I‚Äôve always fantasized about owning a Boss over/under. Its classic lines and solid rib sing to my shotgunner‚Äôs soul. Only a mere $85,000 separated me from my last encounter with one. However, last fall I had the chance to spend some dove-shooting time with a Caesar Guerini Ellipse EVO that enjoys some of the sleek lines of the Boss and that alluring solid rib.
Wes Lang, president of Caesar Guerini, brought an American shooter‚Äôs perspective to the Italian gun-making craft. Lang has worked in all facets of the American gun trade, and is a top shot. All Guerinis are built on boxlock actions, although some have side plates to add extra area for engraving. The EVO has a round action ala the Scottish Dickson that wraps the engraving area unbroken from side to side and across the bottom; the rounded action is also immensely strong.
Free of screw and pin heads, the action joins the stock with a stylish curve that extends seamlessly up to the back strap, and passes the exquisitely engraved action balls and fences on the way. Finished in coin-silver, the engraving is done by Bottega C. Giovanelli, Italy‚Äôs largest mechanical engraving firm.
Their process is proprietary, but is thought to combine laser, EDM and hand chasing to make the action, top lever, forend iron, trigger guard and top strap beautiful to behold. This is more than just engraving as it combines deep-cut work with more traditional surface cutting. As with all contemporary shotguns, there are screw-in chokes and the EVO comes with four.
The EVO weighs a slight six pounds, eight ounces with its 28-inch barrels. The length of pull measures 14 ‚ÖĚ inches, slightly longer than the norm, which tends to be about 14 ¬ľ. The stock is also on the straight side with 1¬Ĺ inches drop at comb and 2 ¬ľ at the heel and 5‚ąē16 cast off at the heel; a very good compromise for today‚Äôs shooter and hunter. Left-hand stocks are available.
I took the EVO to my gun club for a check to make sure it fired, and to check point of impact at the patterning plate and on low-seven skeet targets. A true straightaway, station seven can reveal flaws in stocking, eccentric choke tubes, bent barrels, and a myriad of flaws: The EVO had none.
The following Saturday I was invited on a dove shoot in Delaware and took the EVO. I was not disappointed. If I did my part the mourners dropped with authority. I started with the more open skeet and improved cylinder tubes, but soon switched to the tighter modified and improved modified chokes, which provided more authoritative kills.
It is interesting that the balance point or center of gravity of the EVO is slightly farther forward than the normal balance on the hinge pin. Some of this is due to the longer stock and the nicely figured walnut; not exhibition-grade, but pleasing to the eye.
Many might dismiss this as being butt heavy, but until I checked the balance point, 5 ‚Öõ inches in front of the trigger, I was unaware of any misbalancing of this gun. In fact when calculating the moment of inertia of the EVO, the measure of how much effort it takes to swing the gun on a bird, it measured very close to the ‚Äúideal‚ÄĚ British side-by-side game gun.
In short, the EVO is a very finely balanced gun for the field. A quail or grouse hunter would find little difficulty carrying this gun over hill and dale, yet be able to hit with regularity at the flush.
The single trigger is non-selective, i.e., it fires the bottom barrel first and the top barrel second. If the buyer chooses, he can return it to Guerini in Cambridge, Md., and they will convert the trigger and safety to ‚Äúselective.‚ÄĚ I understand the trigger was made non-selective because the slimmer safety aesthetically better fit the top strap; I agree. The trigger pulls are quite good, measuring 5.2 pounds on the lower barrel and slightly more at 5.5 for the upper barrel. The pulls are smooth and crisp with no preliminary take up.
Mechanically, the EVO is interesting because the sears are hinged on the top strap and the hammers on the bottom. This makes for a shallower action that further enhances its lines.
How It Fits¬†
The stock is Prince of Wales style that sweeps the grip back. A compromise between the pistol grip and straight stock, the Prince of Wales provides some of the better control of the pistol grip and the more comfortable feel of the straight stock. For my taste, the grip is a bit too thick, but the thrubolt that attaches the stock to the action runs through the wrist, and the slightly thicker grip is not upsetting.
The grip has laser-cut checkering, and provides a better grip, but finer checkering belongs on this gun.The forend is well designed, like a fine English over/under. Gone is the Schnabel lip so prevalent on Italian guns. The Schnabel-style forend is made to place extra wood at the very front to prevent splitting. This forend is thin, but only the most ham-handed of us or a bad accident will damage it.
The barrels are smooth and hot blued to a highly polished dark blue-black. The stock and forend are of nicely figured walnut, and even the head of the stock, so often left raw, is also sealed with a couple coats of oil. Thoughtfully designed, the horns of the stock have a machined projection on each side that engage matching cuts in the action that prevents the stock from spreading and cracking.
Caesar Guerini shotguns carry a lifetime guarantee, and new owners can return their guns during the first three years for Guerini‚Äôs annual pit stop service. There is a modest fee involved that basically covers the return shipping to the customer. All gunsmithing is on premises in their American headquarters in Cambridge, Md.
Manufacturer¬†¬† ¬†Caesar Guerini
Action¬†¬† ¬†Boxlock over/under
Trigger¬†¬† ¬†Single non-selective (selective trigger available)
Barrel¬†¬† ¬†28-inch with solid game rib, screw-in chokes
Sights¬†¬† ¬†Solid game rib, single steel bead
Stock¬†¬† ¬†Oil-finished European walnut, checkered Prince of Wales
Weight¬†¬† ¬†6 pounds, 8 ounces