With relatively light barrels and good pointing qualities, Michael Yardley finds this gun an attractive proposition for rangy work – with, perhaps, a slight tweak to the stock
Michael Yardley is impressed by the Guerini Invictus High Pheasant. With relatively light barrels, excellent handling dynamics and good pointing qualities, it could be one of the best high-bird guns on the market with just a few tweaks.
For more gun reviews, see what Michael Yardley thought of the hotly anticipated addition to Browning’s stable. Read Browning B15 20-bore D grade.
GUERINI INVICTUS HIGH PHEASANT
The Guerini Invictus High Pheasant is a new gun from Anglo Italian Arms, created with high birds and heavy use in mind. It has been developed from the Invictus competition gun (introduced in 2014), itself interesting because it has an action – a genuine innovation – that dispenses with a conventional hinge pin or trunnion studs. Instead, the barrels pivot on the action by means of detachable cams fitted to the front of the monobloc where there are normally recesses. These engage into the action (effectively the opposite of the usual plan, where load-bearing studs mate with recesses in the monobloc, or, where barrels pivot by means of a “hook” on a full-width pin). The advantage of this system is that the bearing surfaces are easily replaceable when or if the gun comes “off the face”. Guerini claims it’s good for a million shots and backs this up with a limited lifetime warranty.
We will return to the intriguing mechanics in the technical section, meantime, first visual impressions of the Guerini are strong. It is typical of the marque and boldly styled. Finish and detailing impress. The coin-finished action shows off the extensive engraving well. The tight scroll and game engraving is quite elaborate with a chiselled pheasant to the centre of the side-plates (my preference would be for the attractive, finely formed scroll alone). The barrel blacking is good, deep and lustrous with sound jointing between barrels and monobloc. The engine turning to the sides of the monobloc is a nice touch and the wood-to-metal fit and oil finish are all competent. The well-cut chequering is set out in traditional panels, the wood itself (Turkish walnut) is well figured.
Handling the Invictus, one becomes immediately aware of good dynamics. The action is wider than average by a couple of millimetres at 42mm than others in the range (which are usually 40mm). The wider receiver puts more weight between the hands. The test gun with 32in, fixed choke barrels (there is also a 30in option) weighs in at 8lb 1oz – substantial but lighter than many 32s, which are often 8½lb or more these days. The three-inch chambered, fixed choke (three-quarters and full) barrels are not too heavy at the muzzle and feel noticeably lively for a big, long gun. The 10mm to 6mm tapered sighting rib (which has a shallow central channel and small mid-bead) presents a near-ideal picture to the eye (although the small mid-bead might be removed). I also liked the full length joining ribs, which contribute to the good balance and bring a little more weight to the mid-section compared to guns that dispense with ribbing under the fore-end (as many now do to save weight).
As the Invictus comes to the shoulder it feels very pointable – better in this respect than some larger guns – and noticeably better than many fitted with multichokes, which usually necessitates excessive tromboning of the muzzles and extra mass to accommodate them. The well-finished stock, however, quite full in its shapes, might be improved in my opinion. Measuring 15/16in at the front of the comb and a smidgen over 2in at rear, it was high in the comb – a bit too high for most of us of average stature and build. The grip felt very full, too, and there was a palm-swell, which is an unnecessary addition to a field gun.
The comb might have been more tapered forward and the thumb flutes are rather deep (more of an aesthetic than ergonomic issue). The length of pull was good at about 14¾in and the wooden butt plate well suited to a game gun (and allowing for easy fitting of a recoil pad should one be required). The fore-end was one of my favourite patterns, rounded, not too thick and fitted with an Anson push rod release latch. I also liked the shape and positive function of the barrel-selector-cum (auto) safety.
As well as the radical plan of having the “cams” – the male half of the Invictus hinging system – on the barrel-monobloc rather than projecting at the action knuckle, the gun has a replaceable, gold-coloured bearing/locking block mid action that supplements the rear bolt (itself redesigned to increase bearing surface). This “Invictus Block” adds strength and reduces the effects of mechanical stress on closing and firing the gun. It locks with the barrels lumps opposite a conventional Browning-style sliding bolt emerging from the action face. The action of the Invictus is thus double-locked in the manner of a Boss or Woodward over-and-under but by different (and clever) means. Guerini has also reworked its trigger with improved sear geometry and industrial hard chrome plating to reduce friction. The function is better than previously with a sub-3lb pull and less creep. The single selective mechanism is inertia operated.
The new Invictus has one of my favourite qualities in a gun intended for serious, rangy work – the barrels are relatively light for length. It is no lightweight at 8lb 1oz but, by 32in standards, it is not especially heavy, either. Its handling dynamics are excellent: plenty of weight between the hands with the wide, side-plated action but not too much at the muzzles. The gun feels great and the good pointing qualities are enhanced by a splendid rib and fore-end. I was less keen on the way the stock was set up. It would be too high for most and the front of the comb was too thick (both might easily be rectified). Guerini would be well advised to change the stock specification, especially as everything else is so sound. Once I adapted to shooting a little underneath birds, the Invictus shot well, decisively powdering clays and showing very low felt recoil. With a few tweaks, this is a winner – potentially, one of the best high-bird guns on the market and a real contender against MK60s and Kemens.
GUERINI INVICTUS HIGH PHEASANT
♦ Price: RRP £5,200
♦ Anglo Italian Arms, Unit 10, Birchy Cross Business Centre, Broad Lane, Tamworth, Warwickshire B94 5DN
♦ 01564 742477