A dainty over-and under that offers sound design, pleasing proportions and good finish at an attractive price point. Michael Yardley thinks it would be ideal for a young gun or lady starting to shoot
Having always had a lot of time for no-frills Lincolns, Michael Yardley is pleased to find the FAIR Lincoln Vogue 20-bore a well-made, good shooting gun at an attractive price.
For another excellent gun at an attainable price, read Michael Yardley’s review of the Beretta 695.
FAIR LINCOLN VOGUE 20-BORE
The month’s test gun is a Lincoln 20-bore Vogue model made by FAIR (Fabbrica Armi Isidoro Rizzini) of Brescia, Italy, and imported by John Rothery Wholesale of Waterlooville, Hampshire. It has 30in barrels, a single trigger and weighs in at just over 6¼lb. Without prejudicing the test, I have always had a lot of time for no-frills Lincolns. They have started many a shooting career and typically offer sound gun-making and exceptional value for money. In that respect, they remind of the old AyA Yeoman although the barrel configuration is different and the gun mechanically more sophisticated.
The first thing you note about this Lincoln – which has an RRP of just over £1,000 and shares the name of an earlier model – is that it is not without a few frills. It is a smart, modern, black-actioned gun with gold bird inlays – not as spartan as some of the Lincolns I remember. The embellishment is tastefully done. Gold birds are not my thing but the bling is not excessive. The proportions of the dedicated 20-bore action, meantime, are attractive, the barrel blacking and general presentation are good. The stock figure was better than expected, too, and real (not enhanced).
Looking more closely presents no unpleasant surprises. The 3in-chambered, steel-proofed barrels were well put together with good joints between barrels and mono-bloc. Internally, they are hard chrome plated to increase longevity. They have solid joining ribs and carry a narrow (6mm) game rib that is well laid and has a non-reflective finish. At the muzzles there is a translucent rod-type foresight that looked a bit big and delicate (a smaller, plain metal one might have been better). There are multichokes fitted (five supplied), which look similar to Beretta “Mobil” chokes. The bores are stamped at 15.9mm – not too tight. Forcing cones are quite short but internal and external finishing is good and both barrels are relatively straight (which is often not the case with less expensive small bores).
The basic shapes and dimensions of the stock are good as well, with two qualifications. Firstly, the grip is an open-radiused, full pistol but it did not anchor my hand quite as well as it might. I found it slipping forward because the grip was a little too narrow forward and not quite deep enough (it might, however, better suit a young or lady shot). The comb was properly tapered – a true field form – and not too thick as it is with some Continental over-and-unders. Secondly, the fore-end was a classic Schnabel, fine of its type, without a pronounced lip, but I would have gone for a simple, rounded front fore-end that would allow the option of extending the front hand/arm forwards for those who want it. I also prefer the aesthetics of the rounded pattern. Chequering was adequate and cut by laser.
The stock measured 14⅝in for length (which would suit most on a single trigger gun). Drop was 1½in at nose and almost 2⅜in at heel – a bit too low to the rear. This might be corrected by bending but it is surprising how often Continental makers present guns to the British market with low combs. I suspect it has much to do with their experience of shooting over dogs rather than ours of driven shooting. A low comb is the last thing a young or female shot usually wants (though it may be easily corrected with a comb raiser if one does not want to go to the bother of gunsmithing).
Moving on to handling qualities, bringing the Lincoln to the shoulder is a pleasant experience. It feels both controllable and pointable with the 30in barrels (28in, an option, might be advised for young shots). It is a good weight but the balance is a little too far forward. The rib presents a good picture to the eye (comments on the large bead not withstanding). The stock shapes, however, are generally well conceived. The overall form of the gun is good and the proportions pleasing.
The mechanical design, a variation of the trigger-plate concept, is not radical but there is nothing wrong with it. Indeed, CNC and laser manufacturing result in a noticeably better product compared to similar guns of 25 years ago. The Vogue is of typical modern Brescian pattern (and similar in its basic engineering to guns by other mid-range Gardonne makers costing much more). Conceptually, it has something of both the Browning Superposed and the Beretta 50/600 series. Locking is by a flat bolt emerging from the bottom of the action face and locating in a wide slot bite beneath the bottom chamber mouth (reminiscent of a Browning B25 or Miroku). There are Beretta-like stud pins for hinging locating in bifurcated barrel lumps. Helical springs power the hammers. The single trigger is recoil-activated, and a selector is placed on top of the conventional top strap mounted safety. The selector itself is larger than some and positive in action.
This is not a Purdey or a Perazzi (it costs about a 100th of the former and a 10th of the latter). Yet it impresses. As a 30in 20-bore it maximises everything that a cheaper, machine-made gun can. It’s easier to make a 20 that handles well than a 12 at this price point. There is little wrong. The finish is excellent considering the cost. The handling is good if slightly barrel heavy (I would add an ounce of lead in the butt). Shooting was not helped by a low comb but the Vogue still shot well. Felt recoil with Lyalvale 21gm and 24gm loads was no issue. Trigger pulls were reasonable. Pointability with the 30in, game-ribbed barrels was good. Stock shapes were generally sound. The issue with the grip might be improved with a little extra chequering to its front (though better to make the grip a little deeper forward). Overall, a well-made, good shooting little gun at an attractive price. Ideal for a hide, walking-up, driven partridge or (with slight modification, raising comb and shortening stock) for a young shot or woman.
FAIR Lincoln Vogue 20-bore
♦ RRP: £1,149
♦ Importers: John Rothery, Rothery House, Waterlooville, Hampshire PO7 7XX
♦ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of stockists