Rizzini Premier 20-bore shotgun: Rizzini is not a gunmaking name that has made British shooters really sit up and take notice.
Perhaps in the same way that Fiat cars had the reputation of being a little prone to rusting in the 1970’s, so the Rizzini name has been associated with guns of lower quality.
This is not an unfounded view: some Rizzini guns that have been imported into this country in the past have been a little on the rough side, to say the least.
That said, they were always priced accordingly. Yet we must be careful and not tar all guns carrying this name with the same brush.
That’s because Rizzini is a very common name in Italy, and consequently there are a number of gunmakers over there that might share the name, but not the same factories.
A wide selection
For instance, Battista Rizzini has made good guns for the UK market that have mostly carried the name of whichever distributor was importing them at the time. Mr Rizzini’s guns have now come under the wing of Tony Kennedy and his team at Bisley, but the range is being brought in under the gunmaker’s own name, in a variety of models. And the collection is huge.
You can take your pick from a host of permutations that includes both game and competition guns in a variety of bore sizes.
This time I decided to pick out the Premier Sporter in 20-bore to see what it has to offer.
Many gunmakers – in fact virtually all – offer 20-bore models but few actually make dedicated competition guns in this size. Although the Premier could be used for game shooting, it really does possess the looks of an out-and-out clay breaking machine.
As soon as you get the gun in your hands you’re aware that here’s something which feels very solid and well made. But then it should do: after Beretta, Rizzini is one of the largest manufacturers in Italy and knows a thing or two about what people want. True to form they are located in the Val Trompia valley – Italy’s renowned gunmaking centre.
This gun boasts a trigger plate mechanism where much of the firing mechanism is housed on a plate that engages into the bottom of the action with a very precise fit.
The action follows the principles set by Browning with hammers pivoting at the bottom of the action and the sears suspended from above. The cocking action, however, is different – with independent cocking levers being pushed back by a cam in the fore-end as the gun is opened.
Each cocking lever is held captive with the hammer as it is pulled back so that when either side moves forwards after firing it then works the ejector mechanism.
The mainsprings are captive on guide rods to give the hammers a degree of rebound which helps prevent striker drag as the gun is opened after firing.
The sear lifter is worked by inertia from the first shot and selection of over or under barrel is made via a button in the middle of the safety catch. As you would expect in a gun designed for clay shooting, the safety mechanism is reset manually and the safety button doubles as the selector with a switch in the middle.
The trigger on this gun is a fixed blade that’s very comfortable to the finger, but I couldn’t help but think that maybe an adjustable trigger blade would be a better feature to have on a model that’s dedicated to competition use. At least there’s a small screw on view to adjust the trigger – a useful feature but definitely one to be left to a gunsmith to play with.
Strength and long life
Lock up of the gun is by a bottom bolt that engages with bites on the rear lump of the monoblock. As a matter of interest the lumps also engage into the floor of the action frame to give greater inherent strength and long life.
The strikers are substantial affairs that work through a top-lever spindle that also incorporates a hold over button which protrudes from the top of the action face once the gun is opened. Closing the gun causes the button to be pushed in thus allowing the top lever to come across and lock the gun.
Cocking levers in the bottom of the action floor are pushed back by a cam in the fore-end as the gun is opened and these hook directly into the bottom of the hammer. The thinking behind this design is that when the levers push the hammer back they are then retained and will not allow the gun to eject unless a cartridge has been fired.
When the gun is fired the cocking lever comes forward to engage the ejector trips which then make contact with the action body when the gun is opened, releasing the extractor to kick only when the barrel assembly is opened to full gape.
The extractors are directly powered by coil springs.
A typical example of this is the action frame which has been polished to a very high lustre in order to give a high quality gloss black.
Internally the gun is very well finished and everything has been very nicely machined and put together with all the internal parts being blacked and the pegs or wires (gunsmith speak for pins) polished.
Decoratively the gun appears quite plain but sometimes this is a sign that more work has gone into a gun to achieve this effect.
The only engraving you get on this gun is on the stub pins on which the barrels hinge, along with a small amount on the pierced top lever. The only other decoration is to be found on the raised sides of the action where the maker’s name is inlayed in gold, as is the model name on the belly of the action.
The top shoulders of the action frame and the major part of the top lever are matted black to present a non-reflective surface, reducing the chance of glare and this follows on to the top rib which is matted throughout its length.
The Premier’s barrels are made on the monoblock principle and they too have been finished in matt black to contrast nicely with the action frame. This treatment makes the barrel completely non-reflective to any bright light which may shine on the barrel.
The top rib is 10mm wide and along with the side ribs is ventilated to prevent the gun becoming too hot during heavy use. Chambers are 76mm (3in) and accordingly magnum proofed. Chambers and bores are chrome lined for maximum corrosion resistance.
The woodwork on this gun is of a very good standard, well figured and treated to a gloss finish which, although a shallow varnish, actually looks like a good quality oil finish. Wood to metal fit is excellent on both stock and fore-end with a nicely executed chequer pattern which provides a good grip to both hands.
The stock is finished with a thin, smooth black recoil pad and the length of pull is 14.3/4in.
Both stock and fore-end are quite chunky but they have been properly proportioned for a 20-bore, and very comfortable to the hand they are too.
The fore-end is a semi-beavertail shape that fills the hand comfortably and feels the same wherever it is gripped. A nice touch is the Anson type push rod fore-end release which is most often seen only on expensive British over-under guns. It enhances the quality look of the Rizzini.
Stock dimensions are good for most shooters with drops at heel and comb of 2.1/4in and 1.3/8in respectively. There is a significant amount of cast off on this gun along with a palm swell on the pistol grip. This is fine for the right-handed shooter but it certainly wouldn’t suit a left-hander. It would be nice to think there is a left hand stock option for this gun so people can choose.
Handling wise the gun points easily and feels very positive thanks to its 7.1 /4lb weight. Most would say this is a bit heavy for a 20-bore but it must be kept in mind this gun is designed for a clay buster.
Overall this is a very nicely made and finished gun. It is part of a large range of guns from this maker that I think we will see more of.
BARRELS: Available with 28in or 30in barrels, chambered for 3in cartridges and fitted with a neat ventilated top rib. The gun is supplied with multi-chokes and a useful ABS travel case.
ACTION: Single trigger boxlock ejector with non-automatic safety catch. Recoil operated mechanism with a trigger adjustment facility.
STOCK: Nicely figured walnut with a straight grain. Stock length is a generous 14.3/4in which should suit most people, and drops at comb and heel are 1.3/8in and 2.1/4in respectively.
This gun should prove of real interest to anyone who wants to shoot both game and clays with a 20-bore. It’s well balanced and points very nicely – certainly a gun you can use all day and not get tired carrying.
Build quality: 7
Value for money: 7
More information available from Kennedy Gunmakers.
Telephone: 01483 486500.