By Mike George
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Gun reviews: Secondhand Browning Medallist: What’s the best starter gun? It’s a subject for constant debate, with guns from Lincoln, Lanber, Baikal, and various relative newcomers from Turkey all having their adherents.
GUN EXPERT: Mike George
USEFUL BUY: Browning Medallist
SECONDHAND COST: Around £550 for a good one
Until a few years ago the Medallist would also have figured in the new gun stakes, and there are still enough on the second-hand market to make the Italian built gun a serious consideration for the beginner on a budget.
Almost everyone in the UK except Browning themselves called the gun the Browning Medallist, but in reality it owed nothing to Browning in its makeup.
“Browning” wasn’t even printed on the box it was supplied in, and in reality it was nothing more than an attempt by the famous Belgian company’s British importers to provide a gun well within the sub-£1,000 bracket.
To provide the first guns, back in the 1980s, the company went to Zoli.
They provided a gun that was possibly a bit too complicated for its own good at the price, so production was switched to another Italian manufacturer – FIAS.
This stands for Fabbrica Italiana Armi Sabatti, but the company seems to prefer to be called just “Sabatti” these days.
The new manufacturer provided a simple, robust design, which hardly changed during its entire production run.
Unlike some other guns, it never was modified to incorporate over-bored barrels, extended forcing cones or super-long choke tubes.
It just remained a reasonably tough, soundly-designed gun.
HOW IT WORKS
> The mechanical layout of the Medallist is typical of most Italian O/Us.
Barrels hinge on stub pins set into the forward ends of the action walls, and the action locks to the barrels by a full-width bolt running along the action floor to engage with a bite in the barrel lump just underneath the lower chamber.
In the "works", hammers are pivoted at the bottom, and are driven by low-mounted coil springs running on guide rods.
The hammers are cocked by rods running just underneath the bolt, which are forced back by a cam on the fore-end iron.
Ejectors are spring-loaded, and the safety is non-automatic.
The exterior of the action is in a bright silver finish, decorated in a leaf and scroll pattern with machine-applied engraving.
The top lever, safety thumbpiece and trigger guard are also in bright silver, and the trigger blade has been treated to a gold finish.
The gun can be found in 28 and 30-in versions. All have an 8mm top rib, and internally-chromed barrel tubes.
Rumour has it that there are a few fixed-choke versions about, but I have never seen one.
Stock length is 14.3/4 in, weight is about 7.3/4lb, and the fore-end is a schnabel design.
Problems are relatively few, and generally involve relatively easily replaced and inexpensive items - things like fore-end cocking cams, tired springs, and ejectors.
There are still quite a few spares about.
> The gun used to sell new for about £750. A top-class example now sells for £550, although there are quite a few around cheaper than that.
> The gun isn’t mentioned on any Browning websites, but an internet search shows plenty of secondhand guns are for sale.
You can find out plenty about Sabatti (but not this particular gun) at www.sabatti.it
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