Jason Harris recommends the Franchi Affinity; a Beretta stable-mate with Benelli inspiration making for a fine entry-level semi-auto shotgun
When I was asked to review the Franchi Affinity it occured to me that it was not one of the names you might first think of when considering mass-market gunmakers. However Franchi has had a presence in the UK market for many years. The company has a respectable longevity, founded in 1868. There are few gunmakers that old around today and Franchi has adapted to suit the times. (Read why there should be no snobbery about semi-automatic shotguns.)
I can remember their semi-autos and O/U guns from when I first started shooting. At that time, the Franchi semi- autos were recoil operated in a similar way to the Browning A5; reloading by the barrel sliding back, pushing the breech-block to eject the fired cartridge and bring the new one forward. There was also the Franchi Falconet, an alloy-actioned gun that was extremely lightweight. Browning, Winchester and Beretta all do them now, but Franchi was probably the first and 25 years or so before the others.
Franchi Affinity experience
Franchi may have the broadest base of experience when it comes to semi-auto shotguns. While the earliest semi-autos worked on recoil, they have also made a number of gas-operated models and lately have moved on to inertia driven mechanisms.
Advantages of inertia driven guns
The inertia system was really pioneered by Benelli, which itself is now part of Beretta. So it is no real surprise that Franchi are using the same principle now. The advantage of an inertia driven gun is the lesser number of moving parts. Because there is no gas piston under the fore-end, it can be made slimmer. The gun also keeps clean more easily as there are no exhaust gases coming back to a piston system around the magazine tube. Usually inertia autos aren’t quite as soft to shoot, as the gas system seems to absorb more of the recoil, but the gun will certainly recoil significantly less than a conventional over-and-under.
The other thing is cartridge sensitivity: generally autos work at their best with heavier loads as they have more energy to work the mechanism. But over the years, cartridges have got lighter and auto design has altered to accommodate the lighter cartridges.
When the bolt goes forward its head rotates and locks into the pocket in the breech end of the barrel. When fired, the bolt has the effect of going forward whereas the gun as a whole moves backwards under recoil. This movement causes the bolt head to rotate further as the back of it compresses a large spring housed in the bolt. Once compressed, the spring opens very quickly, which unlocks the head as the bolt is thrown back by the energy stored in the spring. and so the fired cartridge is ejected and the next one brought up and forwards.
A larger bolt handle makes things easier when loading and unloading, even with gloves on. In the UK the Franchi Affinity arrives in black synthetic with a 28in barrel. (You might like to read how to touch up a synthetic gun stock ).
The gun comes with three choke tubes; 1⁄4, 1⁄2, and full. There is also a comprehensive set of shims to alter the stock for comb height and cast either left or right. The barrel is chambered for 23⁄4in and 3in shells and carries special steel shot proof. The bore is chrome lined.
The top rib is 8mm wide and slightly raised at the breech end. It is ventilated and matted and there is a small red foresight. The metalwork is satin matt black and the finish is very good. The pistol grip is slim and both it and the fore-end have a printed chequer pattern. There is a position in the stock to fit an optional sling swivel and provision at the front end is through a hole in the fore-end retaining nut.
Stock length is 375mm. Included in this is a soft recoil pad that has a smooth heel for quick mounting.
The Affinity is a very practical gun. No great beauty, but a very useful tool. It will make an excellent pigeon shooting and wildfowling gun; a great all-rounder and for an Italian-made semi-auto it is very good value for money.
Price: While more expensive than some of the cheaper autos coming from Turkey, the Franchi is made in Italy and as such is slightly crisper in its finish.
Marks out of 100
- Build Quality: 23/25
- Handling: 22/25
- Styling: 22/25
Value for money: 23/25
Total score: 90/100
Note: This reviewof the Franchi Affiniti was originally published in 2015 and has been updated.
For an Italian-made semi-auto it is very good value for money