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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
Our test gun is a very smart looking little Rottweil .410 over and under. As the trend in small bores is very much towards longer tubes, our test gun has 30" barrels. It also features an attractive colour case hardened action with a single gold inlaid bird in the middle of the action wall (usually, I am not fond of gold on guns, but this looks good). The semi-pistol grip stock is also pleasing, being made from nicely figured timber.
The overall first impression is excellent and it is not dispelled when the gun is brought to face and shoulder. It feels very good indeed with sensible dimensions and good balance. It is certainly a cut above the average.
I am very fond of small bore guns, like many shooters, I have happy childhood memories of using a .410 (in my case on my grandmother's farm near Sevenoaks in Kent). Small bore shotguns today, however, have become much more than just guns for kids. The Americans have long used them for skeet shooting under NSSA rules and they are also quite popular amongst serious 'upland' gunners in the US for shooting quail (a small, but tough quarry species - tough in that they are hard to shoot, not necessarily difficult to despatch if the shot goes in the right place). In the UK the .410 has had something of a renaissance too. Cartridge expert, Tim Woodhouse, has written a book about it and BASC even sponsors a .410 world sporting championship (which I would like to have a go at one year). I also know a few, very experienced, game shooters who use a .410 (though I would not generally advise it for British driven game).
The long 30" barrels on the Rottweil are built on the monobloc system and equipped with a ventilated sighting rib. It is flat, 6mm wide and neatly machined. It is well made, but I would have preferred a solid design for the reasons I frequently state; they are less easily dented - especially in a game gun with narrow rib. Joining ribs are solid. There is a traditional metal bead front sight which is well proportioned to the rib. The barrels bears Italian proof marks for 3" (76mm) shells. The bores are well finished - the barrels are hammer forged chrome-moly steel - and the blueing well done.
The action is familiar - similar to many being made in Italy today. What sets it apart from the pack is the pleasant decoration and good finish. The colour hardening is well done. I also liked the scroll and the form of the inlaid gold pheasant (and I am not a fan of such stuff normally as noted). Very sensibly, and tastefully, Rottweil have opted for a plain steel trigger which gives the gun a classic look.
Mechanically, the Rottweil presents few surprises. There is a recoil activated single trigger. The pulls were reasonable; as good or better than others I have tested on other guns of this type. The action, of course, is powered by coil springs. The hinging is by means of the usual stud pins near the action knuckle. These appear to be replaceable. Bolting, like a Rizzini, Franchi or Miroku is by a Browning style bolt beneath the bottom chamber mouth. All well proven stuff.
The stock is well designed. I like the semi-pistol form very much, the grip was especially well proportioned - not too acute in radius (but with enough radius to improve purchase) and the comb shape was spot on as well. The schnabel forend was pleasant as well - though I might have considered getting rid of the lip at the front as Beretta have done with their new 'American' pattern forend. Wood density and figure were good too, as was wood to metal fit. Stock dimensions suited me quite well. Though there was a little more drop at heel than ideal - I would guess about 2 1/4" and I would have preferred about 2 1/8" (a small point, and one which is easily rectified). The stock was finished with a thin, neat, recoil pad. It was a little shorter than my ideal at around 14 1/2", but this might easily be lengthened with a deeper pad.
I started the test, unusually, on one of the towers at the Braintree Shooting Ground (breaking my usual habit of beginning a gun test on Station 2 Low House skeet). I broke several long crossing birds in a row (we have the tower set up at Braintree so that you may either use for driven birds or long crossers to either side). I surprised myself! I have always found the .410 a bit tricky, though I shoot a great deal with a 28 bore. This gun has made me reassess the potential of the .410.
Simply put, I found it one of the best shooting .410s that I have yet handled (and that includes some very pricey guns). It was not too light - a common failing of some small bores, especially the bespoke ones - nor was it too heavy. Tipping the scales somewhere just over the 6 pound mark is was just about right for me. An ideal gun for anyone who wants to have fun with a .410 and explore it (and their own) limits. It would be an interesting gun to use walking up snipe or woodcock (or, of course, rabbits). It would be perfect for any foreign expedition on dove, and you could have a ton of fun on the skeet and sporting layouts too. Well finished, well priced, there is not a lot wrong with this little Rottweil.