Fabarm Lion H38 Hunter
Mark Stone checks out Fabarm's Lion Hunter semi-auto and finds a shotgun that good for clay busting, birds and even boar
Over the past few months we’ve looked at all the possible permutations of Fabarm shotguns apart from their semi-autos. Prolific in their production, they can and do supply more variations than you can shake a loaded barrel at, for hunters, clay shooters, the police and military markets. This if nothing else does prove the point that the semi is gaining considerable ground especially in mainland Europe. With only the English continuing the prejudice against them, apart from their associated applications when it comes to wildfowling, vermin control and clay shooting.
But as shooting abroad becomes ever more popular and affordable, more and more Brits are finding that semi-autos have a lot to offer. Which includes value for money, versatility, dramatically reduced recoil and, in the case of Fabarm’s Lion H38 Hunter, a dash of modernistic flair and style oft lacking in many a double gun.
The Lion H38 Hunter is in most respects all things to all shooters. Benefiting from Fabarm’s innovative barrel construction, where the Hunter differs is in its blend of old and new, adding considerably to this shotgun’s overall appeal when compared to others. This single barrel 12 bore could be just the one to demonstrate why our European cousins are so switched-on and open minded when it comes to a semi’s universal interest.
Central Price Point
Retailing for £777, a price that puts it more or less central in the grand scheme of semi-automatic things, Fabarm also offer a left-handed version for an extra £77. Equally, and although illegal here in the UK by virtue of the fact it converts the Lion into a Section 5 firearm, if you’ve got the paperwork or have the suitable foreign licence, you can get yourself a Paradox rifled choke barrel, which will give you a fast handling and hard hitting slug gun for boar shooting.
Arriving in a semi-soft travelling case, the first thing you notice about the Lion is its oil-finished woodwork, which is a most preferable surface in my opinion. It also tones down Fabarm’s current inclinations towards the slightly more unusual treatment of their chequering and detailing. Both the semi-pistol grip and sculpted semi-beavertail forend combine small chequered panels and curving striations.
The butt, whilst culminating in a thin soft recoil pad displays the now familiar marginally undersized dimensions, trigger pull measuring 14 3/8”, drop at comb 1 3/8” and drop at heel 2 1/16”. Wood to metal fit is far better than expected, most of us - myself included - having now been conditioned by the finish of the more budget orientated examples that now proliferate.
A smooth black anodised finish covers the receiver, ‘Lion’ and H38’ script decorating both sides along with a swept back bronze enamel inlay to the right depicting a lion and the words Hunter 12. On the top, the gun’s versatility is emphasised by the addition of dovetailing either side of the rib channel whilst the matte black, swept trigger guard with cross-bolt safety to the rear houses a stippled gold blade. The bolt is finished in a uniform titanium coating with a short but well curved handle whilst the ovoid bolt release is located to the left of the receiver. The magazine cut-off is a stubby lever to the front left of the trigger guard. Where Fabarm have applied a most distinctive trait is in the scalloping of the receiver floor, the shape echoed by the titanium-coated shell lifter.
28” Tribore Tube
The test gun was supplied with a 28” tube with a 7mm vented rib and Fabarm’s proven Tribore arrangement of an extended forcing cone, over boring and a gradual taper into the muzzle restriction. The muzzle is finished off with a high visibility extended red bead. A set of Full, ½ and ¼ flush fit ‘Innerchokes’ are included.
Now before we prepare to ride the ranges, a word on assembly. Once again a seemingly growing trend, the Lion prefers to be put together with the bolt in the forward or battery position. That is until the last fraction of an inch when the lug needs to be slid out of battery so allowing the barrel and chamber to seat fully within the receiver. Nothing over complicated but worth mentioning if only to rule out potential frustration.
Four rounds of Skeet down at Coniston SG produced out-of-the-box scores that usually have to be worked up to with a new shotgun. Changing from ¼ to ½ choke saw the Lion perform equally well over two rounds of 30-bird sporting. Shooting in a more conventional manner compared to other semi-autos, the initial shortness of the stock combined with the 7lbs 4oz centrally positioned weight became a positive aspect. The speed of mount and balance promoted fluid movement and rapid muzzle placement, while the trigger’s pull weight of 7lbs (more or less) was what you’d expect from any quality semi.
The Pulse System
The other noticeable facet is Fabarm’s ‘Pulse’ system. Unlike other semis where the user reverses the gas valve dependant on the size of load being used, ‘Pulse’ acts as a form of universal braking technique. What this means is that whether you’ve loaded up with 24g or 36g cartridges, ‘Pulse’ increases or decreases the action’s rate of speed ensuring whatever you’ve chambered up with, the rate of recycle remains the same.
Translated into user language, this means that felt recoil more or less remains the same whilst muzzle flip and therefore second target acquisition rarely varies. To prove the point, a selection of Express’ game and clay loads were loaded up from their softer Professional Competition rounds, my favourite 28grm Supreme Competitions and some 32grm Super Game, one of each loaded in varying order. The end result was no noticeable effect irrespective of the sequence.
Working on the theory that potential owners of the Lion Hunter just might be buying the gun with the intentions of shooting wild boar, six rounds of slug formed part of the gun’s diet. Without sights - apart from rib and bead - the Fabarm delivered unfailing point of aim accuracy and dropped the big lead slugs into a four inch target set out at fifty yards.
One interesting sensation produced by the Lion was during its recycling process. Even though varying rounds failed to upset the ‘Pulse’ system, the overall sensation was slightly mechanical. Short but very well cushioned, in the hands the Fabarm generates the feel of an inertia powered semi-auto, the effect of the controlled cycle sufficiently quick and damped. For anyone who’s used to the speed benefits of inertia, the Lion’s overall demeanour will come as a welcome revelation when compared to other similar gas/piston powered shotguns.
The one other point that was noticeable was that you need to keep the Lion’s action clean and well lubricated. Most people tend to neglect cleaning semi-autos, especially the bolt. Where other guns will disregard this oversight for seemingly endless periods, the Fabarm won’t, so a strict post-shooting cleaning regime needs to be maintained.
Competitively priced when compared to other quality semi-automatic shotguns, the Fabarm’s outstanding qualities are style, performance, the ready availability of a left – handed version and the overall package for those who want a faithful smoothbore travelling companion for hunting close to home, further afield or around the clay layouts. Equally, given the existing popularity of Fabarm’s semis, UK importers Viking Arms can readily supply all other Lion Hunter variants from the upmarket Exclusive to the full camo H368’s.
|Name||Fabarm Lion H38 Hunter|
|Capacity||2+1 (Sect 2)|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates