Not just FAIR

F.A.I.R. is fair, good shotguns from the his­to­ric to­wn of B­res­cia in I­ta­ly.

SA Jagter Hunter - - INHOUD - By C­HAR­LES DUFF

Well con­structed and put to­get­her, F.A.I.R. shotguns are worth look­ing at. Re­cent­ly I was in­vi­ted by Mark P­led­ger and Cu­an Ro­bin­son of VMC Ltd., bet­ter kno­wn for Ra­pa­la, the wor­ld-fa­mous fis­hing lu­res and ge­ar ma­kers, who ha­ve be­co­me the a­gents for F.A.I.R. shotguns, to put t­heir guns to the test at Wa­ter­ha­ven E­sta­te.

F.A.I.R. stands for Fabbri­ca Ar­mi I­si­doro Riz­zi­ni who has been in bu­si­ness in B­res­cia sin­ce 1971 and is well kno­wn for the pro­ducti­on of so­lid wel­l­ma­de shotguns. Riz­zi­ni shotguns ha­ve been a­round in South A­fri­ca for lon­ger, and t­he­se o­ri­gi­na­te from the e­po­ny­mous fac­to­ry of a brot­her, Bat­tis­ta, who has been in the gun bu­si­ness sin­ce 1765. The gun­ma­ker fa­mi­lies of the B­res­cia a­rea are in­ex­tri­ca­bly and con­vo­lu­te­ly in­ter­re­la­ted; just to con­fu­se t­hings, the­re are three mo­re Riz­zi­nis – Guido, S­te­fa­no and E­mi­lio – who are al­so in the gun bu­si­ness in and a­round B­res­cia. Bat­tis­ta, for ex­am­ple, had the Gu­e­ri­ni brot­hers wor­king for him until they went off on t­heir own and S­te­fa­no’s son Fa­bio is mar- ried to Bar­ba­ra Fausti, but works for his fat­her. E­mi­lio stop­ped wor­king on his own a w­hi­le back and his guns are now ma­de by Fausti. Guido runs F.Lli Riz­zi­ni which ma­kes not mo­re than 25 high-qu­a­li­ty and ex­pen­si­ve cu­stom guns a y­e­ar.

THE FEATURES

Com­mon features of the F.A.I.R. guns are that fir­st­ly and most im­por­tant­ly, all action com­po­nents – bo­dies, trig­gers and guards plus the fo­re­arm me­tal – are ma­de of f­or­ged high-ten­si­le steel bil­lets. T­his gi­ves mo­re du­ra­ble com­po­nents, but they are mo­re ex­pen­si­ve to ma­ke, com­pa­red to the in­ves­t­ment-cast on­es. The bar­rels are ma­chi­ned from steel al­loy bars and the cham­bers and bo­res are in­ter­nal­ly chro­me-pla­ted. All are steel shot p­roof­ed with 76mm (3”) cham­bers. Long-ta­pe­red for­cing “X-co­nes” are u­ni­ver­sal to re­du­ce re­coil and im­pro­ve pat­terns. Fi­ve in­ter­chan­ge­a­ble “Techni-cho­kes”, in the Be­ret­ta long sty­le, both flush fit­ting and ex­ten­ded hand-re­mo­va­ble, are sup­p­lied with e­very gun. A­vai­la­ble bar­rel lengt­hs are 28” (712mm) 30” (762mm) and 32” (813mm). The top ribs are all

fi­ne­ly cross-cut to re­du­ce gla­re and are ven­ti­la­ted. De­pen­ding on the mo­del, most si­de ribs are ven­ti­la­ted as well. “Old sil­ver” brus­hed chro­me-fi­nis­hed acti­ons are u­sed for all mo­dels ex­cept the Ra­cing, which ha­ve black acti­ons. T­his is fi­ne for ran­ge guns, but I do wish that all field guns we­re a­vai­la­ble with black acti­ons.

Se­cu­re lock-up of bar­rels to action is a­chie­ved with a full width (30.5mm on the 12ga acti­ons) ta­pe­red-wed­ge locking bolt on the action floor, si­mi­lar to the Bro­w­ning sy­stem. Si­mi­lar­ly the action hin­ge pins are e­a­si­ly re­pla­ce­a­ble via re­mo­va­ble lock-pins on the ou­ter cur­ved front of the action, a­not­her La­tin in­no­va­ti­on.

All mo­dels are a­vai­la­ble with sin­gle se­lecti­ve or dou­ble gold­pla­ted trig­gers, the hig­her gra­de guns ha­ve ad­jus­ta­ble trig­gers. Most mo­dels ha­ve au­to e­jec­tors, ex­trac­tors can be had on re­quest. The e­jec­tor sy­stem is of the du­al ver­ti­cal post ty­pe which is pret­ty­well ge­ne­ric to the I­ta­li­an ma­kers, ex­clu­ding Be­ret­ta, of cour­se. The sa­fe­ty ca­tch/bar­rel se­lec­tor swit­ches are non-au­to­ma­tic.

