Roger Glover is impressed by Fabarm's new sporting shotgun, which takes the Sporter to a higher level and offers big bang for your buck
Fabarm seems to have a knack — whether by accident or with purpose I can’t decide — to find a way to design and build guns that fulfil their purpose so that it becomes difficult to pin down the reason why that particular gun suits so well.
Floating barrel system
The Axis action has been seen across Fabarm’s range as game guns, Sporters and trap guns. Now the RS12 is taking the Sporter to a higher technical level with the new floating barrel system.
Any piece of steel will expand when heated. If you fire several consecutive shots through a single barrel it will get hot enough that you cannot touch it. At that temperature it will have enlarged its diameter ever so slightly, but the length will have changed considerably. Now imagine that you have two barrels in a double gun, one hot, one cold. Heat will eventually travel into the colder one, but there will always be a temperature difference between them. While one is expanded in length, the result will be that the barrels will bend in the direction of the cold one as it is shorter, thus changing your point of impact from your point of aim.
True to your point of aim
Fabarm has considered this factor important enough to isolate the barrels from each other and let them expand without disturbing one another. To achieve this, the top barrel has mountings attached to it; the bottom barrel then slides back and forth in these dependent upon which barrel is hottest and longest, thus keeping the point of impact true to your point of aim.
The gun on test was the 30in version — there is also a 32in one — and, as with all Fabarm guns, the barrels are proofed to 1,630 bar, substantially above the pressure of any cartridge currently available, but clearly a statement about the durability and quality of the barrels. Featuring the Tribore internal taper and 97mm hyperbolic choke tubes, there is a sufficient level of technology to produce a competent gun for competition. Fitted with a tapering rib of 10mm down to 8mm at the muzzle, the barrels are finished in satin black with the choke tubes 14mm proud of the muzzles.
The Axis action has proven itself over the past 15 or so years. Though there is a lightweight aluminium version on some models, the Axis RS12 is furnished with the heavy-duty steel version. An extremely robust and simple piece of engineering, there are few components to its construction, therefore few to go wrong. There have been a few tweaks to this action for competition use.
The trigger system has been revised with light pulls at 2lb 13oz and a quicker lock time, marketed by Fabarm as “Racing triggers” and it is a sweet system to use. Barrel selection is by a rocker in the safety catch. Positive movement of both the catch and selector are assured with a generously proportioned and chequered safety catch and a deeply straight-knurled selector.
The ejectors are simple in design, too, with rods thrown forward by the hammers tripping the ejectors via one simple lever in the fore-end iron. The ejectors perform well with sufficient force to clear the cases from the chambers, yet not so forceful as to send them several paces behind you.
The stock is of Turkish walnut, a grain pattern with subtle tones and flecks commensurate with the pricing of this gun. The finish is a flat smooth oil type; not too glossy, just functional to seal the wood. As with all the Axis range, the swell on the cheeks of the action is followed on to the stock, completing a crescent. Chequered in a traditional pattern at 22 lines per inch, both pistol grip and fore- end offer good grip.
What does help set this gun up to your personal requirements is the adjustable comb. Adjustments are made by releasing the comb from the stock via two Allen-keyed grub screws; height is then adjusted by two nuts that lock position once the comb is refitted. Movement left and right is performed by slackening the studs with an Allen key and sliding them across to the desired position. There are reference indexes to make your increments accurate and repeatable.
Both front and rear are adjustable independently, up and down, left and right. It is quite a broad comb and I needed to adjust it over to the right slightly to get in line with the bead, though there is an ⅛in cast already on the stock. What I should have done was raise it a little more than the position I chose; I kept shooting low on the second barrel as a result, but there was plenty more adjustment there if I had chosen to use it.
Need to know
- Maker Fabarm SpA, Italy
- Barrels 30in (32in)
- Action O/U all black finish, manual safety catch.
- Weight 8lb 6oz
- Features: Floating barrels, racing trigger, adjustable comb, tribore barrels, hyperbolic chokes
- Importer Anglo Italian Arms. tel 01564 742477
My first question was, have I got the price right? This is a lot of gun for the money without a doubt. Fabarm has put the value where it is needed most; no gimmicks, just logic and good engineering. A well-proven action at the root of a gun that is capable of punching above its weight and certainly above its price tag.
Action/barrels: A strong/heavy-duty action capable of high shot counts married with the floating barrel concept should produce a very good competition combination
Stock: Adjustable comb and thick recoil pad aid both fit and comfort. Though a little plain, it is an honest piece of wood that hasn’t been embellished. Good for the money.
Trigger: Delightful. Significantly lighter pull than most guns, with a clean break, and adjustable back and forth.
Handling: At a shade under 8½lb it is in the range of most Sporters, giving a stable platform with sufficient mass to absorb recoil. Swing and response are both there in fine balance.
Value: You will struggle to find much on the market with this level of features for equivalent money. You might want something with smarter wood, or more accessories, but this gun doesn’t need those – it has more than enough to give it a high rating on any clay ground.
No gimmicks, just logic and good engineering