Famars 20-bore shotgun: It has 30″ barrels – which makes it trendy – a solid rib barrel design, and a detachable trigger lock.
First visual impressions are striking, the gun has very distinctive decoration and the figure of the wood is exceptional. The general form is elegant.
The proportions of both action and the semi-pistol stock achieve an aesthetic harmony. Also detailing and the finish on the Famars are impressive too.
Small things can make a gun.
There is hand matting to the slightly tapered rib, something I always think looks good if done well – as this is. The fore-end fastener – a button – looks especially neat, although, it is rather small for practical use with cold fingers.
The classic sliding safety is well shaped and ramped just a little steeper than the average which gets my vote in this case because of the practicality. There is a gold oval on the belly of the wonderfully figured butt.
The standard of fit and finish in all departments is well up to the reputation of this well-known firm which, notably, once made some sidelock 20-bore guns for Beretta.
Quick to the shoulder
The test gun comes up to the shoulder quickly. It feels a little barrel heavy. I am coming to the opinion, though, that this is no bad thing in a longer barrelled 20-bore.
I put aside my usual 30″ 28-bore for most of last season, and shot a 32″ Guerini 20-bore – a gun that offers exceptional value and looks, but which is distinctly muzzle heavy.
I was going to do something about this balance (my usual remedy in a stock bolt gun is tubed lead shot secured in the stock bolt hole) but didn’t bother. The performance of the unmodified Guerini was so good that it persuaded me to leave well enough alone and reconsider my opinion on the balance of small gauge game guns.
Returning to the Famars and looking at its working parts in more detail, we may note that the barrels are monobloc. Famars do offer chopper/demi-lump construction on some models.
They are chambered for 70mm shells and are well presented with good internal and external finish.
The tubes are both bored 15.9mm and 15.9mm (slightly tighter in internal diameter than my preference but about the modern norm for a 20mm) with moderately extended forcing cones. At the muzzles one notes concealed, thin-wall, Briley multi-chokes similar to those offered by Nigel Teague.
Potters are agents for Briley and offer a wide range their products, including off the shelf retro-fit chokes for most factory-made guns to accept multi-chokes and a custom service for the conversion of fixed choked guns to the interchangeable type (£345 inclusive with four chokes of your choice).
The action of the Famars has stud pins for hinging and Boss style bolting to the rear. The Celtic engraving is arresting and nicely executed, although the dragon on the belly of the action body was a little too much for me, even if reminiscent of the Greener St. George exhibition gun.
The engineering inspires confidence. Good machining is a given with modern Italian production, but one could not, for example, see the trace of gap between barrel shoulders and action walls and face on the Famars. That impresses.
The standard of polishing and fit was well above the norm. I liked the shape of the trigger and the top lever as much as the ramped safety mentioned earlier.
They combined good looks with good function. There is no barrel selector, not much of an issue when one has the luxury of interchangeable chokes. The trigger mechanism is inertia operated and the pulls are crisp. The trigger lock itself, which uses leaf main springs, is removed in the opposite manner to a Perazzi by bring the safety beyond its normal rearwards position against spring pressure (a Perazzi is pushed forward).
Famars (Fabbrica Armi Mario Abbiatico e Remo Salvinelli) have had the odd reliability issue with their well styled and well finished guns in the past.
Small, but irritating little things – like the odd pin shifting in the action- have, unnecessarily, caused problems.
Chris Potter has worked closely with the firm to sort this niggling stuff out, making a number of visits to the factory. Famars are now right up there with the best of the Italian makers. Their metal working skills and creativity have never been in doubt. They produce some really interesting guns – ones that stand out from the crowd.
Within the range there are side-lever, hammer ejector and detachable lock side-by-sides, sidelock and side-plated detachable lock over-unders and even a four barrelled, sidelever, .410 over-under – the Rombo. Rumour has it they are developing a new detachable lock sidelock over-under as well.
The Famars was an effortless little wand to use. The patterns thrown by its Briley chokes produced confidence inspiring kills with both 24 and 28 gram Lyalvale shells. Recoil was not excessive.
The recoil operated single trigger performed without malfunction of any sort and the pulls were fine. The grip, though of good depth and angle, was a little narrower than my preference. I think there is a tendency in small bores to make grips too narrow generally. This can reduce muzzle control, notably when the grip has insufficient depth, although not the case here.
But, this is a comment rather than a criticism – some like a slimmer grip and the one on this gun was not ridiculously small as one sometimes sees on bespoke guns.
Overall, this a most distinctive gun that shoots well and inspires much comment. It also offers value at the asking price of £13,950.
With the way the Euro is going, I doubt if it could be repeated at that price. As Dionne Roger of Potters put it to me: “Famars offer beautiful guns at affordable prices.”