Rizzini BR552 Special Deluxe in 20-gauge - Something Special
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- Last updated: 12/02/2024
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Rizzini just has that extra air of class about them, while their guns are modestly priced when compared to equivalent guns from other manufacturers. The Rizzini BR552 is a superbly crafted side-by-side shotgun, and it is nice to test a gun in this configuration, making a change from all the over-and-under guns that I test.
The gun shows a side-plated receiver design and the addition of the scroll engraving on this Super Deluxe model highlights how good Rizzini are at decoration. Although Rizzini shotguns are produced using CNC machines, a significant portion of their production features hand finishing, and you can tell by the excellent attention to detail throughout. The bluing is some of the best I have seen, but the Turkish walnut woodwork, which is hand-selected by Battista Rizzini himself, is exquisite.
The 552 includes all the features you need on a modern gun but with the style and elegance of a traditional side-by-side shotgun. You have a single select trigger with pistol grip stock, an auto safety catch, and best of all, a set of five flush-fitting chokes for any eventuality or game. The gun also shows 3” chambers that are proofed for all modern HP steel loads, making it future-proof. This Rizzini side plated Special Deluxe model retails for £7155.00, and you can see why.
Let’s look at the barrels first. They are beautifully made with wonderfully struck-off muzzles, plus are finished in a rich, deep bluing that has a great lustre to it. The test gun arrived with 30” tubes, although 28” is also an option, and all the main calibres are available too. A .410 would be lovely! The rib is plain, and concave, as expected, with a single silver sighting bead at the muzzle. With the gun mounted, it tracked and did not obscure any targets, plus gave me patterns bang in the centre of where that bead was pointed.
The fact that the 552 is chambered for 3” shells makes it very handy for all sorts of cartridge types and styles, and ensuring it is proofed for steel is a good move. The gun is made even more practical by the addition of flush-fitting multi-chokes that range from Cyl, Imp Cyl, Modified, Improved Modified, and Full. As normal, steel shot can be used up to Modified or ½ choke size.
The barrels fit into the action via the chopper lump system. There are no jewelled surfaces, just a precise and air-tight fit to the action abutments. The twin ejectors are very well-timed and were quite enthusiastic in the tests. The action operates like a Swiss watch, with a smooth and effortless opening yet vice-like lock-up, with the locking bar engaging perfectly with the barrel lumps. Internally, you have an inertia-type striker system, where the first shot’s recoil sets the sear for the second shot. This proved very fast and reliable in operation with all the ammunition tested.
The side-plated design is there to show off the scroll engraving that swirls around a flying pheasant on each side. Although it is laser cut, it is all hand-finished, ensuring a very authentic and classic engraved action on a coin-finished background. The extended trigger guard, top lever, and tang all have the same excellent engraving. Plus, this model also has a cartouche on the pistol grip end for your initials.
You have an automatic safety catch that’s activated on opening the action, which did catch me out a few times, but the barrel selector is your typical sliding catch within the safety lever. It shows one red dot for the right barrel and two red dots for the left barrel. The trigger has a nicely curved and smooth polished finish, and it broke crisply. Also, there is ample space for a gloved finger within the trigger guard.
This leaves us with the fabulous, high-grade Turkish walnut stock that is hand-selected for colour, grain, and figure. Each is a masterpiece in its own right. You have a slightly fuller, splinter-type forend with some well-executed, 26 lines per inch, wrap-around chequering, and inset engraved metal borders. There is also a typical plunger-type release catch. The forend also houses the Southgate ejector system, which is very well inletted into the walnut. The rear stock on this model has the pistol grip style, but others are available. I prefer this as it makes the Rizzini far better handling, although traditional side-by-side shooters might prefer a straight-hand grip.
As well as chequering on the pistol grip, there is some on the butt instead of the usual rubber recoil pad, which certainly adds that sense of class to the 552. The length of pull is a good 14.5”, and combined with the low comb, ensures the very natural handling characteristics that Rizzini are known for, as the gun lines up on target effortlessly. The whole stock is then completed with a really good, oiled finish that certainly brings out the rich hues of the well-figured stock, and of course, is classic for a side-by-side shotgun.
The Ultimate Twentys from Hull offer a good, stout load (28-grams | No. 5.5) with a fibre wad system. They are designed for high bird days, providing a smoother, consistently quicker cartridge with superior patterns. With the half choke fitted, we had a total of 216 pellets strike the board, with 99 gathered in the inner 15” circle and the remaining 117 around the 30” circumference. The pattern was very even, a little low, but nice and dense, with little or no clumping of shot. A good driven bird load this one.
Gamebore’s Traditional Game load (28-grams | No. 6) produced dense and even patterns on the boards. We had a total of 287 pellet strikes, with 153 outer hits and a very dense congregation of 134 pellets in the centre. Low recoiling and great patterns - what more do you want?
Next up were the excellent Eley Driven Grouse. As their name suggests, they are loaded for fast-flying small game, so the 25-grams of No. 6 shot must work hard. The shot is copper-plated, and the smaller load allows a very fast second shot. In fact, these cartridges are a pussy cat to shoot in the 20-gauge and boy do they produce good patterns! On ½ choke, we counted 199 strikes in total. The number of inner strikes came to 144 pellets, with excellent coverage, whilst only 53 appeared around the periphery. Overall, a tight pattern that was incredibly centrally placed. This means on ½ choke at 30 yards, the gun is still going to give you a tight pattern at greater ranges. So, a great cartridge and very well suited to this Rizzini 552.
Finally, the Lyalvale Express Special load (28-grams | No. 6 shot) shot near-perfect patterns, indicating this Rizzini has superb barrels. There was a total of 252 pellets on the board, with near-even outer and inner hits at 139 and 113 respectively. Not only do these cartridges produce great patterns but they are reasonably priced and light to shoot.
Having tested all these cartridges in the Rizzini, I was amazed by the consistent down-range performance and low recoil that they produced, especially the Driven Grouse loads.
This Rizzini 552 in 20-gauge proves that side-by-sides are not dead and that you can still have that traditional styling combined with all the modern necessities, like steel proofing, multi-chokes, and great handling. This is the Special Deluxe model and as such holds a premium when it comes to price, but cheaper models are available, plus Rizzini is always very keen to help customers with a spec that suits their requirements, sometimes at no cost.
Here is the video:
Watch it here!