Gun Test - Fabarm Axis Allsport
At the recent 2017 SHOT Show, Fabarm, the Italian gunmaker known for their unique flair in the design and appearance of their firearms, debuted a new model over/under shotgun that is gathering considerable attention. Officially, the full moniker of this new model is the Fabarm Axis Allsport QRR (Quick Release Rib). However, for the sake of saving ink, in this review we will call it the Axis Allsport.
“Allsport” sounds like there just might be a not-so-hidden meaning there, right? You got it! This beauty of an over/under is designed to perform admirably in more than one clay target discipline. Trap, skeet and sporting clays enthusiasts, like collegiate shooters and the youngsters in high school coming up through the ranks, often have a tough time coming up with the necessary funds for just one dedicated clay target shotgun, never mind three dedicated clay target smoothbores. Wouldn’t it be nice to have one gun to take care of all your shooting needs?
That elusive idea of one gun that does it all is what the Axis Allsport is all about. In conversation with Wes Lang, President of Caesar Guerini USA, the importers of Fabarm firearms, I learned he wanted to offer a shotgun that could be used as a sporting clays and/or skeet gun and then, in concert with the adjustments provided by the comb hardware, could also be a fine trap-target crusher. This theme is accomplished not by a combination of an adjustable rib and an adjustable comb but by an adjustable comb and interchangeable (replaceable) ribs. The Axis Allsport over/under comes packaged with two easy-to-swap-out aluminum ventilated ribs. The flatter rib (10mm) provides a 50/50 POI while the taller rib (15mm) will have the Allsport printing a 65/35 POI. Both ribs are ramped at the breech and tapered breech-to-muzzle 10mm to 8mm. Additionally, they feature a center groove running the length of the rib with a white Bradley-style bead at the muzzle and a stainless mid-bead. I have made mention of this style of rib design before in my gun reviews. This is my favorite rib design. The center “sighting” groove, as I like to call it, helps me find my correct head/eye alignment very quickly.
The 50/50 rib will fit the bill for most sporting clays and skeet shooters. The 65/35 rib will take care of most trap-target duties. I know, I know, “What about the shooter who likes to really float the target?” That type of shooter is going to go with an unsingle setup that gives what he likes to see under the bird. But, in my opinion, those shooters comprise a small percentage of the total shooters. The popularity of the Allsport so far supports that theory.
The Axis Allsport is configured with 32” Tribore® free-floating barrels, 3” chambers, a Micro Metric® adjustable comb and Triwood® enhanced stock finish. The Tribore® barrels are designed with three bore diameters tapering from just forward of the chamber and terminating at the skirt of the screw-in choke area. This internal diameter design of the Axis Allsport’s bores lowers recoil and reduces the need for excessively long forcing cones.
The Axis Allsport comes equipped with five of Fabarm’s Exis HP4 extended screw-in choke tubes. They are 3.8” long, hard chrome-finished and designed with a hyperbolic internal diameter that plays in perfect harmony to the bores of the barrels. This ballistic concert gives the shooter the advantages of greater velocity, target-destroying pattern consistency and overall superior performance downrange. The five chokes you receive with the Axis Allsport will be the Skeet (constrictive value of roughly .002, according to my calculations), Improved Cylinder (.008), Light Modified (.013), Improved Modified (.025) and the Full (.032). These are precisely machined chokes, and each one screwed smoothly in and out of the muzzle without any tight or loose segments being evident.
Interestingly, on the body of the Exis HP4 chokes there is a one or two-word description as to the working distance each choke is designed for. The word Skeet is etched on the side of the Skeet choke and is for the shortest distances to a target, such as those you encounter on a Skeet field. Improved Cylinder is marked with the word Short, indicating your shots with this choke tube are best still restricted to targets not much more than, say 25 or 30 yards. Light Modified is marked as Light Medium for targets a bit farther out, 30 to 35 yards. The Improved Modified says Long, hinting to use this one when your target is out around 40 to 45 yards. The Full choke is marked Extreme indicating the targets you use this one for reside in another zip code.
The Axis Allsport is equipped with features that include an adjustable trigger blade to give that perfect-feeling, trigger-finger position. Of course, the already-mentioned Micro Metric® adjustable comb allows you to tune the fit of the stock to your preferred sight picture. If you prefer a recoil-reduction device in your stock, Fabarm makes one that can be installed in your Axis Allsport, no problem. Not only does the addition of the recoil-reduction device soften the oomph to your shoulder because of how it works, it also adds mass to your gun’s overall weight, thus fighting the rearward transfer of recoil stresses.
Triggers on the Axis Allsport were set at 3.75 lbs. for the bottom barrel and very close to 4 lbs. for the top barrel. The pull was a touch longish per trigger, longer than what I am used to on an O/U. However, the break was crisp and consistent with the take-up being barely noticeable. I suspect the degrees of rotation of the hammers may account for the long feel and what seemed like a longer locktime, but during testing it took only a few shots to be totally at ease with it.
While I’m at it, I have a thing for the ejection capability of the guns I review. I don’t know why, just do. Nevertheless, the Axis Allsport ranked right up there with the best of them, chucking out spent shells a healthy 10 feet or more. So, the next time you’re tempted to get into a Flush or a Flurry, where the speed of getting the shells into the gun and getting the empties out is vital, don’t discount the Axis Allsport.
Fabarm’s guns have always maintained a certain avant garde look about them. They look like no other gun. When you’ve seen enough of them, you come to recognize a Fabarm gun from a distance pretty quickly. They look like a Fabarm. The buttstock and forearm of the Axis Allsport are treated with Triwood®. This is a process that enhances the color and grain of the wood, giving you a stock to be proud of. That was certainly the case with my demo gun. The streaks of dark grain in the stock stood out against the rich reddish-brown background grain. The surface looks and feels like a well-done lacquer. This is a very attractive shotgun.
