Meanwhile, the last week in March I was at Barnsley Resort in northwest Georgia for a first-hand look at the new models from shotgun maker Caesar Guerini, and, as you might suspect we did more than look. I probably shot the guns 300 to 400 times in two days.
The Caesar Guerini Impact Sporting is not a new model, but it wasn’t introduced very long ago. I’m not going to talk about the Impact here, except to convey that this gun is selling well. Over the last six or seven months I’ve interviewed several sophisticated gun shop owners. Any of them that sell the Guerini Impact say the same thing – this is the best-selling shotgun to come along in quite a while. One dealer told me that he thinks the Impact is selling so well because it’s a gun for all clay target games. So only one gun need be purchased for trap, skeet and/or sporting clays. Along with the state of the economy that dealer believes that’s one reason he’s selling so many of them – that one-gun purchase for everything. Another dealer says essentially the same thing, ending up with, “I can’t get enough of them.”
There are already three models of the Caesar Guerini Ellipse EVO, but the first EVO came to our shores a very short time ago. That initial EVO is a field gun; the second is a super lightweight over and under called the EVO Light, the nomenclature attributed to an aluminum alloy frame that removes nearly a pound of weight. This is the type of shotgun grouse, woodcock and wild quail hunters gravitate to – since they are carrying the gun 95 – 99 percent of the time – firing the gun 1- 5 percent of the time in the woods or fields.
Now there’s a third EVO. The two original field EVOs come only in 20 and 28 gauge – both on the same frame – with 28 or 30-inch barrels. But the new EVO Sporting comes only in 12 gauge, at least at this time – and with a choice of 30- or 32-inch barrels. We shot quite a few Guerini models in Georgia, but the EVO Sporting was my favorite. I didn’t have a scale along to weigh this sporter, but I feel sure it’s bit lighter than most of the Guerini sporting shotguns, but all of us who shot it made the same comment about the gun’s recoil in that it was very comfortable to shoot.
What makes the EVO models so special are the round-body actions that originated in Scotland a century ago. These, of course, were side by sides, and more than one company made them. Today these round-body side by sides of yesteryear are very valuable. Guerini has taken the classic round-body form and applied it to this lovely over/under.
The other feature that sets the EVO apart is the engraving. If you think about it a little, with a normal receiver (one not with a round body) the engraving on the bottom can be very different from the engraving on the receiver sides. We see this all the time – whether there’s a little engraving or a lot. But the gun maker can’t take that philosophy with a round body. As the action makes its curve from sides to bottom the engraving must do the same so that engraving has to blend perfectly – sides to bottom. Otherwise the result is going to be ugly, especially on a gun as extensively engraved as the EVO.
The EVO’s pattern is also very different than any engraving you’ve seen in the past, yet that engraving is anything but gauche. Despite being new and different the engraving has a traditional look and feel to it.
Further, Caesar Guerini didn’t simply grind off the bottom edges of the receiver to make this round body. While the locking system is the same as the other Guerini models, much of the inner workings of the EVO had to be redesigned to accommodate this new look. Most Guerinis have a Schnabel look to their fore-ends. The EVO’s fore-end is rounded off. The pistol grip on the field guns has been expanded – made more open – some would say the Prince of Wales look. The EVO Sporting, of course, comes with a more conventional competition-type grip.
Also new for this year, the company is coming with its first ever skeet gun – the Impact Type-S. This one is a takeoff on the Impact Sporting – the 12 gauge with the high adjustable rib and high adjustable comb – but one important change will be mechanical triggers in the Type-S - instead of inertia.
The new trigger system was engineered because skeet shooters have their 12-gauge over and unders (a few side by sides, too, are seen) fitted with sub-gauge 20, 28 and .410 tubes from the likes of Briley in Houston and Kolar in Racine, Wisconsin. Some 12-gauge guns with inertia triggers will work with 20-gauge loads, but even those won’t reset the second trigger in 28 bore and certainly not .410. Consequently, Briley and Kolar have to make those triggers work with the smaller gauges. Depending upon the make and model these sub-gauge selling companies might have to convert the guns to mechanical triggers.
That’s why Guerini has come out with their own mechanical trigger system in this new skeet model Impact Type-S. Will the future mean that all the older Guerini models will be made with mechanical triggers? Maybe. Maybe not. Only time will tell. Further, there will be a significantly upgraded skeet version – the Challenger Type-S – the upgrade especially in the engraving pattern on a bright receiver (the Impact Type-S receiver is blued) – and a wood upgrade.
It was at Barnsley Resort that for the first time I saw the Essex model up close and personal. Previously I had seen only photos – catalogs and on the Internet. The Essex is not a new model and so far there is no sporting version. But the engraving on the Essex is the quality that turns my juices loose – no bolino, no gold birds – just tight, tight scroll and tight rosettes – covering everything metal – and, of course, with the Essex sideplates there is lots of room for the engraver to work.
The Essex is available in all four gauges, 12 bore with 28-inch barrels, 20 gauge with both 28 and 30 inchers, 28-inch only in the 28 and .410, and there is a 28-inch combo set – 20/28 and a three-barrel 20, 28, .410 combo – also with 28-iinch barrels. Five screw chokes are supplied.
In wrapping up there’s a new Shooting School at Barnsley. Its Chief Instructor is Skip Smith who spent 31 years as a mechanical engineer with Remington Arms in Ilion, NY, and for about the last 10 years in Ilion he headed up the Remington Shooting School. I took that two-day course many years ago. When Skip retired from Remington their Shooting School was winding down, he sent an application to Orvis, and Skip headed up the Orvis Shooting School in Sandanona. Eventually Orvis opened a Shooting School at Barnsley Resort, so Skip went there about five years ago. Some months back Barnsley decided to go with Caesar Guerini as part of that Shooting School. Now students who don’t bring their own gun (many don’t) have a wide variety of Guerini over and unders from which to select. The resort also sells shotguns from this company – exclusively. Barnsley Resort is in the process of changing their name (only for the shooting school and the upland bird hunting operation) to Springbank Plantation. So now you know why we had a Caesar Guerini mini gun-writers seminar at Barnsley Resort.