Rizzini RB and Rizzini RBEL

rizzini_mainVic Harker is impressed with the aesthetics and balance of two elegant 20 bores from Rizzini, the RB and the RBEL.

In regards to aesthetics – mechanical design apart for a moment – the British gun trade perfected both the side-by-side and the over-under for game shooting. As for European manufacturers – with the rise in popularity of clay target shooting – they embraced the over-under, not only because it was more suitable for these new games, but it was more easily adapted to modern methods of volume production. The fact remains, however, that with the exception of a tiny number from very expensive makers, their game guns never possess the elegance of line or feel and balance of the classic English over-under. Until now.

I've been looking at a relatively inexpensive 30" gun from Batista Rizzini, a well-known Italian volume manufacturer that goes a long way to encompassing these qualities. ASI is the British distributor for this gun, famous for their long and successful association with the Spanish maker Aguirre Y Aranzabal (AYA). From the late 1950s onwards, this partnership produced a range of side-by-side shotguns, sidelock and boxlock, that they quite rightly claimed were closest to the British ideal.

First impressions are that the Rizzini looks stunning. Its round-bodied action is embellished with a rose and scroll engraving that, with a silver nitrided finish, contrasts spectacularly well with the dark figured walnut of the stock. But there is more to this gun than pretty woodwork and engraving. We have become so used to the rather bulky appearance of European over-unders that are made for clay shooting, that we almost take it for granted. Instead, the Rizzini RB, built for game shooting, looks suitably svelte. The stock configuration is slim and elegant and combines an accurate interpretation of the Prince of Wales grip, complete with steel cap. No heavy or unsightly recoil pad, the butt is finely chequered and the stock is removed by a wrench inserted through its length to the stock bolt at the rear of the action.

The trigger guard extends to a nicely inletted bottom strap and the grip area not only looks right, but, together with a slim fully-chequered beavertail fore-end, creates a hands in line feel essential to the co-ordinated manipulation of the gun. The Anson rod fastening is very neatly installed, although I would have welcomed the tail pipe to go with the other traditional cues, which include a skeleton thumb piece for the top lever.

The barrel assembly built around the monobloc principle is of a light weight in keeping with the requirements of a game gun and incorporates a tapered solid rib with a well executed matt finish.

The RB custom sideplate has a stable mate in the RBEL, which has a similar specification with less lavish decoration. But that is not to say the gun is a plain Jane. Other than the sideplates, it has the same round-bodied, under-bolted action as the RB and is fully covered in a silver finished Acanthus leaf design that incorporates a game scene framed in a gold scroll with the maker's name.

It also shares the same excellent feel and balance of the more expensive gun, together with a solid rib and Anson rod fore-end fastening. The stock configuration is very similar to the sideplated model with the chequered butt and stock wrench, only differing in that it features a semi-pistol grip with a rounded pommel. The beavertail fore-end follows the same pattern as the RB and, together with the stock, provides the same handling qualities.

Shooting impressions

With these guns differing in weight by less than half an ounce, I chose to shoot the sideplated model as – with a stock length of 15" and a drop at comb of 13/8" and 2" at heel, plus a generous amount of right-hand cast – it was very close to my own measurements. I should add that both these Rizzini guns can be ordered to personal measurements at no extra cost.

An off-the-peg gun that fits is obviously going to endear it to the shooter, but the Rizzini had also, at least for me, perfect weight distribution. The point of balance was a smidgeon in front of the trunnions and with the gun's weight at 6lb 13.7oz, this 20 bore was fast handling but controllable.

In my view a game gun should move to the target without having to be pushed. A combination of accurate gunfit, combined with the right weight and balance, provide the kind of dynamics that enable an effortless technique that does not require conscious thought, allowing the shooter to employ his instincts as they relate to accurate pointing and the timing of the shot. These qualities are rare except in the most expensive guns, but this Rizzini has them, and, for all its elegance and decoration, it was its handling qualities that I most appreciated. At the North Oxfordshire Shooting Ground I found this gun a delight to use. That it was also a 20 bore – but I never for a moment felt under gunned on the longest target – suggests to me it would be more than adequate for every kind of game shooting and in most conditions.

Whatever the virtues of other foreign over-unders, in the British shooting field, as previously mentioned, most of them still retain a certain incongruity in the matter of appearance. These Rizzinis, in contrast, will look completely at home, to the extent they may well be taken for guns of English origin. But is that not the idea? Once again, ASI has found a manufacturer who is simpatico to the English ideal and made guns that are very close to it.

UK Distributor: ASI

www.a-s-i.co.uk

Tel. 01728 688555

rizzini_rbintextRizzini RB Custom Sideplate

Bore size: 20

Barrel length: 30" 

Chambers: 3" 

Chokes: Hand detachable

Rib: Tapered solid 

Weight: 6lb 13.7oz

Stock measurements: To order

RRP: £13,500

rizzini_rbelintextRizzini RBEL

Bore size: 20

Barrel length: 30"

Chambers: 3"

Chokes: Hand detachable

Rib: Tapered solid

Weight: 6lb 15oz

Stock measurements: To order

Suggested retail: £5,479

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