A new gun from Fausti is designed exclusively for female shooters ... Sporting Gun asked shooting instructor Lucy Cantwell to take a look
Shooting instructor Lucy Cantwell has a lot of experience with guns, which is why I am surprised to hear her scepticism about guns designed specifically for women. “I’ve always just used whatever gun that I feel fits me and have never been concerned if it’s a lady’s or a man’s gun.”
She goes on to say that she feels the female guns are a bit of a “gimmick”. “I don’t think men and women are that different when it comes to the fit of a gun. Just because women have longer necks than men and are on average shorter, doesn’t mean to say that every woman is short with a long neck.”
Things have got off to a unpromising start, though Lucy does have a point that when it comes to stock design in that most guns are built for those of ‘average’ proportions.
Lucy is, however, impressed by the looks of the Aphrodite. “I like the wood and the engraving. It is tastefully done.” She is also impressed by how light the Fausti is compared with her Browning and Miroku, although she does wonder about the recoil. “There’s not much weight there to soak up the recoil.”
Shouldering the gun, she says: “It feels short to me. I am used to a longer length of pull.”
It measures 13½in and Lucy says that she is used to a length of pull of around 14½in, which is about average. Would that put her off the Aphrodite? “No. You could always get a thicker butt pad.”
What she does like is the higher comb.
“I can see right down the top rib, so the comb is exactly right. It feels well-balanced when the gun is shouldered and mounting it is easy, apart from the stock feeling short.”
She notices that her finger finds the trigger blade easily thanks to the slender grip and its steep rake. She may be beginning to warm to this Italian gun.
Comfortable to shoot
The proof, however, is in the using. She starts on some easy driven targets and hits them all. So far, so good. “It’s really comfortable to shoot. There is hardly any recoil even though we are using 28g cartridges. I just wish the stock was a bit longer.”
Next, she tries some long crossers. These are a little more tricky but she hits most of them. “It comes up to the shoulder nicely and it feels so light and well-balanced.” It looks like Lucy is beginning to change her mind about guns designed for women.
How fast does the gun handle?
To really challenge herself and put the Aphrodite through its paces, she opts for a mix of crossers. “I want to see how fast the gun handles,” she says. Clays seem to come from all angles and Lucy does well to ‘smoke’ most of them.
She finishes shooting and returns her verdict. “I like the Aphrodite. In fact, I like it even more than Browning’s Liberty Light [also a female gun] because it handles so well. I just wish the stock were longer. I also don’t like the auto-safety.” The safety can be changed, but would she put her money where her mouth is? “I haven’t got the £4,000 this is worth, so I couldn’t buy it, but if money were no object then I would definitely consider it, though I would get the stock lengthened.”
- Occupation: Trainee shooting instructor
- Years shooting: Around 10 years
- Guns: Browning 725 and Miroku MK38
- Type of shooting: Game and clay
More about the Fausti Aphrodite and guns for women shooters
- This is the first over-and-under shotgun to have dimensions for the ‘average’ woman’s frame.
- Gun fit is essential to shooting well. It makes shooting more comfortable and mount more consistent, with the gun pointing naturally in the direction where the shooter is looking. Most ‘off-the-shelf guns’ are made to fit the average man. Women, with their longer necks, higher cheekbones, larger chests and shorter arms, have to make a compromise, or go down the costly custom-made route. Sure, adjustable stocks enable the shooter to tailor gun to an approximate fit, but women need a smaller toe dimension, especially if they have a large bust, which is difficult to achieve even with an adjustable stock.
- Last year saw the launch of the Liberty from Browning, but the fact that major gunmakers feel the need to make guns for women is a sign that more women are coming to our sport and loving it.
- The new gun from Fausti is a looker. It is not pink, gaudy or gimmicky. The gun we tested had lovely figured walnut, profuse engraving and a coin-finished action. On the underside of the action is the head of Aphrodite with beehive hairdo surrounded by gold laurel leaves. Italians have a flair for design and their good taste is exhibited on this gun.
- A Montecarlo stock gives a higher comb, better for women’s longer necks and higher cheekbones. With a length of pull of 13 ½in, the stock is over an inch shorter than on the average man’s stock. However, the length of pull could be increased with use of a thicker butt pad if needed. The grip is also smaller for more dainty hands and the rake is steeper to give easier reach to the trigger blade.
- Another big issue for female shooters is the weight of the gun. Guns that are barrel heavy put particular strain on the arms and core muscles. Game guns usually have narrower ribs, which reduces weight at the front. The gun we tested had 28in barrels and the point of balance was around the hinge pin, bringing the weight closer to the shooter’s body. Sometimes guns with multi-chokes (as the one we tested had) can be barrel heavy, but on the Aphrodite this wasn’t the case. Game guns are traditionally fixed chokes, but the trend is more towards multi-choke, because it makes the gun more versatile and makes it easier to sell second-hand. If you want a fixed choke Aphrodite, it is available.
- Weighing in at 7lb, the Aphrodite is light and easy to carry. Some may think that being light, the gun may have more perceived recoil. However, the long forcing cones of the barrels and the internal geometry of the gun help to reduce recoil in an impressive way.
- The Aphrodite has the usual Fausti patented four-lock system, which extends the life of the gun by keeping the lock-up tight. As you would expect on a game gun, the safety is automatic, but a competent gunsmith can easily change this to manual.
- Available in 12,20, 28 bore and .410
Barrel: 25in to 30in. We tested the 28in
Length of pull: 13½ in
Drop: 1 3/8in at comb and 1 5/8 in at heel
Rib: ventilated top rib
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The round body action, deep engraving and Monte Carlo-style stock make this a classically beautiful gun. What’s more exciting is that the Aphrodite is a nice handling gun. The balance and its lightweight make it a joy to shoot and it would look great on a game shoot, but could easily be used on the clay ground.
Scores on the doors
Build quality: 24/25
Value for money: 23/25
The balance and its light weight make it a joy to shoot