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- Last updated: 31/07/2017
Life and business often deal an unusual hand, none more so than in the often-incestuous world of gunmaking. Completely unexpectedly, Bernardelli suddenly closed its doors for the very last time, an Italian dynasty no more. However, with another famous Italian name in the mix, the Tanfoglio reputation carrying serious weight, along with a new maker finding their gun manufacturing feet, the name of Brixia hit the ground running.
And with the UK’s Bernardelli importer John Webster from Norgas looking for a replacement and being able to follow the Brixia trail, it was more or less a given that these guns would find their way over here. Was it the right decision for John to make? Well, even with a few UK specific tweaks still needing to be made, the initial batch went back out through his doors within minutes of arrival. So yes, John defiantly made the right choice!
All the Brixia shotguns now follow the trend of being genuine Italian built shotguns, at Turkish shotgun prices. But where certain of the big names now offer more budget orientated smoothbores that on close inspection reveal sub-standard build quality, like many of the other new small makers, Brixia doesn’t have to reduce their standards, the shotguns they produce of the quality buyers expect at prices they can most definitely afford.
Initially two models will be brought in, namely the more basic Master and the dedicated Exsimius range of clay breakers, the 12g model seen here. Supplied in the now familiar black plastic travelling case, complete with a full set of flush-fit chokes tubes and key, the Exsimius impresses from the off. The patterning of the semi-oiled walnut exceeds expectations of a shotgun of this type, the quality excellent, as is the chequering and overall fit and finish.
The stock is well-sized and is the perfect interpretation of a sporting clay gun’s dimensions, just a simple solid rubber recoil pad finishing off the butt. The grip is nicely radiused and rounded, whilst the lack of a palm swell means that the Exsimius should comfortably fit most hand sizes. Move forward and the London-style forend features narrow finger grooves to giving the shooter’s leading hand a firm grip, irrespective of how the gun being held.
In the main, flying clays usually make for the most unpleasant action ornamentation but in the case of the Exsimius, they actually work. A neat sideplate design based around the familiar and proven Italian inertia boxlock design, swirls, flying clays and blue inserts decorate both extended sides of the action, whilst a tumbling pigeon, clay and the Exsimius name decorate the base. The neat, short throw top lever sits on the top tang, along with the large and smooth to deploy manual safety, a quick stroke of the thumb and this Brixia’s ready for action.
Sat in a well-sized guard, the silvered, fixed trigger blade features a design more usually associated with French shotguns, namely that the barrel order selector is located on the rear of the blade. Tube wise, the Exsimius on test was fitted with the 28-inch barrels, although 30- and 32-inch are also available. Nicely blacked and feeding onto 3-inch monobloc chambers complete with strong well timed ejectors, whilst the 7mm vented top rib, complete with orange bead follows the conventional design, the mid rib is solid, unusual on one of today’s clay breakers. That said, it isn’t remotely detrimental, just atypical.
The overall weight of the Exsimius is 7lbs 6oz with a 45 5/8-inches overall length with a length and weight of pull measurements of 14 7/8-inches and 7lbs 2oz and a balance point directly beneath the hinges. So, on the whole, the Exsimius fits neatly within the currently conventional clay shooters’ expectations of measurements and weights. But to shoot the Brixia is actually something else and by quite a large margin.
Leaving the factory choke tubes of ¾ and ¼ in place, as a major stockist of Fiocchi cartridges a couple of boxes of high performance 28g FBlack shells filled with 8½s was the chosen ammo. Similarly, with John being the owner of the Rixton & Astley Shooting Club, a healthy selection of sporting targets were readily on offer allowing the Exsimius to display its talents and abilities.
The first thing you notice is the balance, the gun mounting and swinging with ease, no drama or effort required. And from my own personal perspective the Brixia shot flat, a trait I tend to prefer given my own personal style of shooting. Firing the first few rounds also confirmed that the Tanfoglio influences were immediately apparent, the angles and dynamics of the Exsimius genuinely impressive. The Black cartridges are known for their top end competition attributes but they made no impact whatsoever on the Brixia. Besides the Exsimius’ flat handling and sight picture attributes the reaction of the gun continues the trend, any reaction flowing in a straight line down the length of the Brixia no matter what angle its being held at, an attribute only a well designed and built shotgun can ever lay claim to.
Looking at Brixia’s Exsimius, you’d be forgiven for thinking it has a price somewhere around the £2000 mark. Well, you’d be wrong, since the Brixia seen here is all yours for just £1295, irrespective of your chosen barrel length. This 12-bore represents not only great value for money but a trend and quality that Brixia and other new makers are now exemplifying and that’s Italian style and handling that shooters can afford. In other words, more-or-less, gone are the days when the big names dominated, its makers like Brixia who are leading the way and long may it continue. And yes, John Webster most definitely made the correct decision when he chose to import Brixia!!!
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