Fabarms' Elos B and Elos B AL are typical of European over/unders, but far from ordinary. These 28- and 20-gauge stacks exude a level of grace usually reserved for iron at a much higher price point. Fit and finish are excellent, and so are the features. The nicely proportioned actions are distinctly "rounded," and have a full-length locking lug that emerges from below the standing breech to engage bites below the barrels.
The system was invented by Browning, and used on guns worldwide. The steel receiver of the B model has some of the most beautiful color-case hardening I've seen. The frame of the B AL is made of a tough aluminum alloy, and finished in a "titanium color" that is quite elegant and doesn't look like bare aluminum. Both receivers have tasteful engraving.
The barrels are made in the usual mono-block construction, rotating on a pair of trunnions, although they are not as easily replaceable, as on, say, a Beretta. This makes the action a trifle slimmer, and is a durable and proven design.
Barrels are deep-drilled, a more expensive process, rather than hammer-forged. Fabarm says this creates less stress in the metal, and makes a better barrel. An interesting quirk is Fabarms actually seasons the barrel steel, analogous to seasoning stock wood. Solid side ribs join the barrels. But the crÃ¨m de la crÃ¨m of the Elos' design is the Tribore system.
Basically, this makes the entire barrel one long forcing cone. First, the cone itself is lengthened; then a conical section about eight inches long slowly reduces the bore diameter from about .736 at the rear to about .724 toward the muzzle. This is, of course, an application of the Venturi principle; reducing the diameter of a tube increases the velocity of a fluid (or in this case, shot) flowing through it.
This design eliminates some of the disadvantages of an overbored barrel. This all ties in with the proof testing. All Elos B models receive the "normal" proof-test at the Italian National Proof House, but Fabarm requests an "over test" of an astounding 1,630 bars. This is a little over 23,600 psi, and about twice as high as SAAMI's MAP for any 20- or 28-gauge shotshell.
This makes the Elos especially suitable for the rigors of shooting steel shot, so these elegant little O/Us are built to hunt. Specialized design doesn't stop there. The flush-fit Inner HP chokes are 3.23 inches in length, and are made with a curved conical (hyperbolic) section that has no "edges." This produces better patterns, causes less friction, and more progressiveness (I'll let you figure that one out).
They state this is ideal for steel shot. As my old friend Myron Feemster used to say, "They put wood on a gun for a handle!" Well, the "handles" on these Elos Bs are purty as a newborn pup. Made of Turkish walnut, the buttstock has excellent grain and exceptionally nice figure for a gun in its price class. It seems properly proportioned, with a drop at the comb of 1.5 inches, and at the heel, 2.25 inches. The length of pull is 14.5 inches, and a ·„‚ˆ-inch recoil pad graces the buttstock.
The forend has the slightest hint of a schnabel, which means "duck's beak" in German. It can look rather obtrusive on some guns, but not so with the Elos. It's tastefully restrained. Full coverage with 24 lpi checkering adorns the buttstock and forend. The trigger is either gold (B) or grayed steed (B AL), and both are stippled. Their shape and placement are quite good, and the pull weights (4½ to 5 pounds) were fitting for a scattergun. It's a good compromise for the range or field. All these characteristics are wonderful, but guns are made to shoot, so shoot 'em I did.
I snuck off to the sumptuous Flint Oak Resort near Fall River, Kan., to shoot some sporting clays, pheasants, quail, and chukars. Cold temperatures and biting winds made the clays "sporting" indeed. I used the Elos B 28-gauge on clays, and while it handled like a dream, I must confess that I didn't do all that well on the longer shots. I brought only the skeet and IC tubes, and many targets were just beyond the range of ¾-ounce, No. 8s. On pointed birds, it was a different story. In the Elos B AL 20-gauge, I used Federal 1-ounce, No. 6s, a fine all-around upland load.
The gun came up with alacrity, pointed naturally, and hit where I looked. These new Elos Bs from Fabarm represent an extraordinary value, and are a tantalizing option for the shotgunner wanting to step up to a beautiful, high-quality Italian-made over/under.
Manufacturer: Fabbrica Bresciana Armi; Imported by Fabarms USA
Action: Box lock O/U, mono-block construction
Gauge: 28 and 20
Safety: Sliding tang with barrel selector
Barrel length: 28 inches, raised 7mm vent rib
Sight: Metal bead
Chambers: 2¾ and 3 inches
Chokes: Flush-fit C, IC, M, IM, F
Overall length: 45½ inches
Weight: 6.2 lbs and 6.8 lbs
Stock: Turkish walnut, 24 line-per-inch checkered
Length of pull: 14.5 inches
MSRP: 28-gauge, $2,575; 20-gauge, $2,420