By Mike Yardley
Monday, 29 November 2010
Rizzini 20-bore shotgun review: This pair of Italian round body guns are a perfect match for the British field.
Rizzini 20-bore shotgun review (pair)
This pair of custom shop round bar 20 bore B. Rizzini over-unders guns, imported by ASI, feature 30" multichoke barrels.
They are attractive, the actions being colour case hardened and beautifully scroll engraved. They weigh in at 6lbs 10oz, have single selective triggers, and solid sighting ribs.
Some might say this is close to an ideal modern spec, and I am certainly a fan of longer barrelled over-under 20 and 28 bores for driven game shooting.
They are a particularly good thing if one wants to get a bit more enjoyment out of a typical driven day as they promote stylish shooting.
I acknowledge that the 12-bore may still be the tool of choice for high birds in many people's opinion but I use a 20-bore over-under with 32" barrels for everything driven today, combining it with 30 and 32 gram loads of 5s.
Thanks to the high tech machining revolution which now extends to engraving as well as the manufacturing of the action, guns coming out of northern Italy just seem to be getting better and better.
This revolution has had huge impact on gun making all around the world, not least in the UK where even our best makers now use computer controlled CNC and spark erosion technology.
First impressions of the guns are very good. These guns are not ostentatious but have real style, and their extra finish sets them apart from the pack - as does their price, a not inconsiderable £39,700 for the pair.
Though the bottom line here is high, you will get what you pay for. The proportions of the guns and the quality of their finish cannot be easily bettered.
The engraving is exactly to my taste: first class scroll on the action walls, belly and furniture, with well-executed rosettes to the ends of the hinge pins.
I also like the traditional lines to the rear of the action, which is simply scalloped.
However, I am not quite so sure about the gold lines to the barrel shoulders, which might just a bit too much gilding of the lily.
Having the makers' name inlayed in gold copper plate script set diagonally in the action walls is an unusual and appealing touch, helping the guns stand out as a result.
I also liked the classic gold numbers on rear of the ribs, on the top levers and in steel diamonds on the fore-ends. The gold inlaid 'Safe' on the top straps in front of the thumb-piece looks good too.
All these gold figures and letters are shadowed in black - a subtle and elegant touch.
The semi-pistol grip stocks are made from extremely well figured walnut, and you won't get much better than this from London's best gunmakers.
Rizzini were one of the first Italian firms to offer a really good version of this classic stock shape, and it works especially well in their 20-bores.
The grips - and they are one of my favourite shapes for game shooting - are of an ideal radius and are complimented by nicely tapered stock combs.
As for measurements, the stocks had a length of pull of 15.1/4" at heel, 15.1/8" at centre and 15.5/8" at toe. Drop was 1.1/4" at comb and 2.1/8" at heel and there was a whisker of cast for a right-hander.
These are ideal dimensions for me, and notable for the slight increase in length to the norm. I also like the fact there were no butt plates, although the gun does have a stock bolt rather than a breech pin.
The barrels are mononbloc and proofed with new fleur de lys marks struck in Gardonne for 3" loads.
The barrels are well presented, with good striking up and excellent blacking.
Internally they are straight, and Italian barrels certainly seem to be getting better in this department.
Joins between the tubes and mononoblocs are as good as any I have seen, matching up to Browning standard - my highest compliment.
They are undisguised with engraving because they don't need to be - there is an almost imperceptible 'sleeving' line. The sides of the monobloc are engine turned and the ejector work is also especially well done.
The action is nothing particularly special mechanically, being a design we have examined and used many times before.
The barrels hinge on stud pins, with bolting inspired by Browning featuring a full-width bolt engaging a slot bite beneath the bottom chamber mouth.
It is solid and simple and works especially well in a 20 or 28-bore because it creates an action with top and bottom tangs ideally spaced for an effective grip shape.
In a 12-bore this design, though improved aesthetically in round bar form, can look a little bulkier than those guns which combine trunnion hinging with Boss or Beretta-type bolting. Here it works very well.
The evolution of this round body action design is also worth noting. For years half a dozen makers in Gardonne made very similar guns to this with conventional square action bars.
In England, we used to see the cheaper E. Rizzinis, for example, but the design had greater potential.
My old friend Paul Roberts, a man with a refined eye for action aesthetics after 40 years' experience of gunmaking, borrowed an old-style action from Battista Rizzini and took it to Laura Bosis and suggested rounding it would make it look a lot better.
Laura got her files out and Battista has been making round bar guns ever since at a slight premium to square bar ones.
Other Gardonne makers have followed suit, most notably Fausti and Guerini.
These are excellent little guns. I can't say they quite set me afire with their shooting qualities, but they were solid in all practical departments as well as beautiful to behold.
Recoil is reasonable and there are no problems of any sort with the triggers or ejectors.
But I am not damning with faint praise: in 28-bore form with 30" barrels the Rizzini round action gun is one of the best shooting modern over-under game guns out there.
One does not require a second mortgage to acquire it in basic form and in 20-bore it is perfectly adequate too - I just happen to have a thing for the 28-bore gun.
These are extremely well presented guns, demonstrating clearly what Rizzini are now capable of. Their eventual owner will be lucky indeed.
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