Chapuis C35 Super Orion
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- Last updated: 19/02/2022
Chapuis Armes is a French company heralding back to the 1930s, located in a specific gunmaking region of France at St Etienne. They have come a long way from that first shed workshop and now the company offers shooters all sorts of side by side shotguns and over and unders, as well as double and bolt action hunting rifles. They have always been associated with really classy guns with impeccable handling as well as fit and finish. Now that Beretta is a major shareholder of the company, this means we in Britain now have a reliable supply of Chapuis guns distributed by GMK Ltd.
On test is one of their O/U 12-gauge shotguns, which is a nice change, as I have always associated Chapuis with double rifles and SXS shotguns in the past. The C35 Super Orion model is designed to appeal to a whole new generation of shotgunners, who may not be able to afford the high-end, highly engraved and superb quality walnut models. The Orion is priced at £3245.00 and wants for nothing from a performance and handling standpoint. It’s just the grade of wood and level of engraving that you are not paying for. I like it as you still have that arguably classic Chapuis build quality, all wrapped up in a lovely semi-round bodied action design, combined with still excellent walnut and measurements that fit me perfectly.
The wood to metal fit is excellent and the hand-cut chequering is equally wellappointed, giving a really nice feel and grip to the Chapuis. The semi-pistol grip with right-hand palm swell is comfortable too, and the rake, as well as girth, is not too long or large either, making for a very natural hold. You have a good length of pull at around 15”, which really helps us tall chaps, plus a drop of 1.25” at the comb and just over 2” at the heel. The small amount of cast was spot on for me.
At 7lbs 5oz, the Orion offers very good handling characteristics and the balance is perfect for me - just ahead of the barrel pivot point. It felt planted in the shoulder and aim without being heavy, and allowed a really good eye to rib alignment. The release mechanism to the forend is well engraved and unlike some shotguns, it’s easy to remove and refits very snuggly, a sign of a good gun.
The quality of the walnut is also very good, with plenty of dark figuring to all areas, plus very warm colour combinations to the overall look. There is an oil finish applied by hand, giving a true, traditional oiled finish. This makes it very weather resistant and it can be instantly ‘topped up’ with fresh oil to keep in tip-top condition, improving the look and finish over time.
I really liked the walnut butt plate and engraved securing screws, with all over chequering. All very classy, but don’t stand it up on a farm concrete floor!
Firstly, the fit and finish are very good indeed. There is an overall, deep satin blued finish that complements the walnut superbly and looks very classy. All the joints and rib fitments are well appointed and Chapuis uses a monobloc barrel locking mechanism, showing a bifurcated lump with a central bolting system. Best of all is the very popular, semi-rounded bottom to the action, which gives its distinctive low profile.
The barrels on this model measure 30”, but different lengths and calibres are available, so check with GMK for availability on this one. They show the steel fleurs de lys proof marks, making them good for high-pressure steel shot loads if you like. The 3” chambered barrels have a very uniform and well-finished bore of 18.5mm diameter. There looks to be a short forcing cone, which should work well with fibre cartridges and equally well with plastic wads.
The gun comes with a set of five multi chokes (Skeet to Full), plus a choke key and case. Remember, as usual, only up to ½ choke is safe with steel.
Cartridge extraction is no problem, as the strong ejectors are well-timed and I had no problems with any of the tested ammunition. They sent the spent cases well clear. Below the ejectors, on the sides of the monobloc, instead of a jewelled effect, there are diagonal marks, no doubt to hold oil for lubrication purposes.
I like the solid rib design, with a typical slim width of 6mm for better all-round vision on game. Plus, a single gold bead at the muzzle accurately lines up your shot level with the rib and eye.
The semi-round, C35 action design is very well executed and mechanically locks via a pair of cocking bars that run in the middle of the action body. The rear lumps fit into abutments in the action and thus lock-up is achieved by twin bolts from the face of the action engaging bites behind the extractors. The barrel pivots on two inset pinions to the action walls and opens very easily, but with no slop at all.
Externally, you have a coin finish overall that’s profusely engraved. It’s subtly done with laser techniques and not as deep as the hand- engraved, more expensive Chapuis would be. No problem, as it fits in very well with the whole Orion ensemble, with flighting partridges to the left, rising woodcock at the bottom and inflight pheasants to the right. Acanthus leaves and scrollwork adorn the borders and fill the spaces between, giving a very traditional look. There is also a small cartouche and scroll on the trigger guard for your initials, if needed.
The auto safety catch is quite small and it’s quiet in operation. There is no barrel selector, but this is not really an issue as these Chapuis barrels patterned superbly, so just let the gun do its thing and don’t worry about it.
The trigger is mechanical and therefore not inertia. This helps in a hunting gun, as it means the trigger is not recoil dependent and thus reliable in any situation. Also, the hammers are powered by helical springs, so are powerful and able to strike the firing pins consistently for a solid ignition sequence.
The C35 Super Orion is obviously aimed at the game market, but to be honest it would make just as nice a pigeon gun and allrounder really. I only had the fitted chokes supplied, which were open/skeet and ¼ choke, which would make this configuration excellent for woodcock, snipe and walked up game.
The first to be tested were the Hull Imperial Game cartridges, which are mild to shoot. Plus, the 28-gram loading and larger #4 shot always pattern well. We had a total of 123 pellet strikes, with 42 hits to the inner 15” and the remaining 81 around the circumference. So, nice coverage with quite open chokes.
Felt recoil with the Eley Pigeon, and the heavier 30-gram load of #6 pellets, was reduced due to the very good stock geometry of the Chapuis. On the pattern boards, I had a total of 169 hits at 30 yards, with 127 outer hits and 42 inner strikes. Again, nicely distributed, with few holes in the pattern.
Next up were Jocker Bio Steel 27-gram loads with #4 steel shot. These show a 67mm case and from the ¼ choke, we had tight patterns, as expected from steel cartridge loadings. 142 pellets struck the board, with 55 inner hits and the remaining 87 slightly higher, placed around the centre.
Undeniably Chapuis in quality, but a good price to make the marque more accessible to all. The Super Orion is really nice to handle and I do like the semirounded action design too. It’s nice to have an alternative to the normal run of mill O/U shotguns, as it combines old-world values wrapped up in a newly designed and represented shotgun.