It’s a parallel that’s too easy to draw; that of Ferrari and Perazzi. Both being of Italian origin and having tempered their reputations in the heat of competition, the dualities these brands share are too obvious to ignore. And topping the list of those hard-to-ignore dualities is, of course, their substantial price tags. But whilst a Ferrari’s exorbitant price tag is readily validated by all manner of carbon fiber, aerodynamic accents, technological wizardry, and stunningly quantifiable performance, the matter of how Perazzi justifies their own five-figure price tags is somewhat less obvious. But that’s a far cry from saying they aren’t justified: during the London Olympics, Perazzis were the favoured tool among trap and skeet shooters, with 75 out of the 132 shooters preferring the Italian marque. But should you?
If there’s one thing that’s important to a shotgun-wielding competition shooter, it must be the fit. A nebulous term that’s bandied about far more often than it’s actually understood, it really only boils down to one thing: how easily and naturally a shotgun can hit what it’s pointed at. Seeing as shotguns are fitted with no legitimate aiming apparatus, the competitive trap or skeet shooter relies on a good gun fit and a consistent gun mount to locate the barrels consistently in relation to their eyes. This allows the shooter to see the target, and swing the gun through the target’s plane of travel almost subconsciously, pulling the trigger as they swing through the clay target itself. Obviously, to do this correctly 146 out of 150 times at targets moving at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour requires a high degree of expertise on the shooter’s part, but it also demands the use of a gun that has been absolutely perfectly fitted until it becomes an extension of the shooter’s arm, rather than an 8 pound weight flung about at the end of one.
And this is where Perazzi begins their process. Using what’s known as a “try gun” (an action fitted to a stock that allows for massive adjustments in all manner of directions) and a trained eye, Perazzi’s representatives meet potential clients and tune and tweak for hours on end before they arrive at what they’ve determined to be the best dimensions. The try gun allows the fitting team to make adjustments on the fly, but also allows the client to get a good feel for the proposed dimensions by actually shooting targets, which in turn engenders further feedback and adjustment. All of this is done in order to give the best gun fit possible. In the case of our test gun, this process entailed an entire Saturday and somewhere near a hundred rounds of ammunition before we could conclude we’d reached the perfect figures, which were then confirmed with a few more rounds on Sunday after a decent rest.
Once the fitting is complete, the measurements are then sent to Perazzi’s Brecia-based manufacturing facility, where the difference between Perazzi and other manufacturers truly begins. While even mainstream manufacturer Beretta is now offering a stock-fitting service on their higher end competition guns, Perazzi has purports to be the only manufacturer of scale that produces each gun, individually, by hand, and under one roof. That means that Perazzi themselves have direct control over each and every pin, spring, and piece that goes into their guns, which in turn allows them to ensure better quality controls. Similarly, it allows them to fit each individual part to each individual action perfectly, avoiding the lowest-common-denominator sort of tolerances that are required by other manufacturers’ outsourcing processes. By the time a gun is finished, each part, from the barrels to the ejectors to the trigger group, will have all been fitted to the gun just as the gun was fitted to the owner, and all will bear the same serial number to identify them as parts specific to that gun’s action.
The result of all this is, of course, a ridiculously reliable action. Having been ordered some six months prior to its delivery, an examination of our test gun proved that the marketing packages and press releases from Perazzi are a far cry from lip service; there isn’t a surface within our MX-8 that isn’t absolutely perfectly mated to that of its neighbours. Assembling the gun for the first time was absolutely free of any of the drama that has accompanied the assembly of other brand-new over/unders; because everything’s already been fitted together, the break-in period doesn’t rely on the various metal parts lapping themselves against one another, so there’s no undue force required to snap the fore end in place, nor was the gun unduly difficult to open. Once it was together, however, it’s closure was the very definition of solid. Completely devoid or snaps, cracks, or undue thumps, it was so free of acoustic drama that at first one was forced to wonder if it has actually locked up at all! However, tens of thousands of rounds later without a single hiccup to report, it’s obvious that our MX2000/8 is working just fine. And even more impressive, after all those rounds, it hasn’t changed one bit. The finish remains as perfect as ever, the internal surfaces are all still totally free of mars or burrs, and it opens, fires, and closes in exactly the same manner as it did on day one. And we haven’t been babying it, either.
And as for the performance… well, suffice it to say that that is yet another aspect in which Perazzi can be thought on par with that other famous Italian marque; Ferrari. Balancing extremely well in the hands, the gun’s weight lies almost perfectly between the forehand and the shoulder, leaving your trigger hand with little to do beyond pull the trigger. And thanks to the relatively unique placement of the locking lugs astride the barrel block, the action is more compact than its competition, which has the nice effect of allowing the entire gun to be built around a smaller platform. This means the shooters eyes, cheek, and hands are all naturally located closer to the centre of the bores than they would be on a gun with the tradition bottom-mounted locking lug. Similarly, the lack of “ears” that so typically denote the greener cross-bolt lockup system employed by Beretta’s DT10 and DT11 make the gun appear much smaller to the shooter’s eye, with the barrels and action all forming a nice, uninterrupted tapering line out to the horizon. These might just be tiny differences, but they’re just a few of the many tiny differences that amount to a vastly more lithe and lively feeling gun than most.
So, how do you know that a Perazzi’s for you? Well, if upon reading this article you find yourself continuously saying “but a Remington 870 breaks targets just fine,” then chances are good that a Perazzi’s not in your future. And that’s totally alright, because these guns are absolutely not for everybody, just as much as they don’t exist solely for the consumption of the hobnobbing overindulgent snobs that some people mistake all Perazzi owners for. Put simply, these guns are for those avid shotgun enthusiasts that refuses to compromise on their equipment, and that means shooting a gun that’s been custom made to their measurements and specifications, and was entirely hand-fitted for utter reliability.
However, that also means coming to terms with some seriously hefty price tags. Starting at roughly XXXXX dollars and rising to a stratospheric $440,000, there is simply no avoiding the elephant in the room: these are not cheap guns. The average Perazzi falls somewhere between the topmost line of off-the-rack Beretta shotguns and the absolutely bespoke guns provided by the craftsmen at Boss, Holland & Holland, and Purdey and Sons, and so too do their prices. However, by building their company off a business model that blends the most important benefits of ordering a bespoke gun (custom gun fitting and whatnot) with just enough of the production line ethos to keep prices at least somewhat reasonable, Perazzi should be commended for maintaining a price list that’s much closer to that of a Beretta DT10 or DT11 than they are to even the cheapest of Purdey, H&H, or Boss products.
At the end of the day, when a company can boast such an impressive roster of supporters and clients that they total more than half of an entire Olympic competitive field, they must be doing something right. And what’s even more impressive, by the time the Olympics had wrapped up, Perazzis had helped a whopping 12 of the 15 Olympic shotgun medallists mount the podium, all of whom did it with exactly the same guns that Perazzi sells every day, to thousands of happy clients.