Charles Smith-Jones says you get a lot of gun for your money with this Sabatti boxlock and wouldn't look out of place wherever you may roam
The Sabatti family has been at the heart of the Italian gunmaking industry for almost 400 years. It has been involved in the design of flintlocks, fine damascus barrels and arquebuses throughout much of its history.
Actions and barrels have always been a particular speciality across various branches of the family but it was only in the years following the end of World War II that attention was turned to producing shotgun parts, with special attention given to manufacturing locks in keeping with the family’s historical expertise. In 1960 the parent company split, and the sons of Antonio Sabatti founded a new company specifically for the production of shotguns.
A glance at the Sabatti catalogue today shows the Sabatti guns range has expanded considerably since and now focuses on sporting rifles intended for the target shooter and the hunter, including several express rifles in over-and-under and side-by-side configurations. The number of shotguns, though, is now somewhat dwarfed by the rifles, comprising just a small number of models with just one targeted at the Trap and Sporting shooter, although they are offered in a variety of different configurations.
The one most likely to be encountered on the new gun racks is the Falcon, a sporting multichoke gun that comes with 28in or 30in barrels, automatic ejectors, single selective trigger and a European walnut stock. Another is the ultra-lightweight Adler, a modern .410 with a choice of fixed chokes and 26in barrels. Both carrying three-figure prices, they represent affordable alternatives to the Turkish marques that currently dominate the new gun market.
The gun featured this month is a good example of the main Sabatti output preceding these models and the ‘BT’ proof mark on the flats indicates that it left the factory around 2003. As a useful ready reckoner, until 1974 the year of proof on Italian guns was indicated by Roman numerals. For 1975 to 1990 the letters AA to AZ (excluding G, J, K, O, Q, R, V, W X & Y) were used, thereafter BA to BZ (excluding E, G, J, K, O, Q, R, V, W, X & Y) for 1991 to 2005, and then from CA for 2006 onwards.
This gun appears intended for the field shooter, as evidenced by its fixed choking and barrel length, and the weight will comfortably absorb the recoil of heavier loads, although some might find the 2¾in chambers slightly restrictive if their main sport lies on the foreshore. There is also a sporting version with 30in barrels and a rubber recoil pad.
Although the woodwork is largely unremarkable, it is based on attractively grained walnut that is well chequered at the hold points. Likewise, the laser engraved scrollwork is restrained but aesthetically pleasing.
As you would expect from such a strong pedigree, the boxlock action is strong, reliable and beautifully engineered, as are the monobloc barrels topped with a 6mm ventilated game rib. The gun is a full ejector and has a single selective trigger and an automatic safety catch. A sensibly proportioned trigger-guard allows easy access for gloved fingers. The overall effect is a good-looking gun with a certain Italian styling to it, which also handles well. It is beautifully balanced and the proportions mean that it will suit most adult shooters who will find that it is difficult to shoot badly with. It would represent an excellent entry-level gun, or a useful back-up to have in the cabinet.
Sabatti guns have never garnered the wider popularity in this country enjoyed by some of the more widely marketed brands, though this is no reflection of their quality or the manufacturer’s attention to detail; and you should certainly not be put off by a slightly older model. Even an earlier Sabatti will still be an attractive and robustly built option with a great deal of life left in it, provided it has been looked after properly. One with appropriate chokes, such as the quarter and half ones in the example featured, will prove to be an excellent general purpose workhorse with the added bonuses of being a pleasure to use and not looking out of place in most situations. For just a few hundred pounds for a clean example, you will be getting a lot of gun in return for relatively little money.
- Configuration Over-and-under
- Action Boxlock
- Choke Fixed
- Chamber 2¾in
- Barrel length 28in
- Safety catch
- Trigger Single selective
- Weight (12-bore) 7lb 8oz approx
- Available in calibres 12-bore
- Cost new £829 (Sabatti Falcon over-and-under, available in 12 and 20-bore)
- Cost used From around £300 for a clean example in good, used condition
A lot of gun for your money