By Irwin Greenstein, Shotgun Life
Let’s face it, side-by-side shotguns are becoming the purview of us old guys. Just visit the best American side-by-side events such as the Southern Side-by-Side, World Vintage Skeet Championships or the Vintagers Order of Edwardian Gunners and you’ll see fellows of a golden epoch savoring the je ne sais quoi of a lissome double gun.
In contrast, today’s Duck Commander wannabes are spending their paychecks on magnum camo semi-autos and pseudo-tactical pump guns. Yes, you’ll still find sprightly upland adherents to bird-gun traditions, but as a minority in the trending shotgun market their trifling head count reinforces the notion of the side-by-side as increasingly marginalized in our modern times.
The 28-gauge Fausti DEA side-by-side.
For us, the side-by-side is an icon of honor in the field. No high-fiving over downed birds or texting in the blind, instead our side-by-sides harken back to that holy trinity of a thoughtful man accompanied by his beloved dog and darling bird gun blessed in his sacred endeavor.
As elder generations of devotees slip into a lifestyle of fixed incomes and leisurely recreation, buying a new side-by-side with a sexy Italian pedigree and adorned with a vintage patina for about $4,000 draws on our deeper yearning for authentic gentlemanly pursuits in a world gone mad.
Enter the Fausti DEA side-by-side in 28 gauge.
The Fausti 28-gauge DEA is built on a scaled frame.
Fausti describes its DEA side-by-sides as “classic and timeless” – adjectives that aptly capture the best upland hunts saturated in autumnal splendor where the DEA 28 gauge would come alive.
The company has been manufacturing hunting and competition shotguns since 1948 in Brescia, Italy. The factory is equipped with state-of-the-art CNC machinery. The business was founded by Stefano Fausti and is now run by his three daughters Elena, Giovanna and Barbara. Fausti USA was established in 2009. The offices, warehouse, gun room and service operation are all located in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Fausti’s 28-gauge DEA in full profile.
Like all sub-gauge side-by-sides brought into the U.S. by Fausti, the DEA 28-gauge is built on a scaled frame with lithe proportions and the sleek profile enriched by a straight English grip and splinter forend. It’s a time-honored Continental aesthetic of balance and verve you’ll anticipate from driving a 1963 Alfa Romeo Giula Spider in spirited disposition.
Our boxlock Fausti DEA shipped with polished, ripple-free, 28-inch barrels that had a flat, sold rib and brass bead on the muzzle. Five screw-in chokes of standard constrictions were a plus that provided the DEA a tad more flexibility for a 28 gauge while maintaining a traditional appearance with their flush mounts. Shooting sporting clays, we used improved cylinder and modified. Once we dialed in the point of impact the generally solid breaks showed strong patterns with #8 shot at about 35 yards.
The DEA monobloc housed a locking lump that met the receiver with an underlug and hinge pin – a classic, solid design. An Anson & Deeley locking system in the forend furnished a snug fit (no rattles). The DEA 28 gauge ejected hulls with authority or unfired shells could be extracted.
The case coloring on the Fausti DEA 28 gauge possessed a timeless vintage patina.
We particularly liked the case coloring on the steel receiver. There was a subtly to the hues that conjured a cherished heirloom. A laser-engraved, rose-and-scroll motif covered the entire action and extended to the fences, top tang and lever as well as the trigger guard and companion long tang. A gold Fausti coat of arms garnished the bottom of the receiver.
Wood-to-metal fit proved extremely tight – enhancing the quality presentation of the shotgun and certainly contributing to reliability over years of use.
Purists of the British school may object to the single trigger, but it’s a favorite configuration with the English grip for the Italians. The straight-grained walnut appeared unremarkable although without blemish, and the satin-oil application was impeccable. We found the 14½ inch length of pull to be perfect.
You can see the excellent wood-to-metal finish between the stock and receiver that was also demonstrated throughout the 28-gauge Fausti DEA.
The mechanical, non-selective trigger averaged 6½ pounds of pull. Its sear design prevents double firing. The trigger dispensed a smooth, even draw for controlled shots. When a shotgun weighs 4.95 pounds, a heavy or jerky trigger can cause the shooter to leverage the forend and consequently drop the muzzle just before triggering the shot. In the Fausti DEA 28 gauge, trigger performance afforded a sense of continence from the ready position, through the swing to the actual blade pull – a deliberate and measured punctuation to the shot.
Fans of flat-shooting bird guns (like me) will appreciate the Fausti DEA 28 gauge. Target sight picture was slightly over the bead – a personal preference for those fast, straight-away quail shots. Likewise, we found the marginal muzzle bias helpful in starting to swing the flyweight bird gun.
As a complete system, the trigger, balance point and sight picture ranked high, but again some hunters may prefer more target float, exact hinge-pin balance and a double trigger. Overall, the Fausti DEA 28 gauge consistently rose to the occasion as a solid performer and willing companion in the field.