Friday, 29 June 2007
This Rizzini Premier 20-bore shotgun has seen heavy reinvestment in state-of-the-art machine tools - breathing new life, quality and reliability into an Italian-made over-under shotgun that used to occupy the budget end of the market.
For shooters who have been around in the sport for 15 years or more, the name Rizzini doesn't spell quality. The Rizzinis many remember were a bit on the cheap and cheerful side - budget-priced guns which were sound enough, but not very special.
But what's in a name?
Quite a lot when it's Rizzini, it would seem, because it represents a whole gunmaking dynasty in Italy. Put briefly, there are lots of them, all related, but with markedly different companies. And now, as you will find, is a good time to forget the past, and look at guns of much better quality.
Who makes it?
Lets get our Rizzinis sorted out, and pay close attention because we may ask questions afterwards!
First there is the maker of this gun, Battista Rizzini, who has a modern, well-equipped factory in Italy's Gardone valley gunmaking quarter near Brescia. The company was founded in 1965, and makes good-quality shotguns and over-under double rifles.
Then there is F. lli Rizzini, which translates as 'Rizzini Brothers'. Headed up by Guido Rizzini, they, too, are in the Gardone region, where they are reputed to produce only 25 guns a year, each to the highest standards. Each one is said to be a one-off masterpiece.
There is also Isidoro Rizzini, whose company is better known as FAIR (Fabbrica Armi Isidoro Rizzini, which translates as 'Isidoro Rizzini's Arms Factory'), also in the Brescia region.
Finally we come to E. Rizzini, who made those budget-priced guns many of us remember, as well as many better-quality guns we don't, because the then importer concentrated on rather basic guns. The 'E' stands for Emilio, and his guns are now made by another Brescia area company, Fausti Stefano.
All of the gunmaking Rizzinis are closely related. Battista, Isidoro, and Emilio are brothers, and they are nephews of Guido and his brothers who founded F. lli Rizzini.
The Rizzini clan is also related to the Fausti family of gunmakers. Another relative is Caesar Guerini, yet another Brescia-area gunmaker who makes, among other things, very tasty-looking sporters and trap guns we have never seen in the UK. Talk about keeping it all in the family!
How adaptable is it?
This is primarily a competition gun but, like all good sporters, it is highly adaptable. It is suitable for anyone who wishes to shoot game, pigeons and clays with a 20-bore.
How does it work?
One of Battista Rizzini's boasts is that all of his parts are machined from solid billets of forged steel, and are not cast. He also says that so accurate are his computer-controlled machine tools that parts are fully interchangeable without skilled fitting by gunsmiths.
That, after all, is what computer-controlled machine tools are for. If you buy a spare part for your car you expect it to fit straight out of the box, without having to file bits off it first. You first notice how well Rizzini tolerances are kept when you see how snugly the trigger plate sits into the base of the action.
Inside the hammers are hinged at the bottom of the action, with the sears suspended from the top strap. The hammers are cocked by independent levers mounted low in the action, which are forced back by a projection on the fore end iron when the gun is opened. The cocking levers are attached to the hammers, and also trigger the ejector mechanism when the gun is fully opened after firing.
All of the internal parts are nicely finished in smooth black. Lock-up is achieved by a full-width bolt at the base of the action, which engages with a bite in the barrel monobloc. The barrels hinge on stub pins.
Ejectors are spring-loaded, and the fore end is released from the gun by pushing an Anson-type button at its tip. This button connects with a push rod which in turn connects with the mechanism which locks the fore-end to the barrel loop.
This layout avoids a cut-out which fully pierces the wood, as is necessary if the normal lever-type of fore end release is fitted. The Rizzini system therefore allows for stronger wood which should be very resistant to cracking.
- Sets with 28 or 30-inch tubes are available
- Matte black exterior finish - a nice touch which helps avoid reflections
- Ventilated top and side ribs, and the top rib is 10mm wide
- Magnum proof and 3in chambers allow the use of magnum shells
- Chambers and bores are chromium plated
- Five flush-fitting multichoke tubes are supplied
- Stock and fore-end are of nicely-figured walnut, generally with a straight grain
- Fore-end is of semi-beavertail design and of the same cross-section for its entire length, which means it feels the same wherever it is gripped
- Pistol-grip stock features a small palm swell, and a no-snag butt pad
- Wood-to-metal throughout is extremely good
- Chequering very neatly executed
- Both stock and fore end are quite chunky, but not out of proportion for a 20-bore
- Stock length is a sensible 14.3/4 inches
- Drops at comb and heel are 1.3/16 and 2.1/4 in respectively - dimensions which a majority of people find just right for a sporter
The gun weighs 7.1/4lb, which is a wee bit heavy compared to a good 20-bore game gun, but just right for a sporter which may be used to fire over 100 shots in a day.
It comes in at around 1/2lb or more lighter than most 12-bore sporters, making it easy to carry. It is, however, a point to remember if you are thinking of firing really poky ammunition through it, because it doesn't have the 12-bore's weight to soak up the recoil.
What the tester thought
Sporting Gun tested the Premier in January 2005, and found that it pointed very nicely and had good balance.
It scored seven out of 10 for build quality, styling and value for money, and eight out of 10 for handling. The tester particularly praised the weight, the handling, and the fore-end design. "A gun you can use all day and not get tired carrying" was just one of the favourable comments.
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