If only I had a sports car with the top down……….imagine driving along a secondary highway on a sunny day in Northern Italy. On either side of the fairly narrow valley, lush green mountainsides loom above with ancient stone churches and houses perched on impossibly steep slopes. This is Val Trompia, famous home of many Italian gun manufacturers.
It was a very educational experience to tour nine gun factories in Italy and Spain. Late May 2011 found my husband and I in Marcheno, Italy, a smaller town in Italy north of Brescia. This was our second visit to the F.A.I.R. offices, having first visited in 2008. F.A.I.R. has been producing fine shotguns and rifles since 1971, having just celebrated their 40th Anniversary in 2011. They produce a top quality, affordable line of over under shotguns as well as an impressive double over under rifle. Their single shot rifle, combination guns and trap/skeet models have also been extremely popular since we began exclusively importing F.A.I.R into Canada in 2007.
The factory is nestled at the base of the mountain near the Mella River which runs the length of the valley. On our last visit it was sunny and hot, however this day offered a marked contrast producing a violent hail storm. The factory is managed by Luca Rizzini, the son of the founder Isidoro Rizzini, along with his charming and efficient assistant, Moira. The responsiveness to our queries and orders along with the consistent and timely production and shipment of product has made working with F.A.I.R a very enjoyable relationship.
Custom stocks are made available for the reasonable cost of approximately $100 Canadian through the use of CNC technology. The operator sets up the machine using the measurements we provide (drop at heel, drop at comb and length of pull) and the basic stock is created by the machine. Of course, meticulous hand fitting and finishing is necessary to produce the finished piece. The machining and finishing of the inside of the receiver is noteworthy and adds to the appeal of these affordable, quality guns.
Deep in the factory you will find their 50 meter shooting tunnel where they test fire guns, in particular used for regulating the beautiful double-rifles. One of the most exciting parts of the tour was to watch the rifle regulator regulate the barrels of a double rifle. Using cameras and monitor he places the rifle in a rifle vise, fires both barrels, reviews on the monitor, adjust, shoots, reviews, and adjusts until both barrels are shooting a maximum of 50 mm apart at 50m. Often regulation is to 30mm, which is quite remarkable since the barrels start at about 15mm apart. This entire process takes about 30 minutes, and the quick, skilled, (and patented) adjustments of the barrels are extraordinary.
This enclosed area allowed us to enjoy the smell of smokeless powder and appreciate how loud a rifle can be (yes, that’s while wearing appropriate hearing protection). The attention to detail that is required to produce consistent results is obvious, and it was fascinating to watch these experienced people at work.
Of course, no visit would be complete without sampling some very fine food and wine but beware of the ‘cover charge’ at restaurants. We had our most expensive meal at Lake Garda where it was 10 EU each just to sit at the table. But we did have a nice view of Italian Mallards!
F.A.I.R. will be announcing some new models at the I.W.A. show in Nuremburg this March, so stay tuned for some very exciting developments.