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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
This new Guerini is certainly an attractive gun. It has profuse engraving on its side plates which also incorporate a special rosette feature with subtle gold detail. The gun is quite similar to the Guerini Maxum (one of my favourite modern guns) but with extra bells and whistles. One might also note that it is not unlike a Beretta EELL, though considerably more ornate although a little less expensive. The Maxums are just under the three grand mark these days (and still offer excellent value), the Apex has an RRP of £4,500, and a new EELL will set you back nearly £500 more (though I remain a fan of these excellent guns as well).
The Apex will appeal to those who like to see lots of scroll work on their guns and upgraded wood. Indeed, the quality of the engraving is really exceptional. It is the product of the very latest technology – more evidence of the CNC revolution that has hit Italian gunmaking and which now influences manufacturers all over the world. The Italians are the movers and the shakers today when it comes to double guns, not the Brits or the Yanks sadly. They can do things with machines which would have been inconceivable twenty years ago. They invested in technology when Birmingham was throwing in the towel. We still have some fabulous craftsmen at the top end of the market making guns that cost as much as houses, but the middle and lower end has ceased to exist (save for the ingenuity of our airgun makers).
Looking at the spec of the Apex in more detail, the gun is, of course, a multi-choked 12 bore over and under. It comes with no less than 8 tubes. It is a choke changers delight (though my advice is always to keep your mind on the target once you have discovered two or three constrictions that work for you). It has long, 32” barrels, and a full pistol grip which is capped in steel. The Apex hits the scales just over 8lbs. It’s a big beast in all respects. Bringing the gun to the shoulder, one gets a good first impression. This is clearly no lightweight, and flashy looks apart, it is evidently intended as a serious competition tool. The weight is a little forward, as one would expect with a 32”, extended choke, clay buster.
The Guerini’s barrels are monobloc. This is of course the most common method of construction these days and extremely strong when well done (as it is here). They are chambered for 2 ¾” (70mm) cartridges and are back-bored at 18.7mm top and bottom. I always like to see competition guns with wider bores. The old standard was 18.3 or 18.4 from Italy and it was unnecessarily tight. The felt recoil from such guns was often increased. Wider bores tend to soften the impression of recoil and some would say that they improve patterns too. One can over do it, however these are just right, but open the bores out too far and one can run into problems with gas leakage – called ‘windage’ in the trade – with felt wadded cartridges, especially on cold days.
The barrels have vented joining ribs. The sighting rib is 10mm – the modern norm for clay guns if they are not equipped with a taper rib. I have no real preference between a 10mm parallel design and 11 to 7mm taper – they both work well. On my own long barrelled guns, however, I am fond of narrow game style ribs as a means of increasing pointability and reducing weight.
The action on the test gun has side plates as noted. The engraving is exceptionally well done and would not disgrace a gun costing double (although my puritan taste is for something a little less ornate). Mechanically, the gun is impeccably presented and like many modern Italian guns shares features of both Beretta and Browning. The barrels pivot like a Beretta or Perazzi on stud pins, but they lock up like a Browning with a full width bolt beneath the bottom chamber mouth.
Other features of the action include a non-auto, selective, safety. This is similar in form and function to that on a Browning or Miroku. The single trigger is inertia operated and the pulls were good. I liked the fact that the trigger was plain steel (gold plating would have looked OTT) and the adjustment feature is always welcome on a competition gun. The trigger blade itself is nicely shaped and chequered to its front.
The stock is comfortable and easy to grip thanks to the large grip with palm swell (not usually my ‘thing’ but good in this case). I especially liked the rounded forend which is by far my favourite style on a competition gun (because one may move the hand forward or back without changing its relationship to the barrels). The quality of wood used in the stock is good and the laser cut chequering is well done too, and laid out in traditional panels. The proportions of the stock, as noted, are quite large. The comb is full and the grip itself quite tightly radiused. It feels comfortable, however. My only quibble would concern the flutes beneath the substantial comb which are quite evident visually. My aesthetic and functional preference is for a slightly tapered comb which blends into the grip.
Stock dimensions on the Apex could not be much better (and I must confess that I had a little input on this front advising Guerini UK on this matter some while back). The drop at the heel of the butt is 2 1/8” and the drop at comb is 1 3/8”. Length of pull with a thin pad is 14 ¾” with the adjustable trigger in a middle position. These are perfect shelf dimensions in my opinion. There is some cast for a right hander (about 1/8” at the heel of the stock. Should you need more length this could easily be achieved by substituting the existing recoil pad for a deeper one. The wood work on the test gun is semi-matt finished (with a perfectly acceptable imitation of traditional oil). A little oil has seeped into the chequering but this might be removed in minutes with a suede brush or similar. The general quality of finish is far above the average.
I shot the Apex at West London by courtesy of Roddy Richmond-Watson and came away with the impression that this is a solid gun in all departments. I usually like light, long, barrels. The Apex, however, will appeal to those who prefer something steadier to crunch the clays. Mechanically I cannot fault the gun. Aesthetically, judge for yourself. It’s without doubt a ‘deluxe’ model. The stock is especially comfortable and, considering the specification and quality of finish, it is not unreasonably priced.
PRICE: £4,500 RRP
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