It looks good, feels good and shoots well. In fact, there is little to dislike about this practical and attractive side-by-side shotgun, says Lewis Potter

Product Overview

Overall rating:

93%

Fausti Dea British double-barrelled side-by-side 20-bore

Pros:

  • Very reasonable value

Cons:

  • A small improvement would be to remove the decorative band on the barrels

Product:

Fausti Dea British double-barrelled side-by-side 20-bore

Manufacturer:

This product is featured in: Fausti Italyco SLX.

Fausti is a name probably not that familiar to many shooters but I would predict that is about to change. The company was formed in 1948 by the Honourable Stefano Fausti and is now run by his three daughters. I do not know if that is unusual in Italy but in Britain over the years a number of women have featured in the gun trade; however, three must be some sort of record.

Fausti products tend to be upmarket and traditional, even to the extent of producing rather fine-looking hammerguns for the real enthusiast. Most of the range, though, are modern over-and-unders as well as side-by-sides. There is also a choice of shotgun bores, double rifles and guns with two sets of barrels, both shotgun and rifle. As I previously had only scant knowledge of this company’s products I was pleasantly surprised at the extent of the range.

side-by-side shotgun

The Fausti Dea British double-barrelled side-by-side 20-bore

First impressions

The dainty Fausti 20-bore that I received for review is based on the Dea British range, which includes a wide selection of styles, some with quite visually dramatic decoration. Like most guns ordered from this maker, it was built to the customer’s requirements and in this case built around a boxlock correctly scaled to bore size.

Fausti steep grip cap

The steel grip cap on the Fausti gives much cleaner lines than the more common all-wood bag grip

Good first impressions were boosted by the fact that it arrived in a quite luxurious leather case and included with the normal paperwork, such as the handbook, were pattern sheets for each barrel, which showed a nice bit of attention to detail.

Even allowing for beauty being in the eye of the beholder, there can be little doubt that this side-by-side 20-bore is a very pretty and well-proportioned gun. It also suggests, of course, that the customer who placed the order has similar tastes to mine when it comes to gun design and specification.

The build philosophy

What we have to consider, though, is whether it is really a case of “pretty is as pretty does”. In the handling department there can be no doubt, as at 6.lb it is light and fast, while the 30in barrels contrive to make it very pointable.

A blend of what is attractive but practical sums up this Fausti. Features such as the raised tapered top rib that draws the eye to the foresight bead and the combination of pistol-grip stock, beavertail fore-end and single trigger within a nice-sized trigger-guard sum up the  nal evolution of this side-by-side shotgun. This is not just my opinion but a view once expressed by Robert Churchill, who also went on to say that while technically good, they were not necessarily, at the time he commented, features that would appeal to everyone. Nowadays, when it comes to performance and handling, there seems to be a readier acceptance of ideas that would have been sniffed at even 40 years ago by shooters in general, and not just the dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist.

This gun has fixed chokes measuring quarter and half, again a matter of customer choice because screw-in multichokes are an option. I think in this instance the customer has got it right. With the 3in (76mm) chambers and the wide variety of cartridges and loads available, the density of the shot patterns can be easily tailored for different forms of gameshooting by careful choice of cartridge. Another matter down to customer choice is the non-auto safe on this gun, while an auto-safe version is available and would be my choice.

One small thing that would be an improvement would be to do without the slim, decorative band where the barrels are spigoted into the mono block. While accepted as very much the norm, from a gunsmith’s point of view it would complement the gun better for it to be struck up, leaving just a faint line.

On the plus side, and the sort of feature used by only a few top makers, is the screwed cover set in the butt that gives access to the stock bolt. Again, a neat blend of what is attractive but practical.

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Feel-good factor

In basic terms, this Fausti is a side-by-side, single-trigger ejector gun with attractive decoration and woodwork. Yet in reality it is one of those rare guns where each part seems to have something to commend it.

The honey-coloured walnut with its dark veining is hand-finished and quite awless with very good wood-to-metal fit, while the chequering is crisp and neat. As for the beavertail fore-end, this is a feature that can so easily be a little clumsy, almost uncouth in appearance, but this maker has got the shape and proportions just right. The shallow curve of the pistol grip is sufficient without being ponderous in any way and I can only applaud the fitting of a steel grip cap, which gives much cleaner lines than the more common all-wood bag grip.

My appreciation of this 20-bore may have been in uenced just a little as it fitted me very well, aided by the fairly long stock which balanced well with the 30in barrels.

The Fausti Dea side-by-side shotgun on test

Out on my new test site I was looking forward to some pattern-plate work, then a walk around the adjacent wood to try the fast-handling Fausti on squirrels. Unfortunately, my anticipation of knocking over a “tree rat” or two was limited due to a lot of activity by a local timber company, so testing it had to be. Even here, though, it did not disappoint, coming nicely to the shoulder and placing the shot just where I intended; the consequence of a gun  tting well.

Cartridges used on test included Eley VIP, Gamebore Pure Gold 20, Hull Pro Twenty and Lyalvale Express Special 20 Gauge. The Fausti handled them all without feeling particularly uncomfortable, even with the Gamebore 30g load. Ejection was similar to a British-made gun, the spent cases being thrown several feet away but not the wham-bang ejection associated with some over-andunders. Trigger-pulls were crisp and, even when taking deliberate aim at the pattern plate, there was no tendency to pull off.

PATTERN SHEETS

Pattern Sheet 1

Pattern Sheet 1

PATTERN SHEET 1

Shot at 30 yards, quarter choke, cartridge Gamebore Pure Gold 20, 30g No.5 shot, fibre wad. This, to me, would be a pheasant load but, being the partridge season at the time of testing, I used the driven partridge silhouette and the benefit of a largish load of No.5 shot (for a 20 bore) is obviously a killer pattern with this gun, even for partridges.

Pattern sheet 2

Pattern sheet 2

PATTERN SHEET 2

Shot at 30 yards, half choke, cartridge Hull Pro Twenty, 21g no.7½ shot, fi bre wad. Even at a number of positions across the pattern, it shows the clay would not get away.

Conditions: bright and still.

Conclusion

The Fausti did everything well to the extent that it quickly felt familiar, which is always a good confidence booster. I liked the strong foliate pattern of decoration but that again is a personal choice — there are others in the Fausti portfolio to suit different tastes. In the final analysis, it is always performance that counts and both in handling and patterning it did not disappoint. This Fausti Dea British 20bore is the kind of side-by-side shotgun that is more than the sum of its component parts.

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Verdict

Light, fast and controllable