Abbiatico and Salvinelli (Famars) 16 bore
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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
We like to bring you a bit if quality on occasion at Gunmart and this month, my second gun test looks at a rather spectacular looking Abbiatico and Salvinelli 16 bore over and under. It comes from the exclusive stock of Victor Chapman at Mark’s Tey in Essex. Vic, one of the great characters of the gun trade, specialises in - very high quality guns. He imports Bosis from Italy - and is arguably this country’s leading expert in this elegant marque - he deals in best British Guns of all sorts (having a particular passion for Purdey) and recently, he has become an agent for Guerini (see the other test in this issue - although the 32” gun in it was supplied direct from Guerini UK).
Fit and Finish - Impeccable
On the Famars front (as Abbiatico and Salvinelli are also known) Vic has two super deluxe guns in stock. I picked the test gun (rather than a 32”, 9 pound plus 12) because it was a 16 and we consider not do that many in these pages (though there is much to be said for the 16 whether you throw 25 or 28 grams through it). The test Abbiatico is a 30” barrelled with a ‘solid’ - apparently solid but actually internally hollowed - taper rib. It is equipped with a single trigger and definitely has ‘extra finish.’ The engraving is superb, the wood is really well figured, and the full pistol grip is capped with an engraved plate.
It all looks very classy. Beyond the aesthetics, when you pick the gun up it feels really well balanced. The 30” tubes are not too heavy, and the stock shapes are excellent. The radius, shape and proportion of the full pistol grip suited my hand perfectly. Like the Guerini semi-pistol grip discussed elsewhere in this issue, I thought it extremely well conceived. The comb shape was comfortable too, and it also added to the generally elegant lines of the test gun. First impressions could not be much more positive, in fact. The quality of fit and finish were impeccable (bar a couple of stains on the barrels relating to otherwise near London quality blacking and an odd mark on the joint of the lower barrel between monobloc and barrel tube).
Construction is monobloc and the physical jointing between barrels and monobloc is excellent, the comments above not withstanding. The joining ribs are solid and the hand matted, slightly tapered, solid, sighting rib is just about the ideal for a working game gun. I also like the traditional metal bead at the muzzles (by far the best thing in the field and not likely to distract one‘s attention too much either). The barrels are exceptionally well struck up and straight internally (as well as mirror finished without ripple or blemish).
The test Abbiatico has a round body action with a hand detachable trigger lock. It is exquisitely made and is removed in the opposite manner to a Perazzi, by pushing the sliding safety catch back beyond its normal position against spring pressure. It may then be pulled out, revealing superb finish to all surfaces and pins and leaf springs powering the hammers - an arrangement likely to result in crisp trigger pulls. The trigger unit really is an impressive piece of gunmaking. The pictures tell the story of the deep scroll engraving, moreover, it is my favourite pattern. The round action body - supremely elegant - provides an ideal surface to bring out its full beauty.
The stock was better than average too. The wood was good, but that should be a given at this sort of price point. What impressed me were the shapes. The full pistol grip would have been hard to better. It was big enough and deep enough to fill the hand well, but not so big as to look bulky in any way. The radius was very good, I also liked the way the nose of the comb was blended into the grip area without the machine cut fluting seen on many cheaper mass produced guns. The stock was all wood - no butt plate - another quality touch, and the grip cap also looked really good. Measurements suited me well. I did not measure these precisely, but I would guess 14 ¾” LOP with drop of 1 3/8 and 2 ¼”. There was a little cast. Everything felt right. The field style forend was also elegant and ergonomically efficient.
Sugar and Spice…
This was a very pleasant gun to shoot. I took to the skeet and sporting range at the Braintree Shooting Ground, and began proceedings with my favourite first test bird - low 2 on skeet. This gives me a datum by which I can objectively compare different guns - I always like to start here before I move on to tougher stuff. What of the Abbiatico? Sugar and spice… The trigger pulls were excellent. The inertia mechanism worked faultlessly, perceived recoil was low. The gun handled naturally, pointed well and was very precise to use. I do not shoot a 16 often and this convinced me that I should use this intermediate bore more - many say it is the perfect compromise for live quarry shooting.
And there it might end, where it not for the fact that I got drenched by torrential rain. I dried off the Abbiatico fairly carefully, but, the next day - horror of horrors - I found some staining inside the highly polished action and on the no less fastidiously finished monobloc. I rather panicked when I saw this, but my ex-Purdey chum, David Becker, sorted it out so it was literally better than new. Bless him. David noted, though, that he thought that the Famars would need careful attention to keep it in tip top condition in the future. It is a beautiful thing, but it is so finely finished it made me wonder if I could cope with anxiety of keeping it in the pristine order it deserves (a bright polish finish is not as forgiving as colour case hardening). For those who want something to cherish, this is it. I’ll keep using my Berettas, Webley and Guerini and not lose quite so much sleep.
Meanwhile, if you happen to be in Essex and sit down in Vic Chapman’s rather idiosyncratic but very cosy gun room, you may be sure of seeing some really beautiful and unusual guns and enjoying some great banter too. Vic, a Londoner, who was apprenticed as a gunmaker himself with Atkins in the mists of time - is a master of the one liner (as well as being an excellent game shot). He was not even caught short when he had an unexpected visitor at his house - which is near his shop - the other night. A truck drove into one of his downstairs rooms. In the TV and Press frenzy that followed, Vic noted “If he wanted a cup of tea I don’t know why he didn’t knock.”
My verdict on the test gun by the way - good value for money if you want something beautiful engraved without being too flash. In 16 bore, this is a very impressive and stylish gun. It looks beautiful. It shoots well. Just, don’t get it wet!
PRICE: Special offer at £9,500