This well-built Italian over-and-under offers a lot of gun for your money, says Mark Heath
This review of an Italian shotgun is something slightly different — the Fausti XF4 .410 with 32in barrels.
We do use .410s at the shooting school in both over-and-under and side-by-side format for young shooters, to get them started, particularly if their upper body strength cannot deal with a larger calibre.
In the weeks prior to the shutdown that is now in place, I used a lightweight over-and-under .410 to give a few shots to the children of two regular clients so they could get their first taste of shooting. There was a little help and steering involved but between us we hit some teal and rabbit targets and straight-driven clays off the 40ft tower.
However, the .410 from Fausti is a different beast, weighing in at 7lb 6oz and with 32in barrels. When you first put it together, it does pique the curiosity — it’s immediately obvious that it’s intended as a serious gun rather than merely a little .410 for a youngster’s first few shots.
Along with the majority of the Italian gun trade, the Fausti factory is situated in the Brescia region of Italy. It was founded by Stefano Fausti around 70 years ago and is now run by his three daughters. They manufacture over-and-under, side-by-side and semi-automatic shotguns, in addition to double rifles. The company has invested heavily in its CNC production capability, and employs a workforce covering assembly, stocking and its own engravers for completion of its high-end range.
The XF4 was launched in 2018, and is a round-body black-action gun with XF4 marked on the side. There is minimal decoration, which gives it a very serious “tool for the job” appearance. The barrels have ventilated mid and top ribs and weigh in at 1,467g, which is as heavy as many 12-bores. There is a choice of fixed or multichoke, with five supplied.
The test gun is a multichoke but came with the half and full chokes fitted without the other three options, so I will need to make sure the head stays on the stock during the test. Naturally, the chambers are 3in so will take every form of .410 cartridge available. The safety catch is manual, with the barrel selector on the safety catch in the familiar style.
Stock of the Fausti XF4 .410
The stock is fairly plain but with a straight grain running all the way through, so perhaps not for those of you who start dribbling over highly figured wood with a London oil finish. It does, however, have an oil finish rather than lacquer, which is my preference. Wood of this nature will take a lot of punishment because it’s intended for a competition gun. The stock length comes in at 14 ½in to the mid-point, with an additional ⅛in at heel and an additional ¼in at toe, which is perfect.
The wood-to-metal fit is incredibly well executed. The chequering is laser-cut and comfortable in the hand, without being too sharp. There is a black rubber pad, which could easily be changed if adjustment to length of pull was required.
The stock has an adjustable comb on the familiar pillar system, which will allow for adjustment of drop and cast. With the comb set straight, there is already ⅛in cast off at heel, which should suit a vast majority of shooters. We frequently set up adjustable stocks for clients who have done a lot of ‘fiddling’ because it seemed like a good idea at the time, then got into a muddle and consequently struggled with their shooting. It’s usually a fairly simple fix to get them back on track.
The grip radius is comfortable and has a slight palm swell — there are left-handed versions also available.
In addition to the wood being of the strongest pattern, the Fausti XF4 .410 gun has a four-lock system, which has been patented by Fausti. This should ensure that the gun will stand the test of time and tens of thousands of cartridges, with locking lugs that engage at four points in the action on closing for absolute security.
Before we head to the gun test, I thought it would be useful to look and see the costs and availability of ammunition, and I was quite surprised at the variety that was available — and not as expensive as I was expecting. Prices ranged from £243 to £693 per 1,000, the latter figure being significantly pricey, but you can get a 3in magnum cartridge for reasonable money. Shot sizes varied from four to nine, and the loads from 9g to 20g.
We started the test on the 40ft tower, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had taken a variety of ammunition from four different brands, ranging from 11g to 18g in shot sizes. It was immediately apparent there was a lot of fun to be had with this gun. The weight and dimensions made it a serious gun in a bore size that I had parked in the “occasional use for small children” category.
Regardless of cartridge, it absolutely smoked up these targets, but then we did have half and full choke. On to the 80ft tower and finishing with some FITASC right-to-left looping targets with speed and distance. The consistency of breaks was something I had not expected, despite the fact that we were shooting the dome of the clay rather than the underside on the FITASC targets.
One of the questions perhaps that needs to be asked is where and when the gun could be used. In the US there is an active use of small bores at clays, especially NSSA skeet where 100 straights are regularly shot with .410, less so in the UK. Also, would I use .410 on a game day from an integrity point of view? Prior to this gun test my answer would have been no, for fear that the .410 load is not capable of being effective.
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However, I am confident that this gun with the right cartridge would be effective, but I would be selective, especially in the early stages on a shoot day, to be confident that it was the right decision. It’s the handling of this particular gun that provides that confidence.
There is simply nothing currently on sale in the UK to compare with the Fausti XF4 .410, both in terms of overall weight, barrel length and handling.
Well built and a lot of gun for the money