This moderately priced 12-bore will impress - whether in a pigeon hide, on a rough shoot or an informal game day, says Roger Glover
There is a point at which you break away from a budget gun as you seek better quality, though what causes you to make that decision can be difficult to quantify. If you have reached that point, the Elegante Field, at £1,095, is a step up in quality at a moderate price.
- The steel action is a two- piece boxlock affair, comprising main body and trigger-plate.
- The sears and hammers are simple machined components in design and construction, with the trigger- block taking on any level of complexity and that is produced from a casting.
- Straight away we can see that there is no desire to overthink this action; it has a function to perform and achieves that via the simplest route. The cocking bars run in the floor of the action and set the ejectors once firing has occurred; tripping of the ejectors is then taken care of by lugs in the action body once the correct angle of opening has been achieved.
- The single selective trigger has a heavy feel in use. At 4lb 12oz it certainly errs on the side of caution yet has a smooth break and resets to the second barrel without the use of recoil — not a bad trigger for a game gun at all.
- The fore-end iron is devoid of any active mechanism, it merely has an extension to engage the cocking bars and a catch to hold it to the barrels — very simple and fuss free.
Aside from a little band of scrollwork around where the barrel tubes meet the monobloc and engine turning on the sides of the monobloc, all of the decoration on this gun is on the action body.
On some lower-priced guns, manufacturers try to raise their perceived standard by adding a lot of low-grade engraving or poorly executed game scenes, but not so with the Elegante Field. Franchi has backed right off on the engraving, offering just a hint of floral scrolls and a neat rope border on the action sides, stippling up over the top of the breech and a little floral scroll along each side of the top strap.
The main features, though, are three game birds accentuated in gold on the cheeks and underside of the action. All this is set on a satin chrome background along with Franchi’s trademark “F” on the black trigger-guard. In all, it is a delicate balance between plain and elaborate, quite an understated and subtle design.
- This Elegante uses 30in barrels and is well balanced. There is also an option for 28in barrels. Steel proofed and with 3in chambers, it suits any lead-free cartridge, an important trait for any modern game gun.
- Choking is by flush-fit 50mm chokes — not the longest of tubes, but they seem to pattern well enough and do offer that all-important level of versatility and personal preference.
- The stock is walnut, a basic grade, but perfectly sufficient for the purpose and proportioned well enough. With a stock length of 14½in and drop of 21⁄8in, I find my eye low enough to be completely in line with the rib.
- What I do find off-putting, however, is that the top of the breech protrudes above the line of the rib, hence I see breech and foresight, but little of the rib itself. It is almost like the rib is concave, which it is not. I would much prefer that breech to be level with the rib to allow sighting along the rib.
- The chequering is in fairly plain panels and is quite coarse — not a bad thing as it would offer great mid-winter grip. There is a plaque within the fore-end chequer with the Franchi name set into it, which is not entirely traditional, but not misplaced either.
- The pistol grip has a very shallow rake angle, so whether you have small hands and need to hold it by the neck, or larger hands, you can pull your hand further back to get your finger in the correct plane on the trigger.
Though oil finished, the wood of the stock is a little open grained. I’d expect that; this is not a gun that has had hours of hand finishing, so a few coats of stock oil at home would certainly be beneficial in keeping moisture and dirt out.
In use the gun performs well, it feels pleasantly light to swing yet was still able to absorb the recoil and heavy punch of the 36g Eley Lightning Steel cartridge. It carries well over the arm, be it at the pistol grip or in front of the trigger-guard. In the recent summer heat I tried mounting the gun with a heavy jacket on. It always came up precisely to the shoulder without a thought needed to place it correctly.
As a moderately priced game gun, the Franchi Elegante fulfils its intended slot in the market very well. All the metalwork is finished to a standard befitting this price bracket or a little above that. Likewise, the stock has a straightforward finish, if a bit basic, but the wood will improve if you put in a bit of effort.
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This is by no means a luxury piece of equipment — you wouldn’t expect it to be at this price — but it is definitely up to an acceptable standard and should impress whether in a pigeon hide, on a rough shoot or an informal game day.
Looking at the internal action components, I would have every faith in the service life of this gun. Maintenance should be simple as there really isn’t much to go wrong, and certainly no complexities to worry about, just straightforward, basic mechanical technology — the sign of good, solid design.
Action/barrels: The low, narrow vented rib is a great choice for a game gun, if spoilt by the high breech line. Multichokes and 3in chambers are now industry standard but still some game guns are 23/4in, so this gun clearly benefits. Fine standard of finish with deep bluing. 17/20
Stock: Not as plain as some lower-priced guns – I’d say appropriate quality to price. Of good proportion and balance with an excellent recoil pad. Coarse chequer gives substantial grip. 18/20
Trigger: A sensible amount of take-up and quite a lot of travel before breaking, but it is a good weight and smooth in operation. The safety catch is very positive and offers a lovely large protrusion to grip on, even with gloved hand. 18/20
Handling: Not too heavy to carry all day, not too light to kick you, the ever-challenging balance of aspects has been considered well in this respect. At 30in it is not the quickest to respond but will suit most game situations well enough. 17/20
Value: So many lower-priced guns end up looking tacky in an attempt to make them look more than they are. This Franchi, is thankfully, quite the opposite. It has some decoration – because all guns should have – yet the overall quality of the gun is left to do the talking, not some weak attempt to embellish. A very strong contender in this bracket. 19/20.
I would have every faith in the service life of this gun