Fausti Style shotgun review.
Guns have increased disproportionately in price in recent years, especially side-by-sides.
One can blame a sinking pound as far as foreign imports are concerned, much higher material costs and higher manufacturing costs, too ? both labour and machinery have become more expensive.
It is, therefore, refreshing to see what appears to be a smart-looking, traditionally styled shotgun at a sensible price.
The £999 Fausti style side-by-side is made in northern Italy in a factory owned by the feisty and rather fabulous Fausti sisters. They inherited the business from their father and have much invested in it since.
They now produce in the region of 6,000 over-unders and 2,000 side-by-sides, making the firm a serious player in the global sporting gun trade. I have visited them several times.
Fausti, like several major Italian firms, now combines the latest technology with traditional artisan craftsmanship. Both are much in evidence at the factory, which makes guns at all price points in a bewildering number of models.
As far as the UK is concerned, though, only a small range of guns is being imported at the moment.
These have been specified for our shooting conditions and are brought into the country by the sportsman Gun Centre, which has retail premises in Devon and Dorset as well as acting as a major wholesaler to the gun trade in this country.
The test gun has 26in, multichoked, monobloc barrels and weighs in at a very reasonable 6lb 7.4⁄5oz ? close to the British ideal.
It has 3in (76mm) chambers, a flat and neatly file-cut rib and a single, non-selective, trigger.
The coin-finished action is eye catching with pleasant, mechanically applied scrollwork plus scalloping to the rear. For an inexpensive gun, it looks especially good; money-wise you could not expect more and could easily get less, in poorer taste.
The stock is straight gripped and there is quite a deep fore-end, which, like the grip, fills the hand well. The shapes and dimensions of the stock are conventional.
The length of pull with a wooden heel plate is 14.5⁄8in (which would allow for 15in-plus with a pad or ebonite block fitted).
There is an extra 1⁄8in at heel and 3⁄8in at toe, which is all pretty standard.
Drop, however, is a little on the low side with 1½in at comb and 2½in at heel (my preference would be to bring the heel up at least ¼in ).
Nevertheless, the design of the stock ? like the rest of the gun ? is essentially sound. The finish is good, too ? an imitation of traditional, hand-rubbed oil and well-cut laser chequering.
The barrels are monobloc, the joints are good and it shows some confidence in the product that the gun is 3in (76mm) proofed.
This is, increasingly, the norm and expected in the US and on the Continent where heavier loads are more popular than they are here.
Both bores are 18.5mm in diameter. The flat-file cut and tapered rib is my favourite side-by-side pattern and my preference over the classic concave.
The action is of modified Anson and Deeley box-lock type. The hammers and combined strikers are powered by traditional V springs rather than the helical springs seen in most machine-made guns.
The stock, however, is attached to the action by a stock bolt as in a mass-produced over-under.
The single trigger is of mechanical type, useful in a game gun, especially a relatively lightweight one in which one may use light loads on occasion.
I was really impressed by this gun. It felt good, balancing on the hinge pin with 26in tubes (the only option) and seemed lively between the hands.
A hinge-pin balance is not a guarantee of good dynamics but it is usually a positive in a game gun unless it has particularly long barrels.
The Style not only felt good, it shot exceptionally well, pointing better than most short-barrelled guns.
Recoil was surprisingly light. It effortlessly broke all the clay birds presented to it at the Southern Counties Ground in Dorset, save for a couple of fiendish long crossers.
A similar Fausti side-by-side has given me sterling service shooting pigeon in Africa (and a spitting cobra for the various column).
That gun is significantly heavier and has 30in tubes. It does not handle as naturally as this one, nor does it look as pretty.
I could quibble on some details of finish, but the Style shoots better than some guns costing 20 times as much.
It has but one significant vice ? it does not open quite as wide as I would like for speedy reloading.
Importer: Sportsman Gun Centre, 19 Apple Lane, Trade City, Exeter EX2 5GL
Tel: 01392 354854