Rottweil 20-bore shotgun.
The gun bears a famous Germanic name but, like so many others today, is made in the Val Trompia region of Northern Italy.
This is no bad thing, of course; many of the best guns in the world currently emanate from Brescia.
The style of the gun is typically modern Italian, too. We may surmise it’s the product of one of the half-dozen modern factories operating in Gardonne that all make more or less the same over-under gun in different grades and styles of finish, with various game and clay shooting applications in mind.
These ‘Euroguns’ are the Brescian equivalent of the old Birmingham Anson & Deeley boxlock side-by-side, which also appeared with many different names on the barrel (though its parentage was clearer and a patent date, 1875, was attached to some models).
The key features of this generic over-under design, which first appeared a generation or so ago, include a trigger-plate action, which may be mistaken for a boxlock, a trunnion hinging system and a Browning-style bolting mechanism (unlike the Boss-like mechanism in a Perazzi or the clever, conical locking bolts seen in a Beretta).
What about the test gun?
It is a 20-bore with a single selective trigger. It hits the scales at about 6.1/2lb. It’s a 28in fixed choked gun but available in 30in form as well. First impressions are very good (all the more considering the RRP of £780 with fixed chokes, £816 with interchangeable ones).
The gun is colour case-hardened with some restrained gold inlays. The external form of the action is quite elegant too, and the stock is well shaped with a semi-pistol grip and comb design that would be hard to improve upon in a machine-made gun.
This may be an Italian Anson & Deeley, but it is a well-developed one (as was the Caesar Guerini reviewed in the January issue). There is not much innovation, save in manufacturing and finishing techniques, but significant, subtle evolution.
On the aesthetics front, the Rottweil scores well. I would give it 8 or 9 out of 10. Bringing the gun up to face and shoulder presents no unpleasant surprises either; the handling qualities match the clean lines.
The gun is light without being too much so, the gripping surfaces and shapes promote control, the balance point is just where it should be in a gun of this sort: a smidgen in front of the hinge-pin. In character and feel the Rottweil is not unlike a Macnab Highlander 20-bore (a gun that achieved considerable success on the British market because of its styling and sensible specification).
It’s no great surprise the barrels are monobloc. They are chambered for 3in (76mm) cartridges, too. Both tubes are marked 16mm by the Italian proof authorities.
This is slightly wider than the Continental norm for a 20, which is good news. I have always found that the wider bores tend to diminish felt recoil. Some argue they improve pattern too, though I have not been able to prove this. Many makers, Beretta and Browning included, backbore their 12-bore barrels by a few thou. This gun is not backbored as such, merely wider than average.
The Rottweil has a narrow (6mm) ventilated sighting rib and solid joining ribs. I liked the sighting rib, which is nicely machined and presents a true top surface (not always the case). It is well suited to a gamegun and helps to keep the barrel weight down – and the relatively light barrel is one of this gun’s good qualities.
I would have preferred a solid pattern rib as seen in the Macnab (and on most English over-unders) because it is less prone to denting. The traditional brass bead at the muzzles is well proportioned to the rib and would be hard to better. This is preferable to some bright, translucent bit of plastic. The internal finish of the barrels is good, as is the external.
The forcing cones are fairly short (my preference would have been for about 2in) and the bores are chrome plated. This is a boon on a gun that is used frequently, though it can complicate some repairs if they are undertaken by inexperienced gunsmiths.
One can forget to clean the gun on occasion and no great harm will be done. The wall thickness of the barrels averaged about 35 thou and they were consistent throughout their length.
The stock on the test gun is made from surprisingly good walnut which shows significant figure and appears quite dense. It measures 14.3/4in from the middle of the trigger to the middle of the thinnish but very traditional brown rubber recoil pad.
Some of the Rottweils have an equally inoffensive wooden butt-plate. Measurements to heel and toe are 1/8in and 3/8in extra respectively. Ideal. There is a semi-pistol grip of excellent scale and proportion and a well-tapered comb. None of this can be faulted.
The lack of machined flutes at the nose of the comb is another positive. Drop measurements are 1.3/8in at the front of the comb and 2.1/8in at heel. Again, ideal.
There is moderate cast for a right-hander. The fore-end is of Schnabel pattern. Both butt and fore-end are oil finished – just what most British sportsmen want.
The action is of typical Italian pattern with a split hinge-pin and helical springs used to power the tumblers.
The main works sit on a trigger plate with the sears suspended from the top strap (unlike the Beretta design where the sears are mounted on the trigger plate and, theoretically at least, more secure). The single trigger mechanism is of the inertia type, and a selector is placed on top of the conventional thumb operated top strap safety. This is a good size and its action is positive.
Trigger pulls were surprisingly good – better than on some guns in this price category. I also liked the shape of the trigger. The Rottweil has split hinging pins in the manner of a Beretta – which allows for a lower action profile.
The bolting system, however, involves a full-width bolt coming out of the bottom of the action face and engaging bites beneath the bottom chamber mouth. It is a well-proven system.
The only disadvantage is that by placing the bolt and bites beneath the bottom chamber mouth the gun is made a little deeper in profile than it might otherwise be. In the case of a 20 or 28-bore, though, it is of no consequence.
The gun shot extremely well on a variety of clay birds with quarter and half chokes fitted. The popularity of the 20-bore over-under is a result of its excellent handling dynamics.
You can get a very similar feel to a best London gun in a package that typically costs around the £1,000 mark; this, of course, is about 60 times less than the cost of a best London gun.
I can think of several very expensive guns, British and foreign, that do not shoot as well as this little Rottweil. It is especially well stocked – the semi-pistol grip is excellent – and just about ideal in weight.
The 28in fixed-choke barrels suited it well, though my preference would be for the 30in multi-choked option. The longer barrels give a little more control in a smaller bore without any great weight penalty.
This Rottweil is well made and well finished. It is not without some elegance and will appeal to those who are not fond of brightly polished actions. It might have a market in a plain colour-hardened version as well, and, with the addition of a solid rib it would, in my opinion, be a near-perfect example of its type.
Overall, though, this is a really good little gun at a very sensible price.
£780 fixed chokes
£816 interchangeable ones
RUAG Ammotec UK
Tel: 01579 362319