By Irwin Greenstein, Shotgun Life
I’m fortunate to have the professional opportunity to shoot fine shotguns costing upwards of $100,000 and more. Boss, Fabbri, Purdey, Holland & Holland, all exemplars of sporting guns that will pretty much spoil you for life. Inevitably, when discussing these rarified shooting experiences someone pipes up that there’s no difference between using their Caesar Guerini and a Holland & Holland Sporting Deluxe. Both over/unders go bang and knock things out of the air, is their general sentiment.
The same can be said for comparing a Kia with a Mercedes Benz. Both will get you there…only much differently.
The B. Rizzini Round Body EL in French grey.
Likewise, there are a few upland gems at your local gun store that get you closer to those super-exotic shotguns without writing a $67,000 check for that new Holland & Holland. These easily obtainable shotguns are distinguished by their feel – not just balance per se but a synthesis of competence, comfort and charisma. Move to the category of less than $10,000 and the list of these shotguns is pretty short, with the round-body emerging a real stand-out.
The fluid edges of a round-body shotgun draws admirers for its rarity and opulence. Just a glance at one suggests a bird gun that’s beautiful to shoot – an ideal of grace and nobility in the field.
Assuming that prices are about the same as a conventional hard-edged action, the organic ergonomics of a round-body shotgun tend to deliver a more intuitive wing-shooting experience when shouldered and swung. Ultimately, the gun can feel more expensive than its price tag.
The rounded contour of the B. Rizzini Round Body EL.
At $6,695 the Round Body EL is B. Rizzini’s most expensive hunting shotgun imported from Italy into the U.S. The over/under proved itself a classical mid-priced field gun radiating the halo of a premium marque. The low-profile, rounded action is finished in either French grey or case colored, wearing a hand-finished, full-coverage foliate scroll surrounding game-bird cameos. I prefer the restrained case-colored version since its matched pigment engraving shows enriched depth with an embossed quality.
The B. Rizzini Round Body EL comes in all gauges. Our 20 gauge pushed the envelope for handling and finish at the price point – enriching the mystique of the affordable Italian round body. In retrospect, I would’ve opted for the 28 gauge, since it likely would’ve made the perfect package here in South Georgia quail country. That said, I’d jump on the 16 gauge for pheasant.
The B. Rizzini Round Body EL with lovely case-colored receiver.
As it turned out, I shot the 20-gauge B. Rizzini Round Body EL during off-season on sporting clays. The shotgun featured 29-inch monobloc barrels with five steel-friendly chokes, chambered for three-inch shells, a vented rib and front brass bead. The Prince of Wales stock was finished with a rounded knob grip and checkered butt – the hand-rubbed oil finish applied to Grade 3 Turkish walnut. The long trigger-guard tang flowed into the grip with a seamless fit. A slender Boss-style forend unified the elegant profile of the shotgun.
First impressions of its looks could be described as superb yet subdued – several cuts above the usual suspects you’ll find displayed in retailers alongside Benellis, Berettas and Brownings. If you’re not the flashy sort, you’ll gravitate toward the tasteful character of B. Rizzini’s Round Body EL. Shoulder it and find yourself seriously considering taking it home with you.
The classic lines of B. Rizzini’s Round Body EL.
Our 20-gauge weighed 6½ pounds. The gold-plated, single-selective inertia trigger operated at 4½ pounds for crisp execution. Unlike many brand new shotguns, it opened and closed easily – secured by an underlug lock-up.
Calling “pull” on low, fast quartering and crossing presentations highlighted a slight muzzle bias from the ready position. By comparison, targets such as chandelles, overheads and even rising out-goers advanced a neutral-handling sensibility that complemented the round-body paradigm. Regardless, the B. Rizzini Round Body EL afforded good sight pictures without any unexpected or quirky handling characteristics that would inhibit target focus. Overall, the shotgun proved predictable and controllable with its 14¾-inch length of pull.
For most of us, buying a new bird gun often boils down to money. How much can we spend and moreover, what are our expectations for the shotgun? B. Rizzinis enjoy an excellent reputation for reliability – a euphemism for quality. All I can say is that for the money the B. Rizzini Round Body EL makes a compelling case for itself.
Irwin Greenstein is the publisher of Shotgun Life. You can reach him at [email protected].
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