Fabarm Elos Deluxe 20-gauge over/under
Gary Girvan Tests the Elos Deluxe 20-gauge Over & Under Shotgun
In the UK they call it rough shooting; in the USA, it’s upland game hunting. Call it what you will, if you’re a hunter who enjoys days in the field with a dog and a gun after fur or feather, you’ve got some specific requirements for your shotgun. It has to be light enough to carry comfortably during a long day’s walk. It has to have a dynamic balance for quick, instinctive shooting when an opportunity suddenly presents itself. And it has to have enough firepower to get the job done effectively.
For a previous generation, the traditional British game gun provided the obvious choice: a 12-gauge side-by-side weighing around 7 pounds or less, with twin triggers providing an immediate selection of chokes. However, fashions change. These days, while the side-by-side still has a loyal following, I suspect that the most popular choice would now be a sub-gauge over-and-under. It happens to be my gun of choice for the job.
The shotgun reviewed in this issue is a very good example of the type. The Fabarm Elos Deluxe is a versatile mid-weight shotgun with refined handling qualities and very attractive presentation, made even more attractive by being priced under $3,000. This model is available in 12, 20 or 28 gauges; our testfire model was a 20-gauge with 28-inch barrels chambered for 3-inch cartridges. It is also available with 30-inch barrels.
Fabarm’s Elos family of over/unders is a large one containing a wide range of different models, many of which have been available in New Zealand. The Deluxe is the top model in the range. Although this is the first year that the Deluxe has been offered here, it’s not a new gun, having been first produced in 2013. That year, its quality was recognised by the American magazine, Field and Stream, which granted it the prestigious award: ‘Best Over-and-Under of the Year, 2013’. This was fitting recognition of the quality of the gun’s presentation and of its fine handling qualities.
The attractive presentation of the Elos Deluxe creates an immediate impact, and it generated favourable comment from the many shooters who had a chance to have a look at it. The Deluxe is stocked in a superior grade of walnut, nicely figured, and set off by a well-applied oil finish. In keeping with modern fashion, its steel receiver is slightly rounded on the bottom edges and the nickel finish is enhanced by some well-executed, machine-applied engraving. If you like game-scene decoration on your shotguns, you’ll be impressed by the quality of the work shown here. A generous amount of fine scroll work encloses a pair of partridge in flight, and the birds have been given a gold finish. The work has been finely-enough done to stand inspection under a magnifying glass.
The Elos’ action is a time-proven one that has been adopted by so many Italian gunmakers that it has become regarded as almost the Brescian standard. Over/unders from makers such Caesar Guerini, Fausti, B. Rizzini, FAIR and Franchi all employ a similar action, which has also been adopted by many Turkish manufacturers. The barrels pivot on trunnions mounted on the walls of the receiver which is milled from a forged block of high-quality steel. Lock-up is achieved through a full-width locking bolt which engages a bite beneath the lower barrel and by two underlugs at the bottom of the monobloc that engage recesses milled in the action floor. This design results in the action having a relatively shallow profile. The standard pressure testing done by the European Proof House is set at 1320 BAR; Fabarm are so confident of the strength of their actions that their shotguns are over-proofed to 1630 BAR.
The action is a trigger-plate one. Its locks are powered by coil springs, the hammers pivoting on the trigger plate while the sears hang from the top plate. The trigger is reset for the second shot by the recoil generated by the first. Its barrel selector is incorporated into the top-mounted safety which is non-automatic – it has to be engaged manually. Using the Allen key provided, you can shift the gold-coloured trigger to three positions to fine-tune the length of pull.
While the action is fairly conventional, Fabarm’s barrel technology is not. It is one of the significant features that distinguishes them from many other manufacturers. Their Tribore barrels have a complex three-section inner profile incorporating extended forcing cones, over-bored barrels, and gradually tapering choke sections. The interchangeable internal choke tubes are long – 82mm – and their unique internal hyperbolic profiles (HP) result in their being the only chokes approved by the EU Proof House (CIP) for use with steel shot in constrictions tighter than Modified. Yes, you can shoot steel shot through a Fabarm Full choke! This Tribore inner profile, in combination with the long HP choke tubes, is designed to improve patterning by reducing pellet deformation, and also to ease recoil.
The Deluxe comes supplied with five internal choke tubes which, in typical Fabarm fashion, are designated as Cylinder, Short 2/10, Medium 5/10, Long 7/10, and Xtreme 9/10. These names give a more accurate indication of suitable range than the traditional designations: Improved-cylinder, Modified, Improved-modified, and Full. The flush fitting tubes are notched at the muzzle end for easy identification when they’re installed. A well-designed choke wrench is supplied.
As previously noted, the Deluxe is stocked in an attractively-figured high-grade walnut. Its pistol grip and fore-end feature flawless machine-cut chequering, while the pistol grip has a slight palm swell to suit a right-hander. The fore-end has an interesting device which enables you to adjust the amount of pressure needed to open the gun and to tighten the latch up if it should ever wear loose. The appropriate Allen key is supplied.
Stock dimensions are pretty standard, and suited most of the shooters who tried the gun. Length of pull is 368mm; drop at comb, 38mm; drop at heel, 57mm. It has a noticeable amount of cast-off, again, to suit right-handers.
The butt-stock is finished with a soft 12mm recoil pad. Other pad thicknesses and spacers are available to enable you to tailor the length of pull to suit.
As usual, our testing began on the range, where a number of shooters put the Elos through its paces at Skeet and Sporting targets.
Everything worked as it should. The inertia-operated action set the trigger reliably for the second shot even when using light target loads; the ejectors were well-timed and threw the empties out powerfully. Shooters were complimentary about the gun’s handling qualities and many commented on the crisp trigger pulls. The first barrel lets off at around 3½lbs with no noticeable take-up.
The real test of a game gun, of course, is how it performs in the field. In the course of a long day’s walk over sand dune country hunting for pheasants, you get to know a shotgun pretty well. This Elos performed excellently. Weighing 6lb 9oz, it was light enough to carry comfortably all day and quick to respond to a flushing pheasant, yet it handled competently the recoil of the field loads I favour for this kind of hunting. 30 grams of #5 shot is a relatively heavy load for a 20 gauge, but the felt recoil was negligible - a credit to the stock dimensions (which happened to fit me very well) and to an effective recoil pad.
The Elos Deluxe has a suggested retail price of $2,799 which makes it an attractive proposition for a shotgun of this quality, despite the fact that no ABS carry case is provided; the gun comes in a cardboard carton.
Our testfire gun was handled by a large number of shooters who all were complimentary about the very attractive, high-quality presentation of the gun and about its fine handling qualities. I was impressed by the gun’s performance in the field. It seems to me to have all the features and handling that a roughshooter requires, plus the added advantage of being a good looker as well as a good shooter.
Final report: highly recommended.
Fabarm Elos Deluxe 20-gauge over/under
WEIGHT: 3.015 kg (6lb 9oz)
BARRELS: 28-inch, multi-choke, 3-inch chambers. 7mm ventilated top rib. Solid side ribs. Single bead at muzzle.
STOCK: Walnut. LOP: 368mm (14½ inch); drop at comb: 38mm (1½ inch); drop at heel: 57mm (2¼ in).
WARRANTY: 3 years
DISTRIBUTOR: New Zealand Ammunition Company Ltd