Franchi Harrier Sport shotgun: Italian made Franchi guns have always managed to fill a niche in the British market with nicely made arms aimed at shooters looking for something in the lower to mid-price range.
Over the years they’ve proved a pretty reliable proposition for field and club clay shooters, but in recent times things have just got better for this maker. Today the company is under the wing of gunmaking giants, Beretta, and their investment has seen a corresponding improvement right across the range.
The latest model to roll off the production line – the Franchi Harrier Sport – is proof of this.
Today Franchi uses an updated version of an action that was always mechanically well proven, but now shows signs of being even better finished.
Some things, however, never change; the barrels – in typical Italian fashion – still hinge on stub pins in the side of the action frame and lock up is achieved via a full width bolt coupled to bites below the bottom barrel.
Staying with tradition the hammers are powered by coil springs with the sears suspended above, and the hammers rebound to prevent striker drag thanks to the hammer springs being held captive on adjustable rods.
Similarly the ejectors are still directly spring-loaded but the trigger shape has been improved to give the shooter a more comfortable feel. In the process this minor redesign gives the user a better perception of the trigger pulls.
I’m sure buyers will like it.
As you would expect with a competition gun the makers have fitted it with a manual safety catch which, in this case, works through a Beretta-style barrel selector button placed just behind the top lever.
The action frame and furniture, with the exception of the safety catch, has been given a silver finish and a good covering of fine scroll engraving.
The clay targets engraved on both sides of the action aren’t exactly my cup of tea, but the motifs, thankfully, are fairly discreet. That gripe aside, the scroll work is very good and tends to draw the eye nicely. You will also find the maker’s name neatly engraved on the belly of the action frame.
At writing the Harrier is only available with 30in barrels fitted with a newly designed top rib that tapers from 10mm at the breech to 7mm at the muzzles.
This configuration considerably improves pointability and the high visibility foresight completes the picture. Both top and side ribs are ventilated to improve barrel cooling and reduce overall weight.
The barrels have been chambered for 3in (76mm) cartridges and subjected to special steel shot proof.
The tubes have been bored to standard dimensions and treated to a chrome lining for ease of cleaning. Exterior gloss blacking has been done to a good standard.
NEW MULTICHOKE SYSTEM
What is interesting is the new thin walled multichoke system adopted by Franchi on this gun.
The neatly machined choke tubes have been extended for looks and ease of changing.
Not only do the longer tubes throw better patterns, they also help improve the pointability of the barrels.
These lightweight chokes put minimal weight on the muzzles but this doesn’t stop the gun still showing a slight muzzle heaviness.
The majority of shooters will live quite happily with this, but for those who like slightly livelier muzzle ends, the addition of a bit of lead inside the stock will soon bring the point of balance back to the hinge pin.
Franchi has redesigned the shape of the stock to meet the Sporting (rather than field shooter’s) requirements. Length of pull is 14.3/4in with drops at comb and heel of 1.1/2in and 2.1/4in respectively.
The stock is currently finished with a 3/4in pad, but I’m told other thicknesses should be soon available.
At the moment the gun is stocked and cast for the right hander but, again, a left-handed version is in the pipeline.
As part of the redesign Franchi has gone for a pistol grip that’s a shade deeper and more positive than usual.
It’s a nice touch which shooters will like, but the makers have stuck to a chequer pattern that’s both traditionally in shape and gives a good grip in most weather conditions.
Weight of the test gun is approximately 7.1/2lb. This gun is designed primarily for Sporting clays but I don’t doubt for many it will make a good all round proposition.
It might be a little heavier than a game gun, but it is not at all unmanageable in the field.
Each gun comes supplied in an ABS travel case and five choke tubes.
Overall this gun represents good value for money and it definitely will prove popular among those who are new to the sport or game shooters looking for an additional gun for some clay shooting.
The fact it also comes with a three year warranty on all mechanical parts can’t help but instil buyer confidence in the product.
Build quality 8
Value for money 9
Available from www.gmk.co.uk