The Fabarm Elos DII 28-bore is well made, fun to use and affordable, making it a good choice for anyone looking to try the challenge of shooting with a small-bore, says Michael Yardley
This month’s test looks at the Fabarm Elos DII 28-bore over-and-under imported by Anglo Italian Arms (which also brings in the Guerini brand). Built on the same action as Fabarm’s 20-bore, the DII sports 28in taper-bored barrels, a ventilated 6mm sighting rib, single selective trigger and long, ‘hyperbolic’ (HP) multichokes. It weighs in at 6lb 9oz – on the heavy side for a 28-bore but not excessively so. My preference in a 28-bore would be something just over 6lb (and around 7lb would be my ideal for a 30in 20-bore over-and-under). Many upmarket small-bores have been made too light in the past, suffering controllability issues as a result.
FABARM ELOS DII 28-BORE REVIEW
Lightweight small-bores are typically quick to start and quick to stop. The secret to shooting them is that they require more muscular effort to prevent them from moving through some targets too fast but may also need extra effort to keep the barrels swinging steadily on.
First impressions of the Fabarm are of an attractive and solidly put-together little gun with modernistic styling incorporating traditional elements too. The Elos DII has a rounded action bar and belly combined with a more angular appearance to the top and asymmetric scalloping to the rear. While not quite as low in profile as some designs, the DII manages to look smart and compact. The action shoulders are slightly bevelled with subtle linear hatching at the top of the walls contrasting with the lasered scroll and game scenes of the coin-finished body. A slim and streamlined top-lever with a small thumbpiece is still ergonomically efficient.
The monobloc barrels here are particularly interesting. Chambered at 2¾in (70mm) and steel shot proofed, they are what Fabarm calls ‘Tribored’. This is the gunmaker’s trademark term for a stepped back-bore constricting towards the muzzles. Taper-boring has been around almost as long as shotguns, but Fabarm’s development of it intrigues. The company claims there are pattern benefits (and I have no reason to doubt this, having always liked back-bored competition guns). They take back-boring a stage further by combining it with taper, claiming this improves pellet penetration. This assertion is credible. Fabarm explains the system thus: ‘The Tribore barrel is the concrete application of the Venturi principle… reducing the diameter of a tube with fluid in movement inside automatically [increases] the speed.’
Fabarm also adds its unusually profiled HP multichokes to the package, replacing the normal straight conic section with a gently curved one. There is a practical consequence as Tribored guns may use steel shot through to full choke (the advantage may be largely academic because steel – when available in 28-bore – performs best with less constriction).
The rest of the gun passes muster too and the walnut stock has better grain figure than one might expect at the price point. Chequering is neatly laser cut in traditional panels with attractive double border lines, and there is a pleasant and practical matt oil-style finish. A schnabel fore-end is slimmed slightly forwards and good of its type, although I would be inclined to eliminate the forward lip (which may impede those who prefer to extend the front hand) and increase the front girth slightly.
An excellent grip is a full-pistol design of relatively open radius. The depth is just right and anchors the hand well. There are subtle palm swells to either side of the Fabarm Elos DII 28-bore, which are not normally my preference but work effectively here. Ideally positioned (often palm swells are not), they contribute to excellent purchase and a particularly secure rear-hand hold. The stock comb is pleasing too, with good taper forward, and standard measurements are reasonable – a length of pull of 14¾in with a plain black 15mm pad (there is about 14¼in of wood). Drop is sensible: 13/8in at comb and 21/8in at heel (although 2in would also work as a standard measurement). There is slight cast for a right-hander.
Tribore barrels apart, the Elos presents no great mechanical surprises. It is a trigger-plate design built to a now-familiar Italian pattern. Action walls are comparatively thick, giving useful extra mass in the middle, and the CNC-machined action body combines trunnion hinging with a full-width, Browning-style bolt locking into a slot bite beneath the bottom chamber mouth. It has a single, central cocking rod and replaceable stud pins at the knuckle. Internally, hammers are driven by coil springs. The top-strap mounted safety-cum-barrel-selector is well sized and efficient; the selector is slightly bigger than the norm and better for it. There are no complications here. As you open the fired gun, the hammers are cocked and, as they go back, protrusions on them act on ejector rods that themselves push against levers in the fore-end iron, triggering the spring-loaded ejectors. This appears to be a gun designed by a practically minded engineer looking for simplicity.
A 28-bore is usually fun to shoot and the Elos was no exception. It is full weight for a 28in 28-bore but it did not feel too heavy, just solid between the hands with a good balance (on the hinge pin). Often 28s are made too light, as noted, but the DII, built on a 20-bore action, felt fine. With a 6mm rib it pointed well and recoil was modest. Stock shapes were good with an excellent grip as discussed (it is not often that I like any sort of palm swell). Trigger-pulls had minimal creep and the shape of the trigger-blade itself was good. The 28-bore Elos is a well-engineered and particularly solid little gun. It offers value for money in a crowded marketplace where many rivals now look expensive. It would make a good teaching tool, but would also suit anyone who wants the challenge of shooting with a 28-bore.
KEY INFORMATION FOR FABARM ELOS DII 28-BORE
♦ RRP: £1,795
♦ Anglo Italian Arms, Unit 10, Birchy Cross Business Centre, Solihull B94 5DN
♦ 01564 742477