Michael Yardley compares the respective shooting qualities of 30in and 32in models. How would this deluxe Forum fare? And which barrel length does he prefer?
There is much for Michael Yardley to consider as he reviews the Guerini Forum 32in 20-bore. Does he prefer the 30in or the 32in?
For more from Guerini, read about the bold and innovative Guerini Revenant.
GUERINI FORUM 32IN 20-BORE
This 32in, 20-bore Guerini Forum is imported by Anglo Italian Arms (who also bring Fabarm guns into the UK). I requested the gun because I have been conducting a series of experiments on the shooting qualities of 30in and 32in 20-bores. I am interested in the perception of forward allowance using the different barrel lengths and the ultimate placement of the shot pattern (I used to think long barrels reduced the apparent lead picture but it’s not so simple).
The Forum, meanwhile, is Guerini’s most upmarket field gun save the Revenant. It is distinguished by tight scroll and game-engraved side-plates, an extended trigger tang, fine chequering and other deluxe model features. Apart from the firm’s excellent solid, taper rib there is a skeletonised steel pistol grip cap and a well-figured, 14⅞in butt without a separate end-plate or fixing screws (unusual in mass-produced over-and-unders). The Forum sits almost at the top end of Guerini’s range, above the Tempio (a trigger-plate ‘boxlock’), the Magnus (side-plates with game scenes), the Maxum (side-plates with deep scroll) and the Apex (fine scroll only, an extended tang and steel-capped grip).
The test gun is predominantly machine made, like the vast majority today, but distinguished by its extra hand work. The artisan input is evident in refined stock shapes, the well-executed, traditional oil finish and in especially good barrel presentation. You can also see evidence of extra hand work in the decoration on the action. The attractive engraving is applied by laser (a process Guerini has led the way with) but hand finished (areas with curved surfaces require more handwork). The machined components of the gun inspire confidence; the engineering of the action body is particularly neat.
The Forum’s three-inch chambered barrels are monobloc and fleur-de-lys proofed for steel shot use up to half choke. Both barrels are marked 15.9mm, which is the norm for a Gardonne 20. The barrels are well-presented internally and are struck up well externally, too. Five flush-fitting, interchangeable chokes are supplied (quite short by modern standards at 54mm but not deficient for it). Guerini obtains its barrels and some other parts from Fabarm (a firm it now owns). Fabarm is esteemed for its barrel expertise and has innovated much in this area.
The Guerini product itself has become extremely consistent. The young company was founded only 20 years ago by brothers Giorgio and Antonio. Mike Mansfield and the late Kevin Gill got together to bring them into the UK in 2005. When the marque first appeared here, I helped what was then Guerini UK with specifying the stock dimensions for the new line. I have handled and shot the guns a lot since. The shapes and proportions of the 20-bore models particularly appeal. A positive consequence of combining Beretta-style hinging with Browning-style bolting – which necessitates a slightly taller action – is that the top and bottom tangs may be ideally spaced for the construction of an ergonomically efficient grip (one that is relatively even throughout its length). Guns with shallow actions can suffer from grips that are insufficiently deep forwards and may not anchor the hand effectively (allowing it to slip forward in recoil).
Any other points to note? All Guerinis offer a 10-year warranty on mechanical parts. Anglo Italian also offers an in-house servicing package. Alistair Dawkes, who is responsible for it, notes: “We have introduced a maintenance scheme where people can return guns to us for a mechanical service at a flat fee of £260. We would advise this every three years or so. We will replace anything internally that needs replacing. It will routinely include main and safety catch springs, and may also include strikers, locking bolts and other parts. The gun is re-tensioned to feel like a new gun on opening. Turn around is usually two to three days.”
The Guerini action, 20 or 12, is well proven. I have had one (easily remedied) failure in 10 years of hard use with several guns, the fracture of a bolt release latch, otherwise, no dramas at all. The reliable design owes something to Beretta, Browning and Fabarm. At the knuckle are stud pins much like a Beretta or Perazzi; to the rear, a bite and bolt much like a Browning. The works are driven by coil springs. There is a single, round, cocking rod, like a Fabarm, centrally located. All simple but good. In its clay guns, Guerini offers another more radical design, the Invictus. It has two interchangeable barrel cams (essentially acting as hinge pins) that engage in recesses near the knuckle (reversing convention). Additionally, a small, replaceable steel block mid action supplements the conventional rear bolt. These features are not yet incorporated into its game guns, well served by the earlier design.
A while ago, I tested Guerini 30in and 32in 20-bores with Chris Bird, Holland & Holland’s chief instructor. I had noticed that my 32in Guerini 20-bores shot well on driven pheasant but less so on clays. Why? It transpired that I was shooting slightly behind my precise mark with the longer tubes. You needed to make an effort to ‘drive’ the barrels on. The new 32in Forum proved pointable, if a little front heavy, but it was good to shoot. Trigger pulls were crisp, the fine chequering and good shapes provided effective purchase and control. The taper rib was excellent. I shot the Forum better at clays than other Guerini 32in 20-bores, thanks largely to the experience gained previously. Once understood, the gun was outstanding. Would I opt for 30in or 32in? With the Forum’s refinement, I would chose 32in but, as general advice, a 30in 20 is rarely wrong.
Guerini Forum 32in 20-bore
♦ RRP: £6,975
♦ Ango Italian Arms, Unit 10, Birchy Cross Business Centre, Broad Lane, Tamworth, Warwickshire B94 5DN.
♦ 01564 742477