Fabarm's Waterfowler: A Waterfowler's Delight

Fabarm's Waterfowler: A Waterfowler's Delight

Nothing tames recoil like a gas-operated shotgun, and Fabarm's Waterfowler does a great job of it. This semi-auto is loaded with features aimed directly at waterfowl hunters. Designed by Fabarm president Wes Lang, an ardent duck hunter and top shot, he made it the kind of shotgun he would take to the blind.

We all know the huntin' gets good when the weather ain't. Bitter cold in front of an icy storm; conditions when gloves are a must, and gun handling is a challenge, the XLR5 comes through with an extra-large glove-sized trigger guard, and a large button safety.

Farbarm-Waterfowler

The bolt handle extends a full inch and a quarter from the receiver with a knurled surface for a sure grip. The loading port is sculpted, making shoving shells into the magazine easier.


Unique to the Waterfowler is the black ventilated rib. The XLR5 is covered with Kryptek Banshee camo coupled with a Soft-Touch finish, impervious to weather and saltwater. Traditionally, the entire gun is coated.


Lang felt it important to have the rib stand out, so he has gone the extra step of leaving the top of it coal black. Oldtimers will recall the Winchester Model 12's "Duckbill" rib than extended back over the receiver. The Waterfowler's rib is the same, extending four inches on the receiver to provide a 35-inch-long sight plane with the 30-inch barrel. A longer barrel is another touch only a long-time duck hunter would want.


In a blind or pit, getting the muzzle blast out away from your buddies is a great idea. I vividly recall hunting Southern Illinois geese near Marion years ago. Sharing the two-man pit was a guy with a Browning BPS 10, who, in his misguided wisdom, had cut the barrel to 24 inches. When he took a shot at a goose, I thought baseball great Red Schoendienst, who was hunting in a nearby pit, whacked me on the side of my head with his Louisville Slugger.

Aside from practical safety, longer barrels provide a little more sight plane and about 10 feet more velocity per inch than a shorter barrel.

The Guts 


The gas system uses Fabarm's proprietary Pulse Piston that proportionally slows the bolt's rearward velocity depending on the shell being fired. Truthfully, gas-operated autos don't really block recoil; they spread it out.

The gas system adds a bit of forward weight that adds inertia to the swing, making it a bit harder to slow when taking the shot. The action-return spring is wound around the magazine tube, and the entire unit disassembles in one piece.

fabarm-waterfowler-review


The XLR5 uses a two-piece carrier as do many Italian-made autos. To hold the bolt open you must push a little flipper on the left side of the action to drop the carrier. One quirk with the XLR5 is that the bolt release is located on the left side of the receiver.

It projects out a bit from the action and the metal surrounding it has been sculpted for an easy shove even with gloves. Speaking of the left side, the XLR5 is available in a lefty model for about $175 more.

Field Test 

Aside from being covered with Soft-Touch finish, the synthetic stock ends with a really good, soft rubber pad. My test gun arrived the morning I left for the last two days of Maryland's goose season.

No time for shooting clays or checking the fit on the plate; just put it together and skedaddle. Many pads are sticky, but this one isn't; no hang up on the jacket, just a good mount. For me, the gun fit right out of the box. I'm looking right down the rib, but if it weren't, I could adjust for drop and cast with the supplied shim kit.

The barrel is internally chrome-plated and the bolt is PVD-coated for corrosion resistance. Boring is by the proprietary TriBore system that makes a smooth transition from the 3-inch chamber through the extra-long forcing cone into the .735 bore that tapers to .7215 just behind the screw-in choke skirt.

The XLR5 comes with three choke tubes, No. 5 Medium range, No. 7 Long range and one labeled Extreme. I did some post-season pattern testing with both the No. 5 with a constriction of .018 and No. 7 at .0265 using Browning's new No.2 steel. The No. 5 tube (70 percent) outshot the No. 7 (67.4 percent) so tighter isn't often better. I used the No. 5 for end-of-season geese, and it worked just fine.

Fabarm service is located in Cambridge, Maryland, where they have gunsmiths standing by should a problem arise. With pattern testing and hunting, I've put about two full boxes of 3-inch waterfowl ammo through the XLR5 with nary a hitch, and I don't expect any in the future, because this one's a keeper, and when Fabarm's chief bean counter asked for it back, I sent a check.

Recommended for You

Here's what to look for when choosing this breed for your next hunting dog. How-To

How To Pick The Perfect Golden Retriever

Tony J. Peterson

Here's what to look for when choosing this breed for your next hunting dog.

Deal with this annoying problem by practicing these 3 steps. Training

How To Stop Your Gun Dog's Barking

Dave Carty

Deal with this annoying problem by practicing these 3 steps.

John Reynolds thought the death of his Springer spaniel Penni was a rare accident, a stroke of bad News

Read & React: Dog Owners Voice Concerns Over Minnesota Trapping Regulations

David Hart - January 21, 2014

John Reynolds thought the death of his Springer spaniel Penni was a rare accident, a stroke of...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 6

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 6

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 6

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 10

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 10

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 10

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 2

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 2

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 2

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Training a hunting puppy is no easy task. Training

First Year Tips for Training a Hunting Puppy

Bob West

Training a hunting puppy is no easy task.

David Hart gives you the rundown on the best left-handed shotguns available right now. Shotguns & Ammo

9 Great Left-Handed Shotguns

David Hart - May 24, 2014

David Hart gives you the rundown on the best left-handed shotguns available right now.

Kyle Wintersteen does a dog breed comparison on Chessies and Labs. See how these two breeds stack up. Profiles

Dog Breed Comparison: Chessies vs. Labs

Kyle Wintersteen

Kyle Wintersteen does a dog breed comparison on Chessies and Labs. See how these two breeds...

See More Stories

More Accessories

Gun dog owners love their gear almost as much as their pups. With bird hunting season in the books, Accessories

Great GUN DOG Gear for 2016

Gun Dog Online Staff - February 23, 2016

Gun dog owners love their gear almost as much as their pups. With bird hunting season in the...

To help you find the perfect Father's Day gift this year, the GUN DOG staff has compiled some of Accessories

2018 Father's Day Gift Guide

Joe Genzel - May 14, 2018

To help you find the perfect Father's Day gift this year, the GUN DOG staff has compiled some...

Here are some of the great upland clothing, boots and gear items for gun dog owners that caught our Accessories

Gun Dog editors pick the best upland gear for 2017

Tony J. Peterson - October 09, 2017

Here are some of the great upland clothing, boots and gear items for gun dog owners that...

See More Accessories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×