Today the test gun is a Fabarm Elos. It is a intended as gun that might suit new entrants to the sport with SRP of £1,240 (putting it into Lanber, Miroku and Bettinsoli territory). The Elos is equipped with a single selective trigger, 30” barrels and a titanium-plated, slightly rounded, forged steel, action body. First impressions are very good. Although the mechanical design of the gun is not going to set the world alight – the Elos is based on the usual ‘euro’ action combining elements of Beretta and Browning – the styling and quality of finish are really excellent for the price.
The rounded action is especially smart. The engraving, executed by a high tech process, and quite sparse, is nevertheless most attractive, combining the classical and the modern stylistically. The wood work looks particularly good too. The stock is well proportioned with a full pistol grip that has subtle palm swells to either side. It is made from reasonably figured walnut that has been matt finished in imitation of oil (I am assuming this, because at the price a hand rubbed oil finish would not usually be an option). Chequering is laser cut in traditional panels. The barrel blacking is competent, though lacking a little in lustre.
Overall, the gun scores highly on the aesthetic front. I visited Fabarm in Northern Italy a few years back. Two things were notable about the firm. One, the sheer scale of the operation – this is a major company that, with CNC running 24 hours a day, makes something around 30,000 shotguns a year – the second was the effort they put into the detailing on their guns to make them stand out from the pack. Let’s be frank, save for Beretta and Perazzi, most Italian makers in and around Gardonne tend to make a very similar gun today.
Fabarm, whilst they use an action design not unlike other volume producers, have made a real effort to make their guns different. They have proportioned their actions to look as svelte as possible, they have put considerable effort into developing new engraving and plating technologies (like Caesar Guerinis, some of their guns look remarkably good for their price), and, they have conceived a new barrel boring system which they call Tri-bore. Before considering that in more detail, though, let’s get some of the conventional stuff out of the way.
The barrels of the Elos, like most modern over and under guns, are built on the monobloc system. They are made, unusually, by a deep drilling process rather than by hammer forging which has become the norm with larger manufacturers. Fabarm claim deep drilling creates less stresses in the metal. It is also notable that they season the metal for the barrels in much the same way as some season wood. The barrels are generally well put together, the jointing between barrels and monobloc is sound, the ventilated 7mm sighting rib is well laid, as are the solid joining ribs, I noted, however, that the bottom tube was not quite straight on internal examination (I really see guns with perfectly straight tubes at any price point). The barrels have 3” (76mm) chambers and are proof tested to 1630 BAR – an exceptionally high figure
O.K. now let’s look at the Fabarm Tri-bore system. This combines lengthened forcing cones with an over-bore (at 18.7mm) to first section of the bores. It constricts, however, to 18.4mm by the time one gets up the chokes. The chokes, part of the Tri-bore plan, are themselves interesting. Over 3” in length, they have an especially long cone leading into a conventional parallel section. Fabarm claim that the Tribore system creates far more efficient patterns. As I have noted previously, I am not a pellet counter by inclination, but the breaks produced by the test gun where good. Felt recoil was also better than the norm. I usually find that guns with more open bores tend to kick me less in testing.
The action of the test gun is of typical Italian pattern as noted. It has trunnion hinging much like a Beretta. Unlike a modern Beretta, however, the pins are not replaceable by means of an allen key. A full width bolt emerges from the bottom of the action face to engage bites beneath the bottom chamber mouth (the system created by John Moses Browning and seen famously in the Superposed/B25 and its clones). This arrangement is strong and well proven but does not allow for quite as low an action profile as in those designs where the bites and bolt operate to the side of the chambers. Coil springs power the hammers of the Elos. The single trigger is recoil operated with the usual simple and reliable bob-weight mechanism. The barrel selector is combined with a safety as is also the modern norm. Both safety and selector are a good size and positive in action. I also liked the shape of the trigger blade itself – forget interchangeable blades all any gun needs is a well designed shape like this. Like the action body, the trigger is titanium coated.
The stock of the Elos is well presented too. I thought the grip very good – not too tightly radiused and comfortably hand filling. The comb was also well conceived. At last, the Italians, are getting away from the clubby – trap inspired – stocks that used to afflict some of their production. It was also nice to see real wood and real grain (although there is a Tri-Wood option on the Elos – which I would not go for assuming the wood of this gun is typical). The schnabel forend is better than most in that the lip or beak (Schnabel means duck’s bill) is not too pronounced. My only issue concerns the sliding release catch which, although it functions well, might be better replaced with a latch or front button. Measurements on the Elos were a sensible 14 ¾” for length of pull and a drop of 1 ½” at the nose of the comb and 2 ¼” at heel (normally, I would have said this was a smidgen low, but I could not lose the bead by increasing cheek pressure). A simple black recoil pad is fitted.
Well, this not a Purdey or a Perazzi with a selling price around a grand and must be judged as such. The Elos is an attractive, well-engineered and well-finished gun for its money. It shoots well too. This model is a hybrid ‘do anything gun.’ With a 7mm rib it pointed quite well. Felt recoil was good. Stocks shapes were better than average and offered good purchase and control as well as comfort. Trigger pulls had a bit of creep. I could pick on a few other small points, but I won’t. I think the Elos offers good value for money and would not only make a good starter gun, it might be of interest to anyone looking for a solid workhorse that might be put to just about any shooting task.
Barrels: 30” (26 and 28” options)
Chokes: multi (4 supplied)
Weight: 7lbs 10oz.