Rizzini is an important family name in the gunmaking area of Italy. The F.lli Rizzini (“Rizzini Brothers”) shop is known for making top-shelf guns like the R1 sidelock, which sells for well north of $50,000. Those Rizzini brothers are the uncles of Battista, Isidoro and Emilio Rizzini, all of whom have separate gunmaking operations. Emilio’s son married one of the Fausti sisters, and his gun business joined with theirs. Isidoro still runs FAIR (Fabbrica Armi Isidoro Rizzini) and produces a middle range of over/unders and side-by-sides. Battista Rizzini, sold in this country under Rizzini USA and distributed by Fierce Arms, has a line of slightly more upscale O/Us and side-by-sides. Battista’s nephews Antonio and Giorgio Guerini helped start Caesar Guerini after working for their uncle. Gunmaking does, indeed, run in the blood.
This issue’s review gun is the Rizzini BR110 O/U, a product of Battista Rizzini. Usually B. Rizzini O/Us sell for $4,000 to $8,000, but this BR110 field gun is intended to be a price leader and retails for $1,999. It is listed as coming in 12, 16, 20 and 28 gauge as well as .410, with 26½", 28" and 30" barrels. It also is available as a BR110 Light with an aluminum receiver for $2,149. A 12-gauge sporting clays version is possible for next year. Our test gun was a 28-gauge BR110 with 28" tubes and the steel receiver.
The first thing you notice about the gun, other than its low price, is the classic simplicity of its appearance. Modestly priced guns so often get tarted up with tasteless engraving meant to make them seem more expensive but really achieving exactly the opposite. Our BR110 had a matte-black receiver with sculpted side cheeks, almost no engraving and “Rizzini” in small gold letters on the sides. The barrels were bright blued, and the pistol-grip stock had decently figured wood. “Modestly elegant” might well describe it.
Rizzini lists the BR110 as coming in three receiver sizes for the 12, 20 and 28. Our 28-gauge receiver had exactly the same height and width as my wife’s 25-year-old Beretta 28. Indeed, I would think that the current Beretta Silver Pigeon I 28-gauge would be the main competition for the BR110. The prices are quite similar.
The BR110 action is mechanically the same as those on Rizzini’s more expensive O/U field guns. The difference in price is just the exterior cosmetics. The design is typical for Italy, with its Browning-style, wide, low, locking latch engaging a lateral notch in the bottom of the monoblock. Passive locking is by two substantial lugs on the bottom of the monoblock engaging slots on the bottom of the receiver. The slots do not pass through the bottom of the receiver as they do on Brownings. This keeps things cleaner. It is interesting to note that the indestructible sainted Browning Superposed uses four such lugs, while the very durable and well-proven Beretta 680 series uses none at all. Both hold up just fine. Hinging is by the now almost-universal (except Browning) replaceable hinge stubs. In all, the action is quite similar to those of Franchi, Fausti, Caesar Guerini, FAIR and most other Italian (and Turkish) makers, with the notable exceptions of Beretta, Perazzi and some boutique guns.
The insides of the action are chemically blued and not polished, but the crisp CNC machining keeps the interior as attractive as it is functional. The trigger is mounted on a separate triggerplate, with the sears hinging on the top strap and the hammers anchored to the plate. Hammer springs are coils set up horizontally for greatest efficiency. The trigger is mechanical, and pulls were a crisp 4 pounds under and 4¼ over—about perfect. The safety is manual, with the barrel selector built into it as a Beretta-style lateral toggle.
As with most modern guns built for the popular market, the barrels are joined by a monoblock. In this case the sides of the monoblock are jeweled, really the only shiny bit on the gun other than the bores. The ejectors and their springs and trips are built into the monoblock in the usual way. The gun does not break any new ground mechanically, but it uses systems that are well proven. It should be very reliable.
The barrels are chrome lined for easy cleaning and proofed for steel. Forcing cones were a standard ¾" in length. Bores were both just about the nominal .550" 28-gauge diameter. That they both were the same size is rarer than you might think and gives credit to Rizzini’s machining. The company also makes double rifles, so there is a lot of experience with barrels and their regulation.
