You can’t hide class - the Zoli Kronos HR 11 Competition

John McDougall

Antonio Zoli established Zoli Spa in 1945. Located in the Italian province of Brescia, the Zoli factory has been making their own barrels and components for more than 55 years, top Australian sporting clays shooter Chris Brown someone who uses a Zoli shotgun to very good effect. Zoli has control of all metal parts within their base and produce high-quality shotguns with the Zoli HR 11 Competition Kronos on review being no exception.

The guns are characterised by excellent stock wood and a triggerplate assembly that’s detachable from the receiver along with a Boss locking system. Zoli claim to be the world’s first manufacturer to employ industrial silver soldering of their barrels and are so confident of their workmanship they guarantee the point of impact for their assembled barrels.

Barrels

Well, I could say they’re amazing but that would be an understatement as they’re finished to perfection. Not overly polished but toned in a deep blueing and topped with the high rib option available to the HR 11 Kronos, I was impressed at first glance and even more so on closer inspection.

At the muzzle end the barrels are fitted with fully internal titanium-treated choke tubes measuring 50mm (2”), a white barrel front sight and adjustment for the floating rib which enables a 50/50 pattern up to a 30/70 high pattern adjustment. This potential to alter the point of impact allows the user to customise their shooting - whether a flat shooting gun to point of sight and impact or a gun which shoots higher than point of sight.

There’s a small wind-up dial at the muzzle, just between the rib and the barrels which allows such adjustment. With the rib lifted as high as possible the gun will shoot a 50/50 pattern - 50 per cent above and below point of sight - and with the rib wound down it will shoot 30 per cent below point of sight and 70 per cent above. The rib height is around 18mm from the top barrel while it tapers from 10mm at the chamber end to 7mm at the muzzle, drawing the shooter’s eye to the target.

The barrels are joined by ventilated ribs which are fluted and complement the barrel set well as they run the full length of the barrels. These side ribs are also designed to accept magnetic weights to customise the balance of the gun to the shooter’s desire. At the chamber end the ejectors are superbly timed and substantial, robust enough to endure shooting over many years. Chambered for 76mm (3”) cartridge loads and proof stamped with the Fleur de Lys (indicating the gun is proofed for ‘High Performance’ steel shot loads) the Zoli Kronos HR 11 Competition could also double as a hunting gun for waterfowl.

Although designed primarily as a full-on competition gun for sporting clays, it’s nice to know it has versatility as steel shot loads for clay target shooting are ‘Ordinary Steel’ based on shot sizes smaller than #3, rather than ‘High Performance’ loads of size #3 shot and larger (remembering the larger the shot size, the smaller the diameter).

Jewel polishing about the monobloc is appreciated for retaining lubricants and the gun is engineered magnificently. Priced around $7550 I guess that’s what you’re paying for along with a five-year warranty.

Receiver

This is forged from a solid billet of alloyed steel suited to the rigours of pressure from shotgun loads. The triggerplate is similar, being separate from the monobloc and removable for servicing and adjustment if needed. The jointing system is via bifurcated lugs in the receiver wall that mate with recesses in the barrel monobloc, while the locking system is a ‘Boss’-style mechanism with lugs passing outward from the receiver face to lock over recesses to the rear of the monobloc, beside the lower chamber.

In its deeply blued colouring, the receiver matches the barrels well. A little gild inlaying about the receiver indicates the gun is a Zoli while on the underside is a logo along with the Kronos model inlaid. Metal-to-metal fit is excellent as is the wood-to-metal inletting about the tangs of the receiver into the stock. Design of the triggerguard is generous and as mentioned the triggeraction is fitted to the triggerplate, which is removable. The triggers must both be fired on to ‘snap caps’ and the safety engaged before the 2.5mm hexagonal key can be used to undo the screw which is fitted permanently to the gun.

To reassemble the triggerplate to the receiver, the trigger selector must be taken off safe and the front of the triggerplate eased into the receiver and rotated home. Once seated correctly, the retaining screw can be tightened. The instruction booklet then suggests the hammers be re-cocked and, with the use of ‘snap caps’, the gun fired to check all is working. All necessary tools for this process, the stock adjustment and its removal are supplied along with a spare set of trigger coil springs and firing pins for the mechanically minded.

The triggerfoot is adjustable to three pre-set positions for comfort, trigger pulls identical for both barrels set at 5lb (2.27kg) and the trigger system on this model is inertia activated, requiring firing of the first barrel before the second can be fired. The top lever design is smooth to operate, well adjusted for wear and sitting left of centre to enable the action to wear over time, the barrel selector also positive to operate.

Stock and fore-end

The walnut woodwork is perfectly matched in colour and exhibits excellent character and grain for a gun of its price, chequering extensive on both fore-end and pistol grip, much appreciated for excellent hold and running about 18 lines per inch. The Monte Carlo stock with adjustable comb piece requires elevating the shooter’s head to align with the high rib, essential as it enables the shooter to cheek the stock with an upright head instead of creeping along the comb, thus avoiding head tilting which can lead to eye strain from looking out of the top of the eye sockets. All tools are supplied to adjust the comb piece and remove the stock.

Fitted to the butt is a substantial recoil pad, appreciated not so much for reducing recoil from 28-gram loads but for taming recoil from heavier shot loads while providing a non-slip surface for consistent gun mount. The design of the gun, barrels, weight and stock combination is such that during shooting recoil was almost undetectable.

Design of the pistol grip is quite raked and provides an excellent reach for the trigger as well as control of the gun during ‘swinging’ and fast ‘pointing’. A moderate palmswell is formed on the right-hand side for improved shooter comfort and additional control, the HR 11 Competition available in both left and right-handed configurations.

In the field

This shotgun was a delight to review and shooting it was equally enjoyable. The lack of perceived recoil, despite the brisk English Hull cartridge loads used for evaluation, along with a variety of other loads seemed well tamed. The gun came up superbly when mounted while the choking used for testing at Frankston Australia Gun Club absolutely pulverised targets. It’s been a while since I ‘smoked’ that many targets in a single round of clays - and recoil was almost non-existent.

These two factors are testament to a manufacturer who appears to have engineered and built a gun which performs unbelievably for a price tag around a third to half that of similar makes in its class. I can’t offer any greater accolade than to say the Zoli Kronos HR 11 Competition was sensational.

With all the tooling, accessories and excellent back-up from distributor Clay and Hunt, I recommend this shotgun highly to any shooter looking to improve their scores in sporting clays or simulated field shooting and believe that, once purchased, you won’t need to look beyond a Zoli.

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Zoli Spa, Brescia, Italy

Distributor: Clay and Hunt, Melbourne clayandhunt.com.au

Model: Zoli Kronos HR 11 Competition

Overall length: 1245mm/48½”

Barrel length: 780mm/30¾”

Overall weight: 3.77kg/8lb 5oz

Barrel weight: 1.55kg/3lb 7oz

Chamber/bore/proof: 76mm chamber, 0.730” bore, HP Steel Shot proofed

Chokes: Skeet 2/Cylinder: 0.728”, Imp. Cylinder: 0.722”, Modified: 0.712”, Imp. Modified: 0.701”, Full: 0.692”

Trigger pulls: Under: 5lb, over: 5lb

Length of pull: 380mm/15”

Drop at comb: adjustable

Drop at heel: adjustable

Warranty: Five years

Price: $7550 with hard ABS case, all accessories, tools, spare firing pin set with springs and instruction booklet

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