By Bruce Buck
What makes a gun attractive varies with the taste of the individual. What one notices the most are the lines of the gun, the wood grain and the engraving. Sometimes it’s Handsome is as handsome does; other times it’s just plain Wow! That’s good looking!
The lines of the gun are sometimes subtle, sometimes not. Compare a Perazzi to a Krieghoff. Now add the wood. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like killer wood, but tastes there differ in the type of grain preferred.
And then there is engraving. This is probably the most controversial decorative aspect of any shotgun. Guns with nice lines, nice wood and no engraving can be very attractive in a classic way. Guns scratched to death with improper engraving can fail to impress anything but the wallet.
Hand engraving has been around forever at all quality levels. Mechanical roll engraving had its limits followed by early laser engraving that also would work only on flat surfaces and to a single depth. Not so today. A five-axis laser engraver permits engraving to go around curved parts and be cut to varying depths. To some extent, it can replace certain levels of hand engraving.
As a relatively new gun company, Caesar Guerini has built a large following by producing attractive shotguns backed by exceptionally good service. Guerinis tend to cost a little more than the usual Browning or Beretta, but you always get a little something extra that makes it well worth it.
Guerini is also very innovative, often expanding and trying something new to cater to its growing market. One of the company’s best areas is improving the looks of existing guns. Sure, everyone does this by adding gingerbread to a plain gun, but Guerini goes a step further. Its new Revenant over/under is a perfect example. “Revenant” means a person who has returned from the dead or a long absence. Clearly this gun is meant to remind us of the engraved glories of the past.
First the basic stuff. The Revenant costs $13,495. It comes in 20 and 28 gauge with 28" or 30" barrels (26" barrels are available on special order). For comparison, Guerini’s basic Woodlander field gun starts at $3,895. Our test Revenant was a 20-gauge with 28" barrels.
So what do you get for almost $10,000 more than the Woodlander? The interior of the action is the same as most of the over/unders in the Guerini lineup. I discussed it in my reviews of Caesar Guerini guns in January/February 2004 (the Magnus Light), November/December 2009 (the Apex) and January/February 2011 (the Ellipse EVO). It locks up with the classic Browning Superposed full-width underbolt aided by four studs on the bottom of the monoblock. The barrels hinge on standard receiver trunnions engaging the monoblock. Hammers are attached to the separate triggerplate, while the sears pivot down from the top of the receiver. The mainsprings are durable horizontal coils with inner bracing. In all the action interior is pretty standard for guns from the Val Trompia area of northern Italy and definitely a well-proven design.
One touch that surprised me was that the Revenant’s inertia trigger was not selective. It always fired the bottom barrel first. Trigger pulls were excellent, with almost no take-up or play, and both pulls were at about 4¼ pounds.
Where this action cosmetically differs from the usual Guerini action is its receiver’s curved lines. Nothing on the exterior of the action seems straight or flat. The bottom of the action is heavily rounded, which called for a considerable redesign, not just grinding off the edges. Even the sideplates are gently rounded. Other than one in the long tang, there are no screw heads showing. All of this gives the action exterior flowing, attractive lines that you can see and feel. Add to that the Boss-style forend iron tapering from the front of the action far into the forend as a visual receiver extension, and you have an absolutely gorgeous-shaped O/U receiver.
The beautiful lines of the receiver may not be immediately apparent to everyone, but the engraving sure will be. The Revenant is engraved to the absolute maximum from the sideplates through the Boss forend extension. In a tribute to hunting, there are quail on one side and pheasants on the other in more than two dozen gold inlays over silver fall foliage on a black background. The engraving is cut to several depths for more visual appeal. The engraving is done by Bottega Incisioni C. Giovanelli, a modern engraving concern that combines EDM (electrical discharge machining), laser, hand engraving and a separate gold application. I was told that the Revenant’s engraving takes 25 hours of the most advanced mechanical engraving backed up by 15 hours of handwork. It certainly is very well done, even under my 10X jeweler’s loupe.
