By Irwin Greenstein, Shotgun Life
The GRITS (Girls Really Into Shooting) is the easiest group to find on the sporting clays course or the upland fields of bird hunting. That’s because their raucous exuberance of hooting, hollering and laughing has earned them a reputation as hardcore enthusiasts fearless in their solidarity of female empowerment through the shotgun sports.
When it comes to shotguns, though, the GRITS get downright critical about what it takes to meet the demands of the ever-growing number of women entering the arenas of recreational wing and clays shooting. The GRITS share the sisterhood’s lament that manufacturers blatantly ignore their important anatomical differences in our testosterone-fueled industry — causing women to purchase shotguns that require extensive stock modifications, inflict bruising or simply weigh in as a ho-hum second-choice youth model or low-recoil semi-auto. Bottom line: off-the-shelf shotguns generally don’t fit women and the GRITS don’t like it one iota.
Enter Perazzi with its new Ladies Sporter over/under. Although Perazzis are usually measured to fit each client, the Italian company, working in conjunction with Lars Jacob of Covey & Nye, has created a 20 gauge specifically considerate of most women. The stock is singular in purpose while the slender forend goes upland style. In a perfect world, any woman can now walk into an authorized Perazzi dealer and leave with a comfortable, high-quality shotgun built on the adaptable MX20 frame.
The Perazzi Ladies Sporter was the brainchild of Mr. Jacob and Al Kondak, Managing Director of Perazzi USA in Azusa, California. Despite the fact that Covey & Nye is clear across the country in Manchester Village, Vermont, their collaboration actually began at the 6th Annual Orvis Cup held
September 15 – 16, 2012 at the Orvis Sandanona Shooting Grounds in Millbrook, New York.
As Director of Covey & Nye, Mr. Jacob has given countless shotgunning lessons and gun fittings. Better yet, because Covey & Nye specializes in fine shotguns, he knew Perazzis intimately. So by dipping deep into his well of experience, Mr. Jacob determined the measurements of a MX20 designed for women.
“The specs have always been in my head,” he explained. “Over the years, I’ve fit well over 1,000 people and over 30 percent of them have been women. The challenge was to soften the recoil while maintaining the inherent grace of an MX20.”
For starters, Mr. Jacob knew the Ladies Sporter needed a higher Monte Carlo comb to eliminate cheekbone recoil. For the Turkish walnut stock, he stipulated a length of pull of 14¼ inches, or approximately one-half inch shorter than a standard MX20. The comb is 1-7/16 inches parallel. The stock cast-off (away from face) is 3/16 inch while the toe cast is 3/8 inch. The butt of the stock is pitched +7 degress, providing a slight contour to accommodate the shape of a woman’s breast. Mr. Jacob’s choice of a recoil pad is 0.87 inch thick. It has a flat face with rounded edges and is made of particularly soft rubber for better recoil absorption. A relaxed pistol grip with reduced wrist circumference fits the smaller hands of women, along with the slender forend. At 7¼ pounds for the model evaluated, ultimately the specific weight of any individual Ladies Sporter depends on the wood density and barrel length ordered.
From that basic $11,200 configuration on the MX20, Perazzi’s Ladies Sporter is completely modular. The standard 30-inch barrels with half-ventilated side ribs can be replaced with lengths ranging from 26 inches to 34 inches. The MX20 frame will take 28-gauge and .410 barrels. The Ladies Sporter can be ordered in 12 gauge. A left-handed version can be purchased. The lovely nickel receiver that compliments the upgraded wood so nicely is available in standard blued. You can order any grade of engraving. An adjustable comb will cost $357. Plus throw in a full set of screw-in chokes.
The Ladies Sporter evaluated by the GRITS showcased upgraded honey-hued walnut and carried a price of $11,932. Perazzi does not charge extra for custom-fitted stocks — meaning that the Ladies Sporter costs the same as a comparably equipped MX20. Any wood-based premium is based on the grade of the walnut, not its dimensions.
Customization aside, the Ladies Sporter inherits Perazzi’s legacy of international gold medals, perfectly regulated barrels, legendary durability, flawless triggers and responsive handling. As with all Perazzis, the Ladies Sporter emerges from a design philosophy that accentuates performance engineering over glitz.
“The specifications of the Ladies Sporter were selected to accommodate a female’s body type,” explained Mr. Kondak. “Women have higher cheek bones, longer necks, petite hands and want to avoid having the toe of the stock dig into them. We wanted to show women we could accommodate their anatomy with a fine shotgun, to show them that there’s an alternative to semi-automatics with a sporting gun that has a better trigger, better handling dynamics and better feel.”
We decided to challenge those lofty goals by delivering a Perazzi Ladies Sporter into the hands of the GRITS and record their unabashed feedback following several rounds of clays.
We gathered at the 5-stand facility of Lanier Shooting Sports in Sandy Hook, Virginia, situated on a 2,500-acre family farm. Elizabeth Lanier, GRITS founder and NSCA Level III instructor, drew seven other women to personally evaluate the Perazzi Ladies Sporter.
- I liked the smaller pistol grip, that it isn’t thick.
- I also liked the slim stock. It sat comfortable on my shoulder.
- Quick and excellent weight. It would also make a nice wingshooting gun.
- Very tempting.
Susan E. Estes
- I liked the fact that it wasn’t heavy.
- It naturally fit in my shoulder pocket.
- A shotgun often feels too big for me because I have small hands. This pistol grip fit very well.
- Oh my God, there’s no recoil.
- It has a very crisp trigger.
- The wood was nice.
- The balance and swing were very smooth.
- Overall, the comb was a hair high for me, maybe by a 1/16th of an inch. Otherwise, it’s a perfect fit for me.
- I loved that it had no recoil on my jaw.
- It was such an easy gun to shoot.
- Did not feel any recoil, truly.
- The gun felt well-balanced.
- There was no recoil.
- It swings very smoothly and nicely.
- It’s a very nice gun at that price, absolutely a beauty.
- The gun shoots very smoothly and has a precise point of impact. It shoots where you look.
- The gun feels good in my hands. It’s slender, not bulky.
- The trigger feels real good. There’s no trigger creep.
- I liked it a lot.
- It was easy to shoot.
- I shot real well with it and so I loved the gun.
- I liked the Monte Carlo stock.
- I loved it.
- It’s light.
- There’s no felt recoil.
- The gun understands how women shoot.