GAIN­ING MO­MEN­TUM

FRANCHI, BEST KNOWN AS A MAKER OF ITAL­IAN SHOT­GUNS, BRINGS ITS FIRST-EVER BOLT-AC­TION HUNT­ING RI­FLE TO AMER­ICA IN A LIGHT­WEIGHT, AF­FORD­ABLE PACK­AGE.

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Star­ing at very large, fresh, griz­zly tracks in the snow has a way of mak­ing you won­der if maybe, just maybe, you’re go­ing to end up in one of those hunter-be­comes–the-hunted sto­ries.

It can also make the .30-06-cham­bered ri­fle in your hands sud­denly feel some­what in­ad­e­quate com­pared to, say, some­thing in the .375-and-up per­sua­sion.

That’s es­pe­cially true when you’re hunt­ing from dark morn­ing to dark night in heav­ily forested, grizz-rich coun­try for eight days with an un­proven pro­to­type ri­fle ... from a com­pany that has never made ri­fles be­fore.

That’s the sit­u­a­tion I found my­self in late last year dur­ing an elk hunt in south­ern Al­berta, just east of Banff Na­tional Park, where griz­zlies were very much in ev­i­dence. I was there with five other hun­ters to test the new Franchi Mo­men­tum boltac­tion ri­fle and pro­vide feed­back on its de­sign.

Un­for­tu­nately, I never saw an elk, thanks mainly to an over­abun­dance of wolves, which were even more in ev­i­dence than griz­zlies.

Hap­pily, the ri­fles held up their end of the deal: My hunt­ing part­ner shot a huge white wolf while it was watch­ing my guide and me as we scouted our way along a river. I saw sev­eral other wolves that never pre­sented a shot op­por­tu­nity, but two of our hun­ters in the wildlife man­age­ment unit north of us found them­selves in the mid­dle of a pack of wolves dur­ing a snow­storm. They shot three be­fore the rest of the ca­nines de­parted. Only two of our party, hunt­ing the north­ern­most unit, man­aged to con­nect on a pair of nice 6x6 elk bulls, but they re­ported no wolf sight­ings.

The clear take­away for me, apart from the fact that the ri­fle showed prom­ise, was that Amer­i­cans don’t have a mo­nop­oly on the un­wise prac­tice of over­pro­tect­ing preda­tors.

LIGHT­WEIGHT AND AF­FORD­ABLE

The pro­to­type ri­fles we hunted with showed a lit­tle room for im­prove­ment, as you might ex­pect with a com­pany’s first-ever ri­fle. Our group made sev­eral sug­ges­tions that mostly had to do with the bar­rel and trig­ger. Months later, as I un­boxed the new pro­duc­tion ri­fle, I was pleased to see the changes Franchi had made to the gun.

For starters, the rather thin bar­rel had been re­placed by a slightly heav­ier one, and the slick-sur­faced pro­tec­tive cap for the threaded muz­zle now had a knurled sur­face for eas­ier tight­en­ing and loos­en­ing. The some­what plain, fat bolt had been re­placed with an at­trac­tive, weight-re­duc­ing, spi­ralfluted one, and the trig­ger seemed much im­proved.

I was par­tic­u­larly happy to dis­cover that the trig­ger on the pro­duc­tion gun is con­sid­er­ably bet­ter than the one on the pro­to­type ri­fle I tested. That one had an ex­ces­sive amount of creep. It would seem to cor­rect it­self but then re­vert to its prior state. It was, in a word, in­con­sis­tent.

The sin­gle-stage trig­ger on the pro­duc­tion gun has no dis­cernible creep and breaks crisply. Franchi says the trig­ger pull weight is ad­justable from 4 to 2 pounds. My pro­duc­tion ri­fle ar­rived with a trig­ger that broke con­sis­tently at 3 pounds, 4 ounces. That’s just a bit heav­ier than I pre­fer for most ap­pli­ca­tions, but, as is my prac­tice, I left it at that set­ting to du­pli­cate a buyer’s out-ofthe-box ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Mo­men­tum is de­signed to be a light­weight, ergonomically su­pe­rior and af­ford­able hunt­ing ri­fle. How af­ford­able? The MSRP is $609, plac­ing the ri­fle’s ac­tual re­tail price roughly in the mid­dle of the pack be­tween to­day’s bud­get-priced ri­fles and the higher-priced flag­ship mod­els from the likes of Ruger, Rem­ing­ton and Winch­ester.

