Baserri Shotguns in Friendswood, Texas made a big splash in 2009 when it brought to market two handsome and affordable over/unders. Then in the latter half of 2010 and through 2011 the hoopla about the company turned to a whisper.
Because the principals of Baserri Shotguns, Alan Thompson and Wayne Rodrigue, have been working behind the scenes to expand their dealer network and get the Italian-made Baserri Mari Elite sporting gun and Baserri Mari HR field guns into the hands of everyday shooters. At the same time, they’ve been working to secure financing intended to turn the upstart into a segment leader in 2012 for affordable, break-open shotguns.
The substantial funding boost and dealer outreach are in reaction to a phenomena that Mr. Thompson and Mr. Rodrigue have identified in 2011 as they criss-crossed the country with a trailer full of Baserris: that when someone shoots a Baserri, the chances are high they will turn into an owner on the spot.
The grass-roots campaign by Mr. Thompson and Mr. Rodrigue to market research has been formalized into a new dealer program called the Baserri Premier Shooting & Retail Centers. Initially focusing on Texas, the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, the Baserri Premier Shooting & Retail Centers give enthusiasts the opportunity to “try before you buy” at top-notch sporting clays courses.
“What we do is look for well-respected shooting facilities in certain areas,” Mr. Thompson explained. “It’s important for people to have the ability to try out a Baserri. Our guns feel so much different than other shotguns at the same price point that people will immediately recognize the difference in a Baserri.”
The approach is not entirely revolutionary. Many sporting clays courses rent shotguns – providing an unofficial test program for mainstream shotgun makers such as Beretta and Caesar Guerini. In 2010, Caesar Guerini established a shooting school program based on its line of over/unders, in effect creating an opportunity for shooters to experience their shotguns.
The distinction with the Baserri Premier Shooting & Retail Centers, however, is a more aggressive approach from the manufacturer to attract shooters. For example, in 2012 you can expect Baserri Premier Shooting & Retail Centers to promote "try days" with free shotgun shells, refreshments and of course free targets.
“It’s about an acceptance of the Baserri brand in the marketplace," Mr. Thompson said. “It shows acceptance in the marketplace for our guns – or the shooting centers wouldn’t be interested in having our guns for rental and evaluation.”
Currently, there are six Baserri Premier Shooting & Retail Centers:
- Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School in Sanford, North Carolina
- Back Woods Quail Club in Georgetown, South Carolina
- Jake’s Clays in Midland, Texas
- Able Ammo in Huntsville, Texas
- Peacemaker National Training Center in Gerrardstown, West Virginia
- Elk Creek Hunt Club in Owenton, Kentucky
With the Baserri Premier Shooting & Retail Centers program still in its infancy, we decided to visit two of them to get an early read on their progress – and at the same time put a couple of Baserris through their paces shooting sporting clays.
Our first stop was the Back Woods Quail Club followed by a visit the next day to Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School. Both venues provide world-class clays shooting that host national competitions and events – giving prospective Baserri owners a full array of challenging presentations to determine if the guns live up to their reputation as affordable over/unders for effective wing and clays shooting.
The pro shops at Back Woods Quail Club and Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School feature gun sales. Back Woods also sells new Berettas, Benellis and Caesar Guerinis. In addition to Baserris, Deep River is a dealer for Antonio Zoli, B. Rizzini and F.lli Poli.
Rick Hemingway, owner of the 27-year-old Back Woods Quail Club, said that Baserri “has found a niche for my hunting customers and my introductory level clays shooters, because shotgun manufacturers have priced themselves out of my clients’ price range for over/unders.”
In regards to the Baserri Mari Elite that we shot there, he believed the over/under offered “a super-looking gun with woodwork in the two-to-three thousand dollar price range for an over/under.”
Based on his experience, “the try-before-you-buy approach has been well-received,” Mr. Hemingway said. Customers who have shot the Baserri Mari Elite have told him “it’s a good feeling gun that handles well, and people coming in really want to shoot one.”
Mr. Hemingway noted that he’s finding a home for the gun with new shooters – a natural extension of his client base which is comprised of approximately 90 percent recreational clays shooters.
It makes sense….
The Baserri Mari Elite is generally available for between $3,000 and $3,300. The shotgun features vented side ribs, fiber optic front sight on 32-inch barrels, Briley interchangable chokes, laser checkering at 34 lines per inch, engraved side plates, 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 a traditional boxlock over/under.
The Mari Elite, like the Mari HR field gun, reduces recoil through a tapered barrel bore on both of the 12-gauge models. The elongated bore is made possible through a 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 – especially for an over/under that comes in at eight pounds.
There’s no charge to try a Baserri Mari Elite for 100 rounds of sporting clays at Back Woods Quail Club, and so stepping into the shoes of a customer we gave the gun a go-around.
