By Ralph Stuart
For trekking across the prairie or heading into the high country—or anything in between—it’s hard to beat a 20-gauge over/under for all-day carry. Make it a gun that points well, is affordable and is easy on the eyes, and you have a surefire winner. For almost 10 years Franchi USA has been producing a gun that checks all the boxes in its Instinct model. Previously it was available in an L version with a steel receiver and an SL with an aluminum receiver, but this year the lightweight SL was given “deluxe aesthetics” and introduced as the SLX. We took one of the new guns out for a spin to see if its performance lived up to its looks.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRIS SIEFKEN
At test time grouse season was a month away, so we toted the Instinct SLX to the range. Thanks to its light weight (5 pounds 11 ounces on our digital scale) and balance point just in front of the hinge pin, the gun pointed easily and quickly. We put everything from 7⁄8-oz No. 6s to ¾-oz No. 10s to 15⁄16-oz No. 6s (ouch!) through the gun, and there were no issues in firing. The bottom ejector, however, was temperamental and failed to kick out about a quarter of the shells. Understandably, the new gun was slightly stiff opening and the safety was somewhat sticky, but both things surely would become smoother with use. Another nice aspect was that the barrel selector switched positively from side to side and was impossible to get stuck in the middle. In summary, the Franchi Instinct SLX serves its intended purpose as any easy-to-carry, well-balanced, dependable gun that not only shoots well but also is nice to look at back at camp or in the clubhouse. Price (including orange fitted plastic case, owner’s manual, choke wrench and 7-year warranty): $1,999. For more information, contact Franchi USA.