It's no secret women are the most rapid growing segment of the shooting sports, and a recent survey by the NSSF revealed some interesting statistics. About 95 percent of the respondents had tried target shooting, and 58 percent hunted.
Their most commonly owned firearm is a handgun, but shotguns were second. And the retailers responding reported an increase in female customers in 2013. It is significant that the ladies said they were not influenced by "fads" but "fit, quality, and practicality."
Over the years, many manufacturers have introduced firearms for women. Some of these efforts have been marginally successful, but most were dismal. "Pink it and shrink it" was their motto. This is pretty disingenuous when you think about it.
One outfit that did it right is a new division of Caesar Guerini and Fabarm called Syren. I assume that the name is a play on the Latin word "siren," which is loosely defined as an "enchantress" or a "beguiling woman." Semantics aside, the new brand has made quite a splash in shotgun circles with a diverse line of sporting and field models.
The philosophy at Syren, said Syren president Anne Mauro, is designing the ultimate guns for female shooters. "Everyone at Syren, from our female management team to the pro-staff lady shooters, is committed to the best products possible so there will be no more compromises when it comes to our lady shooters and their needs," she said.
There are seven basic models: two semi-autos and five over/unders with variations for sporting and hunting. I tested the high-tech XLR5 semi-auto sporting model, and the sumptuous Tempio, a double-barreled field gun.
The XLR5 is a soft-shooting gas-operated semi-auto available with either a 28- or 30-inch barrel. The test gun had the 30-inch barrel, and it seemed to have just the right heft and wasn't muzzle heavy. But there are three 1½-ounce weights that can be screwed onto the forend for more weight forward, if desired.
The XLR5's butt stock is specifically tailored for women. The overall length of pull is listed at 13¾ inches but it was exactly 14 inches on this gun. The stock has a modest raised but straight comb that positions the cheek in line with the vent rib, and directs recoil straight back, rather than coming up and smacking the shooter in the cheek.
The distance from the trigger to the grip is shortened somewhat. Syren says most women have smaller hands and longer necks, so this change makes it easier to get the correct hand position for the trigger. Finally, the "pocket" is the area where the shoulder and chest meet, and the angle of the comb and stock have been subtly tweaked to better fit women.
Mechanics and operation of the gas action are flawless. Controls are in the familiar places, save for the bolt release, which is on the left side of the receiver. An extra large, knurled "cocking handle" facilitates bolt retraction.
A neat feature called the "Tribore" system basically makes the entire barrel one long forcing cone. First, the forcing cone itself is lengthened; then a conical section about eight inches long slowly reduces the 12-gauge bore diameter from about .736 at the rear to about .724 forward toward the muzzle.
This is an application of the Venturi principle, i.e., reducing the diameter of a tube increases the velocity of a fluid (the shot) flowing through it. Fabarm says that this design produces better ballistics than an overbored barrel. A set of five "EXIS HP" choke tubes provides a constriction for just about any shooting scenario.
Trigger pull averaged 4 pounds, 13.9 ounces, with a variation of only 1.5 ounces, and was one of the smoothest I've ever experienced on a shotgun. Syren says the auto is tuned to function with all target loads, including the light-kicking 7/8-ounce ammo. Functioning was 100 percent with 7/8-, 1-, and 1 1/8-ounce shells, both factory and handloads. Recoil was a pleasant push, rather than an impolite jab.
It's also available in a Realtree Max-5 Waterfowl model (3-inch chamber) for duck enthusiasts.
XLR5 Sporting Specifications
Model: Syren XLR5 Sporting
Action: Gas operated semi-automatic
Trigger pull: 3 pounds, 13.9 ounces
Barrel length: 28 or 30 inches, TRIBORE HP, ventilated rib
Chamber: 2¾ inches
Overall length: 50 inches
Weight: 7 pounds, 12.5 ounces
Safety: Manual, push button behind trigger
The Tempio is made by Caesar Guerini, a firm that needs no introduction to experienced shooters, and carries the CG lifetime warranty. Available in 20- or 28-gauge, both have 28-inch barrels and come with a set of five nickel-plated, flush-fitting chokes. It has a single selective trigger, automatic ejectors, and a tang-mounted manual safety.
It's a high-dollar gun with all the amenities: The wood is Turkish walnut that sports well-executed 26 lpi checkering, and an elegant hand-rubbed oil finish. And the receiver has some unbelievable detail with inlaid gold roses on each side. "
The forend is nicely proportioned to fill the hand without feeling clubby, and the latch is a convenient Anson rod, with a silver push button at the forend tip.
Trigger pulls were likewise superb on the Tempio: 4 pounds, 13.9 ounces for the lower barrel; 4 pounds, 5.7 ounces on the upper. The barrel finish is a deep, dark blue, as elegant as the rest of the gun. The ventilated rib has a silver bead front sight, and the side ribs are not ventilated. Both Syren guns come in a fitted hard case.
Overall, these guns represent significant achievements for a growing segment of shooters, and it is refreshing to see guns that are especially designed and uniquely functional for women. Ladies who are interested in hunting and/or sporting clays should give these a look. You can have it your way.
Syren Tempio Specifications
Model: Syren Tempio
Action: Over-under, automatic ejectors
Gauge: 20 (tested), 28
Trigger: Single selective, gold plated
Trigger pull: Lower, 4 pounds, 13.9 ounces; upper, 4 pounds, 5.7 ounces
Barrel length: 28 inches, ventilated rib
Chamber: 3 inches