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75 Years of Fausti

Taking a look at what makes today's Fausti shotguns so appealing.

The sun is shining over northern Italy, but it’s early in the morning and the air is still cold. I’m hunting that day as a guest of the Fausti sisters, Barbara and Giovanna, the second generation of the Fausti family shotgun manufacturer. We are in a beautiful hunting place, the Giorgio Paraporti’s G&G Hunting Service. On three sides of the stubble field I’m hunting, the hills are draped with bright green grapevines planted in neat rows, and directly behind me is a 16th century villa that looks much today as it did in the years when Europeans colonized North America. A pair of ponderous orange and white Bracco Italiano bird dogs move up and down the stubble rows with a slow-footed, purposeful trot. They stray too far ahead, and their handler shouts in Italian. It’s a living scene lifted from classic sporting artwork, and I find myself directly in the center of it.

All three of us are carrying the company’s Boutique side-by-side .410 shotguns, each one a hand-engraved, one-of-a-kind masterpiece firearm.

As we approach, three European quail break from the stubble, two curving to our right and one going left. Barbara and I team up and take one bird on the right, and Giovanna has downed the bird that crossed her face. The pragmatic Braccos lope toward the downed birds.

Founded in Brescia

Italy’s Val Trompia Valley is to firearm manufacturing what the Olduvai Gorge in East Africa is to human history. It was in the Val Trompia Valley on the banks of the Mella River that some of the first modern firearms were built, driven largely by iron ore deposits in the surrounding Southern Alps. By the end of the 16th century, there were 40 forges and eight furnaces operating in Val Trompia. It’s little wonder that Val Trompia has been known as the “Valley of the Gun” for centuries.

Following the end of World War II, a young Val Trompian named Stefano Fausti was living in Gardone, just outside Brescia in the valley. Fausti designed and built custom firearms in his small shop, relying largely on a chisel and other hand tools to do so. But Stefano Fausti’s guns were among the best of any gunmaker in the region, and by 1948 he had his own business and his own brand—Fausti Stefano Arms.

After Stefano’s retirement, his daughters took the reins at their namesake gun company, and today Fausti retains a sense of tradition coupled with an understanding that technological and manufacturing advancements have forever changed the firearms industry. Standing in the upper floor of the modern factory, which sits just outside Gardone and offers a fantastic view of the Mella River and the foothills of the Alps to the north, the factory below is divided into two primary parts. On the right side are rows of modern CNC machines where machinists in lab coats feed directions into a computer that controls the machine. From there, high-grade steel components are produced, and the tight tolerances with which they are made create shotguns with incredible fit and outstanding durability.

The northern half of the factory, which occupies floorspace on the left side of the building when viewed from above, looks very different than the laboratory environment of the CNC department on the south side. On the left you’ll see rows of tables where individual gun makers run final inspections and hand-fit the guns. Val Trompia is undoubtedly home to the world’s finest collection of firearm engravers. When I’m alongside the engravers down below, I see that they are using a bolino, the hand tool of choice for master engravers.

Each custom engraving for a Fausti Shotgun can take upwards of 600 hours.

The work is truly remarkable, and the custom guns—some with images of the owner’s hunting dogs, others with game scenes, and one with a detailed portrait of the owner’s wife—are painstakingly engraved with a level of authenticity and striking detail that can’t be replicated by a machine. When I ask Giovanna how long it takes to create such a masterpiece in metal, she says upwards of 600 hours.

A Family Affair

When Stefano Fausti handed control of his company to his daughters Barbara, Giovanna, and Elena, they became the face of the brand, and for many hunters and shooters, Fausti will be most closely associated with the “shotgun sisters.” And while it’s true that the sisters are still a part of this successful company, Giovanna told me that making great shotguns requires a great team. The third family generation recently joined the company. After this, the company reorganized around a Steering Committee with a clear and structured vision for its future. The team at Fausti includes a long list of machinists, engineers, technicians, and engravers that help bring these beautiful guns to life.

Fausti is a family-run business, with its third generation recently joining the team.

The company headquarters is in Marcheno, ValTrompia. It currently employs around 40 people according to a development plan structured in three areas: administration, production, and sales. In addition, each department has a specific organization to respond to the need for continuous growth and improvement and to guarantee maximum efficiency and speed of response to internal and market requirements.

Fausti’s footprint isn’t just in Italy, either. Fausti USA in Fredericksburg, Virginia handles sales in America. Having a headquarters in the United States has allowed Fausti to stay in close contact with their American customer base, and they offer a “best seller” list of shotguns that are available as part of the Core product line (see below). There have been some changes to Fausti, particularly in the last three years, as the company has invested in more advanced CNC machinery, but the company’s special blend of hand artistry and modern machining will continue into the future.