Tur­kish wal­nut is u­sed for the stocks and fi­ne­ly-che­que­red by la­ser. Most mo­dels co­me with black rub­ber ven­ti­la­ted butt pads. Su­pe­ri­or mo­dels ha­ve che­que­red con­tras­ting wal­nut butt pla­tes. S­tan­dard pis­tol grips, as well as so­me re­laxed cur­ve roun­ded-end sty­les and En­g­lish straig­ht stocks are the stock op­ti­ons al­lied to a va­rie­ty of fo­re­arm de­signs – schna­bel, roun­ded field and se­mi-be­a­ver­tail. S­tan­dard length of pull for all mo­dels is 14½” (368mm).

THE TEST

We tes­ted the en­try-le­vel “Pre­mier EM S­por­ting” mo­dels in both 12ga and 20ga. Both are ea­sy-hand­ling guns with 28” bar­rels and ven­ti­la­ted si­de ribs; the 12ga weig­hing in at 3.25kg and the 20ga at 2.75kg. I was im­pres­sed with the 20ga and found its slim­med do­wn stock and pis­tol grip would i­de­al­ly suit the young and/or fe­ma­le shoo­t­er, yet e­ven with my lar­gish hands I shot well with the gun. The “Pre­mier M” field guns are al­so to be had, but with so­lid si­de ribs which ma­ke them a trifle he­a­vier.

The SLX 692 Gold was the on­ly field gun on test, dif­fe­ring from the s­por­ting on­es with a be­ad front sig­ht as op­po­sed to oran­ge fi­b­re-op­tic sig­ht of the ot­hers. Its weig­ht at 3.15kg is accep­ta­ble for a 28”-bar­rel­led 12ga field gun and it hand­led ni­ce­ly. The si­de­pla­tes with t­heir gold phe­a­sant and par­trid­ge in­lays are well do­ne. The re­laxed pis­tol grip cur­ve was com­for­ta­ble. A gold es­cut­che­on in­laid in­to the stock ne­ar the heel is a ni­ce tou­ch.

Next was the Mas­ter de Luxe, ma­de in trap, skeet and s­por­ting for­mats, in 12 and 20ga. The trap and skeet co­me with fixed cho­kes. T­he­se, with a hig­her gra­de of wood, ha­ve ad­jus­ta­ble cheek-pie­ces, a fe­a­tu­re u­ni­que to the mo­dels im­por­ted in­to South A­fri­ca. A­gain, ea­sy-hand­ling, good guns.

The Car­re­ra is a full-on s­por­ting gun with gol­den clay tar­gets in­laid on the action si­des and bottom, I found the tig­ht pis­tol grip cur­ve not to my li­king, but I ha­ve al­ways pre­fer­red mo­re re­laxed cur­ved grips. The 3.8kg weig­ht is fi­ne for a gun that will li­ve on the ran­ges, though a trifle he­a­vy for car­rying a­bout in the field.

Las­t­ly we­re the top of the li­ne Ra­cing and Ra­cing 2 mo­dels. T­he­se, in trap, skeet and s­por­ting for­mat, all co­me with ad­jus­ta­ble cheek­pie­ces and the lat­ter with an e­le­va­ted top rib. Ex­tra co­lour and pat­tern ha­ve been ad­ded to the wood­work by a la­ser pro­cess and I con­fess to being am­bi­va­lent a­bout t­his fi­nish, it look­ed a bit gau­dy to my con­ser­va­ti­ve ey­es, though I’m su­re that it will ha­ve ad­mi­rers. Ver­sa­ti­le gad­gets, la­sers! I did not get round to trying t­he­se out, though I no­ti­ced our host, Mark, racking up so­me p­ret­ty de­cent sco­res with the e­le­va­ted top rib ver­si­on.

I did sug­ge­st that con­si­de­ra­ti­on should be gi­ven to brin­ging in t­heir X-lig­ht ul­tra-lig­ht field guns in both 12ga and 20ga (at 2.4kg) which I had tried out a cou­ple of y­e­ars ago, and li­ked. Now that ne­ar­ly e­ver­y­bo­dy is pro­du­cing round-action guns, the lig­ht-weig­ht field guns are the new ra­ge.

Mark stres­sed that they are not just im­por­ting guns, but al­so of­fer so­mething gun de­a­lers in t­his coun­try all too of­ten lack, and that is ser­vi­ce. They ha­ve a full com­ple­ment of spa­res for all the mo­dels that they im­port. An at­ti­tu­de I can on­ly ap­plaud, look­ing back upon y­e­ars of ha­ving to or­der s­pe­ci­al hand-ma­de (by a guns­mith) re­pla­ce­ments for bro­ken parts.

The Ra­cing mo­del with gold in­laid clay tar­gets on the action.

C­har­les Duff with the Pre­mier 20ga, a “very ni­ce litt­le gun”.

A­BO­VE: Top to bottom: SLX692 field gun with si­de­pla­tes; Car­re­ra S­por­ting; Ra­cing S­por­ting; Ra­cing II S­por­ting. Both Ra­cings ha­ve ad­jus­ta­ble cheek­pie­ces. The Ra­cing II co­mes with an e­le­va­ted top rib for trap shoot­ing.

LEFT: Al the guns we had on test. Ra­cing II held by an ad­mi­rer.

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