Lightweight and visually appealing, the Rizzini Artemis Light 12-bore impresses and, while it would not be the first choice for a large driven day, as an easy-to-carry specialist tool it excels, says Michael Yardley
This month we look at a Rizzini Artemis Light, a 30in over-and-under built around a sideplated, Ergal alloy-bodied, triggerplate action. It has a single selective trigger, is steel shot proofed and comes with five steel-friendly, flush-fitting, 70mm multichokes. The 6mm sighting rib is ventilated and fitted with a traditional metal bead. Solid joining ribs extend for the entire length of the barrels (some manufacturers dispense with them under the fore-end to save weight but, potentially, disturbing handling dynamics).
Weighing in at just over 6lb 4oz, this Artemis is around 1lb less than a comparable steel-actioned gun. It feels especially light to the rear (disassembled, the stock and action seem remarkably lacking in mass). There is a pronounced forward balance, with a balance point fully 2½in forward of the hinge pin. The gun still feels both controllable and pointable when mounted, thanks to excellent stock shapes.
This sideplated Artemis appeals visually too. There is plenty of room for engraving and Rizzini has made full use of it, covering the action with deep, lasered (but hand-finished), acanthus scrollwork. The design is from Bottega Giovanelli, a renowned company that has done much to advance Gardonne engraving. Action walls bear the Rizzini name in a gold ribbon, while the action belly boasts a couple of rampant gold lions holding a scroll. The engraving and coin action finish score highly, nevertheless. Deeper, lasered scroll has become fashionable in Gardonne in more recent years. It looks significantly better than older, thinner, rolled-on patterns.
Bringing the Rizzini to face and shoulder, one notes a relatively low comb (as still seen in many Italian and Japanese game guns). It was not so low as to be a barrier to testing. The drop measurements were 13/8in at the front and 21/4in to the rear combined with a pleasantly tapered comb. Slightly higher shelf dimensions (1½in and 2in or 13/8in and 2⅛in) would be my preference. In fact, Rizzini offers a higher comb at no cost on special order. The length of pull on the test gun is 14¾in with a wooden butt-plate fitted. No quibbles here, bar that the plate is attached with Phillips cross-headed screws rather than traditionally slotted ones.
It would be hard to improve the general form of the stock. The grip, a rounded pistol (also sometimes called semi-pistol, half-pistol or pommel), was exceptionally comfortable. The rounded fore-end was particularly good too. Grip and fore-end shapes are an area in which Rizzini score highly. Their mid-depth action facilitates efficient grip design; 12- or 20-bore, it is a little deeper amidships than a Beretta or Perazzi to accommodate the Browning- style bolt, allowing for extra hand depth rearwards.
The 30in barrels here have 3in chambers with mid-length forcing cones and 18.4mm felt-friendly bores. Monobloc in construction, the barrels are well made, with straight tubes showing no assembly distortion. Rizzini offers 28in tubes as a no-cost option; 32in barrels (not my first choice for this model) are available at extra cost (£299). A solid rib is also possible (£214) but might increase frontal weight.
What of lightweight guns generally? This is a 12-bore, which weighs about the same as a lightish all-steel 20-bore. I often advise 30in barrels for 20-bores. This alloy-action gun offers a different path for those needing an easily carried gun with wide cartridge availability (although cartridge selection remains critical). Some lightweight 12-bores do not inspire. I’ve struggled to find anything better than my ancient Thomas Turner side-by-side. However, the well-presented Artemis warrants attention. It is an evolved, modern design. It has the pointing and control advantage of 30in stacked barrels combined with near-ideal grip shapes. It is a well-conceived, specialist tool. Many are of the opinion that light is good, meantime. It is not so simple.
The Rizzini Artemis Light is built on a modified trigger-plate, alloy-bodied action with bifurcated lumps, stud-pin hinging and a Browning-style bolt. There is a titanium insert on the action face for additional strength. The hammers hinge on the (also Ergal) trigger plate. Helical mainsprings are captive and fitted over guide rods adjustable for rebound to avoid primer fouling after firing (there is a screw slot on one guide rod end and a nut on the other). The main locking bolt is wide and flat and available in several over-sizes, allowing for adjustment. Ejectors have coil springs in the barrel and ‘trips’ on the monobloc. When the hammer falls, the cocking bar is pushed forward and an extension of it moves the ejector trip to its eject position. Beretta ejectors function similarly; indeed the principle is seen in most Italian shotguns, with slightly different execution. It is to be distinguished from the fore-end hammer ejectors in most Mirokus and Brownings.
This is a lightweight gun that has to be tested with potential application in mind. It would not be the first choice for large driven days, sporting clays, or situations where heavy loads are routinely employed. The weight, at just over 6lb 4oz, will not soak up recoil. Yet the Artemis Light impresses. Great stock shapes reduce recoil effects because the gun can be held so well. The grip was splendid: ergonomic and hand-filling. The rounded fore-end was also good. One soon adapted to the extreme forward balance. I gave it to a friend used to a 32in Kemen but the absence of weight meant the gun seemed unsteady for him. Noting the need for a little extra effort to control the Artemis (as all light guns require), I fared much better. It won’t suit everyone, but as a dedicated gun for walked-up work such as woodcock or snipe this is a serious contender.
RIZZINI ARTEMIS LIGHT 12-BORE
♦ RRP: £3,855
♦ ASI, Alliance House, Snape, Saxmundham, Suffolk IP17 1SW
♦ 01728 688555