The ri­fle is avail­able with and with­out a threaded bar­rel (5/8x24), and you can buy a pack­aged combo that in­cludes a Bur­ris Full­field II scope, Bur­ris two-piece base and Bur­ris Zee rings for about $110 more than the ri­fle alone. The chrome-moly bar­rels are cold ham­mer-forged and truly free-floated. Tip­ping

ONE THING THAT SETS THE

RI­FLE APART, EVEN AT A QUICK GLANCE, IS THE UNIQUE POLY­MER STOCK. IT HAS A SLEEK

AP­PEAR­ANCE WITH WHAT SOME WOULD CALL “MOD­ERN” STYLING. FRANCHI TOUTS IT AS BE­ING ERGONOMICALLY DE­SIGNED TO YIELD AN IDEAL HOLD IN FIVE FRE­QUENTLY USED

SHOOT­ING PO­SI­TIONS.

the scales at just 6.6 pounds with­out a scope, all vari­ants of the ri­fle, ex­cept for the 6.5 Creedmoor, have 22-inch bar­rels. The Creedmoor-cham­bered gun has a 24-inch bar­rel for en­hanced ve­loc­ity. Rate of twist in the .30-06 ri­fles is 1:11.

The ri­fle has a sin­gle-piece, three-lug bolt with a short, 60-de­gree throw that pro­vides lots of scope clear­ance. A two-po­si­tion safety is lo­cated on the right rear of the re­ceiver, just be­hind the bolt han­dle and within easy reach of your thumb. When en­gaged, the safety does not lock the bolt down, so you can cy­cle rounds through the ac­tion with the safety in either po­si­tion.

The Mo­men­tum is ini­tially cham­bered for six pop­u­lar hunt­ing car­tridges, in­clud­ing .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win., .308 Win., .30-06 Spring­field and .300 Win. Mag. The ri­fle em­ploys an in­ter­nal mag­a­zine with a hinged metal floor­plate. The floor­plate re­lease but­ton is lo­cated in­side of—and is pro­tected by—the trig­ger guard. It takes a fair amount of pres­sure to op­er­ate, so the floor­plate is un­likely to be opened ac­ci­den­tally. Mag­a­zine ca­pac­ity is four rounds for stan­dard cal­ibers and three rounds for the sole mag­num cham­ber­ing.

If you’re will­ing to part with a bit more money, you can buy a lim­ited-edi­tion ver­sion of the Mo­men­tum that com­mem­o­rates Franchi’s 150th an­niver­sary. This model comes with a nice wal­nut stock and a 150-year-an­niver­sary logo on the re­ceiver.

UNIQUE STYLING

One thing that sets the ri­fle apart, even at a quick glance, is the unique poly­mer stock. It has a sleek ap­pear­ance, with

MOUNT­ING A SCOPE ON THE PRO­DUC­TION RI­FLE, WHICH WAS ALSO CHAM­BERED IN .30-06 SPRING­FIELD, WAS A SNAP, BE­CAUSE THE GUN AC­CEPTS THE SAME SCOPE BASES AS THE REM­ING­TON 700.

what some would call “mod­ern” styling. Franchi touts it as be­ing ergonomically de­signed to yield an ideal hold in five fre­quently used shoot­ing po­si­tions.

This trans­lates into some­what curvy lines and crisp check­er­ing with cutout bor­ders. The check­ered sur­faces below the ac­tion and along much of the forend ride atop swells that fill the hand, while the fin­ger­tips tend to wrap around the cutout bor­ders on the top side, pro­vid­ing a solid and com­fort­able grip in just about any shoot­ing po­si­tion. There’s even a check­ered cutout at the rear bot­tom of the stock just ahead of the bot­tom of the re­coil pad that’s in­tended to serve as an off­hand fin­ger grip­ping point when shoot­ing from a bench. The stock has re­cessed swivel at­tach­ment points and is equipped with Franchi’s TSA re­coil pad, which I found to be fairly ef­fec­tive at re­duc­ing felt re­coil.

Mount­ing a scope on the pro­duc­tion ri­fle, which was also cham­bered in .30-06 Spring­field, was a snap, be­cause the gun ac­cepts the same scope bases as the Rem­ing­ton 700. I used a Tri­ji­con Ac­cuPoint 4-16X50mm scope (lately, I’ve used this fre­quently for both hunt­ing and as a ded­i­cated test­ing scope) that’s nes­tled into a set of Tal­ley light­weight rings, which I have long fa­vored for hunt­ing ri­fles. With ev­ery­thing prop­erly torqued to spec­i­fi­ca­tions, I set out to see how the fi­nal ver­sion of the ri­fle would per­form.

THE CHECK­ERED SUR­FACES BELOW THE AC­TION AND ALONG MUCH OF THE FOREND RIDE ATOP SWELLS THAT FILL THE HAND, WHILE THE FIN­GER­TIPS TEND TO WRAP AROUND THE CUTOUT BOR­DERS ON THE TOP SIDE, PRO­VID­ING A SOLID AND COM­FORT­ABLE GRIP IN JUST ABOUT ANY SHOOT­ING PO­SI­TION.