Five thin-wall screw chokes come with the gun in Cylinder, Improved Cylinder, Modified, Improved Modified and Full. All measured what they should. Again, you’d be surprised at how often factory screw chokes are woefully off the accepted constrictions. The screw chokes are mounted flush, as is appropriate for a field gun. They are rim-notched for convenient identification when in place. The choke wrench was a step up in that it did the job and also was threaded at one end to be used as a thread cleaner for the barrels. Nice touch.
Make & Model: Rizzini BR110
Action: Over/under boxlock
Metal Finish: Matte-black receiver with minimal engraving, gloss-blued barrels
Barrel length: 28"
Weight: 5 pounds 14.3 ounces
Chokes: Five screw-in, flush-mounted tubes
Stock: Pistol grip, oil finish, 14¾" x 1½" x 2½"
Accessories: Takedown ABS gun case, chokes, choke wrench, choke case, owner’s manual, three-year warranty
Price as tested: $1,999
The barrel exteriors were nicely gloss blued. The side ribs were full length right back to the monoblock. The top rib was an untapered ¼" wide with anti-glare scribing on top and a small brass bead up front.
Even though our BR110 is at the modest end of Rizzini’s price range, the wood figure was an attractive straight grain and nicely finished. The website says that it is a hand-rubbed oil. It certainly looked good with its medium-brown stain and black-figure striping. The finish almost completely filled the grain but not quite. The stock head and forend were coated nicely, with finish on the inside to forestall oil-seepage damage. Checkering was borderless, machine-cut at 26 lpi. Like the rest of the gun, it was simple, classical and effective. The flat-bottomed pistol grip was relaxed, as is appropriate on a field gun. The butt of the gun featured a sticky ½" rubber pad guaranteed to hang up on your hunting jacket when new. A wood or plastic buttplate would have been better on this subgauge field gun.
Stock dimensions are given on the Rizzini website as 14¾" x 1½" x 2¼", although our actual test-gun dimensions were a little lower at 2½" at the heel. The guns are listed as having a bit of right-hand cast and 5° down pitch. On our gun wood-to-metal fit at the head of the stock was gap-free but overly proud.
The forend was petite, as befits a 28-gauge. Unlike the other Rizzini field O/Us that use Anson pushbutton forend latches up front, the BR110 latch is Deeley style in the middle of the forearm. This is normally good, as it permits a smooth, uncluttered forend tip. Or it would have if Rizzini hadn’t inflicted a Schnabel beak on this classy little gun. Looks aside, that sharp lip will be easy to chip if you hunt where the going is tough and the grouse abound.
The BR110 comes in a serviceable black ABS-plastic takedown case that should manage for the airlines. In addition to the gun, chokes, wrench, generic manual and parts diagram, there is a three-year mechanical warranty.
Nice as this little gun is, of course, it’s all about the shooting. Our steel-receiver gun weighed 5 pounds 14.3 ounces. This gun was centrally balanced right on the hinge pin. Centrally balanced lightweight guns are lightning on the close stuff but require more control on longer shots. Everything is a tradeoff. Generally, the lighter the gun, the more of its weight I want up front. Personally, I might consider getting the 30" barrels to add just a touch more stability while still maintaining the light carry weight. But that is just my take, and better shooters might disagree and prefer the balance as is. If carry weight is a concern, note that our BR110 28 came in almost a half-pound lighter than the Beretta Silver Pigeon I 28 and three-quarters of a pound less than the Browning Lightning 28. For a minimal carry weight, the aluminum receiver BR110 Light weighs in at 5.2 pounds.
The gun was mechanically correct in all respects. Everything worked and worked well. The trigger was perfect, the chokes stayed put, the ejectors were well timed and barrel convergence was correct. As expected, with its light weight and central balance, the gun was very fast. On an explosive quail covey, that would be a real plus. A 30-yard pheasant might require a little more concentration. As usual, I loaned the gun to many different shooters, and we shot skeet, 5 Stand and FITASC. Everyone enjoyed shooting the BR110, but that’s a 28 for you. Opinions on the gun’s looks were universally favorable, as was the perception of value for price.
In all, Rizzini USA has a winner in the BR110. The gun is well built, good looking, priced right, light to carry and quick to shoot. Sales of this gun have been very strong since its introduction earlier this year. The company knows it has a winner, and when you see the gun, you will agree.