Read A 20 Gauge World Tour text version

Ein Amerikaner erprobt eine spanische side-by-side in Kaliber 20 auf dem Jagdparcours. Er schwärmt für die Eleganz der im englischen Stil gehaltenen Flinte und für die Kultur des klassischen Flintenschießens. Wie sollte es auch anders sein?

A 20 GAUGE WORLD TOUR1

"While serious competition shooting seems to scream for the smooth swinging O/Us made by Italian craftsmen from Fabbri and Perazzi, the loam green hills softly beckon for the tweed elegance of English shooting..."

A trim little Spanish-made 20, which looks and performs like a classic English double, captures an American's heart. The arrival of cool weather in Southern California signals two things: rain and a return to the sporting clays range. Something about the brisk weather makes tromping through the woods with a shotgun and a couple hundred shells more enjoyable than during the hundred degree plus days of summer. It also sparks a renewed interest in new shotguns. While serious competition shooting seems to scream for the smooth swinging O/Us made by Italian craftsmen from Fabbri and Perazzi, the loam green hills softly beckon for the tweed elegance of English shooting. I was going to have to get a SxS -- a light, graceful English game gun. However, the torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder was saying, "Either get the damn operation, learn to shoot a 12 gauge left handed -- or buy a 20." Most of my 12 gauge shooting was with 7/8 oz. Federal International paper hulled loads. That 7/8 oz. (24 grams) is the international standard for competition with either 12 or 20 gauge loads.

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WORLD TOUR OF 20S

...the Garbi 100 came complete with double triggers, hand removable sidelocks, splinter forend and straight gripped stock of fancy walnut. Cracking the action open, I could already smell the tea brewing..."

Now, a small gauge British Best, if you can find one, will set you back in the neighborhood of $20,000, but that doesn't mean your life will be bereft of a high quality 'Two Row" for field and game. Spanish gun makers such as Arietta, AYA and Garbi have filled the gap by providing accurate -- "replicas" would be the wrong word -- homages to the London maker's Best guns. My interest in these guns fueled by an early season session with a buddy's Hollands, I arranged to secure an example of the Garbi SxS. The Garbi line is imported by William Larkin Moore and Co. Moore is the importer for the affordable B. Rizzini line of double guns, as well as the stratospherically priced Piotti and and Rizzini Best guns. After visiting their Westlake Village, Calif., showroom, I chose to purchase a 20 gauge Garbi Model 100 with upgraded European walnut. A true sidelock SxS action based on the London Best, it was a striking gun. While the various grades of Garbi are delineated primarily by fit and finish, the machine-rolled, hand-"cleaned up" Purdey-style rose-and-scroll engraving was beautiful, and a perfect match for my shooting buddy's 100-year-old British 12 bore. Like its English inspiration, the Garbi 100 came complete with double triggers, hand removable sidelocks, splinter forend and straight gripped stock of fancy walnut. Cracking the action open, I could already smell the tea brewing. While Moore and Co. sell various filled cases, I chose to outfit the Garbi with a leather luggage-style case from Cape Outfitters in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Cape offers a full line of shotgun and shell cases and accessories, as well as books, tools and a plethora of new and used shotguns for sale. With the Garbi nestled in its green lined case beside snap caps, oil bottle and take-down cleaning rod, I headed for Pachmayr International Shooting Park in El Monte, Calif.

TIGHT HIPS AND CREAKY SPINES

It began by taking the Garbi onto the skeet field for a warm-up. I always start my sporting clays days with a round or two of skeet to loosen up those vital hip flexors and creaky spinal erectors. After a few birds to familiarize myself with the Garbi's automatic safety and double triggers, I was soon able to keep up with my companions and their real Perazzi and Browning 0/U skeet guns. Much to their consternation, the Garbi's tight modified and full choked field barrels reduced the close skeet targets to puffs of black dust, "Alabama talcum powder." Moving to the sporting clays course I quickly came to appreciate the Garbi's quick handling characteristics. The Pachmayr course features some fast overhead birds, and the Garbi came up from the ready true and sure each time. Like a fine English gun, its light 6 lb. weight

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balanced perfectly just ahead of the trigger guard, and made trekking around the course a pleasure. Five doubles at each station revealed the one drawback of running the sporting course with an English-styled field gun - the barrels get hot and that splinter forend doesn't provide much relief. A good set of leather shooting gloves, or, more traditional, a slip-on leather hand guard will keep your digits away from those boiling demi-block barrels. Such leather hand guards are available from Cape or Galco. While many of today's shotgunners have never fired a SxS, it is a great way to get a feeling for the way bird hunting used to be -- when Americans went out with their Parkers, and our cousins across the pond went afield with their "London Best." Priced from just under $5,000 for the base Model 100 to almost $10,000 for a 103 B with H&H type self-opening mechanism, the Garbi is a bargain for the scattergun enthusiast who wants to enjoy the authentic feel of English-style game or sport shooting.

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