Good things come in small packages but it's important to ensure that they fit the bill, as Alex Flint discovers
There is always plenty of noise around finding the right bore size for your sporting shotgun, with a seemingly inexorable trend towards smaller and smaller guns for those who wish to be considered ‘serious’ shots. Indeed, I am guilty of adding to this cacophony; more than once on these pages I have extolled the virtues of a small bore gun in the field. In fact, I described the 16 bore version of the Rizzini Artemis I tested as ‘simply superb’ to shoot and still rank it amongst the very finest of all the guns I have tested.
However, a common factor has bound together the majority of the small bore guns I have tested for Shooting Gazette, namely they might all have been considered guns better suited to those experienced shots looking for a greater challenge.
Don’t be influenced by fashion
Though these ‘serious’ small bore guns might have been lighter than a standard 12 bore, one might be hard pressed to actually describe them as light and all came with the long barrels demanded of most modern game shooters.
Whilst it is clear small bore guns do provide an element of extra challenge and generally do have quite wonderful handling characteristics, this month’s test gun proves how important it is not to be sucked in by fashion when buying a sporting shotgun.
Were one buying a shotgun on pure form and aesthetics alone, it would be quite understandable for anyone with a functioning set of eyes and beating heart to visit their local dealer, take this gun off the shelf and never look back.
The Rizzini is a true delight
Any round action gun is a delight to behold, but on our test gun, properly scaled down to 28 bore and with upgraded, exhibition standard wood and colour case hardened finishing over Acanthus scroll engraving, the Rizzini is a true delight.
There is nothing garish or out of place on any part of the gun, with a shapely and handsome rounded semi-pistol grip, rounded push-rod fore-end and solid top rib contributing to the elegant lines of the gun.
Small touches such as the brass sight bead, blued trigger and extended trigger guard tang ensure the RB EL looks every inch the high quality Italian import and something worthy of storing inside the black velvet sleeves nestled in the branded, padded hard plastic case the gun comes in – not a cardboard box in sight here.
Continues below …
Rizzini Artemis 28-bore shotgun: This Rizzini Artemis 28-bore shotgun is an elegant yet functional Italian shotgun.
As many experienced shots will know, quite a number of manufacturers engrave the name Rizzini on the actions of their guns…
Rizzini Premier 20-bore shotgun: Take a look at the Rizzini 20-bore shotgun - an Italian-made gun that looks set to…
Rizzini EM 12-bore shotgun: Take a look at this pair of Rizzini EM over-under shotguns, imported by, and specially made…
Rizzini Round Body Classic 28-bore shotgun: With its Italian guild-action, light yet smooth handling and honey-coloured stock, the Rizzini Round…
Completely secure and tight in the hand
The gun feels very well made, operating in a very satisfying manner but also being easy to assemble whilst feeling completely secure and tight in the hand. Chequering is well executed and feels quite comfortable in the hands, and wood to metal fit is good.
The engraving on the gun is of an attractive design, covers much of the action and looks to have seen the hand of an artist, being well finished. Thanks to the excellent colour case hardened finish, the engraving is given real character and makes the gun quite special in the flesh. The wood is also a real highlight, with the stock in particular having a beautiful finish and really showing off the quality of the walnut.
Doubtless, then, this is a very attractive little gun – and little is certainly the right description since it weighs in at just a shade under 5lbs 13oz.
The point of balance is right on the hinge pin and is just as satisfying to bring to the shoulder as it is to look at. However, the dimensions of the gun could be a cause of consternation as much as satisfaction, since the lack of weight can be a bit of shock.
You have to be absolutely deliberate with your movement and really concentrate on every shot if you are to have even a modicum of success. This is partly down to simple physics, with less lead travelling down a smaller tube, but also due to the rather odd sensation of feeling like there is nothing in your hands.
Perhaps ordering a longer set of barrels than the 28” inch standard options on our test gun might have yielded a more natural shooting style, though it must be said a successful shot with a challenging gun such as this is immensely satisfying.
As it is, this is a very attractive little gun producing a shooting challenge of a scale belying its diminutive nature.
Engineering: 9/10 Well designed and manufactured by a respected Italian gunmaker.
Handling: 8/10 Entertaining and challenging, as you would expect from a 28 bore.
Looks & finishing: 9/10 Lovely. Sideplates might be a welcome addition if the lines of the gun could be preserved.
Reliability & customer service: 9/10 No reliability problems and imported by a mainstay in the British shooting industry.
Value: 8/10 This shotgun looks well worth the money and compares well with similarly-priced rivals within the marketplace.
View from the gun shop
This lovely little gun is the best ‘off the shelf’ Rizzini make before we head into the realm of bespoke products and spiralling associated costs. It is based on the Italian manufacturer’s own inertia-driven single selective trigger over-under action but properly scaled down to 28 bore.
Our test gun has had exhibition-grade wood used for the stock and fore-end and it shows, with a nice strong grain through the hand and some really good finishing on display. There is plenty of wood left in the push-rod fore-end Rizzini are known for, as there has to be since the gun uses the usual Italian ejector system with the springs behind the ejectors. This will ensure very strong ejection, even with the small 28 bore cartridges.
Barrels are multichoke as standard and there is a nice solid file cut rib. The foliate scroll engraving is well executed, though game scene engraving is available should you prefer, as is a coin finish rather than the colour case hardened finish exhibited on the test gun.
With only 28” barrels, this small bore gun might not appeal to the experienced shot looking for a challenge and might be better suited for a lady or youth. Certainly, ordering longer barrels would move the point of balance forward of the hinge pin and this might aid in producing a more deliberate mount and swing as is required for driven birds.
We have had very few problems with these guns over the years, though it should be noted as with any new gun some regulation may be required to ensure consistent use – this is particularly keenly felt with smaller bore guns where there can be a significant variance in cartridge loads etc. The importers ASI have been a visible presence in the UK shooting industry for over 50 years now and should give you significant confidence in the quality of Rizzini guns. Given what else is out there on the market, the Rizzini RB EL looks very well placed as a slightly more special over-under one can be the proud owner of without breaking the bank.
In the field
With the last vestiges of Storm Doris whipping through the valley Wittering Grange calls home in north Cambridgeshire, instructors Bruce Marks and Steve Wood had laid on some very tricky targets for any day – let alone one where I would be wielding a 28 bore gun. Sadly this was reflected in my success! It became clear very quickly in the field that, despite its almost magical lack of weight in the hand, this is not a gun one could swing around instinctively and hope to have much success with.
The lightweight made it tempting to poke at the targets, when deliberate, careful and concentrated movements were the order of the day. It wasn’t until I really began to concentrate on the targets and think carefully about keeping the gun moving consistently that I had much success.
Of the three of us testing the gun, it was Steve who looked most at home, being the only one to hit a very tricky distant incomer. Watching him, it was clear this is a gun which rewards real thought when shooting. Mounting was consistently good, trigger pulls were nice and crisp, recoil was almost non-existent and the gun was generally very satisfying and consistent to operate. Ejection is very powerful and the gun feels secure in the hand.
Compares well with similarly-priced rivals within the marketplace