Sabatti Alpen Eagle
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- Last updated: 19/12/2016
During 2014 I was able to review quite a few of Sabatti’s shotguns, both game and competition. The overriding impression was of a range of Italian-designed and built smoothbores that offer the shooter genuine style, desirable looks and some of the most affordable prices you’ll likely to find when buying an Italian built shotgun. All of them well-made and well-suited to their particular task, where Sabatti have capitalised is in combining aspects of one style with another, the Alpen Eagle being a perfect example.
Whilst other manufacturers are now producing all-rounders, 12-bores for both game and competition, Sabatti has taken a slightly different route. Not so much one smoothbore for all things, but instead taking the best traits of one and introducing it into the other. Essentially a game gun, by giving the Alpen Eagle weight, plus – by and large – the feel and handling of an Italian trap gun, the end result is a 12-bore that performs superbly on demanding driven targets. Add in this Sabatti’s impressive good looks and it’s hardly surprising that the Alpen Eagle is finding an increasing number of owners, all of them delighted with their choice.
Before you get to the end of this review I’ll offer you a challenge; After looking at the images and reading the specifications, let’s see if you can guess the punchline before you arrive at it. To start with, the Alpen Eagle comes securely stowed in a fitted Negrini travelling case also containing a full set of extended flush-fit chokes plus key, all kept safe and secure in their own smaller container.
The well-figured, straightgrained walnut, complete with a weather-resistant semi-lacquered finish, forms the graceful game stock complete with walnut but not matching buttplate. Well-defined and comfortable too, the hand checkering encapsulates the nicely sized, open-span, palm swell free grip and Schnabel forend, the two sufficiently well-proportioned for all but the smallest hands.
Barrel-wise, two gloss black 30 inch tubes complete with a solid, game-style mid-rib and low stanchion but 9mm wide vented top rib swage into three inch chambered monoblocs that in turn lock into a one of the most chic sideplate boxlock actions you’ll currently find.
Inertia driven, the extended metal surfaces have given Sabatti’s artistic department chance to shine, with profuse fl oral and scroll work complementing detailed game scenes, the ornamentation extending to the broad trigger guard, fences, top-lever and tang. It’s only the wide, lozengeshaped manual safety that has evaded the engraving process whilst for me the fact its manual is an added bonus. As most regular readers are aware, I have a detestation of automatic safeties.
The moment you mount the Alpen Eagle you’re instantly aware as to why this game gun is different. Weighing 8lbs 2oz with the balance point two inches in front of the hinges, the 47 3/8 inch gun sit firmly in the shooter’s leading hand. Similarly, the view along the wide rib is more akin to a trap orientated 12-bore than a game gun, the main difference being, as the Arrow Laser Shot confirmed, this Sabatti shoots fl at.
Dimensionally, the Alpen Eagle offers a comfortable 14½ inch length of pull along with 1 17/32 inch and 2 1/8 inch drops at comb and heel, the overall feel of the Sabatti being of a large but easily controllable 12g. Equally, the average trigger weight of 5lbs 6oz is predictable, although on the test gun the gold blade suffered from about a 1/16 inch creep. Easily removed by a competent gunsmith, once the initial movement had been taken up, the trigger was crisp enough to ensure confident shooting whilst a degree of forward planning was required to ensure the trigger wasn’t jerked, a little more pressure on the blade required than many shooters would like.
Choking up with Cylinder and ¼ along with 50 or so rounds of 28g Eley VIP Sporting saw the Alpen Eagle deliver the goods from the off. Easy and controllable to swing, the weight distribution promoting a smooth, even swing, relaxed unhurried movement and clean kills resulted in a more than satisfying score over 50 sporting birds. Tightening the chokes and increasing the load size to 36g Eley VIP Extreme Game for some occasional Huntroyde pigeons and late evening crows, once again the Sabatti proved its worth and ease of use.
At the outset the gun feels heavy to heft but once the momentum has been gained the gun mounts and moves with a progressive ease, the physicality meaning that, while the main mass sits within the leading hand, guiding the direction of the muzzles is a calm and unhurried act even when targets are diametrically opposed. The other noticeable factors are the angles and measurements, which give the gun a creditable ability to absorb and dissipate recoil. Pushing directly back into the shoulder, all but the mildest recoil is perceived once again confirming that the gun remains comfortable to shoot with over extended periods.
Earlier on I mentioned a punchline, so here it is… £1500. Yes, that’s all the Alpen Eagle will cost you irrespective of whether you want the 28 or 30 inch barrels or even the 20-bore, although in the smaller gauge it’s 28 inch barrels only. But step back and look at exactly what you’re getting: a shotgun that looks worth twice the price, a genuine Italian-built gun plus one that really does shoot extremely well. And whilst the weight distribution is different to most traditional game guns, once you’ve hold of it and swinging you quickly start to appreciate as to why Sabatti has formatted the Alpen Eagle the way they have.
Whilst big days have fallen away mainly due to the expense, driven shooting still remains popular, many shooters owning shotguns specific to the job. Likewise, finishing the day off with some duck flighting or pigeon shooting out of season, plus some clay breaking, many shooters are now looking towards the new style all-rounders, certain of which can at times carry a hefty price tag. But without making any claims as to being the gun for all reasons, Sabatti has, either by chance or intention, given the shooter a 12-bore that will do everything at an almost implausible price. As the saying goes “What more do you want?” Or maybe in the case of Sabatti’s Alpen Eagle: “What more do you need?” Sabatti’s Alpen Eagle – a big day gun at a small day price.
PRICE: SRP £1500
CONTACT: Range Right Limited, 01423 881919, www.range-right.co.uk
Arrow Laser Shot: