I am often asked – “What’s the best over and under game gun?” Most friends know that I have a passion for old side by sides and currently put my faith in a lovely 16 bore Lang. However I’m no stranger to over and under game guns!
Nowadays there are an enormous number of over and unders to choose from to suit every budget, configuration and taste. The “middle ground” of solid well-known manufacturers producing quality guns at an affordable price has been traditionally dominated by Browning, Beretta, Perazzi and Miroku. These guns have stood the test of time and continue to be popular both new and used.
In the last few years there has been an upsurgence in popularity for Georgio Guerini’s range of Caesar Guerini and for guns coming from Paulo Zoli whose father and grandfather were renowned gunmakers. However when it comes to choosing a modern over and under game gun that is well-made and affordable, my leanings are towards the B Rizzini range from the workshops of my old friend Batista.
Rizzini is not an uncommon name in Val Trompia, an amazing town set deep in a valley close to Brescia. The valley is home to five of the aforementioned gunmakers as well as a host of craftsmen specialising in all aspects of gunmaking and engraving. At one end of the scale sits the brothers Guido and Andrio Rizzini who produce extremely high quality hand-built side by sides to rival any British ‘Best Gun’, and at the other end, value for money entry-level shotguns by E Rizzini.
B Rizzini, founded by Batista in 1966, sits comfortably between the two as a high quality mass producer using state of the art equipment as well as traditional craftsmanship. I was introduced to Batista a few years after he started the company and became interested in his production methods and his gunmaking philosophy – we soon became good friends. Not long after this I became friends with Ivano Tanfoglio, a master gunmaker based in Val Trompia who was making exquisite custom guns for a worldwide clientele. Over the years I spent many happy hours in the company of engravers such as Cesare Giovanelli and Dario Cortini and also spent time with fine gunmakers such as Piotti and Bosis. Most of my introductions to the ‘Valley Gunmakers’ were made through Batista or Ivano with the invaluable help of my interpreter Elena Michelli. Over the years I watched B Rizzini grow into one of the most progressive manufacturers in the valley and in 2000 I had the honour of being present when Batista and Ivano joined forces, linking modern technology with fine traditional craftsmanship.
In 2006 Giuseppe Rizzini, Batista’s son, was given the job to fully establish the new “Rizzini Custom Shop” to build high quality guns to compete in the mid to high-end range. It is these guns that answer the original question of which modern over and under game gun would you choose? The company now produces fantastic game guns built with state of the art modern technology, but hand-finished by master craftsmen giving them great reliability and perfect handling.
It is for this reason that we had no hesitation in asking Batista and Ivano to engineer the underpinnings of our own guns – the Kinmont range. Our pair of 20 bore demonstrators have been used hard for 4 years and have never missed a beat! So B Rizzini is my over and under game gun of choice. They are imported by ASI and we are proud to have been appointed by ASI as distributors for Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.
I am very fond of Rizzini and Val Trompia’s gunmaking prowess but only a bit biased! I am looking forward to going there this year to catch up with old friends and bring back some more stories.
So in your opinion, what’s the best over and under game gun – and why?
Barry “Gramps” Wilcox