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- Last updated: 23/03/2018
Zoli of Italy a renowned gun makers with a long pedigree for stunning shotguns and have produced one of the nicest little shotguns on the market. It’s the Pernice, a round-bodied over/under gun with elegant lines and a well-figured stock. The name Pernice is Italian for Partridge or Partridges, so this small framed bird is ideally suited for the smaller framed Pernice shotgun.
You have the choice of 20g, 28g or .410 cartridges, with the option of a second barrel for a combination set and are available in 28-, 30- and 32-inch lengths.
This is aimed at the higher end, or more discerning end of the market, so no Idea why I have it! But it has that instant look of quality and you can feel the engineering history when you pick it up and shoulder it for the first time. They all seem to have that blend of good handling and balance that is equally good for all types of Game, Sporting and rough shooting.
The striking difference of this action type is the lovely round bodied design that is a symbol of shotgun maker’s prowess. It lends itself to the quality look and feel of a gun costing twice the price and personally is so much nicer looking than similar sized square-bodied actions. It looks elegant, not delicate and suits the overall ethos of the Pernice of a fast, light great handling/ looking clay or game gun.
The action is perfectly proportioned to the range of smaller gauges, such as these 20-gauges, with a shallow depth and height and as such is very sleek and puts the mechanical parts of the Pernice between the hands, so balance is near perfect.
The action uses the monobloc construction, with the barrels hanging on small hinge studs in the action walls, which the barrel hook engages in. The rear lock-up is via the Boss type bite, placed mid-way down the rear lug and twin corresponding bolts engage this when the action is closed. It feels very solid, yet opens easily; a great combination for reassurance and quick reloading. The lumps all have a jewelled finish, a nice touch.
The whole action is machined from a solid block of monolithic steel alloy and given a true round bodied profile to the actions bottom. It has the ability to really set off the fine engraving to the Pernice’s steel parts. You have engraving of scrolls and leaves to the entire action faces that continues to the tang edges and top lever, giving a nice unity to the whole action and is finished off by hand.
You have a long lozenge shaped barrel safety, which is auto-set on opening, with a traditional raised barrel selector with single or double red dot indicators to show the barrel selected.
The trigger, as with the Columbus model I tested recently, is a single unit that is detachable with a single Allen screw with key provided, Zolis trademark. The trigger guard has generous proportions but nicely styled and engraved to the surface. The single, silver, smooth trigger blade is a selective single trigger that operates on an inertia operation to trigger the second barrel.
This trigger blade is also adjustable, so that you can alter to suit you, a friend, or gloved hand. The internals are very well-honed and have self-lubricating springs with titanium coated components.
Two grades of walnut are available and priced accordingly; the Grand Lux and Ambassor priced at £4995 and £5989 respectively. Again, the styling is very game orientated but still very practical for most shotgunner’s needs.
I had the Grand Lux version, with a very nice rubbed oil finish that has a lovely traditional sheen. The forend is attached via a forward mounted release button that is both elegant and easy to access. It frees up the underside of the forend for more chequering and twin pins and engraved studs. The whole of the forend, which is slim with a nice rounded end, is finely chequered but still affords enough grip.
The rear portion of the stock has Zoli’s long, shallow pistol grip form. That again I really like, as it seems to melt into the stock. It gives a very natural angled hold for the firing hand and gives the Pernice that look of a streamlined profile. The comb is reasonably shallow but there is little cast to the stock, about 1/8th-inch.
The figuring has a mellow honey hue, with contrasting bands of darker figuring, making for a striking look that will only improve with age. Another classy feature is the walnut pad, as a replacement to the rubber recoil pad. On a 20-gauge, it is no problem and further adds to the Pernice’s appeal.
These 20 gauge barrels are available with a length of 28-, 30- or 32-inches and are multi choked. They are all silver soldered for strength; the top rib is a nice, slim 4mm solid Churchill rib version, with serrated surface and single gold bead to the muzzle end. There is a solid rib between the barrels and the overall finish is Zoli’s super quality, blacked polish bluing that has a real depth to it.
These barrels were the 30-inch (well, 29.5-inches) and the ejectors are welltimed and positive and the chokes supplied are the usual full complement.
I used the ¾ choke tube in the bottom barrel and shot at 30-yards on to 30- inch pattern boards.
These cartridges are imported by Edgars themselves and proved an economical and good performer. I had a load of Speed fibre cartridges that are 70mm length, high brass head and loaded with 28-grams of No. 7.5 shot size. Nice high pellet count for this one at 308 total pellets striking the board, with a spread of 137 pellets to the outer sectors and a whopping 171 pellets in the inner 15-inches. I have to say, really nice, evenly spread patterns and count ratio for the ¾ choke.
This is a hard-hitting cartridge with Extreme XTRM hardened lead pellets. It is a 70mm case sizing, with a fibre wad and No. 5 shot size. I used the 28-gram loading that proved quite spectacular really. I had a total of 166 pellet strikes, due to the fewer and larger No. 5 pellets but a perfect 83 inner and outer spread. That’s superb for a hard-hitting kill, central zone and edge pattern for any error in swing, remarkable!
This is a 70mm case with a high brass head that uses a fibre wad and 28-grams of No. 6 shot. Again, lovely even patterns, which is what you want with a total of 263 pellets in the 30-inches split near perfect at 128 pellets to the outer sectors and 135 pellets to the inner. High performance and great patterns.
I have to wonder why there aren’t more round-bodied shotguns on the market, as they are really a lovely looking gun. Shotguns are all about their looks, balance and handling. The Pernice has all three in spades and is a really elegant, top performing little 20-gauge that although will see it used mainly on the Game fields, is also suited for younger, smaller framed or just some one wanting a bit of a connoisseur’s gun.
The patterns thrown were very good and Zoli Pernice has that characteristic of a bit of kudos, which is hard to put a finger on and make, Zoli have done it.
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