser-cut for precision execution, with circular rather than diamond chequering accented with double-cut lines surrounding them. The pistol grip is thus adorned and the butt section has a comb height low enough to refl ect the primary use of the open sights. There is a nicely shaped dropped cheekpiece and a rubber recoil pad. The Triwood finish is unusual. Though it has a wooden stock, Fabarm has enhanced the base wood with a highlyfigured transfer. It provides a tough finish while maintaining the wood feel.
Action and safety
The action is made in precisely machined hammer-forged steel and finished with some modest floral engraving. There are plain raised panels and accented Fabarm logos on the sides and bottom. The titanium finish contrasts well with the Triwood and blue steel barrels. The top-lever is engraved, has gold accents and acts on the locking bolt, which is adjusted to the barrel hooks. This locking bolt has a built-in ability to maintain a precise and tight barrel lock-up, even after much use. The safety is mounted on the rear tang as you would expect and is operated manually by sliding it rearwards with a simple thumb movement, whereupon the letter S appears, indicating that it has been activated.
The single gold trigger can be adjusted by slackening off the lock screw on the trigger itself and sliding the trigger blade to the desired position. The trigger is of the inertia type, which means that the recoil energy from the first shot sets the mechanism to fire the second barrel. The feature I am less enamoured with is the large alloy trigger-guard, which has typical Fabarm styling. It does allow easy access to the trigger even with gloved hands, though its not to my taste.
The right load
Factory ammunition was not forthcoming, so I had to rely on my own reloads. The Asper had been regulated at the factory with RWS 9.3x74R Universal 19g bullets thats 293 grains to you and me. Therefore, I initially attempted to shoot a load close to this at 50 yards to emulate it before branching out with a few more bullet weights and powder combinations.
A starting load of 62 grains of RL19 played it safe with the 286-grain Hornady bullet, but best accuracy came with the top load of 65 grains of the same powder.
The Speer 270-grain bullet sped along at 2,357fps and generated 3,336ft/lb energy. This was another bullet that performed well. The fastest and lightest at 2,409fps was a 250-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip, but the Asper did not like this bullet weight, as the accuracy test (above) showed. I was impressed by the lack of recoil and the accuracy with the right loads the heavier 286-grain Hornadys shot particularly well for this type of rifle.