Roger Glover tests a B.Rizzini Ribless 20-bore, a new incarnation that has been designed and produced specifically for Ian Coley Sporting
The vast majority of shotguns are mass produced, with many hundreds made of each model over its lifespan. A basic design may be carried forward for decades, with a few detail changes in style being made to revamp it and bring it up to date.
Rizzini Ribless 20-bore specific to client’s requirements
Most manufacturers will, if the order is large enough, produce a model specific to a client’s requirements and agree sole distribution of it. This is what B. Rizzini has done in conjunction with Ian Coley Sporting, and this Rizzini Ribless 20-bore is the result.
Ian Coley has had a long career in the shooting world. He knows what makes a gun fit for a purpose. Seeing an opening in the market, he approached B. Rizzini, one of Italy’s top manufacturers, and between them they worked up a specification for this gun that makes it a unique range to Ian Coley Sporting. It uses the Rizzini round-body action from its current range with the same barrel length, but all bar the tip and tail of the rib has been deleted.
This is where gun fit really comes into play, as you shouldn’t have to rely on the sight picture along a rib to get you on target. If the gun fits you correctly, once mounted it will naturally present your eye in line with the vertical axis of the barrels and in line with the bead.
A ribless gun has less weight in the barrels than its conventional contemporary, which makes it exceedingly quick to change direction and the ultimate development for grouse and partridge. The skill of the gunmaker comes in retaining good balance, and this gun balances just 1in behind the hinge, making it feel fast and light yet far from “twitchy”. It is balanced without being butt heavy.
There are other differences between this model and the standard round-body gun. The pistol grip of the standard gun is the Prince of Wales type that is rounded and elegant, but not what Coley was looking for. His choice was to have a capped pistol grip with a full-length trigger-guard tang reaching right to and linking the engraving of the action with the cap. It is an extremely classy look, with the deep relief foliate engraving enveloping the action, fore-end iron, top-lever, trigger-guard and cap. There is even a token gesture of engraving in the fore-end diamond.
As for the mechanical aspects of the gun, the lock work is all straightforward, reliable Rizzini boxlock. It has a single selective trigger with auto safe and gold- plated trigger-blade. The barrels are fixed choke, set accordingly for the intended shooting at three- eighths and five-eighths bottom and top. They are true bored to size, as opposed to back bored, ensuring great functionality with fibre wads. The ejectors throw the spent case well clear, which is vital as this is part of a pair. You need that gun handed back from your loader — you don’t want him fumbling and trying to extract cases that failed to eject.
The blueing is first class, sporting a deep lustre that is shown to its best without the interruption of a rib. It is a very fitting finish against the contrast of the coined action work.
The stock is of beautiful walnut, very dark and moody. It is slender in the hand, but the rake of the grip means you can still pull it reliably into your shoulder.
The fore-end follows the form of the round action. It is chequered all over, leaving a proportion of border all around and a panel for the inset diamond. A neat push-button latch finishes the tip.
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Ease of movement
- One delight, and a nod towards the classic British game gun, is the omission of a butt-plate — I am sure the gun would not look right with one. Chequered throughout, the heel has been left smooth to ease the movement into the shoulder.
- The length of the stock at 15in means that for some people it will need shortening, but that is not a problem as it is simply a matter of removing material. If it were a 14¼in stock you would be adding a section of wood to make the required length, or choosing a butt-plate and spoiling the look. The use of a long stock here is proof of forethought in the design.
- The finish of the stock is sublime, oiled as a good game gun should be. The preparation is flawless, and that is always the key to getting a superb gloss finish with depth such as this.
- I am rather sceptical of guns that are made to a dealer’s specification, as they can become fancified amalgamations of stock parts. But the Coley Rizzini is a well-thought-out and well-executed gun. It forms much more than the sum of its parts and the package works exceptionally well.
- Having taken this gun to a clay ground for a few shots, I was taken with its handling and my ability with it. It does fit me well but clays that I would normally struggle with broke in some style with centre-of-pattern hits, which is most unlike me. Likewise, as I normally prefer a heavier gun to carry my swing through, I thought this lightweight 20-bore would fail me terribly. I was wrong, however, as it worked perfectly. I could stay on track with a clay and take it where I wanted, which was just fabulous.
Ian Coley Sporting is set to expand this range of guns, which are already available as single guns or pairs in 12-bore or 20-bore, with a range of barrel lengths from 29¼in to 32in. Soon to follow are 16-bore and 28-bore models. Second sets of barrels are available, as are combination sets of different bores on one action, or different barrel lengths. Though this is intended to be a grouse and partridge gun, at which it would excel, it would make a first-class all-round game gun. I was rather loath to return it.
It is clear that Ian Coley wanted to produce a gun that stands out from the crowd but at a more manageable budget than an English gun. Going to Battista Rizzini was extremely shrewd, while the support from Rizzini to accommodate those requests shows through.
This ribless style has me converted