It’s a measure of how quickly things move in the gun trade these days.
It is scarcely nine months since I first tested a Caesar Guerini gun in this column, and yet the brand has changed its UK distributor and unveiled a clutch of new models.
Most significantly, the maker has moved upmarket with some stylish cosmetic upgrades, taking on the higher-grade models from the established market leaders such as Browning and Beretta.
My conclusion, having reviewed the Guerini Tempio, was there was insufficient factors to make the shotgun stand out in a crowded sector of the market place.
“Recent experience with two of the new models, which are reportedly selling well in the US, has caused me to revise my opinion.”
Both are sideplated versions of the basic boxlock action, the Magnus with scroll engraving and gold detailing with the recommended retail price of £1,850, and the Maxum, featured here, at £1,995.
Both models are available in 12, 20 and 28-bore, and in field or sporting variants, so they should have a broad appeal. My test gun is a 28-bore with 30in barrels, a popular specification at the moment, particularly with experienced folk seeking a new challenge.
Proof in action
At heart, the Maxum has the same standard pattern boxlock action that is used by a large number of Brescia makers. It is proven, reliable and easy to work on, if not quite so slim in profile as a Beretta.
However, it is less obvious in the smaller gauges than on a 12-bore. Guerini’s version of this action is a good one, with replaceable trunnions and a tapering locking bolt that has a real air of solidity about it.
It’s all in the detail
With no great mechanical innovation to set it apart, the gun is all about presentation and value for money, this is where the Maxum scores highly. That all-important first impression is good, especially the handsome, highly-figured stock, with its fine chequering.
Even more attractive is the engraving, an exuberant concoction of bold floral scrolls that is the work of the renowned Cesare Giovanelli studio. The plates are pinless and slide into the frame so there are no screw heads to break up the design and the studio has really let rip.
Giovanelli has perfected a semi-industrial technique that applies hand finishing to laser-cut engraving, giving an appearance very close to the real thing, but without the enormous cost. This is as good an example as I have seen, and I have to say it is a joy to get away from the all-too-predictable game scenes you see so much of these days.
Done well, I love to see dogs and gamebirds on a gun, but on cheaper products the results are frequently disappointing. Scroll work is easier to carry off, not least because the lasers do all the hard work of getting the shapes and proportions right. Perhaps makers should be more adventurous and use this type of decoration more, because everyone who saw the Guerini loved it.
Overall, the Maxum presents a stylish and very well-executed package. The build quality sits comfortably with the price tag and is certainly comparable to better-known makers.
Testing the Shot
Long-barrelled 28-bores are attracting a lot of attention at the moment, particularly from skilled practitioners. Guerini will, in fact, even make this 28-bore with 32in barrels, I believe the Lincoln Premier is the only other gun to offer this combination, and the appearance of one such gun at a recent clay shoot caused quite a stir.
Top Shots queued up to have a go and were universally positive about the gun’s handling and pointability. There is something about longer barrels that seems to give greater control without losing the intrinsic appeal of a small-bore.
For most people, however, the 30in barrels would probably be the best all-round choice, especially on a gun with such good balance. Some 28-bores can feel almost toy-like, especially in big hands, but the Guerini feels every inch a proper gun, with full-size adult stock dimensions. At 3.15kg (just less than 7lb), it is by no means the lightest gun in its class – the result of building on a 20-bore frame – but it gives a smoothness to the handling that is often sacrificed on lighter models.
While shooting at clays it is perfectly possible to run off four or five consecutive pairs in total control. There is sufficient inertia to keep the swing going unless you become really casual. I used mainly quarter and half-chokes, and achieved astonishingly good kills right out to 60 yards (with 21g loads). The extra weight helps soak up the recoil, making this a gun you could shoot all day.
Trigger pulls are always more of an issue on a lighter gun – again the Guerini scored highly in this regard. They measured at 4.1/4lb on my gauge, with a crisp, clean action that is in part designed into the lockwork because there are two adjusters that allow a gunsmith to fine tune the pulls without major work.
My success with the gun was repeated by several others who tried it, and all were impressed by the value as well as the gun’s performance. Normally by this stage of a test I am weighing up pros and cons before coming to my final judgement.
With the Maxum I am struggling to find any cons. It is a strikingly good-looking gun that handles beautifully and performs without fault. For the quality offered it seems reasonably priced.
The base model may not be distinctive, but this one certainly is. As many American buyers are doubtless saying, What’s not to like?