Marocchi SI 12
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- Last updated: 21/12/2018
Marocchi is a gun making firm that I was not familiar with when asked to review one of their semis, and so it was with some trepidation that I opened the box when it arrived from, the importers, Viking Arms. Having done a little digging, they have been around for a considerable time. Started in the 1920s by Stefan Marocchi, initially making parts and components for side by side guns. Towards the end of the 1950s they added over and unders and then in the 1990s semi-autos too.
The test gun is the SI12 semi-auto 12-gauge, restricted to 3-shots (two in the magazine and one in the chamber). At first glance, one could be forgiven for thinking it is a Benelli, as the similarities are striking. The action is inertia-driven and very smooth; in testing, I put various cartridge weights through it, ranging from 21 to 36-grams and they cycled the test gun every time, which in the case of the light loads, was pleasingly surprising. The heavier cartridges were not uncomfortable to fire and, bearing in mind that it would not be normal to fire a large quantity of them over a short space of time the shooter is not going to be beaten up by them.
The SI12 has a length of 49”, the length of pull is a useful 14 5/8” and although according to the gun spec on the box it has a 28” barrel it is 27 1/8”. This shotgun comes with a full set of five chokes, from improved cylinder to full, the full and three-quarter tubes are not rated for use with steel shot but the other three are, it is chambered for 3” (76mm) magnum, so may well find favour with the wild fowling community. There is a 7mm wide vented rib on the gun, which has a diamond cut finish to the top surface and is finished off with a high visibility type bead.
The top of the action is grooved to accept scope mounts, no doubt, with a low powered scope and slug in mind for wild boar. There is very basic engraving on the action, with some scroll work and pleasingly finely outlined pheasants and partridge, two of which are lightly highlighted in yellow. This has been done much more tastefully than the image my description probably conjures. Chequering on all the wood is diamond-cut; as part of this, the Marocchi logo is cut into the forend and it does compliment the gun nicely. The wood on the forend is very plain compared with the stock, which does have a good grain too it and looks to be several grades higher. There is a rubber recoil pad fitted, which, despite being moderately soft, does not snag or cling to clothing.
As we have all come to expect today with semis, the metal parts are a combination of steel but mostly very light and strong alloys and aluminium. The safety is located to the rear of the trigger guard, which is made from high grade plastic; on the aesthetics front, the safety is round but the inlets for it are triangular shaped, such as one might see on some of the other autos to come from Italy. Users of some other brands will recognise the catch to hold open the working parts and, as is the norm, there is last round hold open. The button to release the working parts is a little disappointing, compared to the rest of the gun and to me doesn’t look quite right; if it were slightly larger in diameter and less proud of the action, it would be more in keeping with the rest of the gun. Wood to metal fit appears to be excellent.
With the chokes, in their hard box, is a set of shims to give some fine adjustment capability to the drop and cast, but I found the fit at factory settings to be good. Unsurprisingly, the butt was too short for me, but I could see just enough of the rib on mounting the gun. This is a very wellbalanced shotgun, which, according to my scales, weighed in at 6 3/4lbs.
After the first shot I fired with the SI12 accounted for a carrion crow, I was always going to be a bit biased, but it really did handle very well during testing. Often, it seemed to be pointing at what I was shooting at and I connected with the quarry. To me, everything felt natural in use and it felt like I’d been shooting it for years!
Most of the testing was done while doing my keeper’s rounds around my game shoot, it is lovely and light to carry if walking for several hours, copes with heavy loads well on the odd occasion that they are needed and just works. I did have a few hours after pigeons one afternoon and again nothing went wrong, except hardly any pigeons were about. Which gave me the opportunity for a few stretchy shots, which overall came off, and I am confident that I could not have done any better with any of my shotguns.
As I opened with Marocchi is not a name I was familiar with and although only the test of time will really tell, I feel confident that we are going to be hearing much more from this Italian manufacturer in the future. For those of you looking for a semi that is under the £1000 mark, my impression is these are well worth a look. The gun looks and feels right, works and will not break the bank and the truth is, how many poor shotguns have come from Italy in the past, regardless of manufacturer? None that spring to mind when taking price into consideration.
The acid test, is would I have one, and the answer to that is should I be looking for a semi under £1000, this would be a very serious contender.
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