Since visiting the Fabarm factory in Brescia more than 20 years ago, I’m constantly amazed by the forward thinking they employ in not only the design of their shotguns but the manufacture of them. For instance, the Tribore barrel system Fabarm introduced 15 years ago has only recently been adopted by the largest gunmaker in Italy. And since the barrels and patterns they produce are the crux of any shotgun, to my way of thinking Fabarm have been ahead of the game for years with not only the Tribore design but the way in which patterns from Tribore barrels punish targets.
Their latest advance with the introduction of a 97mm elliptical choke tube system instead of shorter, conventional parallel choke tube systems used by most gunmakers world-wide, has Fabarm again leading the way in leaps and bounds in barrel technology with great patterns which are hard-hitting as well.
The shotgun on test here is Fabarm’s Elos N2 Black Sporting which sees a return to black, non-reflective receivers ideal for sporting clays enthusiasts who also enjoy waterfowl hunting, as the gun has a non-reflective surface to avoid glints from the sun. The gun is also superior proofed to 1630 bar, well above what’s required for steel shot proofing for High Performance loads, another example of Fabarm leading the way in technology.
Measuring just under 760mm or 29⅞^, the barrels are well finished with a deep lustrous, non-reflective blue. I’ve seen the barrels hand finished in the manufacturing process where they’re treated with 1200 grit emery for a non-reflective finish rather than polished, something preferred by the hunter. Atop the barrels is a ventilated rib slightly tapered from 10mm at the chamber end to 8mm at the muzzle.
A white trap-like barrel sight was fitted to the muzzle and a smaller brass bead sight just short of halfway from the breech to avoid canting the gun when mounted. This is a small detail but an important one as the shooter can instantly check their gun mount is correct. The ventilations on the top rib coincide with ventilations on the two side ribs, finishing the barrel set well. Ventilating all of these allows the barrels to cool quicker and lightens them slightly to balance the gun.
As mentioned, the 97mm elliptical choke tubes, a completely new generation, are installed at the muzzle and T-piece choke tube spanner supplied for installation and removal. (A film of grease on the surface of your choke tubes is advised when installing them and there are many good brands around).
The T-piece spanner is used to nip the tubes tight to ensure they don’t work loose, a process always undertaken with the gun unloaded. The design of the collar is excellent with the choke constrictions easy to read about the collar once the tubes are installed as well as on the sides of the tubes for quick identification.
At the breech or chamber end the one-piece ejectors are strongly made and their timing perfect, with fired shells thrown well clear of the breech. Chambered for 76mm (3^) cartridges and proofed to 1630 bar meant the Elos N2 Black was well suited to all HP steel shot loadings in the 3^ configuration. The 1630 bar is superior to the 1370 bar required by CIP for High Performance steel shot loads and Fabarm have gone beyond, making a gun second to none in the proof stakes.
Jointing, the connection of the barrels to the action, is achieved via a bifurcated lug system with recesses on the barrel that mate with lugs in the barrel walls to joint the barrels into the receiver. To further strengthen the barrel set and monobloc from the hammering of HP steel shot and other high pressure loads, there are four lumps on the bottom of the monobloc that hold the barrels in the receiver floor to prevent backward and forward movement. This is a method used by other Italian manufacturers and gives an extra strong action that will last a while before needing ‘tightening’.
Made from forged chromium-molybdenum steel, the rounded edges of the Elos N2 Black are quite stylish, the white and orange enamelled inserts well designed and contrasted nicely with the black action background. A little cubist etching about the shoulder of the receiver and matched along the fore-end border complements the receiver design. The top lever is ergonomically designed to operate comfortably with the thumb and with just the right amount of pressure it releases the barrels from the standing face in readiness for loading. It sits right of centre to allow for wear over years of service.
The barrel selector-cum-safety catch is located on the top tang, just behind the top lever. It’s positive in its operation and has one orange dot signifying the bottom barrel is fired first and two dots for the top barrel to be fired first, rather than ‘U’ or ‘O’. The barrel selector can only be operated once the safety catch has returned to the safe position. Design of the triggerguard is generous and caters to shooters of different finger sizes, the triggerfoot nicely raked, comfortable to the touch and adjustable for finger length.
The stock and fore-end
These were made from nicely grained Turkish walnut with a twist, the adjustable comb insert with Fabarm Micro-Metric 3D system was coated with a tough polycarbonate-like finish. At a glance it almost looked like the comb had been covered with leather, as found on some traditional English guns, but it was walnut coated with a durable plastic. The Micro-Metric 3D system is fairly straightforward with the comb removed, Allen keys supplied to make adjustments based on shape of face.
Chequering at the pistol grip is about 18 lines per inch with a palmswell built into it for a right-handed shooter to improve gun control. I was pleased to see a significant and very comfortable recoil pad fitted, especially for use with Remington Hyper-Velocity HP steel shot loads travelling at 1700fps. Normal 28-gram clay target loads were well tamed by the weight of the gun at 3.5kg (7lb 11oz).
Internal design of the fore-end is innovative too, with a system to tension the locking mechanism that attaches the walnut wood fore-end to the barrels, all instructions included in a comprehensive manual. The fore-end has a tulip or Schnabel front and rather than a lever to release it, a button is pressed so it can be lifted forward before rotating to free it from the barrel set.
In the field
Shooting the Fabarm Elos N2 Black Sporting was a pleasure as it smashed targets beyond recognition, the patterns produced from the elliptical or hyperbolic chokes just sensational. I was amazed at how much harder the pellets hit steel pattern plates – they were completely flattened compared to results I’ve seen from traditionally choked guns with standard barrels.
The weight is about right for a Sporter at just under 8lbs and balance ideal for a smooth swing, recoil tamed by the over-boring in the barrels via the Tribore system. Overall the gun performed as well as it looked and comes with all accessories including gun socks, a well-documented instruction booklet and ABS plastic case. Price is around $2870 which includes a three-year warranty.
Manufacturer: Fabarm, Brescia, Italy
Distributor: Raytrade, Melbourne
Model: Fabarm Elos N2 Black Sporting (12-gauge)
Overall length: 1219mm (48^)
Barrel length: 758mm (29⅞^)
Overall weight: 3.5kg (7lb 11oz)
Barrel weight: 1.49kg (3lb 4oz)
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 1.6kg/3.5lb, over barrel 1.75kg/3.6lb
Stock dimensions: Length of pull 385mm 5mm/15¼^, drop at comb adjustable, drop at heel adjustable
Warranty: Three years
Price: Cased and supplied with all accessories, gun socks, choke tubes, Allen keys and instruction booklet: around $2870