- 2 Comments
- Last updated: 19/11/2018
Franchi are a very old gun maker from Italy and I remember their older styled guns when pigeon shooting on my uncle’s farm. These were semis and worked off the tried and tested inertia or recoil operated system which made the Franchi`s a reliable and unbeatable pigeon decoying or duck gun.
The new Franchi takes its heritage from 1868, but being part of that GMK Beretta, Benelli group of guns takes a styling from these designs. The Affinity is offered in a range of finishes and styles, ranging from wood, silvered action and black to full camo clad in various patterns to left handed models and even competition grades and slug guns. If you shoot a 12g or 20-gauge then Franchi have a semi for you.
I had the 12-gauge version of the Affinity in Black synthetic stock configuration that comes with three chokes (only one supplied) stock adjustment wedges, oil and sling swivel kit.
The barrel is available in 61-, 66-, 71- and 76mm lengths and I had the 71mm or 28-inch version in 12-gauge, although a 20-gauge option and lefthanded version is offered.
Internally you have an 18.3- to 18.5mm bored 12-gauge barrel and relatively short forcing cone allowing use of fibre or plastic wadded ammunition alike. The barrel is multi choked and has flush fitted chokes. They come with three chokes, ¼, ½ and full, but only the ½ was in the case. The bore is chromed for longevity and the is steel proofed for 3-inch magnum shot so good for all normal hunting loads.
The exterior finish is a semisatin muted black to reduce reflections and judging by the marks from numerous handlings at shows, does rub bright with use. You have a broad rib of 8mm, which is both flat and serrated with a single red day glo bead up at the muzzle. I really like the slightly raised aka trap-style rib that does lead your eye straight down the rib and not on top of it. There are eight uniform vents beneath with a nice slanted profile.
The action is an inertia type that means the energy of the cartridge firing is utilised to reload and cycle the action. Thus, less parts are used, resulting in a simpler and more reliable operating system. You have reduced recoil more than shooting a conventional double and there is no dirty powder residue or grime from the firing cycle to clog or gum up the cation.
The barrel has a single locating ring/lug that sits into the forend and the action rides on twin action bars. These connect to the bolt carrier and direct the bolt rearward without twisting and the large spring ensures the bolt returns to battery after firing.
The bolt is pretty typical these days, with a blued body but brightly polished head section. This is the rotating type that locks directly into the back of the barrel via two large rotating locking lugs. Once locked into place the tongue of the barrel acts as a support for the bolt and also houses the small hardened ejector spur that can be removed or replaced if necessary via two pins. When the Franchi fires the bolt compresses a spring within the bolt that both locks and then when sprung opens the bolt rapidly.
There is a large polished extractor claw to grip to any rim for a positive extraction and quite long but smooth surfaced bolt handle to operate the bolt. Operation is very smooth and feels well-made and engineered that inspires confidence in the design.
The actual action is made from aircraft grade aluminium for strength and lightness and again finished in a semi-satin black finish all over. Only a couple of striated lines add any adornment to the action sides. There are two sets of dovetail cuts to the top of the receiver, so scope mounts can be fitted, always a nice option. There is a polymer trigger guard with a big white F stamped into the top and for an Italian semi-auto it is quite reserved in appearance with a smaller than fashionable trigger guard ring.
The trigger is slim and smooth finished and is blocked by the traditional and simple to use cross bolt safety sited into the rear of this guard.
Loading again is simple with no mag blockers or the like which I prefer, to be honest. A polished steel ventilated ramp is pushed down to slide the rounds into the magazine which has a nice red anodised mag plug. It is a hold open on last round system/action and a small blued button to the right bottom front of the action release the bolt to cycle a round into the chamber ready to fire.
Again, pretty restrained for an Italian semi shotgun with a standard sporter-type black synthetic finish. You can also have walnut or numerous a camouflage finishes too. The actual material is dubbed Black Techno polymer and has a moulded in colour and quite a hard finish to it. The forend is long at 12-inches and has a slim finger groove to the entire top edge and for grip beneath is what Franchi call a full interlacement! Basically, small raised squares to the majority of the base and sides for actually a good grip. This is duplicated on the pistol grip with plenty of front facing grip for hand or gloved hand. The pistol grip is slim and has an odd almost cut off look to the rear, purely cosmetic and does not affect the grip. The rest of the butt stock is pretty sturdy and has a moulded in sling swivel attachment and a larger recoil pad. This pad is Franchi`s twin 22mm shock absorbing pad that felt pretty solid but dissipates what recoil there is very well. Length of pull is 14.75-inches.
You also get shims to adjust the comb height and cast to either right or left to accommodate any shooters preference making the Affinity a gun for all shooters.
Being an inertia system the Franchi needs to be really in the shoulder to perform correctly as a lose grip will affect the bolts cycling. I used some light 24-gram Blue Diamonds that worked fine with the odd not cycling and some 34- gram High Pheasant Extremes that definitely worked!
But the Franchi with all loads feels very capable and there is little felt recoil so that’s second shot and sight line picture is easy to maintain. The balance, too, is good with a balancepoint in front of the action and I do like that slightly raised rib as it helped my more heads-up stance yet kept my eye directly focused down the rib. I only had the ½ choke which was good as it meant I good use some steel loadings safely.
First up were the Hull High Pheasant which come in a variety of loads and is also available as ‘Extreme’ loading. I had the good all-round load of 30-grams of No 6 shot, so good for pigeon or pheasant. This case had a 67mm length with a high head and fibre wadding and functioned flawlessly in the Franchi. This was the best load tested with light recoil and superb patterns at 30-yards. The 30-gram load of No 6 shot produced 153 total pellet hits on the board with 104 outer hits and 44 dense inner pellet strikes. Very well distributed and nothing would get through that pattern.
Eley`s Pigeon Select, again a very good all-round loading 70mm, was fibre wadded with a load on No 6 shot and 30-grams. So nice to see how it faired again a similar loading from Hull. Despite a stiff breeze during testing and slight left bias to the shot pattern I had a total of 112 pellet hits with 94 outer strikes and 39 inner pellets with good overall coverage.
Finally, a steel loading for wildfowlers, the Hull Steel Game. I have found this to be a very consistent and good patterning load for steel and it did not disappoint. The case is 70mm length with a high brass head and 32-grams of FE4 shot size held within a plastic wad. I had a total of 135 No FE4 pellets strike the board at 30-yards on ½ choke and the distribution was excellent for a steel loading. The inner 15-inches had 40 strikes from centre to edge and the remaining 95 pellets evenly laced around the circumference 30-inches. One of the best Steel loadings.
This is an Italian-made gun and at its price point it is better appointed than some similar priced Turkish guns. It’s no beauty, for sure, but it’s a practical gun designed to not grab your attention with futuristic looks but perform flawlessly in the field. It’s very well-balanced, reliable with 24- to 34-gram loads so long as it is shouldered correctly and has a good overall finish to endure any pigeon hide or duck blind.
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