The Rizzini RB EM 16-bore is well worth looking at if you want something a little bit different
Rizzini is a gunmaker steadily making inroads into the British guntrade. It has some very attractive models at good value-for-money prices. This is my favourite in the range: the Rizzini RB EM 16-bore .
The RB EM is a round bodied box lock gun with a bold scroll engraving pattern that reminds me of the traditional Holland Royal pattern. The engraving is similar to a broad acanthus scroll, and covers the action fully. The furniture, top lever, safe thumbpiece, trigger guard and fore-end iron are all finished black and contrast the coin finished brushed silver of the action frame.
The gun can be ordered as a special with colour hardening if preferred. In fact this gun is standard specification – apart from longer barrels, but can be ordered with a number of customisation options if required. As can all Rizzini guns.
Rizzini RB EM 16-bore history
The RB EM was first introduced in 2014 and won that year’s award for “best new gun” in the Shooting Industry Awards. The 12 and 20-bore have always been the two favourite, but as with many other Rizzini models, the RB EM is also available in 16-bore.
There seems to be a bit of resurgence for 16-bore guns, particularly O/U guns. I am not sure why, but for some there are good reasons. Of course some people simply want something a little different and like the challenge of a smaller bore. As far as O/U 16-bores go, there are very few in the mass market and fewer still on a scaled action. I have seen some made on 12-bore actions. The obvious snag here is too much weight. They have been made on 20-bore actions as well; at least I know of one maker that tried this without lasting success.
It sounds simple to make a scaled action, but it’s easier said than done. And there is a great deal of investment needed to see the project through. So the maker needs to have faith the demand will justify the expense: Rizzini has that faith.
Although 16-bore British built guns exist, they are not particularly common. With 12-bore being by far the most popular bore followed by 20-bores, although to a much lesser extent as the attitude towards 20-bores has changed enormously during my time in the trade. Historically in Britain the 20-bores were seen as a lady or boys’ gun, or possibly the more mature gentleman! I think that changed during the 80s as O/U guns became increasingly popular against side-by-sides and people found that the 20-bore offered a much lighter gun to carry, combined with a similar killing power of a 12-bore – you just need to be a little more accurate.
The 16-bore has always been more popular on the continent, particularly in Germany and Austria. You could call it industrial evolution in a way, but on the continent most shooting is walked-up and usually over much steeper terrain than we have in the UK – so a smaller bore that is inherently lighter makes sense. In line with this – although they often come in the box with a modern O/U – sling swivels are not things that add anything to the look of a shotgun. But they are very practical and make sense when climbing up steep hills with a gun.
The general feeling in the UK used to be that 16-bores, while lighter than 12-bores, were not so comfortable to shoot as the load was too near to a 12-bore, so more recoil was felt. Though in recent times that argument has started to run out of steam as many 20-bore shooters shoot 28gram loads as their preference; and heavier loads are available as well. Conversely, 12-bore loads for clay shooting were dropped down from 32gram to 28gram some years ago. And for game shooting, 28gram is a more popular load than it used to be. So from this point of view, it doesn’t make sense to have a 16-bore – you’ve got it covered with either 12 or 20. But of course it’s nice to have something a little different and not to follow the rest of the flock.
Reliability and longevity
Mechanically the Rizzini is quite simple, which is always good for reliability and longevity. The design of the mechanism is the same as the 12 and 20-bore, albeit the safe spring is slightly different. The action frame itself is made in one piece rather than an action body and a separate trigger plate that is pegged and pinned (screwed) to it.
These hammers are powered by captive mainsprings that cause them to rebound slightly, so preventing striker drag when the gun is opened after firing. The sears are suspended above the hammers in the strap under the top lever. The sear lifter/selector block is spring-loaded to sit in the trigger and go forward to connect under the tail of the sear. A button can be moved from side to side in the safe to select which barrel fires first.
The safe itself is auto return from “fire” when the top lever is pushed across. Recoil from the first shot throws the selector block back to disconnect it from the first sear, letting the sear drop down behind the hammer. It then springs forward again to pick up the second sear and so fire the second barrel. Both strikers are spring-loaded. The bottom of each hammer is connected to a cocking bar that runs along the floor of the action frame. When fired this goes forward with the hammer. Out to the side of each cocking bar is a wing that connects to the ejector trip that is dovetailed into the mono-block of the barrel. Going forward the ejector trip is pushed up to engage with a notch in the end of the extractor. As the gun is opened, the ejector trip makes contact with a point in the side of the action, and is moved back to disengage with the extractor at the point of the gun being fully opened. This releases the spring-loaded extractor, which jumps back and ejects the fired case. Each side of the firing mechanism is independent, so only the fired case is ejected; in other words selective ejection.
As the gun is opened a cam in the bottom of the fore-end iron pushes on the end of the cocking bar, pushing the hammer back and re-cocking the gun. The stock and fore-end are very nicely finished and a classic shape. The fore-end has a classic round nose, but can be supplied with a Schnabel shape. I think the rounded nose of the fore-end compliments the gun as a whole better than the Schnabel. The fore-end is released from the gun by a button protruding from the nose end. This is effectively what would be called an Anson push round system; commonly seen on side-by-side guns. But again it gives the gun an elegant look along the lines of a British built O/U gun.
The stock has a rounded pistol grip, which is very well proportioned and flows nicely into the body of the stock. This rounded pistol grip shape along with the round body of the action gives the gun a very elegant look and goes a long way to explain the growing popularity of these guns. The wood is well figured and has a gloss oil finish. The gun handles very well with the weight somewhere between the two poles of 12 and 20-bore at approximately 7lb 3oz, depending on spec; barrel length etc. Speaking of barrels, these ones are 32inch, giving the gun a unique feel – very positive and easy to point. The top rib is a ventilated 6mm with crosshatched matting to reduce reflection when sighting. The chambers are 70mm to accept a wide range of cartridges and there is quite a range of 16-bore cartridges out there. The accepted “standard” load, if there is one for 16-bore, is 13 to 16oz or approximately 26gram. But you can easily find 25, 28 and 30gram loads as well. Though shot may be limited from five to seven in most cases.
The 16-bore has definitely come back into the shooting consciousness of the UK, I suspect more than most other bores. It will continue to be a niche rather than mainstream, but those using them perhaps prefer to be in a select minority anyway! I wouldn’t say Rizzini is leading the way with 16-bore O/Us – others have done it before. But Rizzini is one of the few producing the guns in any number at the moment. Its guns are well worth looking at if you want something different, even in 12 and 20-bore.
Price: The Rizzini RB EM is £2,850 with either 28in or 30in barrels. There is a supplement for 32in barrels of £268.
It can also be ordered with a solid top rib as an option and fixed chokes can also be specified if required.
More details: For further information, visit ASI
Build quality: 9
Value for money: 9
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