With receiver lines and engraving like this, what do you do to the barrels to make them stand out? The Revenant’s are given a solid top rib, which is slightly raised, flat and tapers from ¼" to 3/16". I always have been a fan of solid ribs, because they are so smooth looking compared to the usual vent top ribs. Other than that, the Revenant’s barrels look standard, with solid side ribs, flush-mounted screw chokes and a single steel front bead, so appropriate on a field gun. The barrels are joined at the rear by a conventional monoblock. Solder seams and bluing on the barrels were flawless, as you would expect from a Guerini gun.
Inside the barrels, things are also pretty standard. In our 20-gauge there were 3" chambers with ½" forcing cones tapering to a bore of .626". This is a bit overbore compared to the nominal 20-gauge .615". The bore is chromed and has the CIP stamp of approval for steel shot. Five nickel-plated chokes come with the gun: Cylinder (.000"), Improved Cylinder (.008"), Modified (.017"), Improved Modified (.021") and Full (.029"). The chokes use a conventional taper to a 1" parallel, to stabilize the shot. They also require 17 full turns to seat in the barrel. The tubes are marked with notches on the outer rims, so that the choke degrees can be discerned while in the barrels. The choke wrench is adequate and strong.
The forend attaches to the barrels by a conventional Anson pushbutton. The forend is heavier than usual but for good reason. Its configuration is that of a slender field version, which goes nicely with the smooth lines of the action, but the Boss-style forend iron proceeds 3½" up the top and rear of the forend, giving the gun a continuous engraved steel line from the receiver. This extra steel adds weight, even though it is thinned out as much as possible. The forend iron is also adjustable for take-up due to wear, so it won’t come loose after many rounds.
The stock uses an open pistol grip and a separate wooden buttplate. The dimensions given by the factory are 14¾" length of pull, 1½" drop at comb and 2¼" drop at heel. Our gun had modest cast-off and 5° of pitch. A left-handed stock is available, as is an English grip and custom dimensions. The computerized 26-lines-per-inch checkering is nicely applied in a conservative pattern, providing a good grip.
Make & Model:
Caesar Guerini Revenant
Action: Break-action over/under
Finish: Game scenes in silver, gold and black; 100% engraving coverage
Barrel length: 28"
Weight: 6 pounds 13½ ounces
Chokes: Five screw-in flush chokes
Stock: Pistol grip, wooden buttplate
Accessories: Case, chokes, wrench, manual, lifetime warranty
Price as tested: $13,495
Wood-to-metal fit was first rate. This was particularly impressive, because all the wood-and-metal joints seemed to be on curves, where proper fit is more difficult. The excellent oil finish fully filled the pores, with no grain showing. Like the wood-to-metal fit, the walnut grain was just what you would expect on a gun of this quality: first rate.
The Revenant was shipped in a snappy Negrini leather-and-PVC takedown case suitable for air travel. Inside you get the five screw chokes and wrench in a plastic box, a multi-language manual and a lifetime warranty to the original owner. As mentioned, Caesar Guerini is well known for its exceptionally good service.
No matter how good looking a gun is, it is just a wall-hanger if it doesn’t shoot. Our Revenant did just fine. It was mechanically correct in all respects and didn’t miss a beat, even with the inertia trigger and light loads. Chokes stayed put. Point of impact was correct, probably thanks to the laser alignment of the barrels during manufacture. The 28"-barreled 20-gauge did weigh a hefty 6 pounds 13½ ounces. The balance was fairly neutral, but the moment of inertia was forward. One would expect a carrying 20 to weigh around 6¼ pounds, so this is a hefty gun and perhaps better suited to stand-and-deliver shooting (doves, driven and the like) than to all-day hiking. Then again, you wouldn’t want to drag something this beautiful through the mud and bushes.
There are certainly lighter and less-expensive field 20s that work just as well, but if you want to go first class in the looks department, the Caesar Guerini Revenant definitely delivers. Those doves will fall out of respect.
For more information, contact Caesar Guerini USA.