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- Last updated: 19/11/2018
When I was growing up, as today, most young teenagers wanted something different from their father’s shotgun they learnt on. Typically, I was handed an old Webley 700, AYA Yeoman or Webley bolt action .410 from my Uncle Lez to harass the local rabbit population. The trouble was, at the time, I always yearned for something a bit more modern.
I spent all my spare money on gun magazines and books and looked longing through the windows of John Powell’s and F A Andersons gunsmiths at the array of amazing, as it seems then, array of guns lined up in wood and green baize covered racks.
I had a shotgun certificate before my FAC at 14 or 15, the old green card type, if you remember and, although seriously into rifles at that age, all I could get my hands on were air rifles and .22LRs at the local gun club. However, one shotgun stood out and that was a lovely new Fabarm Ellegi standard semi-auto. Its long, flowing lines and nice walnut stock and five shot capacity, legal in those days, resonated with a wide-eyed teenager. I knew I had to have it and that Uncle Lez would give me one of those sideways eye glances that meant “the youth today!”.
I saved hard, oddjobbed, sold rabbits to the French teacher at school, sold old records to my two brothers to raise the cash plus birthdays/Christmas and finally it was mine.
That was some 38-years ago and I still have that trusty old Fabarm; sure, it’s a bit battered but it has never let me down.
This was a typical gas operated, semi-automatic shotgun of the day that had a five-shot capacity and the barrel work was blued and it wore walnut for the stock. This was the standard model, as it was all I could afford at the time but to me it was deluxe in every way.
The stock was actually typical French walnut, which was available more readily back then. I remember Jack at F A Andersons explaining that French Walnut was expensive and the strongest walnut with not a high figuring but good colour and dark streaking throughout. Those words must have resonated to a fledgling shot, as I now only wanted French walnut and the Fabarm used it, perfect.
The butt stock was plain in shape, with a low comb but plenty of cast to the right and a slim but generous pistol grip adorned by neat but pretty average chequering to both sides. One thing I disliked, and still do, is the plastic butt plate, as it slips too much in the shoulder for me.
The forend is very long and lean at 13.5-inches and has near full-length finger groove running along the top edge and then from half way down and across the base is full chequering. There are black spacers at both ends too that blend the wood to the metal, a nice touch.
The figuring is plain and I had to replace the butt stock after one year, as a friend dropped it when clay shooting, on to concrete! Life rule number one, never loan a gun!
The barrel was your standard 26-inches and the Ellegi had a fixed ¾ choke. Best of all, semiautomatic shotguns at the time had chromed bores for longer life and this model had that feature. I have to say, it must work, as 38-years of use and it’s still bright as a button. But then, life rule two, I spent every evening after a walk around the farm shooting rabbits at harvest time cleaning it, much to my Uncle’s amusement, but it preserved it.
That barrel has been modified too, Anderson’s screw cut the top to fit a scope mount for a Single Point sight, all the rage then. I also was really into 12g slugs back then and I had a Lee Loadall Junior that I reloaded on, even at a tender age of 17, sad old git. I had a friend Steve in the instrument service laboratory next door to where I worked cut the choke off to shoot slugs!
It still has that cylinder barrel, and truthfully, I still just point and shoot and things fall out of the sky, so no problems.
I remember swinging onto a pigeon and running that new barrel down a barb wire fence as I was squatted in a ditch, I was really hacked off and so tried to re-blue it myself. Life rule three, never attempt to re-blue a barrel if you have no skill!
I used to religiously clean the single piston gas-operated system and O-rings, which still today have very little wear or discoloration, despite the use of ancient Youngs 303 oil being applied. The action was a bit snazzy as it was aluminium (oh!), and to me it made sense. It was light weight and it did not rust, as you tended to carry a semi with the hand around the action out in the field.
It has a typical semi layout with a chromed, one-piece bolt and large hardened extractor claw and ejection via a stud fitted to the side wall. A detachable bolt lever to allow disassembly and a chromed loading ramp and bolt release button to the left-hand side. The trigger group is one piece and dropped from the action to clean, and I did often, via two cross pins. The trigger is small and polished and a there’s a simple cross bolt safety sited in the back of the trigger guard. That guard is small and I do remember getting gloved hands stuck on cold mornings after flighting ducks.
Realistically, the old Fabarm, as it is, would only make a ton at auction, but that’s not the point; the memories and learning curve of that old Ellegi are priceless in my book. It has continued to drop game, fur or feathered and brings back many a good memory of me and my uncle out hunting, which now my sons are enjoying too.
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