The round body holds an appeal that Frank Stephenson, designer of the McLaren sports cars which start at $350,000, attributed in a recent article to “golden proportions.”
Although the action’s curves can shave a few ounces from the gun, more importantly some hunters will tell you the easy ergonomics make it more intuitive to shoot. But not all rounded-action shotguns are the same.
The F.A.I.R. Pathos with the blued receiver.
Round-body and round-action shotguns are different. A true round body has a radius profile along the bottom that can translate into a low-profile receiver. A rounded action has softened edges for its boxlock or sidelock action. Round bodies feature smaller lock work or even lock work mounted on sideplates to accommodate the petite form factor.
Aesthetically, the round body is graceful and regal. Money-wise, prices trend higher than conventional, right-angled break-open upland shotguns.
A Griffin & Howe Round Body Game Gun is priced at nearly $10,000. Expect to pay at least $11,000 for Fausti’s Italyco. Holland & Holland’s Round Body side by side is about $60,000. Purdey will charge you $100,000 for their Round Body Side Ejector Shotgun. The Prince of round bodies, David McKay Brown, will ask you for some $55,000 for one of his side by sides.
CNC machinery has helped popularize a collection of mid-priced, round-bodied and round-action shotguns for upland devotees. An AYA No. 2 Round Body side by side is priced at approximately $7,500. Connecticut Shotgun’s RBL side by side starts at $4,500 –a comparable price point for a Rizzini Round Body or plain Jane Caesar Guerini Evo Ellipse. The Beretta 486 Parallelo side by side comes in at $5,300. And if you’re in the market for an economical Turkish round body with classic qualities, your best choice is the Dickinson Estate at $1,700.
For $2,500, though, you can own a righteous over/under round body from the Italian gunmaker, F.A.I.R. Called the Pathos (Greek for “passion”), the shotgun possesses the virtues of style and handling with others who follow the calling, as we discovered by taking a lovely 28-gauge example hunting for bobwhite quail at the Southern Woods Plantation in Sylvester, Georgia.
The round-bodied F.A.I.R. Pathos DL at the famous entry to Southern Woods Plantation.
Some hunters may remember that F.A.I.R. shotguns had been arriving in the U.S. for decades until 2010, when their American importer and distributor hit the skids. In addition to F.A.I. R, we’ve owned F.A.I.R. shotguns branded as Verona, Savage and others. Having operated since 1971, F.A.I.R. has built a brand on affordable and rugged long guns produced in their highly automated factory in Brescia, Italy.
Our boxlock F.A.I.R. Pathos DL (Deluxe) was fitted with 28-inch, tri-alloy-steel, chrome-lined barrels that wore ripple-free bluing. We wrenched in flush cylinder and improved cylinder chokes to complement the lengthened forcing cones for hunting over dogs. As a side note, F.A.I.R.’s five Technichokes bundled with the Pathos are steel-proofed.
Five steel-proof chokes came bundled with our 28-gauge F.A.I.R. Pathos DL.
The semi-pistol grip felt comfortable and joined seamlessly to the bright coin receiver adorned with a breaking wave of laser-applied acanthus engraving and gold game birds.
The Schnabel forend was proportionally slender for a 28 gauge, enabling purposeful index-finger placement to optimize our “pointing instinct.” Yes, some shotgunners hate Schnabels, but if you’re a believer the Pathos one was nicely proportioned for quick swings.
The forend’s tiny recessed latch proved a bit notchy but functional. A top lever smoothly opened the under-lug lock and dropped open the barrels on replaceable steel hinge pins. The top tang integrated a barrel selector and auto-safety.
Walnut quality and laser checkering were commensurate with the shotgun’s price.
The F.A.I.R Pathos DL in 28 gauge.
As birds flushed, the gold-plated trigger, at four pounds, was a willing partner with its short, smooth pull. Long-stroke ejectors quickly primed the gun for a fresh round of shells on our next point.
Covering the South Georgia long-leaf pine habitat carrying the 6¼-pound F.A.I.R. Pathos was comfortable. The rounded receiver fit naturally in the hand, while balance posed just north of the hinge pins contributed to a lighter experience. When our dogs locked onto a bird, the F.A.I.R. Pathos readily shouldered in place. Ultimately, I landed more quail with the F.A.I.R. Pathos 28 gauge than with a 20 gauge I had used earlier. The F.A.I.R. Pathos was faster, fit somewhat better, delivered an obliging sight picture and offered a lighter trigger.
The F.A.I.R. Pathos has hit the U.S. in 12, 20, 16 and 28 gauge plus .410 on scaled frames with either 26, 28 or 30 inch barrels through the Italian Firearms Group (IFG) – a consortium of four Italian firearms manufacturers and an American partner that operate from an 8,000 square foot warehouse in Amarillo, Texas. The F.A.I.R. Pathos is also available with a field-grade, anodized black receiver highlighting the inscription in gold. Most folks would opt for the engraved bright finish, although that black receiver is extremely sleek in the round.
F.A.I.R.’s Pathos is a stylish alternative to modestly priced break opens that we typically see in the field. At Southern Woods Plantation our group held men in their late thirties to mid-forties immersed in raising families and hectic careers. Most were born into Southern quail-hunting families but at their current stage in life only allotted a couple of hunts per year due to pressing personal and professional schedules.
You would assume this contingent of our hunting party that included an attorney, accountant, veterinarian, emergency room doctor and farmer would reach for the Griffin & Howe Round Body, the Fausti Italyco, Beretta’s 486 Parallelo or the AyA. No. 2 Round Body. In fact, it was limited time (and to a lesser extent, money) that ruled their field-gun shopping. Typically, they visited the nearest big-box sporting-goods store and bought the least expensive shotgun of a recognized brand.
And that’s where the F.A.I.R. Pathos really shines. For the price of a generic work-horse field gun you can instead hunt with a classy Italian round body.