Marks Stone gets hold of Fabarm’s XLR 5 semi-auto shotgun; allegedly the fastest of its type in the world, so does it make a difference?
If the Americans and Belgians are doing it you can guarantee the Italians won’t be far behind. What is it this time; Ultra-fast semi-automatic shotguns what else? Yes, for some reason it’s now the height of fashion to produce a gas banger that’s so quick your arthritic trigger finger can’t possibly keep up, the end result being facts and figures that are basically immaterial.
First in line
If there’s one aspect of any Fabarm shotgun you can count on its like all their other offerings, the new XLR5 looks the business. At around £1,220 it also offers great value for money along with some radical looks… This time however, besides encompassing all of this it embraces Fabarm’s latest, all singing dancing 21st Century technology that allegedly will make it the fastest cycling semi currently available.
The XLR5 arrived in the now familiar Integrale semi-soft case. A quality item if ever there was one, offering the best of all transportation worlds and outfit storage. Included in this are a set of five, flush-fit Hyperbolic (internally curved) chokes. Typically European a set of sling swivels are supplied. OK, hardly a British need but never forget that over the water shotguns are used for more than blasting birds and clays… A comment equally valid as it has an integral scope base atop the receiver. This is for fitting a red dot sight or scope so it can be used for wild boar shooting with slug loads, something that is done a lot in Europe with smooth bores… This alone is a bit of a clue to the guns real reason for existence…
Made to measure
For a semi the weight is more or less as it should be, the total 7lbs balancing exactly beneath the 3” chamber. The 28” matte finished Tribore barrel is topped off with a 6mm, cross-cut vented rib and Hiviz red bead. The oil-finished furniture is nicely grained and chequered in Fabarm’s usual fashion, future applications of oil serving to enhance the looks even further. Dimensionally, length of pull measures a pleasing 14 3/8” with respective drop at comb and heel of 1 7/16” and 2 1/16”.
It’s where the main differences are collected together that set the XLR5 apart. Matte silver finished with small blackened panels of scroll work and you cannot help notice the top of the receiver. A hi-viz, green rear sight insert is fitted along with the aforementioned scope base.
Speed-wise we are told that the XLR 5 can discharge it’s 4+1 payload in 0.31 seconds, which is pretty quick. Also it’s self adjusting, so should handle all manner of cartridge types, and is proofed to withstand 1,630 BAR of pressure, making it the safest shotgun of any type currently available.
Finger on the pulse
The unique aspect of the XLR5 is Fabarm’s Power Pulse operating system. This dispenses with the more accepted valving, using instead a piston and soft polymer insert that controls the regulation. Working as a progressive break within the gas cylinder the polymer ring compresses during operation, the degree of deformation allowing the XLR5 to interpret, react too and regulate the entire system’s response to the gas produced by each shell as it fires.
This in turn refines the cyclic process whilst allowing the gun to use lighter cartridges reliably; such as 21 or 24-grams. In this area recoil, which is pretty mild anyway will be further reduced. Irrespective of ammunition power it’s this virtual intelligence that gives the XLR5 its speed of function and revolutionary advancement over the rest.
Fabarm also makes much of their improved action bar, which is the link between the sliding piston and bolt. I assume it offers less flex, which would result in less energy being wasted, so combined with the smoother action stroke; must cut down friction between components and therefore increase the speed of the operating stroke.
Fastest finger first
Grandiose claims aside, it’s loaded and shooting that is the true measure of any gun’s ability! More or less identical in size to Fabarm’s other 12-bore semis, whilst the XLR5 feels somewhat large in the hands it still comes up and points extremely well. It showed a crisp trigger pull of 6lbs and the Hyperbolic chokes allow the user to take advantage of their notable patterning abilities.
Shot over 50 of Rishton SG’s sporting targets, if the XLR5 exhibited an unusual trait is was in perceived torque. Loaded up with a selection of Express Supremes and World Cups, during rapid pairs there was a noticeable twisting sensation between the hands. Apparently the speed of the system allowing a build up of momentum that transferred to the user. However, once understood it broke targets with expected alacrity.
Whilst the XLR5 will never win any deftness awards compared to smaller more nimble offerings, where this Fabarm wins out is in refinement of mount and swing, the size and feel promoting a beneficial slowing down during the heat of the moment.
As to speed; well how fast is fast? To achieve a rate of 5-shots in 0.31 seconds, translates into a cyclic rate of 967-rounds a minute. That my friends requires a bit of trigger finger dexterity. Chances are few of us can get near that speed. Truth is it’s less about rounds down range and more about ejecting, chambering and getting back on target as fast and smooth as possible. None the less it’s still an eye-catching claim that will do no harm to the gun’s ‘must have’ potential.
All action Jackson
There’s no doubt the XLR5 is brimming over with more advanced technology and capability than you can shake an empty cartridge bag at and yes it works well. However, during the testing process I sensed that further refinement was possibly still on Fabarm’s cards.
Fabarm’s XLR5 is, just as you’d expect, as stylish as any semi-auto you’ll see, as they are the past masters at making all their guns distinctly singular in looks, finish and general feel. To my mind where my dilemma occurs is in the fact that instead of gradual evolution Fabarm have endeavoured to introduce every piece of technology they have at their disposal into this one model. But if you’re hell bent on owning what’s currently the cutting edge of gas/piston system this gun is the one for you.
An Italian take on the new fast semi craze
Not bad but maybe needs refining
Speed meets style head on
|Calibre||12 – bore|
|Chokes||Extended HP flush-fit
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates