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Rizzini BR552 Custom shotgun review

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Rizzini BR552 Custom shotgun review.

This gun is a little unusual ? an extra-finish B Rizzini side-plated, round-bar side-by-side in 20-bore.

It has 30in barrels, double triggers and weighs 6lb 3oz.

The gun is imported by ASI of Snape in Suffolk which is well known for importing and developing AyA guns.

The Rizzinis are a new venture. ASI?s managing director, Edward King, notes: ?Our impression on first meeting Battista Rizzini and seeing his factory was that here was a gunmaker with passion. He has state-of-the-art machinery and traditional craftsmen who can provide final hand finishing to lift a gun out of the everyday and give it special quality.?

First impressions of this Rizzini model are certainly good. It merits an A, maybe even an A*, for aesthetics and finish.

The colour case-hardening ? the real thing, not ersatz acid as has become increasingly popular ? looks good (as does the tasteful and well-executed Purdey-style, rose-and-scroll engraving).

It contrasts well with the Rizzini name in gold in the middle of the sideplates.

The proportions of the rounded action please the eye and the stocking is well done with excellent wood to metal fit. Not every maker can pull off making a round-bar gun (Boss and Purdey remain the masters of it).

Of the mass producers, I know of only two that have really succeeded with it so far, AyA ? its No 2 Round Action gun looks good and has been a commercial hit ? and now Battista Rizzini.

When well done there are few more elegant-looking guns ? especially in 20 or 28-bore form.

This gun is especially well scaled; there is no bulkiness to the action at all. The shaping around the fences is well done, and I liked the top lever.

If I were to pick, I would say the

safety was a little small, and I also noted a slight gap between the safety and the top tang when viewing the gun from the side.

The action is Anson and Deeley-inspired, save that it is powered by coil springs and that there is no breech pin (the long screw that goes through top and bottom tang and usually secures the stock to the action).

This gun has a stock bolt instead. My preference would still be for a traditional breech pin. Happily, the wood extends to the end of the butt sole. However, there is no detachable butt plate.

The stock was of classic form and better than the Continental norm.

As noted, wood-to-metal fit was impeccable, as was the oil finish and chequering. There is a straight, English-style grip and splinter fore-end.

The standard measures were good: length at heel, 15.1⁄8in; at centre, 15in; and at toe, 15.3⁄8in. The drop was 1¼in at comb and 2.1⁄8in at heel.

Good shapes and sensible dimensions made this an easy gun to control ? especially important in a lighter shotgun.

Battista Rizzini has been notable for improving over-and-under game-gun stocks. Here, he shows he has mastered the side-by-side form as well.

The fixed-choke barrels are 3in chambered and bear Gardone marks. They are well presented, well blacked and well jointed to the action. They are choked at 1⁄4 and 1⁄2.

TECHNICAL DATA

There is not much that is radical in the mechanical design of this gun. It is a modernised Anson and Deeley (A&D), which is combined with a Southgate-style ejection system.

The cleverness here is in the methods employed in construction. Hi-tech machinery has been used to a significant extent but this gun has had a surprising amount of traditional handwork lavished on it.

It is possible to make an A&D-type gun in all grades from ?keeper?s gun? to best; this is very definitely a best-quality boxlock.

And, it demonstrates what is possible by combining old and new methods. Battista Rizzini has made a colossal investment in machinery.

It is significant that in 2004 he acquired a traditional gunmaking firm, Ferlib (and brought its owner Ivano Tangfoglio into his business).

He now makes, very consistently, mid-range, better and best quality guns, nearly all of which impress at their price point.

SHOOTING IMPRESSIONS

I have never considered modern Italian gunmakers to understand the side-by-side especially well; their expertise is primarily in making over-unders by machine.

I know of some very expensive Gardone side-by-sides ? often copies of English guns ? that just don?t shoot.

This Rizzini breaks that pattern. It?s a corker to use and surprisingly efficient for a light gun.

I am always looking for formulae to apply to guns.

As far as 20-bores are concerned, the trend in recent years has been towards longer, heavier guns. Generally, this is my preference, too.

I shoot 32in 20-bore over-unders weighing just over 7lb ? and have found they suit.

But this little gun was delightful to use at just over 6lb with its 30in tubes.

It was well regulated.

Recoil was relatively light for its weight and trigger pulls were good. It was instinctive to use.

All things considered, although a bit pricy, it is one of the best-shooting and looking side-by-side 20-bores that we have tested recently.

Rizzini BR552 Custom shotgun

£12,000

www.a-s-i.co.uk

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