Zoli Bella Ladies Model
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- Last updated: 26/03/2019
Zoli shotguns are imported by Edgar Brothers and they stock a very good selection of the range here in Britain. These Italian shotguns are extremely well made and priced accordingly but offer old-world quality, blended with modern technological manufacturing techniques. I had the 12-gauge Zoli Bella model that has all the stock dimensions adapted specifically for the female anatomy that includes the pistol grp, length of pull, pitch and cast as well as an adjustable cheekpiece.
The action on this model is all steel for maximum strength and some weight, which actually is welcomed to reduce the recoil from the 12-gauge cartridge. Being steel, it can be polished and then given a high-grade and deep traditional blued finish, although a silver carbon nitride finish is also offered. This Bella was especially nice, with a deep lustre to the action walls and sides and trigger guard as well as the top tang. The barrel escutcheons and top lever are finely matted to give an alternative and contrasting finish.
Scroll engraving is used sparingly but to good effect in small panels to the sides and base and top of the trigger guard. What makes this Bella model special, is the inset arrangement of Swarovski crystals. The side walls have a silvered capital ‘Z’, flanked by six Swarovski crystals, three either side. A single crystal defines the barrel hinge pivot point and a cluster of four more crystals are imbedded into the bottom of the action, surrounded by engraving and a single crystal top and bottom.
At first, I thought Swarovski crystals on a shotgun were just going too far and were ‘blingy’, but it’s actually tastefully done; have a look at the phots and you decide.
With this Boss design, you have very fine tolerances that ensure perfect fit of the action parts and barrels and mid section locking lug arrangement for a very secure and safe lock up. The trigger guard is blued to complement the barrel’s finish, as is the top lever, which has a small amount engraving and, like all the Zolis tested, has a long travel i.e. it sits a long way to the right, so there’s plenty of bite in the locking lugs.
The safety is non-automatic, which I like and on a clay gun you do not forget to take it off in competition. The barrels fire with an inertia system to the second barrel i.e. fire the first barrel and the second barrel’s hammer is then set. The safety is quite long but well chequered and the barrel selectors are very good and positive with a clear red single or double dot for top or bottom barrel selection.
The Posi-Lock trigger system unit is separate, and you can drop the trigger unit as one via the single screw that is removed with the torque tool supplied; this allows instant cleaning or disabling of the gun. You are also supplied as standard with (in a separate case) additional strikers and springs; a very comprehensive system indeed.
All wearing parts are hardened then Titanium Nitride coated for extra protective and longevity.
Available only as a 12-gauge at present, the Bella barrel lengths are available in 28-, 30- or 31-inches with 3-inch chambers and proofed for steel shot. I had the 30-inch version (that actually measure 29.5-inches) and are multi choked and supplied with extended chokes only.
As a whole, the barrels, as with other Zolis, show a very good level of finish, both inside and out. They are silver soldered together with great care and the two barrels are separated by a mid-section vented rib that extends nearly to the action itself under the forend. Not only does it reduce weight and aid cooling the barrels, I like the look too.
You have a sustainable rib system that has a tapering profile from 10mm at the action end to 7mm at the muzzles and ventilated beneath with 14 equally sized and spaced vents. There is a single red Day-Glo bead sight at the muzzle end.
The mono bloc type locking is the Boss type, with a super strong split locking bolt system, so you get a very good, even and secure pressure to the barrel closure. A lower lug also engages into action frame at this position and the axis pins form a very tight tolerance between the too.
The chokes are particularly nice being Titanium Nitride coated and are also the extended type, which stick out of the muzzle by 20mm with an overall length of 68mm. The choke key is large and easy to use and has four large lugs to lock into the choke’s upper recesses to remove the choke evenly and smoothly.
There is a very good choice of choke spread available to the shooter, thus enabling any discipline of clay to be shot or pattern size to match the target or cartridge being used.
You have the Cylinder, Skeet, Improved cylinder, light modified, modified and light full. All the chokes, bar the Light Full, can be used with steel shot if you wish and the light modified and modified give a nice choice at the ½ choke pattern; so, you can play around with the patterning or density of shot as you wish. A really good set up and well thought out. You can also add between 1 and 20 magnetic barrel weights along the rib to further enhance the Bella’s good handling.
The Bella is specifically designed and profiled for the lady shooter but with a classic style but modern-day twist. However, apart for the short length of pull, any gent could shoot it too. The walnut stock is again typical Zoli finish of well rubbed oil that gives a deep lustre to the high-grade Turkish walnut beneath. A lovely colour with nice figuring befitting a gun of this stature and price.
The forend is the London style and with its rounded end and profile makes for a classical, yet easily gripped item. There are large panels of cut chequering to the sides that wrap around to the bottom, separated by the barrel release lever only.
The butt section has a very upright pistol grip, a favourite of mine and has a palm swell to the right side and laser engraved fleur de lis to the top in the walnut, which are again, generous, finely chequered panels. However, the pistol grip cap is odd in my view; it is a circular brass ring inset but slightly proud of the walnut and inset with the Z monogram surrounded by 12 Swarovski crystals. It just looks odd sticking out of the stock like that. But there is a reason for it, it forms part of the ‘Between the Hands Balancer’ (BHB) system that is a dynamic corrector that is used to customise and fine tune the balance and swing dynamics of the Bella. It has a central, cylindrical shaft, to which up to six disc or weights can be added, to distribute the weight and thus balance for your frame; clever but a bit ugly sticking out like that.
However, a good point is the elevating cheek piece adding to the Bella’s versatility and userfriendly nature. It can be raised to correct eye alignment but most people who used it said that the comb set low was fine for them. A key is provided that allows access to two lock screws recessed into the right-side of the stock and the 7.5-inch cheekpiece can be elevated. A slim, black spacer and rubber recoil pad finish off the stock.
For testing, I chose a selection 12g cartridges and used the ½ choke.
The first were the NSI Prima Light, which is a nice light recoiling 12-gauge load of 21-grams of No. 7.5 shot in a 65mm case. It’s perfect for practice and getting use to the Bella before upping the shot charge. At 30-yards, I had a total of 275 pellets strike the board with 112 inner and 163 outer strikes. Very low recoil and even patterns.
Eley’s Superb cartridges, with their 28-gram No. 8 shot with fibre wad, had 371 pellets at 30 yards on the pattern board with 207 pellets in the outer ring and 164 pellets within the 15-inch circle; an excellent clay load and low recoil too.
Hull Superfast Pigeon, just in case you fancy a spot of decoying? The 70mm fibre wadded case had 29-grams of No. 6 shot and on the pattern boards I had a total of 218 shot within the 30 inch and 139 pellets in the outer sectors and 79 within the inner 15-inch circle and again very dense patterns from the Bella’s barrels.
With the stock configured the way it is and the length, it is ideally suited to the smaller frame or lady shooter but the weight is noticeable; but at the same time, it’s very mild to shoot in 12-gauge, especially with lighter competition loads. Quality, as with all Zolis, is superb, metalwork and walnut as well as fit and finish, give a real quality feel and look. The Swarovski crystals are a marmite issue, I guess; I thought the action ones were fine but lose the ones on the pistol grip. Pattern and shooting wise, the pattern boards do not lie, and she can really put down excellent patterns from those excellent chokes.