Fabarm Axis Exis Sporter
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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
Over the past few years I’ve been able to evaluate three of Fabarm’s always well made, stylish and reasonable value for money shotguns. An amalgamation of external retro design cues and art deco detailing, combined with the latest surface treatments and technological advancements, all adds up to an extremely well made shotgun. In my opinion it’s only the ‘acquired taste’ of these smoothbores’ externals that has precluded Fabarm’s affordable range of Axis shotguns from making a larger impression on the market; some traditionalists finding the looks are slightly to avant-garde for comfort.
What was interesting about Fabarm’s Axis range was that the 20-bore appeared on the shelves ahead of its 12-bore equivalent. If nothing else it all went to prove that although they are almost identical, the smaller bore wasn’t just a case of ‘lets scale down the big one’, the process being a complete reversal of the way it’s usually done. The other interesting point about the Axis is that apart from the improved coatings and finishes, the gun seen here is more or less what went before. The difference is, instead of fiddling with the design just for the sake of it, Fabarm have channelled their talents into the muzzle. A major part of the company’s display at this year’s IWA, the term ‘Hyperbolic choke tubes’ was all of a buzz, and the word Exis has been added to the Axis title. Yet another new innovation in the constant strive to improve shot pattern, these all new choke tubes add yet another wrinkle to the internal shape.
Take Your Pick
Available in three guises, customers can take their pick of the adjustable stocked, multi-choke Sporter seen here, or save a few bob by opting for the fixed stock version or leave even more back in their wallet and go for the game-orientated Field. Whichever version you decide on, the Axis 12-bore comes complete with a distinctive, tailor made, embossed semi-soft case, something else that adds that little touch of extra style to these Italian shotguns.
The first thing that assails the senses is the looks of the Axis; deep lustrous well patterned woodwork combined with the semi-matte, titanium-coated action, a distinctive swept back trigger guard and fully adjustable gold blade, which allows for a length-of -pull from between 14½ -15”. Finished in Fabarm’s signature TriWood -multi-layering that bestows the looks of premier grade timber on an average piece of walnut, plus a coating that’ll withstand most conditions.
With a distinct raised elliptical section that flows backwards from the lightly deco- etched engraved action, this pattern is then echoed in the more stippled than chequered pistol grip, again on the wide sporter-style forend and top lever, the stock eventually finished off with a neat, rounded recoil pad that slips easily into the shoulder pocket.
A Load of Hyperbolics
Employing the Paretti Stock System that allows for comb cast and infinite height variations to be measured and fixed, although the drop-at-heel remains a set 2½”, in my case after alteration, the drop-at-comb measured 1 3/8” although a high degree of variation is possible. Elsewhere wood to metal fit is everything you’d expect from Fabarm, the lines flowing easily into the box-lock action, fences and bottom of the action before extending back into the stock. And what flows up flows down, the lines once again repeated in the top strap and manual safety catch with fine gold detailing on both.
The PVD, Titanium-coated, corrosion-resistant action and barrels retain the familiar full width locking bolt and Fabarm-designed Tribore HP three section patented technologies they first used in 2003. Extended forcing cones are followed by an over–bored section before culminating at the extended chokes, all of which improves patterning and velocity. This also brings us nicely back to the new hyperbolic or HP choke tubes.
Although flush fitting chokes are available, our tester was delivered with a set of five 92mm extended versions that are graded in 10ths, the numbers of 9, 7, 5, 2 and Skeet being supplied. The current philosophy of constant taper employed by the top makers sees the restriction run unbroken from the forward forcing cone to the end of the choke or muzzle, Fabarm’s HP tube curve. The theory is that since a radius is more gentle than a straight or constantly reducing section, shot won’t deform to the same degree whilst, like the Tribore system itself, it’ll have more room for uninterrupted freedom of movement, reduced compression resulting in a more constant, reliable pattern.
The 30” barrels are nicely blued and show a vented middle rib. On top is a 10mm-7mm rib crowned with whichever extended Truglo bead takes your fancy from the packet supplied. What the whole actually gives you is a combination of looks, modern, computer-generated design and a shotgun that stands out but feels right the moment you pick it up. Stylised without being overly stated and not to clever for its own good, the Axis Exis is a noteworthy gun even before you load a couple of rounds into the 3” chambers.
Although at 8lbs this Axis is no heavier than other similar 12-bores, with a balance point 1¼” forwards of the hinge pins, the handling of this Fabarm is noticeably different to other similar offerings. Centred on the action and hinges, the barrels seem to add very little to the overall weight. This in turn means that the shooter has to keep the gun moving, momentum down to the person using it rather than the weight perpetuating the swing. The downside is that long crossers require slightly more physical effort, the upside being that if circumstances require it, the Fabarm comes to a halt far quicker than those with muzzle heavy bias.
Shot over a few rounds of ESP down at Coniston SG, the Axis performed exactly as expected; mount and swing easy enough, a 4lb 10oz weighted trigger pull eliminating any potential jerk between shots, combined with ejectors that simultaneously threw the empty hulls clear and wide. What was noticeable was the amount of recoil transmitted. With the gun’s weight already nearer to the shooter, when combined with Express Superbs, the end result was a short, sharp punch. Certainly not uncomfortable, this Fabarm does react slightly differently to other guns.
Marginal negatives aside, the Axis performed extremely well over 100 Skeet and a similar number of Sporting birds, the distinctive handling and feel soon melting into the shooting background. The gun handles well, is well constructed with levels of fit and performance bang on the mark. In respect of the hyperbolic chokes, resultant patterning failed to determine as to whether the curved approach was any better than gradual taper of higher quality parallel section. All that can be done is to believe the sales blurb and work on the theory that the shot enjoys a slightly more relaxed journey down the barrels and through the muzzles. If you think it works for you then great, shotgun shooting is as much about the shooter’s own confidence in their equipment as it is about the latest innovations.
If anything is going to count against the 12-bore Axis it’s the individuality of the looks. Most shotgun buyers tend to ere towards either traditional looks, or out and out competition features. Where the Axis differs is in the combination of modern and traditional without coming down on the side of either. But with looks and feel significantly different to nearly everything else on the market, Fabarm’s Axis Exis could just be the 12 bore for you.