A number of Italian gunmakers have begun to step outside the enormous shadow cast by Beretta in recent years. Given just how crowded the marketplace is for mass-produced over-under shotguns, the likes of Caesar Guerini and Rizzini have looked to produce something a little out of the ordinary.
The Rizzini family includes a frankly baffling number of gunmakers – almost every Italian maker other than Beretta seems to feel some influence from its gene pool. The gun on test this month comes from Battista Rizzini, who founded his business in Brescia – the gunmaking heart of Italy – in 1966.
This family-run operation produces a wide array of shotguns for game and clays, as well as double rifles. Best quality guns are also produced in partnership with Ivano Tanfoglio under the Rizzini & Tanfoglio name.
One criticism of the Rizzini RB EM is its bulk – Rizzini has left a lot of wood on the stock and fore-end.
The RB (Round Body) EM is a very striking thing indeed on first glance, thanks to its elegant lines and superb engraving. I have yet to see an ugly gun with a rounded action, and this Rizzini RB EM is no different.
It is built on what is essentially a triggerplate action, meaning the metal body of the gun is tall and slim. When combined with the Prince of Wales-style rounded pistol grip stock, push-button fore-end and solid middle and top ribs, this makes for a handsome gun.
A highlight is the bold acanthus pattern designed by famed Italian engraver Bottega C. Giovanelli and applied by machine. It has been cleverly executed to give the illusion of depth. It is also highly attractive, covering all the metal parts of the action body. The design extends up onto the top lever and around the trigger guard, too.
All the metal furniture of the gun – the fore-end iron, top lever, safety catch and trigger guard – have been given a black finish, a traditional approach most often seen on English guns.
In the field, the Rizzini RB EM swings, mounts and shoots beautifully,suggesting the Italian manufacturer has got its design proportions spot on.
Though not unattractive, I would have preferred a uniform look to all the metal parts and as such might opt for a colour-hardened finish. That said, the overall look is tasteful since the action body has been given a coin finish rather than a bright steel shine, and Rizzini has avoided the temptation to fit a gold trigger.
The wood used on our test gun was highly figured and had a lovely straight grain through the hand, though it was quite pale. Despite the oil finish being good, the pale colour led to an almost plastic-like shine under bright lights.
Furthermore, the checkering on the Rizinni RB EM’s fore-end is extensive, creating a two-tone look in the case of our test gun, giving the impression the fore-end and stock have been taken from different pieces of wood. While not by any means ugly this is distracting, and darker wood would improve the looks.
Wood to metal fit is superb, and the checkering has been well executed by hand. The wooden butt plate has been well matched, too. However, there does appear to be quite a lot of wood left on the stock and fore-end. I would imagine this has done much to benefit the gun’s handling, but it will not be to everyone’s taste aesthetically. This excess wood is not present on smaller gauge Rizzini guns I have seen, and is a little unfortunate given the asking price of almost £4,000.
There’s no doubting the eye-catching nature of this Rizzini RB EM’s wood and its impressive oil finish.
The Rizzini’s weight, plus its wooden butt plate, ensures recoil is dissipated effectively.
Our test gun was fitted with 28” barrels, though you can buy the Rizzini with 30” barrels as standard, or 32” barrels for an extra £268. The gun is available in 12, 16 or 20 bores, with a 28 bore version built on a specific frame available for £4,195.
At 7lbs. 4½oz. it is perhaps on the heavy side, though this does mean recoil is dealt with well. When out shooting at Grange Farm the gun handled excellently and did not feel its weight thanks to its good balance. The gun is proofed for steel shot and has 3” chambers.
In the field with the Rizzini RB EM
This gun was a surprise to shoot. First impressions were good in that it was comfortable in the hand with an excellent grip shape and well designed checkering. Out of the case it did feel a little heavy, but you won’t give the weight a second thought when you start shooting.
The gun mounted and swung beautifully and was a joy to use on crossing targets. Getting on line and staying there felt natural, and recoil was dealt with in a way I have only felt before in far more expensive guns. This would be an excellent gun to use on long days or with heavier loads.
For me the stock was probably slightly short, though this could easily be rectified, and the distance between my hand to the trigger was perfect. Trigger pulls were fine, though I would prefer a little more resistance before firing as it felt a little vague initially.
The only dark spot was most likely a result of the gun being brand new: the Rizzini RB EM was a little stiff to open, which is likely to improve with use. Overall, the Rizzini RB EM was an extremely pleasant gun to shoot with. It offers a genuine alternative to the usual suspects in the crowded world of over-under shotguns.
View from the gunshop
Bill Elderkin casts his eye over the Rizzini RB EM
On first glance this is an unusual-looking gun thanks to its pale wood, though this will probably vary from gun to gun. Wood-to-metal fit is very good indeed, though I might be slightly concerned the wooden parts could be damaged quite easily where they meet the action due to excess wood creating a visible ‘step’.
The design is very sound with captive coil springs and an inertia block single selective trigger system, not unlike what you will find on a Beretta or other similar Italian over-under guns.
The ejectors are in the typical Italian style with the springs behind the extractors, giving a good kick on activation. The gun has been very well built with no visible seams on the action and a lack of visible pins of any kind, allowing for the whole surface of the action to be engraved. Finishing overall is excellent.
The gun comes in a nice lined ABS case, with a box for your multichokes and a can of gun oil. Fixed chokes are also available and are long, giving good consistent patterns.
The gun automatically applies the safety catch on opening but this can easily be changed should you so wish. Balance is good, being slightly forward of the hinge pin, though for me the gun is perhaps a little on the heavy side considering it has 28” barrels. It also felt a little large in the hand – though this is entirely a personal preference.
You are getting a lot of gun for your money, but resale value will perhaps be a little limited and the Rizzini RB EM will lose a lot of money straight away when bought new. For a similar price you could pick up a new Browning B725 Hunter in Grade 5 or a good secondhand Beretta EELL, both of which look great and perform beautifully.
Scores for the Rizzinin RB EM
Engineering: Solid. Built on a triggerplate action to the standard you would expect of any modern gunmaker. 8/10
Handling: A pleasant surprise. Mounts and moves easily, deals with recoil well and is particularly good on crossing targets. 9/10
Looks and finishing: Lovely engraving in design and execution, but let down somewhat on our test gun by rather light wood. Step between wooden parts and action body is jarring. 7/10
Reliability and customer service: There are relatively few of these guns in the UK, but their reputation is generally good. The fact Rizzini builds guns for William Powell is a good indicator of its abilities and standing. 8/10
Value for money: Tricky, as anyone looking to pick up a Rizzini is making the conscious decision to buy something different from the usual suspects. Be prepared to lose out if you are looking to resell the gun later. 7/10
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