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Fabarm Classis 20-bore shotgun review

Fabarm Classis 20-bore shotgun review

Manufacturer: Fabarm

The Fabarm is a case of the traditional meets the modern. The traditional layout of the barrels is combined with styling and lockwork that owes far more to the late 20th century than anything earlier.

Most of the big league continental makers produce barrels from hammer-forged tubes, an efficient and quick process that works well for high-volume manufacture. Surprisingly, Fabarm still uses the much older method of deep hole boring of a forged bar and allows it to normalise to relieve stress prior to machine finishing.

This is a slower process but one that can produce very fine barrels. Of course, from the prospective purchaser’s point of view the important thing is how well the gun performs.

Confidence booster
At just less than 6¼lb, the Classis has the feel of a sturdy lightweight, balancing between the hands just in front of the fore-end knuckle. It mounts well to the shoulder and I found it came consistently to the same point of aim. In other words, it was an easy gun to get on with, which always boosts confidence.

The overall styling is pleasing and the straight-hand stock, listed by the makers as an ‘English stock’, was a pleasant change from the common pistol grip.

Fabarm Classis 20-bore.

The hand is as slim as possible within the confines of a stock bolt design, but for a 20-bore it was not as dinky as I would have liked (though that is a matter of taste). The stylish decoration and silver finish to the action body and fore-end iron contrast nicely with the glossy black barrels and reddish-brown walnut stock and fore-end.

A neat touch is the scalloped back to the action body, which adds to the impression of lightness and is especially important on a 20-bore. The drop at the tip of the comb is from 1½in to 2½in at the heel; the length of pull to the middle of the butt is 14½in. The cast is for right-handed use, with a little extra toe out.

All in all, it is the sort of package that should suit most users straight out of the box.

Crisp and extensive chequering
Though the straight-hand stock on a single-trigger gun may be unnecessary, it adds to its appeal. Rather than a straight line from behind the trigger-guard to the toe of the butt, there is a shallow swan-neck curve but the shaping is so subtle it is not immediately obvious.

fabarm classis 20-bore 3

The flowing lines, the feel and the quicker handling they impart, are important in a game gun. The walnut is tight-grained with dark veining and fiddleback, and both stock and fore-end are a good match in quality and colour. The crisp laser-cut chequering covers the fore-end well and is extensive on the grip at the hand of the stock. It always looks good when the pattern meets on the top of the hand to cross over.

Familiar lockwork
The forged steel action body, with its rounded action bar and ball fences, has all the hallmarks of a boxlock. The lockwork is similar to many over-unders. The hammers, mainsprings, sears, trigger and ejector trip mechanism nestle in what continental makers often refer to as the frame.

The safety button reinforces the origins of the lockwork’s ancestry, with a barrel selector fitted in a way that will be familiar to over-under shooters. To move inside the action bar is again to move into unconventional territory with front and rear slots cut to accommodate four lumps (or lugs), with the front lumps hinging on a quite conventional cross-pin.

This sort of layout gives good lateral strength and is a favoured continental method of construction for side-by-side double rifles. It may seem a little unnecessary on a 20-bore, but anything that provides extra strength without adding extra weight is a good feature.

The Tribore system
The barrel assembly is on the monoblock principle using finely tapered tubes and breech ends that are unusually slim and light. The bottom rib is surprisingly wide and the top rib is narrow, tapered and sweeps down to lie below the barrels in the English style. The jointing of the 28in tubes to the block is neat and tidy, and the name and barrel details that were previously deeply stamped are now more delicately marked in a pleasing style.

fabarm classis 20-bore

The barrels have chromed bores, part of Fabarm’s Tribore system, which was first marketed on its competition guns. Though the name is fairly new, the basic principle has been around for some time.

The method is to marry a long forcing cone to an overbored barrel and reduce the bore back to standard size just before the chokes by using another long forcing cone running into a cylindrical section. It is a complicated way to produce good patterns and one has to admire the work that has gone into these barrels. The chokes are Fabarm’s hyperbolic design. This means instead of a cylindrical section followed by a simple cone and then another smaller cylindrical section, the changes follow gentle curves. It is a sort of streamlining, which requires choke cones measuring 3¼in long compared with the standard choke of about 2in.

Does the technology work?
Does all this technology work? The only answer is to try it out. On the test layout my sense that it was a gun that would be easy to get on with proved true.

fabarm case.

In action it turned out to be a steady, pointable sort of gun, well suited to most shooters’ needs. The trigger pulls are even and crisp and the ejection positive and well timed. The sunken top-rib makes it a gameshooter’s gun. There is no squinting up a rib with multiple sights with this 20-bore. Instead the user has to shoot properly, the gentleman’s way.

Was the Tribore system beneficial? The shot patterns were excellent, though good quality wads that seal effectively are important. Could one produce as good a pattern by more traditional methods of boring? Possibly, but it would entail regulating time and therefore incur extra expense.

With the Fabarm Tribore you can get the results with a side-by-side gun straight off the shelf.



Available from Viking Arms on 01423 780810, email [email protected]