Fausti Product Lines

The Fausti firearm product line is divided into two categories: The entry-level guns make up the Core line, while the custom guns are in the Boutique line. But it’s hardly fair to call the Core guns “entry level.” They are still robust, beautifully detailed, and have features such as scaled receivers, oil- finished Turkish walnut stocks, selective triggers and ejectors, and Fausti’s patented Four Locks actions which come with two lugs machined to the barrel block and two additional lugs machined into the receiver. The Four Locks system has proven to be exceptionally durable, and the feature is one of the hallmarks of modern Fausti shotguns. 
Here's a rundown of the firearms that comprise the Fausti Core Line:

CALEDON: Fausti Caledon shotguns are boxlock over/unders that come with auto ejectors, a single selectable trigger, and an oil finish Turkish walnut stock. Beautiful laser engraving covers the coil finish receiver, and the wood-to-metal finish is superb. Available in 12-, 16-, 28-gauge, and .410-bore, all Caledon’s come with scaled receivers and interchangeable choke tubes (except the .410 which comes with fixed M/F chokes). Barrel lengths range from 26- to 30-inches and weighs from 5.8 pounds for the svelte 28-gauge to 7.25-pounds for the 12-gauge version. Other features include a tang-mounted barrel selector/safety, rich bluing, and a single metallic bead.

I tested the Caledon at Elk Creek Sporting Clays in Kentucky before carrying it on a chukar hunt in the Owyhee Mountains of Idaho, and this gun truly is a serviceable—and beautiful—all-around shotgun for birds and clays. The quality rivals guns costing more (the Caledon carries an MSRP of $2,426 for the 12- and 20-gauge models and $3,087 for the 16- and 28-gauge and .410) with impeccable wood-to-metal finish and an Italian flair for understated beauty. The beautifully-balanced 12-gauge I carried served well on my chukar hunt, but if I had it to do again, I’d opt for the sleek, sub six-pound 28-gauge version.

Class shotguns offer the same tough-as-nails design as the Caledon, with upgraded aesthetics and additional options.

CLASS: Class over/under shotguns offer the same tough-as-nails design as the Caledon, with upgraded aesthetics and additional options. You can choose either a coin-finish version or a color case-hardened receiver finish, both of which feature gold-inlaid game scenes. The wood is also upgraded, and both guns are striking. And, with MSRPs ranging from $3,253 to $3,915, they’re also a value considering the quality Italian craftsmanship and field performance. If you like the look of sideplates, you can add those in the form of the Class SLX, which carries an MSRP of $4,400 to $5,061 depending on gauge and finish. Looking for a two-barrel set? The Class Duetto comes with your choice of coin finish or color case receiver and 20- and 28-gauge barrels with an MSRP of $4,400 to $5,061.

Women are the fastest growing segment of the shooting market, and, not surprisingly for a company owned by sisters, Fausti led the pack with the release of the Class Aphrodite. With a stock that’s scaled and angled to fit female shooters, the Aphrodite is a functional masterpiece that’s equally-suited for the range as it is in the field. The Aphrodite is available in all gauges, and it’s exquisitely engraved. MSRP is $4,630 to $5,292 depending on model.

SPORTING OVER/UNDERS: The Core line also offers several dedicated competition shotguns carried by some of the best shooters in the world, and the current line includes the LX4 ($3,476 to$4,137), the MT4 SLX Sport with sideplates ($6,614 to $$7,235), and the XF4 Sport ($5,402 to $6,022).

DEA SIDE-BY-SIDES: DEA (Italian for “goddess”) is an apt name for these superb double guns which very likely offer some of the best value for a bird hunter seeking a high-quality, Italian-made side-by-side field gun. These Anson & Deeley-style boxlocks are beautifully proportioned with scaled receivers, and like their over/under counterparts they are available in 12-, 16-, 20-, and 28-gauge, and .410. Available with either a coin finish or color case receiver, the DEA guns come with single non-selectable triggers, English-style straight stocks, high-grade oiled walnut stocks, and either a splinter forearm (12-, 16-, 20-gauge) or beavertail forearm on the sub-gauge guns. On an Idaho quail and Hun hunt, I carried a DEA 28-gauge double that weighed in at just under five pounds, and that gun was perfect for all-day carry. It’s one of my favorite guns I’ve carried in the field—and one I’m sorry I didn’t buy. And, in the rarified world of fine European doubles, the Fausti DEA is something of a bargain: they range in price from $4,248 to $4,909. Of course, you can dress up your DEA by stepping up to the SLX versions which offer sideplates and even more engraving for $5,680 to $6,342 depending on model. There’s a Duetto version with sets of .410 and 28-gauge barrels in coin finish or color case ($6,605) and there’s even a Sport model for $5,403.

Fausti’s Boutique guns receive upgrades like personalized engraving and custom stock fit. This costs extra, of course, but now American customers have multiple options—they can purchase an off-the-shelf Core gun or wait for the personal touch of a Boutique gun. Either way, you’re getting an excellent Italian-made firearm.

Whether you choose a core gun or opt for a more personal touch, you will receive a beautiful Italian-made firearm.

Bellissimi Fucili

Fausti has upgraded their machinery in the last few years and even changed their logo, but hunters and shooters know that the final product is still the same durable and beautiful shotgun that has made the Fausti name famous. Having options in the Core and Boutique lines makes buying much easier, too, since you can take a premium off-the-shelf gun home today or wait to have a custom gun built to your exact specifications.

Fausti guns offer something special—a quality European double gun built to exacting standards on modern machines with exquisite Italian styling at competitive prices. After seven-and-a-half decades of gun building the company knows how to build fine firearms that appeal to hunters and shooters world-wide. They are indeed bellissimi fucili (beautiful shotguns).

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