The Italian-made Marocchi 612S "crossover" shotgun combines good looks with great handling
The requirements of a shotgun are countered with some wonderfully extravagant performance, handling, reliability and styling. To a certain extent, what constitutes good looks will be in the eye of the beholder, and an appreciation of some mechanical feature can blur the line between beauty and function.
The formula for the lines and style of the Marocchi 612S side-by-side gun has been fairly standard for more than a century now, but it seems the over-and-under is still the sort of gun where makers are more daring with what they produce. It is also the clay gun par excellence, and in that more competitive world function is usually held to be more important than style.
The Marocchi 612S is a little unusual in that the technical aspects of the build are obviously the overriding concern. This could have resulted in rather “engineered” looks, but it has been countered with some wonderfully extravagant styling. Marketed as a crossover gun – suitable for either game or clays – the Marocchi 612S appears in a number of guises, with nominal barrel lengths of 26in, 28in, and 30in (on the gun tested they were actually 29½in), and the aerospace-aluminium alloy action body can be coloured black, nickel or decorated with a remarkably eye-catching design.
On first impressions the gun has more than a passing resemblance to the Finnish Valmet, so it does not come as a surprise to find there was close co-operation between Marocchi and Valmet dating back to 1990. The rights to manufacture this design are now solely with Marocchi, resulting in the essence of good- quality Finnish design being overlaid with Italian flair, and incorporating a programme of careful improvements into the bargain.
The looks are certainly 21st century, with sweeping curves on the action body and bold, practical chequering with ribbons (unchequered thin lines of wood incorporated in the pattern) on the stock and fore-end. While the Marocchi 612S stock shape is conventional, the fore-end is an interesting piece of work with its various curves and changes of shape, which make it very much a dominant feature of the gun.
The other striking feature is the top lock system, which, of necessity, has an external locking bolt. On most shotguns the locking bolt is tucked away inside the action, but this one is fully exposed. It may look a little odd, but locking the barrels like this just above the centre line of the top barrel is technically a good idea — especially when married to reasonably high- mounted hinge discs (trunions) — and results in a strong and durable lock-up.
Weighing just a little over 7lb, the Marocchi 612S is not heavy for a 12-bore over-and-under, but it feels just a little more substantial due to its forward balance, something that will probably appeal
to the clayshooter. Otherwise it comes up well with a fairly standard 1in to 2in drop across the comb and a 14in length of pull, which can be altered with an additional parts kit. As for that big, deep fore-end, there is plenty of room for the forward hand and you can really feel the chequering, even with a light grip.
Barrels and action
The Marocchi 612S barrels are made from a forged steel bar, and drilled and bored in the traditional manner. They have some of the thinnest breech ends I have ever encountered, which is an indication that they are of excellent quality. This is borne out by the fact that they are superior proofed at the higher pressures for high-performance steel shot cartridges. Fitting them to the gun is a little bit of a fiddle at first if you do not refer to the manual. There is a stud above the hinge discs, which pushes the spring extractors back into their bed, and this stud has to line up with a cut-out in the monoblock to facilitate assembly. Five 2in long chokes come as part of the standard package, ranging from cylinder to full-choke and appropriately marked up with their suitability, or otherwise, for use with steel or lead shot.
As for the lock work, this is almost as unusual as that exposed top lock. It is well-made, well thought out and owes little to convention. One of its thoughtful features is the angle of the helical mainsprings, which has been calculated to give maximum effect.
Trigger pulls on this Marocchi 612S came out at 5lb, which is just a touch heavy but in operation they proved to be short and crisp. Changeover between barrels is mechanical — always a worthy feature — though I felt that the non- auto safety button was a little stiff in operation. However, the neat barrel selector button in the trigger worked well, and who could beat an arrow pointing up and another down for sheer simplicity?
Out on test, on a day dodging rainstorms, the Marocchi 612S performed just as well as more conventional designs and better than some. It shot fairly much to point of aim with lead shot cartridges and just a little lower with standard load (reduced load) steel shot. With rapid second barrel work, the changeover was excellent and I did not find it possible to fumble that second shot, no matter how quick the fingerwork. Surprisingly for an over-and-under, the ejectors displayed a softer action than you would expect — it was more like a side-by-side. This could well mean an extended life for the extractor arms.
Cartridges on test included Lyalvale Express Super Game with 36g No. 6 shot and the same maker’s Max Game Steel, a 3in (76mm) high-performance steel shot cartridge suitable for wildfowling and loaded with 36g No. 1 shot. Others tested were Hull Superfast containing 29g No. 6 shot, Eley VIP Bismuth 30g No. 4 shot and Gamebore Super Steel with 32g of No. 5 shot.
I thought the Max Game Steel would prove to be a bit of a handful in this comparatively light gun, but by letting it roll with the recoil it was quite comfortable. The bismuth patterns were similar to those of the lead shot loads with the same point of aim, and the rubber butt-pad was comfortable and has a good slope, so it did not snag when mounting the gun.
Construction: A little unconventional, but built on sound principles and well made.
Handling: Stable and just a little deliberate, but very pointable.
Finish: Well finished, both inside and out.
Fit: A reasonable fit as standard.
Value: Considering the quality of workmanship, this gun represents good value.
The Marocchi 612S might at first seem to be a bit of an enigma. The mechanical parts are well made and operate on sound principles and owe little to conventional design, while the overall styling borders on the flamboyant. Yet, in those critical areas of performance — handling and reliability — it scored well. For the gameshooter who is also keen on clayshooting, the 612S certainly qualifies as a crossover gun, and for the shooter not afraid to choose something a bit different, it could be a good choice.