By Ralph Stuart
Since the company was established by Isodoro Rizzini in 1971, FAIR (Fabbrica Armi Isodoro Rizzini) has been making guns in Marcheno, Italy, in the country’s famous Val Trompia. Current production includes side-by-side and over/under hunting and competition shotguns as well as side-by-side, O/U and single-shot rifles and combination guns.
The gun we looked at was the Iside, the most basic in a family of side-by-side hunting guns that includes seven models of varying features, ornamentation and price. (Bruce Buck reviewed the sideplated Iside Prestige in July/August ’15.) It is available in 12, 16, 20 and 28 gauge as well as .410 and in three frame sizes: 12, 20 and 28. (The 16 is built on a 12-gauge frame and the .410 on a 28.)
Our gun was a 20-gauge with 28" barrels and 3" chambers. (Optional barrel lengths are 26" and 30".) The barrels are chrome lined, proofed for steel and fitted with a swamped game rib and single silver bead up front. Chokes are flush-mounted Technichokes, and three were supplied: Cylinder, Improved Cylinder and Modified. Extractors are standard on this model, but our gun came with optional Southgate ejectors.
Lock-up is via a Purdey double underbolt—fairly standard on side-by-sides these days. What isn’t typical is that these barrels are demi-block, or chopper-lump—in other words each barrel and its lumps are formed from a single piece of steel, and then the right and left barrels are joined. This type of jointure is strong and helps in regulating point of aim. It also is characteristic of more expensive guns.
The A&D boxlock action is scalloped in back and rounded on the bottom. It also is nicely case colored. (A coin finish is optional.) Befitting a few-frills model, our gun had minimal engraving. In fact, the sum total was the words “F.A.I.R. Iside” and a small flourish on the bottom of the action. As you would expect, higher-grade guns come with more embellishment. It’s simply a matter of what you want and how much you want to pay.
The stock was European walnut and “grade appropriate,” with slight grain and several small knots. The straight grip and splinter forend—with an Anson pushbutton latch—suited a game gun. Laser checkering was done in a nice pattern, and there were even faux drop points. Dimensions were 153⁄8" length of pull (from the front trigger to the center of the plastic buttplate), 1¼" drop at comb and 2¼" drop at heel, with 5° of pitch and slight cast-off for a right-handed shooter.
Our gun came with two triggers, although a single selective trigger—either mechanical or inertia operated—is available. Trigger pulls were 4½ pounds front and rear, with the front trigger having the slightest creep. The automatic safety was fitting for a hunting gun.
Overall weight was 5 pounds 13 ounces, with the balance point ¼" in front of the hinge pin. The light heft, nice balance and rounded frame made for comfortable all-day carry.
Speaking of carry, I was able to test the Iside during Maine’s upland season and found that it came up nicely and swung well. In fact, I dropped two grouse with my first two shots. (I then proceeded to miss two woodcock, but that was no fault of the gun’s.) To me, the Iside handled and shot like a more expensive side-by-side.
Which brings me to one of the Iside’s nicest features: the price. The basic model is $1,600 in all gauges and includes a three-year warranty to the original purchaser against manufacturing defects and 60 days on wood. For that kind of money, it is hard to go wrong with this gun.