Out on the course, the Baserri Mari Elite handled somewhere between a Browning Citori and Caesar Guerini Summit Sporting. The Baserri Mari Elite felt more elegant and nimble than the Citori but not quite as fully integrated as the Summit Sporting, although the workmanship on the Baserri was superlative for its price as demonstrated by tight-fitting, wood-to-metal joints.
The point of impact on the Baserri Mari Elite was spot-on, the trigger responsive and crisp at an estimated four pounds. The gun shouldered with a high degree of predictability – meaning that you could rely on good placement in the pocket just about every time. The swing felt even and controlled. You didn’t need to push the forend to get your swing started, due in part to the palm swell that enabled superior control from the pistol grip. If you focused on the target, the gun adopted a natural flow towards the point of impact. As advertised, the felt recoil was surprisingly low for a gun of this configuration.
The following day we drove three hours north to Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School to try the Baserri Mari HR field gun. The facility is owned by NSCA Level III instructor, Bill Kempffer.
Mr. Kempffer explained that he signed up as a Baserri Premier Shooting & Retail Centers after seeing the guns last year. “I was impressed with Alan Thompson and the Baserri shotguns.”
Asked about the reception to the Baserris from his customers, he said “The reaction from people who shoot Baserris is ‘Wow’. The Baserris we sold, the people have been very happy with. They’re getting good value for their money.”
Like Mr. Hemingway, he pointed out that the Baserri’s are filling a price/performance gap created by rising prices of larger shotgun manufacturers during a down economy.
“The three-thousand to eight-thousand price range has been slow in our market area, but the Baserris fit into a price range that is really selling,” Mr. Kempffer observed.
The lower priced Baserri Mari HR has been outselling the more expensive Mari Elite at the Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School. “The reason is because the HR is a good one-gun-that-does-it-all,” Mr. Kempffer said. “It’s being purchased by someone who is getting into the game.”
Having shot a Baserri Mari HR about a year ago, we immediately understood the positive reception to the shotgun.
Thanks to its aluminum receiver, the Baserri Mari HR weighs 6.2 pounds. With a suggested retail price of $2,395, the Baserri Mari HR is pitted against the likes of the 12-gauge Caesar Guerini Tempio Light, Beretta’s 686 Silver Pigeon I and the Browning’s Citori 625. The Mari HR is significantly less expensive than the Caesar Guerini and much lighter than the Browning and Beretta.
The round-body receiver on the Mari HR featured a satin gray finish embellished with a floral scroll that does an adequate job of dressing up the boxlock for the price. A titanium coating inhibited rust and corrosion. The 28-inch barrels are chambered for three-inch shells and accommodate the bundled Briley chokes. The wood grade is what you would expect from a $2,395 field gun. The trigger was very nice, with a responsive pull of about four pounds.
After Mr. Kempffer supplied us with a 7/8-ounce load to simulate upland bird shooting, we hopped in a cart to shoot the Baserri Mari HR on the 13-station, sporting-clay course.
The shotgun shouldered with incredible speed and balance due to the aluminum receiver. Better yet, Baserri Mari HR proved extremely accurate, clearly demonstrating that the shotgun’s low weight did not come at the expense of controllability. Shooting the 7/8-ounce, 12-gauge shells caused virtually no felt recoil. But we decided to step up to a 1⅛-ounce shell. The recoil from the heavier load manifested itself more as muzzle jump in the face than a jolt to the shoulder.
Toward the end of the course, a station threw two fast, long quartering birds that were consistently powdered from a low-gun mount. The best possible way to appreciate the same wonderful dynamics of the Baserri Mari HR would be to shoot a side-by-side comparison with the Caesar Guerini, Beretta and Browning. Price aside, we believe you’ll walk away immensely impressed with the shotgun on its own terms.
As Mr. Kempffer said of the Baserri Mari HR: “I like this gun just as it is for the price point.”
While the new funding swells Baserri’s coffers, the company intends to accelerate the adoption of Baserri Premier Shooting & Retail Centers. Mr. Thompson revealed that he is in conversations with “high-end hunting lodges in the Dakotas and the Midwest.”
In the mean time, if you live near a Baserri Premier Shooting & Retail Centers it may be worth your time to give the Baserris a try. Before you know, spring will be here.
- The Baserri web site
- The Back Woods Quail Club web site
- The Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School web site
- Jake’s Clays web site
- The Able Ammo web site
- The Peacemaker National Training Center web site
- The Elk Creek Hunt Club web site
The Baserri Chronicles:
Part I: Briley Backs the New Baserri Shotguns With Warranty Work and Line of Chokes
Part II: Baserri Slated to Introduce a Shotgun Designed by Women, for Women
Part III: First Review of the New Baserri HR Field Shotgun
Part IV: First Review of the Baserri Mari Elite Sporting Shotgun