Shotgun aficionados have uttered the name “Fratelli Piotti” with a veneration reserved for the English best. The Italian gunmaker has given us among the most beautiful over/unders and side-by-sides ever to grace our planet since opening its doors in the late 1960s.

It took five years to complete, but the vision of Franco Gussalli Beretta and Master Izumi Koshiro was ultimately unveiled on February 5, 2015 at the Safari Club International Convention in Las Vegas.

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The SHOT Show brings together the firearms industry and its offshoots to the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas. It’s a candyland of guns with 12½ miles of aisles roughly equal to 13 acres hosting some 1,600 exhibitors hawking weapons, tactical gear for military and law enforcement, and everything hunting related. Last year, the confab drew 67,000 mercenaries, cowboys, cops, soldiers, dealers and manufacturers from 100 countries. And by all accounts, the 37th annual SHOT Show held January 20-23, 2015 will prove more popular.

Thunderheads gathered in the low country of Northern Florida, the sky transforming into that eerie, green phosphorescence from lightning electrons stockpiling polarity. Meteorologists predicted the 48-hour deluge, but the looming monstrosity of the storm amazed and alarmed.

The Franchi Aspire is going to be particularly favored by the upland bird hunting community.

Franchi’s Aspire is a great looking sub-gauge over/under that, with a suggested retail price of $2,299, won’t scare your plastic credit card into melt-down mode (let’s call it a mid-priced shotgun). While over/under birds guns in that price range are usually coming out of Turkey, the Franchi Aspire is Italian made, in close proximity to many of the other great Italian shotgun names – yes the legendary town of Brescia.

I learned of the CZ Sporter shotgun improbably. I was at the last station in a registered shoot at the Colorado Clays Sporting Club in Brighton, Colorado, a thirty-minute drive from downtown Denver. The station had five true pair of overhead tower shots coming from behind like F-16s. I was shooting my favorite Italian over/under masterpiece but I wasn’t hitting the targets solidly and even missed a few. The joy of shooting felt like a week-old soufflé.

If you’re still shooting that beloved Browning over/under you’ve owned since college, be prepared to have your socks knocked off with the company’s new 20-Gauge 725 Sporting.

Although still a member of the fabled Citori family introduced in 1973, the 20-gauge 725 Sporting marks a departure from classic Browning over/unders characterized by broad beaver tail forends, bulky receivers and labored handling. To paraphrase that Oldsmobile meme, the 20-gauge 725 is “not your father’s Browning.”

Entering the new gunsmith workshop of Rich Cole, I immediately recalled my days as a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire when we lived in the picturesque, riverfront town of Portsmouth.

Once the press conference is over in Tuscany, Italy and the pretty girl has held up the shotgun while everyone clamors around with a camera, there’s a much more defining moment. It’s the moment when the gun is in your hands, and the arm of the trap is cocked and loaded with the first clay you’ll shoot with it.