Exclusive: First Review of the Baserri Mari Elite Sporting Shotgun

The Baserri Chronicles Part IV: New shotgun companies are a rarity these days, and so when one comes along we’re eager to track its progress. That’s the idea behind our series, the Baserri Chronicles. In this fourth installment, we shoot the Baserri Mari Elite sporting shotgun.

 

What kind of man starts up a new shotgun company in the worst American recession since 1929?

Well, he’s either a visionary, a nut job or a desperado– or most likely all of the above. But while those particular personality traits may certainly be open to debate, one characteristic is irrefutable: the guy has to be a super salesman.

I don’t know Alan Thompson well enough to fathom the inner workings of his psyche. But in my dealings with him, I’ve determined that as the President of the new over/under company Baserri Shotguns, he is a fervent salesman. To his credit, he never misses a beat in promoting Baserri.

MARI-Elite2side
The Baserri Mari Elite. The sideplates and engraving make the gun appear more expensive than its suggested list price of $3,395.

That’s why it came as absolutely no surprise whatsoever when Shotgun Life Publisher, Irwin Greenstein, forward me this email from Mr. Thompson.

From: Greg Furer [mailto:g           @gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, February 27, 2011 10:54 PM
To: alan.thompson@baserrishotguns.com
Subject: I love the Mari Elite

Alan,
I just bought the Mari Elite Saturday and I absolutely love it. You can tell you and your team did your homework before you came out with this gun. Your passion for shooting has been embodied in this work of art. I was looking at Caesar Guerini, Browning and Weatherby when I was going to buy my gun. After several months of comparing I decided on the Mari Elite. After shooting it I can not be happier. My buddies that were there for the first test shoot are already thinking about buying one.

The first thing that popped out about your gun is the pure beauty and the feel. It is amazing how light the gun is. The recoil is almost nonexistent. After shooting 300 rounds in a matter of a few hours I was not tired from holding the gun and my shoulder was not sore at all. The red sight at the end of the barrel is a great feature that definitely helped me hit more birds. I could not get over how every clay we shot was absolutely pulverized. I shot the best I have ever shot in my life. I cannot wait to take it out for sporting clays in a few weeks and make everyone jealous.

Thank you for designing such a great gun. I look forward to all your upcoming development that I have read about.

Greg            
           ,Pennsylvania


Since I was in the process of evaluating the Baserri Mari Elite for Shotgun Life, there were several facets of this email that resonated with me.

  • It was sent at nearly 11:00 PM. That’s the time of night you’ll find a guy who just bought a new sports car in his garage staring at it with deep satisfaction. This further confirmed that the guy is a complete romantic when it comes to shotguns as he writes of “the pure beauty and feel” of the Baserri Mari Elite.
  • He is not an impulse buyer. He clearly assessed the marketplace of appealing options before buying his Baserri Mari Elite. He’s a man after my own heart.
  • 300 rounds in a few hours? Way to go.

Ultimately, I would have to concur with Greg. The shotgun is a tremendous value and very nice to shoot.

I had spent several sessions on various sporting clays courses with the Baserri Mari Elite. With an MSRP of $3,395 it proved a compelling alterative to those mentioned by Greg in addition to the Beretta 687.

MARI_Elite_Engraving_Right_
The engraving on the Baserri Mari Elite continued up the fences and along the top tang.

At first glance, the lavishly engraved silver nitrite sideplates, fences and top tang married with a tight wood-to-metal fit gave the impression that the Baserri Mari Elite is a $5,000 shotgun. Then spend some time with it shooting sporting clays and you’ll also discover that it very well may shoot like one.

This sleight of hand is a bit puzzling. After a while, it really starts to bug you that you can’t quite figure out how the heck the Baserri boys managed to make such a nice shooting over/under for under $3,500.

The answer, it turns out, resides largely in the barrels (and is the reason why Greg can write to Mr. Thompson “the recoil is almost nonexistent”).

Mr. Thompson and Baserri co-founder Wayne Rodrigue, collaborated with FABARM of Italy in the design of the Mari Elite and the Mari HR field gun. At first glance, Baserris appear as quality boxlocks with an underlug locking mechanism and some careful touches such as handsome, oil-finished walnut, powerful ejectors and vented ribs. Peer down the barrels, though, and you’ll notice something missing: forcing cones.

One common source of recoil is the abrupt constriction produced by forcing cones. Baserri instead opted for an elongated tapered bore using the company’s patented Tribore process. The Tribore method relies on three drilling passes through the chrome molybdenum steel barrel stock that does away with forcing cones. Baserri’s barrels taper from .740 inches to .724 inches. The gradual decrease in bore diameter yields diminished felt recoil and higher shot velocity. Although the gun weighs a tad under eight pounds, the lighter felt recoil is certainly more like a heavier Krieghoff K-80 that’s pushing nine pounds.

According to Baserri, their Tribore barrels also tested to 1,630 BAR – the equivalent of 23,640 psi (the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturing Institute established a minimum standard of 11,500 psi for 12-gauge shells in 2¾ and 3-inch lengths). And if you want to take the gun wingshooting, the barrels and chokes are rated for steel shot.

MARI_Elite_Adjustable_Trigg
The Mari Elite adjustable trigger.

The Baserri Mari Elite featured vented side ribs, fiber optic front sight, laser checkering at 34 lines per inch, Grade 2-plus European walnut with hand-rubbed oil finish, palm swell, five extended chokes, adjustable mechanical trigger, gold crest inset under the engraved receiver, plus other features that you come to appreciate over time in terms of the look and feel of the shotgun.

For our purposes, I used Rio1⅛-ounce target loads rated at 1,200 feet per second. The reduced felt recoil, coupled with exceptional balance and a lovely palm swell, seemed to slow down targets as you shouldered the gun and let the big shells do their job. I realized the stability of the Baserri Mari Elite most in shooting quartering targets, where it seemed I could shoot almost right a the bird with very little swing of the 30-inch barrels.

Likewise, the eight-position adjustable, mechanical triggers felt crisp and solid. Cosmetically, however, the trigger betrayed the gun’s price. The short tang and guard were flat black, as to be shared with the HR field model and likely other new models in the pipeline. The Baserri Mari Elite would have greatly benefitted from a tang and guard that better complemented the entire aesthetic of the gun. That said, I do appreciate the limitations of delivering a quality shotgun at the price point of the Baserri Mari Elite. If your local dealer has a demo, you should really give it a try. Everyone I know who has tried the gun, loved it, and several folks actually laid down some of their cold cash to buy one.

Noe Roland is a frequent contributor to Shotgun Life. You can reach him at  letters@shotgunlife.com.

 

Previous installments of the Baserri Chronicles:

Part I: Briley Backs the New Baserri Shotguns With Warranty Work and Line of Chokes

Part II: Exclusive: Baserri Slated to Introduce a Shotgun Designed by Women, for Women

Part III: Exclusive: First Review of the New Baserri HR Field Shotgun
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