Form, function and stylistic flourish marry happily in this special edition from the Italian gunmaker, adding a baroque touch to more traditional Anglo-Saxon tastes, says Michael Yardley
This month we are looking at a Caesar Guerini Maxum Limited over-and-under. It is a 30in-barrelled special edition based on the existing and well-established Maxum, which was introduced to the UK in 2008. It comes with flush-fitting, steel-friendly multichokes, a solid tapered (9mm-7mm) sighting rib, single-selective trigger and a profusely engraved sideplated action. The action finish sets the new gun apart. It emulates bone meal colour case hardening achieved by a chemical process. The Maxum Limited also has significantly upgraded wood. The importer, Anglo- Italian Arms, refers to this as ‘E’ grade, which normally graces its upmarket Forum and Revenant models.
First impressions of the Limited are of a substantial-looking gun replete with classical shapes and form. It is richly finished but without excessive bling, save perhaps for the damascus effect to the walls of the monobloc. Some might prefer old-school engine turning but the damascus look is distinct and complements the action colour well. The finish and decoration pay tribute to traditional British and American taste but with a touch of Italian baroque. The Maxum action, meantime, is cleverly sculpted to avoid slab sides and reduces apparent height. The darker ‘hardening’ colours suit too (they do not have the insipid look of some chemical emulations) and contrast well with the blued action furniture and gold-plated trigger. The barrel blacking is lustrous (possibly too polished for a hide). The oil-finished wood has well-filled grain, excellent figure and neatly executed laser chequering.
When brought to the shoulder, the Maxum Limited feels heavier than its actual weight because of a pronounced forward balance (about 2in in front of the hinging point). But it is not overweight at a handy 7lb 5oz: heavy enough for volume work but light enough for walking-up. The shapes of the stock and gripping surfaces are particularly good and the rounded, relatively slim fore-end is a pattern that will have few detractors. To the front of it there is an Anson rod release (which was a bit stiff to operate) and the full but fairly open radius grip could not be much bettered. Proportions are right, as is the depth for the average hand. There is no palm swell because none is needed to achieve purchase. This well-conceived design allows for enhanced control and scores aesthetically. It’s both elegant and ergonomic.
Any negatives? None on the form of the gun or its stock. I liked the well-profiled and tapered comb too and the matched wooden butt plate secured by conventionally slotted screws (concealing the usual horizontal stock bolt). Stock measurements might be slightly improved, though. There is a bit too much drop at heel, as tested – just over 2¼in. Drop at comb is almost 1½in (lower than most machine-made over-and-unders). The practical consequence of this is that the bead may be lost with normal cheek pressure at higher elevations by some users of average build. It would be quickly remedied by bending up, or, by standard ‘shelf’ measurements of 13/8in and 21/8in or, and possibly better, 1½in and 2in. Stock length was sensible at 14¾in including the butt plate. Meanwhile, creating a standard stock form to work for everyone, or nearly so, is a challenge that faces all mass producers of shotguns. In the essentials of form and shape, Guerini is much better than most. Indeed, grip, fore-end and comb shapes would be useful patterns for others. And measurements may evolve.
Turning to the barrels in more detail, they are 3in (76mm) chambered and equipped with mid-length 60mm multichokes threaded to the front. The tapered sighting rib is good and boasts a traditional metal bead – always to be preferred on a game gun to a more fragile plastic one. The gun dispenses with joining ribs beneath the fore-end – a weight-saving measure – and the joining ribs themselves are of interesting new semi-rounded form.
The design combines elements of both Beretta and Browning with inspiration from London and Brescia. There are trunnion studs for hinging (allowing for lower overall action height) and a full-width bolt mating with a bite beneath the bottom chamber. This doesn’t help with profile height but does allow for near ideal dimensions rearwards as far as grip depth is concerned. Guerinis are made by CNC machining, with decoration applied by computer-controlled lasers. Joins on the monobloc are impeccable and the inertia-operated single-trigger mechanism has developed; the pivot point has been changed to improve pulls and the sears have been similarly adjusted. The new mechanism started life on the Invictus competition models and has been brought over to the game guns. The safety catch spring has been redesigned to improve function and longevity and is more positive to operate. A well-sized barrel selector is also particularly positive.
I usually prefer 20-bore guns of this type. The dynamic qualities of a good machine-made 30in 20-bore over-and-under are much like those of a bench-made ‘golden age’ side-by-side 12-bore. They are usually of similar weight too: around 7lb. Nonetheless, the 7lb 5oz 12-bore Caesar Guerini Maxum weighs in near my ideal for a machine-made over-and-under. It felt heavier because of its forward balance (just calling for a little extra stock weight). The stock measurements were a fraction low, but the basic shapes were excellent. The fairly open grip was especially good. The gun surprised by how predictably (and instinctively) it shot as well. Trigger-pulls broke cleanly. Recoil was no issue. The solid tapered sighting rib was good. Overall, this is a handsome, well-sorted, finished gun that would suit most game shooting or clay days. It comes with a 10-year guarantee.
CAESAR GUERINI MAXUM LIMITED
♦ RRP: £5,895 (standard model £4,695)
♦ Anglo Italian Arms, Unit 10, Birchy Cross Business Centre, Solihull B94 5DN
♦ 01564 742477