The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Perazzi MX8 shotgun: a true classic

Charles Smith-Jones celebrates a true classic, designed for the heat of the Olympics and still going strong today

Perazzi MX8

Perazzi MX8 shotgun

Manufacturer: Perazzi

Price as reviewed: £8,570

A few months ago Blast from the past looked at the Perazzi MX2000S, a first class claybuster which also comes in a game configuration. This month its forerunner is featured. The Perazzi MX8 was born of a design partnership between owner Daniele Perazzi and Olympic Trap gold medallist Ennio Mattarelli to produce a gun for the latter to use in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Though this was not to prove Mattarelli’s year for success, the MX8 soon started to feature consistently in the medal tables. In 2004 it accounted for no less than seven medals, and most recently it was used to achieve gold, silver and bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This is one serious competition gun which has really stood the test of time.

engraving on perazzi mx8

Finish and engraving complement an already very handsome gun

The MX8 was originally designed to meet the shooting conditions that Mattarelli would face in Mexico City. To counter heat distortion along the sighting plane in a hot climate, the gun had a higher rib and a respectively higher stock. A beneficial side effect of this configuration was that, by lowering the position of the stock in the shooter’s shoulder, recoil came back horizontally rather than encouraging a more pronounced muzzle jump. Furthermore the action has a noticeably low profile.

pistol grip

The pistol grip provides control and feel

Pistol grip

The decision was also made to incorporate a pistol grip to improve gun control compared to that provided by more traditional straight stocks. The Perazzi MX8 was also one of the very first guns to be fitted with interchangeable screw-in chokes, a feature that has since become the norm in most modern shotguns. Perazzi also addressed the unreliability of V-springs in the trigger assembly. Despite the durability of more traditional and robust coil springs, V-springs were preferred because they enabled a crisper, more consistent trigger pull. The downside was that they might wear down gradually over time and break unexpectedly. Perazzi overcame the problem by introducing a detachable V-spring assembly which could be changed at any time, allowing the competitor complete peace of mind.

The ‘drop-out’ trigger assembly that resulted is a feature of many Perazzi guns today and is removed simply by pushing the safety forward of the ‘fire’ position. Not only does this enable easy cleaning and maintenance, but it also provides a welcome degree of security as a gun without a trigger is next to useless to a prospective thief. Both selective and non-selective trigger systems are available.

Gun barrels are built on the monobloc system, Perazzi taking particular pride in the quality and finish of their steel. To accommodate the drop-out trigger group, the action block is slightly wider than on some guns but certainly not excessive. Overall build strength is exceptional and highly reliable. The barrels are hinged on robust stub pins and lock-up is equally strong with curved slots along the side of the barrel monobloc sitting perfectly within projections on the action walls. Combined, these features ensure that the whole assembly effectively counters the stresses generated when the gun is fired. It will withstand very heavy use without any risk of working loose.

beavertail fore-end

A beavertail fore-end is standard, but custom versions are available


Perazzi do not take a ‘one size fits all’ approach. They take their gunmaking seriously, with a multitude of configurations and finishes available, and further customisation if desired. This even extends to providing comprehensive clay layouts alongside their factory near Brescia in Italy. Here, the customer visiting for a stock fitting has only to walk a short distance from the workshops to try out their new purchase and ensure that all is well.

The standard of woodwork is variable, according to the finish chosen by the customer, but an MX8, however plain the finish, is always an elegant and highly attractive gun which belies its intrinsic strength and durability.

A beavertail fore-end and Monte Carlo stock are standard but inevitably alternatives may be encountered. Engraving can likewise be anything from plain to highly ornate.

This is a truly classic gun which continues to deliver the goods and set the standard for those that followed it. It still features in the Perazzi catalogue today, over half a century since it was first conceived. You may need to dig deep to afford an MX8, but in return you will get a gun of the highest quality made to last by craftsmen and, who knows, maybe even a shot at that elusive Olympic medal.

shotgun barrels

Monobloc barrels are prized for the quality of steel

Tech specs Perazzi MX8

  • Configuration: Over-and-under
  • Action:Boxlock
  • Choke: Multichoke or fixed
  • Chamber 3in
  • Barrel length 29½–32in
  • Ejector/non-ejector Ejector
  • Safety catch Manual or automatic
  • Weight (12-bore) 8lb 10oz (32in barrels)
  • Available in calibres 12 and 20-bore
  • Cost new: From around £8,570 to over £30,000 depending on model, finish and options chosen
  • Cost used: Upwards of £2,000 for an earlier version, depending on age and condition


You may need to dig deep to afford an MX8, but in return you will get a gun of the highest quality made to last