We tested a Laura Bosis in the August 2007 issue. That gun was, however, of plainer grade than the subject of our attention this month an especially elegant 30in-barrelled, sideplated 20-bore. It weighs in at 6lb 8oz and has been finished to the standard expected of Bosis a small but respected firm based in Northern Italy.
Bosis is well known for its premier league sidelock side-by-sides (usually made on a modified Holland & Holland system action). It makes excellent Boss- and Woodward-inspired sidelock over-and-unders, too. The test gun, however, is built on a modified proprietary Gardonne boxlock over-and-under (the Rizzini name remains on the barrels of the gun with Laura Bosis engraved on the sideplates). This is more than a simple makeover, though. The gun has more handwork and therefore more character than the usual machined Brescian product. This is immediately apparent: the quality of finish is impeccable, the balance and feel equally good.
I hesitate to sound sexist, but this over-and-under has a feminine quality about it. The colours of the colour case-hardening are more subtle and lighter than average. Delicate is the word that might best describe them. The gun is border engraved to an unusually high standard. There is more coverage than is usual for this style of decoration notably intricate, relatively large rosettes around the hinge-pins. The border engraving itself is especially well executed.
The action is not just the product of robotic CNC technology (marvellous though that can be). There is evidence of significant hand-filing/reshaping to the surfaces, something that is increasingly rare even on much more expensive guns. There is enough handwork to state emphatically that this is truly a bespoke product. The gun is understated decoratively speaking and all the more desirable because of it.
Laura Bosis finishes only a few guns of this sort a year. One is getting the best of both worlds: the reliability and relative economy of a generic Gardonne design, but the best-quality finish and cachet of one of the worlds great gunmaking houses. It has always been finish that sets superior sporting guns apart from the average you can buy a £500 sidelock in Spain or a mechanically similar, but altogether different Holland & Holland for £50,000. With regard to mass-produced over-and-unders, other firms offer de luxe sideplated guns developed from their more standard models, but few offer this much human input.
The good qualities of this gun extend all the way through. The standard of filing, machining and wood-to-metal fit are all good. The solid, slightly tapered rib would have been my own choice too much better on a game-gun than the dent-prone, narrow and ventilated type seen on mass-produced guns. The finishing to its top surface is good as well and the rib is true, as are the barrels.
One small negative is that I thought the sides of barrel monobloc looked a bit plain. Engine turning might have remedied this.
I suspect, however, that this was a deliberate omission. My hunch is that Laura Bosis wants to present this gun exactly as it is. She does not want to pretend it is anything than what it purports to be. Based on a Rizzini, it becomes a vehicle to demonstrate that she is a mistress of finishing. She might well see engine turning as unnecessary bling.
I have heard whispers in the gun trade that she should not make these guns because they might undermine the rest of the Bosis production. I do not think that this is the case. She has been very careful to present this gun appropriately. It is not a Luciano Bosis but a Laura Bosis-finished Rizzini. The Bosis true sidelock production still stands apart and offers particular value for money.
Returning to the test gun: the barrels are monobloc (Bosis sidelocks always have chopper or demi-lump barrels). Chambers are 3in (76mm). I cannot imagine any sensible person wanting to fire 3in cartridges though this 6lb 8oz gun but it is gratifying to know that the makers have sufficient confidence in the strength of the design to put it forward for magnum proofing. Five multichokes come with the gun. This provides a useful means to change chokes to suit your shooting and it creates a little extra weight at the muzzles no bad thing. For years, better-quality small-bore guns were made with barrels that were too short and too light, making them hard to control. The weight distribution in the Laura Bosis Rizzini is just about perfect, however, as are the 30in barrels.
The stock is well designed, too, with an excellent semi-pistol grip and well-tapered comb. These shapes have been developed by Batista Rizzini and Caesar Guerini and have been further enhanced by Lauras handwork. The grip shape is exceptional probably the best on offer anywhere in the world on a 20-bore gun, regardless of price it allows the hand to take up a near ideal position without strain of any sort.
I do not know who actually came up with the design. I first saw it on a B Rizzini some years back and it appears inspired by some of the old Boss shapes. The fore-end design is superior as well. It also appears to be Boss inspired. The push-button fastener is well presented. It is not just a rod sticking out of the fore-end tip but has a sculptured metal surround. The button itself is a good, practical size, beautifully shaped, and would grace any over-and-under gun.
The stock of the Laura Bosis is 14¼in a little short for the average adult male (but an excellent shelf dimension for female shots). Drop measurements on the test gun are 13⁄8in at the front of the comb and 2in at heel a little higher than the norm (again making this gun potentially suitable for women). The shelf dimensions might be manipulated more easily than the average for a woman, but they might also be adapted to most men. There is moderate cast (¼in at heel) for a right-hander. Both grip and fore-end are well chequered and the standard of oil finish is equally high.
The Bosiss 30in barrels are manufactured on the monobloc system. The jointing is very good between barrels and monobloc. Barrel bores are both marked at 15.9mm for internal diameter, which is near the modern norm for a nominal 20-bore. Monobloc production is easier and cheaper than demi-lump, but still strong.
Internal and external finish of the tubes is good. Blacking is lustrous. Generally, the barrels are well put together. The bores are chrome-plated as they should be on a multi-choke gun. One hears some criticism of plating hindering barrel repair. This is misplaced chromed barrels allow one to have an occasional cleaning lapse without any great harm ensuing providing the gun has not been wet.
Sideplates and extra filing-up apart, the action of the test gun is familiar and well proven. There are stud pins at the knuckle which locate in recesses in the bifurcated lumps of the barrel. Coil springs power the tumblers. The single-trigger mechanism is of the recoil-activated type, and a barrel selector is placed on top of the conventional, strap-mounted safety. The ergonomics of barrel selector and safety are good. The
trigger blade is well shaped and gold-plated. The pulls were good and the inertia single-trigger mechanism worked without a glitch.
The locking system involves a full-width bolt that emerges from the action face and engages bites beneath the bottom chamber mouth. The low bolt and bites necessitate a slightly deeper action profile but this is of no consequence in a 20-bore such as this.
Laura Bosis-finished Rizzini over-and-under c£5,000 from J Roberts & Son (Gunmakers), tel 020 7622 1131,