Are 16 bore guns really all that special? Alex Flint takes this exotic Italian beauty out for a spin to find out.
As many experienced shots will know, quite a number of manufacturers engrave the name Rizzini on the actions of their guns thanks to the fairly astonishing abilities of a modern Italian gunmaking dynasty. There is E. Rizzini, once best known for making entry-level guns but now a part of Fausti, a high-end manufacturer. More in the line of a boutique manufacturer, producing a small number of best quality guns, one finds Fratelli Rizzini. There is also Isidoro Rizzini, whose company FAIR makes guns for the likes of Lincoln. Finally, we have the maker of our test gun, perhaps the best known and most highly regarded Rizzini, Battista, whose company has been manufacturing guns in Italy’s Gardone Valley since 1966.
While all these names may lead to a little confusion, you can be in no doubt when you pick up the Artemis you are dealing with the real deal– the immediate impression is of high quality, from the excellent decoration and finish to the outstanding balance of the gun. The Artemis has been around for a few years now and was a Shooting Industry Awards winner in 2012 for best new shotgun – a few years on it is clear this gun is entirely worthy of all accolades it has received.
The first time with a 16 bore gun
I have had the pleasure of shooting the Artemis before, however this test was the first time I have used a 16 bore gun and I am finally able to report this gauge really is as good as all the shooting connoisseurs will tell you. Had I not just had to put down a sizeable sum on a new washing machine, this test gun would not have been going back on the shelves at Elderkin’s but rather come home with me – it really cannot be described as anything other than utterly superb to shoot.
In fact, much about this gun is superb – particularly the aesthetics. Although a de luxe version is available on foreign shores, complete with game scenes with gold inlays and colour case hardening, to my eyes the standard Artemis available in the UK is where the gun really shines. Thanks to the use of side plates there are copious amounts of engraving all over the action of the gun with some really excellent details to be found in the form of lion heads forming out of the predominant Acanthus scroll engraving and surrounding the Rizzini name in a banner. This motif is carried through to the bottom plate of the action body with two lions rampant holding a scroll emblazoned with the name of the gun.
Depth to the engraving work
Although applied by machine, there is a surprising amount of depth to the engraving work thanks to the clever use of a stippling effect to create shaded areas. Furthermore, given the overall quality of the engraving it seems likely to have been given some hand finishing. The fitting of the sideplates is also excellent, with no visible screws and any seams being very difficult indeed to pick out. There is also some blueing of hardware, such as the push-button fore-end release and top lever, as well as the fore-end iron, all of which are tasteful additions. The wood used on the gun is exceptional given the asking price, with a delightful tiger stripe-style figuring to the wood on our test gun. Chequering is quite bold but not at all coarse, and the finishing on the wood overall was good, giving a light glossy finish in an attractive honey colour. If one was being incredibly picky one might say there is a little too much wood left over where the wooden parts of the gun meet the metal.
The gun is slim and appealing to the eye thanks to the lines inherent in guns using an Italian style action and the rounded semi-pistol grip is a real highlight. Also adding to the overall visual impact is the solid top rib, a £185 option I would highly recommend. Though I am not usually drawn to a brass finish on triggers or sight beads, here it is unobtrusive largely thanks to the lighter finish given to the wood.
Only an extended trigger guard is missing on our test gun, and this too is available as an option for £117, as is a pierced top lever for the same price – though this may be an unnecessary addition.
Any gun which shoots this well is easy to recommend, but when one is as beautiful as this and also relatively cheap it really is almost impossible to ignore. If you are in the market for a new over-under I would not hesitate to recommend the Rizzini Artemis, and would heartily encourage you to try it in 16 bore guise – you may never want to go back.
Rizzini Artemis 16 bore in the field
The most remarkable and instantly recognisable characteristic of this gun is its outstanding balance. Unlike many over-unders, the Artemis’ point of balance is directly on the hinge pin, meaning in the hand it feels significantly lighter than its 7lbs 12oz would suggest. The gun’s weight is likely a significant factor in its recoil control, with virtually no recoil felt when mounted properly and very little muzzle flip, even with 26gram No.5 loads.
However, the contribution the balance of the gun makes to its sweet handling really cannot be over-stressed – this gun is an absolute joy to use. Instructor Bruce Marks and I tested the gun on a very windy day at Grange Farm Shooting School, and the sweet, instinctive handling characteristics of the Artemis entirely suited the range of varied, fast moving targets on display. Whilst a late- dipping clay or sudden change of direction might have proven tricky to shoot normally, this 16 bore beauty allowed for rapid changes of direction and very instinctive shooting without making the gun tricky to keep on the line of long crossing targets. The excellent trigger pulls also supported this, being very crisp and consistent with no play. The gun also opened and closed consistently and with ease without ever feeling anything other than entirely solid.
Both Bruce and I were very successful with this pretty gun, and the Artemis looked entirely at home in our hands. This gun would doubtless make a welcome addition to any sportsman’s gun cabinet
In 16 bore this ranks amongst the very best guns I have ever shot. Simply superb.