ITAL­IAN PER­FOR­MANCE

At the range, the ri­fle turned in a de­cent per­for­mance ... with one ex­cep­tion: It did not care very much for the all-cop­per Barnes VOR-TX 150-grain TTSX load. That, in it­self, is not un­usual. Some ri­fles purely love cop­per bul­lets, print­ing tiny, lit­tle groups with mo­not­o­nous con­sis­tency; oth­ers re­act like a hu­man who has just been dosed with arsenic. Ri­fles, like peo­ple, can be very in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic in their tastes.

What­ever the rea­son, the Mo­men­tum was not fond of that cop­per load, and it proved to be a show-stop­per. The case from the first round I fired stuck in the cham­ber and would not ex­tract with­out some per­sua­sion ap­plied to the bolt han­dle with a rub­ber mal­let. So did the se­cond and third rounds. Things grad­u­ally loos­ened up just a bit, but my frus­tra­tion was likely ev­i­denced in the fact that the load printed av­er­age groups at 100 yards of more than 2 inches.

That ex­trac­tion is­sue might pos­si­bly have been partly due to di­men­sional dif­fer­ences with the Barnes brass, be­cause the ri­fle had no is­sues load­ing, fir­ing or eject­ing all four other fac­tory loads tested. Three of those rounds printed av­er­age groups that would make me per­fectly happy to take those rounds hunt­ing with the Mo­men­tum. The ri­fle never quite broke the sub-MOA mark with five-shot groups, but it came close. Fed­eral’s Edge TLR 175-grain load shot a best group of 1.15 inches and av­er­age groups of 1.37 inches, while Winch­ester’s 150-grain Bal­lis­tic Sil­ver­tip load pro­duced a best group of 1.23 inches and av­er­age groups of slightly less than 1½ inches. Hornady’s Pre­ci­sion Hunter 178-grain ELD-X load also turned in a good per­for­mance, with a group av­er­age of 1.49 inches and a best group of 1.27 inches.

The Winch­ester round was the hottest of the loads tested with lighter bul­lets, with an av­er­age muz­zle ve­loc­ity of 3,074 fps. Fastest among the heav­ier-hit­ters was the Fed­eral Edge TLR 180-grain load, which stepped out at 2,743 fps.

BIG GRIZZLES EX­CEPTED

I would not hes­i­tate to take the Mo­men­tum hunt­ing with any of these three loads—the Hornady, Winch­ester or Fed­eral Edge TLR—for just about any­thing that walks in North Amer­ica ... with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of big griz­zlies. The .30-06 can do the job, of course; it’s just not my first choice for that par­tic­u­lar job. For any­thing else, the new Franchi bolt-ac­tion is more than up to the task. GW

The au­thor tested a pro­to­type of the Mo­men­tum on an elk hunt in Al­berta that in­cluded a snow­storm and an over­abun­dance of wolves and griz­zlies.

Franchi’s first-ever bolt-ac­tion ri­fle, the Mo­men­tum, weighs a trim 6.6 pounds and has a 22-inch bar­rel in the .30-06 Spring­field cham­ber­ing tested.

For test­ing, the au­thor mounted a Tri­ji­con Ac­cuPoint 4-16X50mm scopein a set of Tal­ley light­weight rings.

The au­thor’s hunt­ing part­ner shot this large white wolf with the Mo­men­tum ri­fle as it watched the au­thor and his guide scout along a river.

Ad­justable to a pull weight of 4 to 2 pounds, the trig­ger breaks cleanly, with no dis­cernible creep.

The Mo­men­tum is avail­able with either slick or threaded bar­rels for at­tach­ing brakes or sup­pres­sors.

The poly­mer stock of the Mo­men­tum uses a com­bi­na­tion of swells and sharp check­er­ing with cutout bor­ders to pro­vide a firm grip on the ri­fle from any shoot­ing po­si­tion and in all weather con­di­tions.One of the Mo­men­tum’s bestat­tributes is the ergonomic styling of the stock, which has some­what curvy lines and crisp check­er­ing with cutout bor­ders.

Three of five tested fac­tory loads turned in five-shot groups av­er­ag­ing less than an inch and a half, with tighter in­di­vid­ual groups, such as this 1.15inch group us­ing Fed­eral’s Edge TLR 180-grain round.I

The ri­fle has a smooth-cy­cling, spi­ral-fluted bolt of the stan­dard three­lug de­sign.

Griz­zlies were much in ev­i­dence dur­ing a hunt in Canada to test a pro­to­typeof the Franchi Mo­men­tum ri­fle.

Franchi claims a 50 per­cent re­duc­tion in felt re­coil with its TSA re­coil pad.

The bolt of the Mo­men­tum has a short, 60-de­gree throw, pro­vid­ing am­ple clear­ance for mount­ing scopes.

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