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Zoli Standard Game 12g

Zoli Standard Game 12g

The one cost-saving Zoli have made is immediately obvious, the fact the Standard Game has had the travelling case omitted an obvious start. Cardboard carton aside, you still get a full set of flush-fit choke tubes and the familiar orange handled hex key that allows you to remove the trigger assembly. You also get the owner’s handbook that I strongly suggest you read before you attempt to remove the trigger otherwise you’ll find yourself in a world of mechanical pain and en route to your nearest Zoli dealer. Apart from that, the box contains everything you’ll need to walk onto the peg within minutes of assembling the Game.

Starting with the furniture, you’re presented with a nicely proportioned game stock complete with a neat, vented recoil pad, an open radiused grip and an elegant Londonstyle forend all crisply checkered where they need to be. Equally, the quality of the walnut speaks for itself, the straight strong grain looking good, the semi-oiled finish picking out the natural detail whilst the fit and finish is everything shooters have come to expect from the Italian brand.

The unusual aspect of the Standard Game is that the gloss black, 3-inch chambered monobloc barrels are 29½-inches in length. Overtly Italian, since for many years many makers stuck rigidly to metric length tubes, this unusual length offers the best of both worlds, long enough to suit those who usually opt for 30-inches and quick enough for the shooter who prefers the slightly shorter 28-inch tubes. Sporting a slight flare towards the muzzles to accommodate the choke tubes and a small brass bead atop the 7-10mm low stanchion vented top rib, the mid rib as expected for a game gun, is solid.

The inertia driven boxlock action is as per Zoli, their take on the basic Boss-style. Polished, which could be a slight negative to certain potential buyers, English scroll and simple game scenes decorate nearly every part of the surfaces from the sides and raised scollops, fences and the surface of the top-tang. Contrasting up top is the short throw black toplever, so designed to allow the gun to be operated at speed when those high pheasants start filling the sky. Whilst it’s all well and good, and I’ll admit they have their place, the slick auto safety reapplies itself each time the gun is opened. I know I have my critics but, sorry, I loathe auto safety catches – an absolute menace when things start to hot up.

For the finger that does the business, an oversized gloss black guard shrouds the silvered trigger; Zoli, I’m delighted to say, have resisted the urge to gold plate the long, nicely curved blade. As I’ve already commented, by using the supplied hex key and following the book of words, the small hole to the rear of the guard allows access to the trigger group release.

Walk the Line

To shoot, the Standard Game is, from my own perspective, fractionally unusual to shoot, a phenomena that only becomes apparent when you’re using it. Weight-wise the Game comes in at 7lbs 10oz with an overall length of 47¼-inches. Drops at comb and heel along with the length of pull are a very comfortable 1 17/32-inches, 2¼-inches and 14¾-inches with a nice 5lbs 1oz trigger release weight. Hefting well with the leading hand doing the majority of the work, the Game balances approximately 1½-inches in front of the hinges giving a slight weight forward effect, unusual in the fact that the majority of game-specific 12-bores tend to pivot directly beneath where the barrels join the action.

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With the Arrow Laser Shot confirming the Game was in all likelihood one of the flattest shooting guns I’d had pass through my hands of late. Plus ¼ and ½ chokes screwed firmly home, it was my usual 28g Eley VIP Sporting shells and 50 sporting clays that awaited both mine and the Game’s attentions.

Shot in my preferred gun down style, the Game comes up well, the physical attitude meaning the muzzles are immediately positioned where the shooter wants them irrespective of the target’s direction of flight. This means if you shoot as I do (I start out in front of the bird and extend the lead by whatever margin is required) the Game theoretically ideally suited to my style. The interesting aspect is that, even with the weight forward design, the Zoli initially swings faster than might be anticipated. Reason being, the muzzles are light meaning that until you’ve altered your style by slowing down, the Game tends to go beyond what’s required, the overall behaviour being that of a far lighter 12g.

Recoil-wise the Game is comfortable to shoot over extended periods whilst over time the gun’s rather lively muzzles are easily tamed. Switching to Eley Grand Prix game load and treating the driven targets as you would on a pheasant shoot, gun down until the last moment was my preferred method of shooting the Zoli, the gun’s ease of handling promoting a more snap-shot method of shooting the gun. Switching to rabbits, hares and a few of Huntroyde’s random partridge, plus of course the occasional crow, whilst it’s slightly heavier than a 12g bought for the purpose, its my personal opinion that the Standard Game is far better suited to a day’s walked-up and an ideal rough shooting shotgun.

Used as an all-rounder on the typical walk one, stand one, routine, the Standard Game could well have been built purely for this type of informal game shooting. Don’t get me wrong, the Standard Game will down driven birds all day long and do it well, but for me it swings to quickly irrespective of the fact it typifies Zoli’s balanced handling.

Conclusion

It would be unfair to describe Zoli’s Standard Game as a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. But if you’re looking for a shotgun purely for driven shooting, whilst the Game is more than up to the job, Zoli have other, admittedly more expensive, 12-bores that are better suited to the job. But as a more adaptable game gun that’s equally at home on a peg, around the hedges working with a dog, in a pigeon hide or sat quietly on the banks of a duck pond, Zoli’s Standard Game is probably the better choice.

Where the Standard Game will also appeal is in the £2990 asking price, meaning the Zoli name will now start to feature in the selection process of potential owners who until now have dismissed Zoli merely on price. As I’ve already commented, the Game undercuts others within Zoli’s range by quite a chunk and by its very nature will be a more attractive proposition to the more hands-on, less formal shooter who looks for a good quality gun that is as equally at home when mounted against a tweed clad shoulder as it is a well worn wax proof or secreted away in the bushes up against a camo jacket.

Mated to a good dog, a crisp late winter’s evening stroll around the hedges along with the last minute pheasant or snipe that explodes from the undergrowth, Zoli’s Standard Game will reap the rewards. With a couple of birds and a bunny or two in the bag, as you drive home you’ll know exactly why you bought the Standard Game and wonder why others spend so much.

PRICE: SRP £2990 (as tested)
CONTACT: Edgar Brothers 01625 613177 www.edgarbrothers.com
THANKS TO:
Eley: www.eleyhawk.com,
Huntroyde Estate: www.huntroyde-estate.co.uk, 
CENS Digital: www.censdigital.com,
Arrow Laser Shot: www.arrowlasershot.com,
Maui Jim: www.davidgouldopticians.co.uk

  • Zoli Standard Game 12g - image {image:count}

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  • Zoli Standard Game 12g - image {image:count}

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  • Zoli Standard Game 12g - image {image:count}

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  • Zoli Standard Game 12g - image {image:count}

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  • Zoli Standard Game 12g - image {image:count}

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  • Zoli Standard Game 12g - image {image:count}

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  • Zoli Standard Game 12g - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Zoli Standard Game 12g - image {image:count}

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  • Zoli Standard Game 12g - image {image:count}

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gun
features

  • Name: Zoli Standard Game
  • Calibre: 12-bore
  • Capacity: 2
  • Barrel: 29½-inches
  • Action: Boxlock o/u
  • Stock: Game
  • Weight: 7lbs 10oz
  • Chokes: Flush-fit multi

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