Mike Yardley is impressed by this pretty gun from the Italian maker, which is particularly well engraved and balanced. Missing little, he declares it one of the best 28-bores he has tested
Mike Yardley finds that he doesn’t miss much with the Rizzini Grand Regal 28-bore — and it puts a smile on his face.
Take a look at Mike’s take on the Beretta 695 20-bore — a controllable, lightweight gun that he recommends for those of smaller stature.
RIZZINI GRAND REGAL 28-BORE
This month’s test looks at a 30in B Rizzini ‘Grand Regal’ 28-bore. I must admit a bias before proceeding: I am great fan of 30in 28-bore over-and-unders and use two myself. I am also a fan of Battista Rizzini’s guns. He is an important figure in modern Brescian gunmaking. He has developed a major industrial concern at Marcheno, making full use of high tech but, unusually, he has also developed the benchcraft capability of his works, bringing in new talent through acquisition of other firms.
Edward King, who has imported Rizzini guns through ASI of Snape since 2010, notes: “Rizzini are in a great position now because they have invested significantly in recent years bringing nearly all the gunmaking process under their own roof. Their guns, although principally made by machine and making full use of the latest CNC and laser techniques, are never far away from a time-served gunsmith’s hands.”
The test gun, presented as an extra finish model, weighs in just under 7lb (not light for a 28). Built on a dedicated action, it is a much evolved version of a distinctly Gardonne gun. Here, in arguably its most elegant manifestation to date, it is offered with a rounded bar, sideplates, profuse laser-applied but artisan-finished engraving, ‘Grade 4’ wood, an extended fore-end iron and trigger guard, and with an elegantly formed, wide radius pistol-gripped stock. The fore-end and pistol grip are steel capped. In other words, it has all the ‘bells and whistles’ and carries with them a price tag of £9,500.
Less expensive models of similar mechanical spec are on offer. The Regal Extra dispenses with the Boss-inspired extended fore-end iron and comes in at £7,500 with game-scene engraving; the Regal Deluxe at £5,940 is scroll-engraved with ‘Grade 3’ wood but still boasts an extended trigger-guard and steel grip cap. The starting point of the range is the plain Br110, which as a 28-bore starts at a very affordable £1,725.
Why bother with the ritzier guns? Well, life is short and beautiful things make us happy. Many will be attracted to the exceptional engraving on the Grand Regal. I am particularly fond of this deeper style of scroll – it looks good and wears well. The engraving is laser applied but hand finished, as mentioned. The engraving does not have the flat and lifeless look of some machine embellishment. I would also note that the Grand Regal seems to be especially well put together in all departments. One thing I took note of was the jointing (which is first class).
Unlike some stock-bolted over-and-under guns, there is very little vibration when you close the Rizzini. Similarly, the trigger pulls are exceptionally good for a gun of this type (again suggesting extra bench work).
This monobloc gun is multichoked and steel-shot proofed for 2¾in (70mm) loads. Interestingly, Rizzini will soon be offering the option of the new 3in (76mm), 28-bore chamber (Fiocchi came to market first with cartridges for these with Benelli offering a new 28-bore 3in repeater to match in 2016). My own preference in a 28-bore over-and-under is 21g for clays and 25g or 28g (1oz) 6s for game. I have shot a lot of Lyalvale 28g loads through my heavier guns, too, and, contrary to some opinion, have found them comfortable to shoot and efficient.
Any negatives? This Rizzini came up well, with good fore-end and grip shapes but it did not bed especially securely at the shoulder. This puzzled initially, then I looked at the butt sole and noted on the 14¾in LOP demonstrator stock there was no defined heel bump or toe.
The butt sole appeared slightly convex rather than the usual flat or concave. I would specify conventional measurements with +⅛in and +⅜in extra at heel and toe respectively. Happily, the gun is bespoke in regard to its measurements, so this is no great issue.
The Rizzini trigger-plate design is not radical. In earlier forms, it may have been influenced by the Beretta 50 and 60 series guns. But the gun, as evolved and improved by Battista Rizzini (with mechanically similar guns still made by other Gardonne makers), is a well-proven classic. It stands in its own right with greats such as the B25 and Beretta Silver Pigeon. The stud-pin hinging is similar to a Beretta or Woodward; the flat bolt locking to rear owes much to Browning, the fore-end appears Boss-inspired. The works are powered by coil springs with hammers hinging on the trigger-plate and sears from the top-strap. The ejectors are a typically Italian pre-sprung design with trip via two-piece cocking rods in the floor of the action (timing regulated by two small slides within the monobloc). One interesting feature is a mechanical single trigger, especially useful on a 28 where light payload may be used.
The Grand Regal is one of the best 28-bores I have tested. This pretty gun was heavier than many small bores and better for it. It remained fast handling and controllable with its 30in barrels and forward balance. Trigger pulls were excellent (better than most guns of this type), the small thumbpiece top-lever efficient and comfortable, and the selective safety positive in action. The solid, tapered rib was first class. I didn’t miss much with the Rizzini – and it put a smile on my face. It would suit early season grouse and partridges, and I would happily take it on a normal pheasant day with the right load (for high-bird work you might feel a bit undergunned). Shooting a 28 can make average birds sporting and there is a particular pleasure in using such a well-presented and attractive gun as this.