Having visited the Fabarm factory in Brescia and the Italian Proof House, it’s always a pleasure to review the company’s shotguns. Their firearms are made from the best available materials, proofed to the highest levels possible for a shotgun (1630 bar) and their tribore barrels are second to none along with their latest development, hyperbolic choke tubes.
The warranty for these guns is also generous at three years, such is the confidence the manufacturer has in its products, so let’s take a closer look at this fine Italian shotgun as this latest model, the Axis RS12 QRR with interchangeable ribs, looks a real winner.
These are faultlessly put together in an almost black matte blued finish as opposed to chrome, the top rib removable with two different heights supplied. One is designed to throw 65 per cent of the pattern above the point of aim and 35 per cent below while the other, the lower of the two, is set to throw 50 per cent above point of aim and 50 per cent below.
The barrels are separated from the monobloc to almost the muzzle where a joining collar is used to maintain point of aim for each barrel. Fabarm’s latest HP inner hyperbolic choke tubes protruded from the muzzle by 10mm, giving enough surface area to screw them finger tight before using the T-piece choke tube wrench to fully tighten.
Before installing the choke tubes it’s advisable to smear a layer of grease over the threads to ensure an excellent gas seal and additionally provide a lubricated surface which will allow them to be easily removed if they need changed to suit different shooting conditions. As a safety precaution, choke tubes must never be removed and reinstalled in a loaded shotgun. The gun should be completely unloaded before replacement or even before checking tightness of the choke tubes.
At 760mm (30)" the barrels are striking. Passing a bore gauge through the bores demonstrated the tribore system of barrel configuration whereby the bore is enlarged beyond the nominal chamber dimension of 0.730" going out to 0.740" and then tapered back to match the bore size to accept the choke tubes. The tubes, just on 95mm in overall length, then have a parabolic inner curve rather than a traditional tapered parallel section which determines choke and pellet distribution.
For those unfamiliar with Fabarm’s choke system, they rely on a full choke printing an 80 per cent pattern as opposed to the traditional industry standard of 70 per cent pellet distribution at 40 yards over a 30" circle.
The quick release ribs are easily removed from the top barrel by pressing out a small pin at the monobloc end and sliding the rib forward. This can be done using the T-piece handle of the choke tube spanner, as its rounded edges don’t scratch the pin but be careful not to lose the pin as a spare is not supplied.
Made from aluminium alloy the ribs are light, effective and a great help to a shooter’s comfort and performance when coupled with the Monte Carlo adjustable stock comb. A white bead sight and brass mid-rib sight are fitted to both ribs to avoid gun canting, whereby the barrels aren’t vertical but slanted.
At the chamber end the gun is suited to 76mm cartridges and proofed to the superior level of 1630 bar, well above that of any competitor and additionally matched for use with all types of steel shot with appropriate choke tubes installed. This one is ideal for either the clay target sports or field hunting and appropriate proof marks, including the Fleur de Lys for ‘high performance’ steel shot compatibility, are stamped on the monobloc.
Fabarm make extremely strong ejectors which are one-piece and timed to perfection, loading the gun done without the action being too tight to open the barrels. Bifurcated jointing of the barrels to the action is via trunions (pivot pins) in the receiver walls which are replaceable should they ever wear and the action requiring ‘re-tightened’.
Finished in a silver nitrate colour (also available in black) the receiver is stunning and looks sensational with black scroll engraving to contrast. The low profile, achievable by the bifurcated jointing system of the barrels to the receiver, is equally striking. Although a boxlock actioned gun with inertia trigger set, the trigger releases have come a long way as their crispness and release weights are fantastic with minimal creep and lightning-fast second barrel firing.
The bottom barrel trigger pull is 1kg, upper barrel release 1.1kg and set-up of the trigger means it’s adjustable for the shooter’s trigger finger reach from the nicely raked pistol grip. This has around 4mm adjustment each side of centre and no other trigger feet are supplied. Size of the triggerguard is generous and will easily accommodate hands wearing thin leather gloves and it’s finished in the same blued colour of the barrel set.
Top lever for opening the gun is in the usual place just behind the apex of the barrels, has a scalloped handle and works smoothly with no sign of burring on the lever rod. Behind is the barrel selector-cum-safety catch and I was impressed as small red dots show whether the under barrel or top was fired first - one dot indicates the bottom barrel to fire first while if the selector is showing two dots, the over barrel would fire first. This is a great option for incoming and going away targets when shooting sporting clays or simulated field.
For an incoming target the tighter-choked barrel can be fired first and the more open choke (usually in the bottom barrel) used second as the target comes nearer and the reverse works for an outgoing target.
Stock and fore-end
These are stylishly finished in Turkish walnut with excellent character and grain structure. The stock is a Monte Carlo style with adjustable comb piece to cater for the higher ribs of the Axis RS12 QQR, the concept of the high rib and stock to prevent eye strain. With lower stocks and ribs many shooters tend to tilt their head forward on the stock and look through the top of their eye sockets, which produces eye strain after a prolonged spell. With the Monte Carlo stock, adjustable comb piece and high ribs, the shooter simply needs to put their cheek on the stock and look straight down the barrels with their head upright for sighting a target as normal.
The stock is well designed with settings on the comb stems to record adjustment, this Micro Metric 3D system and excellent one and once set up for correct head position should be left. All Allen keys are provided and neatly packed into a red holder so they can’t be misplaced.
Proofed to 1630 bar and capable of firing 76mm cartridges, the Axis RS12 QRR is also adept at waterfowl hunting so it was great to see a substantial recoil pad fitted to the butt of the stock, an excellent idea for the field shooter but hardly necessary for 28-gram sporting clay loads. Great for good mount on heavier loads to prevent the gun from sliding off your shoulder, especially on overhead shots. Design of the fore-end is standard with the release catch on the underside and chequering about the stock and fore-end extensive and well completed at around 20 lines per inch.
In the field
The Fabarm Axis RS12 QRR smashed target after target at Frankston Australia Gun Club. The features I like most in Fabarm guns are the tribore configuration of the barrels coupled with the long choke tubes with their ‘Inner HP Hyperbolic profile.’ The barrel/choke tube combination is unrivalled in factory offerings, having tested more than 200 guns in my 40 years as an outdoors writer and more specifically a ‘shotgun man’.
For those in the market for a competitively priced shotgun the Fabarm Axis RS12 QRR is a hot contender, with either silver or black receiver, the balance and swing of the gun incredible and when you’re on target, clays are demolished.
My final decree is this gun would suit the competition shooter quite well without a lavish price tag. At around $3995 with three-year warranty, strong ABS case, gun socks and all accessories, the Fabarm Axis RS12 QRR is a superb buy.
Manufacturer: Fabarm, Brescia, Italy
Distributor: Raytrade, Melbourne
Model: Fabarm Axis RS12 QRR Sporting (12-gauge)
Overall length: 1228mm (48")
Barrel length: 760mm (30")
Overall weight: 3.68kg (8lb 2oz)
Barrel weight: 1.45kg (3lb 3oz)
Bore and chamber: 12-gauge tribore, chambered for 76mm (3") cartridges and superior proofed to 1630 bar
Chokes: Improved Cylinder (short), Modified (medium), Improved Modified (long), Full (extreme)
Trigger pulls: Under barrel 1kg/35oz, over barrel 1.1kg/37oz
Stock dimensions: Length of pull 390mm ± 5mm/15½", drop at comb adjustable, drop at heel adjustable
Warranty: Three years
Price: Around $3995