The deep blue-black of the Allsport’s receiver, forend iron, trigger guard and top lever all add a contrast to the stock’s color and grain. Modest vine leaf engraving is tasteful and pleasing, just the right amount and style.
Balance of the 8 lb. 4oz. Axis Allsport was centered on the hinge pin. This point was appreciated and made for a gun that was agile but not lightweight, robust but not heavy.
The stock’s pistol grip features a mild right-hand palm swell and well-cut checkering in the most-often-seen point style at 21 lines per inch.
My testing of the Axis Allsport included targets on the 5-Stand course and the trap range at Auburn Trap Club. The 5-Stand at Auburn Trap Club offers a tight mix of target presentations. Dennis Menuchiani and his lovely bride Barbara do a wonderful job of keeping the targets challenging but hittable. Considering the topographical constraints the club is bound by, the targets are actually quite good.
My personal guns are fairly traditional, meaning they do not have stocks with adjustable combs or barrels with adjustable or replaceable ribs. When I put the stock to my shoulder and head down, I see one sight picture all the time. But when I review a gun that offers such features, I am anxious to take advantage of them, as this helps me learn how these devices aid shooters to become more successful. It also allows me to be a good source of feedback for the manufacturer when I feel a feature just isn’t making it.
The first thing to do was to lubricate the Axis Allsport in all the appropriate areas: outer surfaces of the Exis HP4 chokes, the rounded forward edges of the receiver, the head of the cocking rod within the receiver, the locking block recess on the mono bloc, and the side walls of the mono bloc and ejectors.
Next, decide what rib to wear. Hmmm, the 50/50 or be bold and live on the edge with the 65/35 POI rib? Decisions, decisions. I wasn’t feeling overly bold, so I stayed conservative and went with the 50/50. The gun came with the 65/35 on it, so I could now show my adoring audience at the club just how easy and quick it was to change out the ribs on this new Fabarm over/under. No trouble at all. Merely use a non-metallic point of some kind. (Like the tip of one of the Gun Pics sold in the Shootin’ Accessories catalog section on page 51 in this magazine.) That way you will not scratch your rib. Apply a small amount of pressure to the pin securing the rib at the breech end of the barrel. The pin will pop out, letting you slide the rib an inch or so forward and lift it off the barrel. Then simply do the reverse operation to secure the new rib to the barrel. I swapped the ribs out but had to do it a second time for the benefit of those onlookers who blinked.
Of the supplied chokes, I decided the Light Modified and Improved Modified would get the first call to duty. Although it is possible to break all of Auburn’s 5-Stand targets with an Improved Cylinder, I did not want to just hit them. I wanted to hurt them. My loads were the Sporting Clays loads of one-ounce hard 7½s at 1,260 f.p.s. made by B&P. I often shoot requested target presentations instead of the menu targets at each stand. This lets me have a little “get acquainted” time with my test guns before I get more serious about crushing birds. The tall teal offered by the not-too-distant Number 9 trap was my first call. The Axis Allsport moved smoothly up to and through the bird. I broke the top of the target but caught a large piece heading for the ground with the top barrel. I made a mental note not to push so hard going up on the teal.
Next was a single from the nearby Number 3, a gentle crosser coming from the corner of the retention pond on the right going out over the course to the left. “Pull!” A gentle move, touch the front of the bird, and a ball of smoke was all that was left. The 32” 8+ lb. Axis Allsport was reluctant to give up much recoil. My shoulder was grateful. A few more handpicked single targets that included the aforementioned Number 6, and I was ready to take on some pairs. The Light Modified/Improved Modified combination of Exis HP4 chokes proved more than a match for the birds at Auburn’s 5-Stand. These chokes annihilate clay targets.
The Doubles targets I requested were a bit more challenging, as I make up presentations that would not ordinarily be so cruel as to place on the menu for daily consumption. But that’s what’s so much fun.
The trap range was my next stop. I had previously moved the comb hardware to a position that came reasonably close to the dimensions on my personal guns. I felt no reason to change anything there, but I did want to check out the 65/35 rib on the Axis Allsport and see what it was all about. The ribs swapped out in the blink of an eye. Yes-s-s! I had to do it again because someone didn’t see it. Of all the games shot in trap, Doubles is my favorite by far. Shooting Doubles by myself gets my arms tired a lot quicker than when I shoot on a squad. This getting old business is not for sissies. However, the Axis Allsport took care of business that afternoon.
I missed a couple of birds here and there, but it was no fault of the Allsport. The slight palm swell in the grip helped to keep the gun in control under recoil. The Light Mod/Imp. Mod. choke combination was lethal on the outgoing Doubles birds. My good friend, Paul Leliakov, himself a fine trap Doubles shooter, wanted to shoot the Axis Allsport after having come by my office earlier in the week and checking it out while I was taking my notes on it. Paul shot it well. So well, in fact, he thinks he just might have found his next expenditure of his 2016 IRS refund.
With great looks, soft recoil, quick and easy swap out of the ribs, an adjustable comb, an MSRP of $4,280 and bone-crushing chokes, you would be doing yourself a huge injustice if you did not run down to your nearest Fabarm dealer and take a serious look at the new Fabarm Axis Allsport QRR.
Do me a favor, visit the Fabarm dealers advertising in this copy of Shotgun Sports and make your best deal with them. But when you do, make sure to tell them you saw their ad in Shotgun Sports! Both they and I will appreciate it. SS