Having met the designers of Fabarm’s self-loaders many years ago during a visit to Brescia, the heartland of gunmaking in Italy, I was highly impressed by their products. At the time Fabarm were just developing their Tribore system of barrel configuration and the performance was, in my opinion, second to none.
In this modern age Fabarm have gone beyond even that by offering their hyperbolic choke tubes and superior proofing to 1630 Bar, these just a few of the innovations the designers at Fabarm have introduced which I believe puts them at the forefront of self-loading shotgun design.
This is not surprising when you know the designers were originally from the Franchi stable of gas-operated self-loading shotguns, so Franchi live on through the craftsmen now working at Fabarm and the gas-operated Fabarm XLR5 Velocity is a sporting gun which will provide great service for many years.
The elevated rib with its pattern distribution adjustment is just one of the many features that would suit the competition clay target shooter, combined with its Monte Carlo stock and adjustable comb-piece. For the farmer or professional vermin eradicator, the five-shot capacity and proofing to 1630 Bar found with other Fabarm XLR5 and L4S models enable a variety of 76mm loadings to be used whereas the XLR5 Velocity on review is a dedicated clay target shooter with its 70mm chambering.
Measuring 735mm (29”) the barrel is well finished with a semi-lustrous blueing, the amazing design of the XLR5 Velocity incorporating a floating top ventilated rib which can be either raised or lowered. At its highest position the rib shot a 50/50 pattern ‑ 50 per cent above point of aim and 50 per cent below when measured at 30m - and with the rib fully lowered, the gun shot 90 per cent above and 10 per cent below, this clever set-up controlled by a threaded dial which moves the rib upward and downward at the muzzle. The tapered rib, from 11mm at the receiver end to 9mm at the muzzle, instantly draws the shooter’s eye to the target.
It’s also fitted with a mid-bead along with a white bead front sight - ensuring the gun is mounted correctly and the shooter’s eye well aligned - which can be easily adjusted by shifting the comb across either way as required for perfect eye alignment. This is a full-on competition self-loading shotgun catering to the most demanding of clay target shooters.
Removing the barrel is achieved by simply unscrewing the fore-end retaining cap. This has also been well designed to accept a selection of weights included with the gun, three supplied all weighing 42g (1½oz) which can be attached together or mounted individually to alter the forward balance.
Once the cap is removed, with the bolt forward the walnut fore-end can be gently removed and the barrel simply slides out from the receiver housing where it mates with the sliding bolt. Chambered for 70mm cartridges or 2¾” loads and proofed to a superior level, the XLR5 Velocity is capable of shooting light and heavy loads due to the design of the gas operating system. I found 21-gram loads to be close to its lower limit with heavier 28-gram and 32-gram loads a breeze.
Made from an aluminium alloy with superior strength, the receiver is quite plain with the exception of some gilt inletting on the loading port side to designate the model number. A stamped inscription on the left of the receiver identifies the XLR5 Velocity as being proofed to 1630 Bar and suited to steel shot loads which would be high performance due to the over-proof of the gun.
The receiver is adorned with a multitude of gadgets for working the gun safely. The bolt can only be held open when the small release button on the left underside of the receiver and forward of the triggerguard is pulled out. This releases the cartridge carrier and allows the bolt to be locked to the rear of the loading/ejection port on the right of the receiver. The button which closes the bolt is left of the receiver and with the gun loaded is easily operated by pressing it with the palm of your left hand. Simple and efficient - as the right hand loads the left hand closes.
Format of the triggerguard is generous and held in by two pins extending the full width of the receiver and once the barrel is removed along with the bolt, the pins can be pressed out to reveal the trigger mechanism. This is ideal for cleaning, especially a gas-operated shotgun where the gases from combustion when the gun is fired are harnessed to work the action and it’s good to see the triggerfoot adjustable to cater to those with longer or shorter fingers.
The gold-coloured trigger is a nice contrast to the dark blueing and complements the overall design and toning extremely well, placement of the safety catch to the rear of the triggerguard being traditional and functioning positively. Trigger release is around 2.27kg.
Stock and fore-end
Made from Turkish walnut and completed with an oiled finish, the stock and fore-end woodwork matched perfectly, chequering about the stock and fore-end not quite as extensive as I’d have preferred. The fore-end chequering is quite sparse and somewhat state-of the-art innovative while the pistol grip is also lacking in a more complete coverage. This is the only fault I found and I concede was just personal preference, whereas others will be content with the inscribed chequered surfaces of both fore-end and pistol grip.
I was pleased to see a substantial and comfortable recoil pad fitted to the stock, ideal for good gun mounting although at 15” for the length of pull I’d need the stock to be shortened by half an inch or so for a comfortable fit. There are adjustable spacers fitted between receiver and stock to further alter stock cast and height, three of these included with the gun. The adjustable comb-piece on the Monte Carlo stock is necessary to couple with the high rib, the Micro-Metric 3D system excellent and enabling the user to adjust the stock perfectly. An Allen key for adjustment is included.
In the field
Taking the XLR5 Velocity to the clay target ground was a real pleasure and while on the heavy side as far as self-loading shotguns are concerned, I found it devastating on most of the targets I shot with only a handful missed. I chose the modified choke for the Frankston ground during practice and went with the improved modified for shooting on my home ground at Westernport Field and Game on Phillip Island. I’d owned a lighter self-loader before testing the Fabarm and found the gun a little harder to get moving as, after three back operations, I tend to shoot from my shoulders rather than pivoting at the hips.
Overall I was impressed by the Fabarm XLR5 Velocity, enjoying the high rib and adjusted comb-piece to allow good gun fit for my style of shooting. Recoil was minimal as I used a selection of Remington Sporting loads travelling at 1290 and 1350fps with even a couple of slower 1235fps loads demolishing close targets, the combination proving lethal. I’ve always believed Fabarm’s Tribore system of barrels to be exceptional and their research into long, hyperbolic choke tubes also seems to have paid off as targets were destroyed and I have no hesitation in highly recommending the XLR Velocity.
At 3.86kg the gun is not light to carry and swing and I’d have preferred it around 3.2kg for improved handling. The added weight is to cater for heavier magnum loads which the Velocity is quite capable of handling, but for those seeking a lighter model the Fabarm L4S might be an option, although as mentioned it’s more suited to the field and doesn’t have the specialised features of the XLR5 Velocity. Whatever your desires, Fabarm make excellent self-loaders for all types of shooting and their Tribore barrels and chokes are second to none.
Make: Fabarm XLR5 Velocity self-loading shotgun
Manufacturer: Fabarm Spa, Brescia, Italy
Distributor: Raytrade www.raytrade.com.au
Overall length: 1290mm/50½”
Overall weight: 3.86kg/8lb 7½oz
Barrel length: 735mm/29”
Barrel weight: 1.135kg/2lb 8oz
Bore/chamber: Tribore 0.737”, 70mm/2¾” chamber, 1630 Bar proof
Chokes: EXIS HP Hyperbolic Profile. Skeet, Improved Cylinder, Modified, Improved Modified, Full
Trigger pull: 5lb, adjustable trigger foot for length of pull
Length of pull: 380mm/15”
Drop at comb: Adjustable comb
Drop at heel: Adjustable comb
Price: RRP $3650 with accessories and hard plastic ABS case
Warranty: Five years