Fabarm XLR5 Chesapeake Assessment | Outside Life


For those who’re a duck hunter and don’t know the identify Fabarm, you’re not alone. In truth, I might enterprise to guess most waterfowlers have by no means seen considered one of these gas-driven semi-autos within the blind. However its absence in marshes throughout the U.S. has extra to do with availability—not reliability—of the Italian-made smoothbores. As an illustration, the Fabarm XLR5 Chesapeake I simply completed testing was one of the vital succesful and well-made auto-loaders I’ve shot in current reminiscence. Fabarm shotguns merely haven’t had a constant importer till not too long ago when Caesar Guerini purchased the 122-year-old firm and expanded the manufacturing facility in Brescia.

Fabarm has a protracted historical past of constructing smoothbores that cater particularly to clay-shooting lovers. However that has begun to vary over the past decade with the addition of the L4S (an upland auto-loader) and the XLR5, which incorporates the Waterfowler and Chesapeake. Nonetheless, the XLR5 was initially a sporting shotgun with an adjustable rib and set off pull weight so skeet, entice, and sporting clays shooters may fine-tune the gun to their liking. You don’t get such options within the Chesapeake. However what’s helpful a few clays gun that evolves right into a looking platform is that it virtually all the time shoots precisely (at the least that’s my take after years of taking pictures a wide range of shotguns).

My greatest guess is the engineers who construct clays weapons put gun slot in entrance of every part else (or close to the very high of the chart), and that’s why these smoothbores typically outshine devoted waterfowl shotguns on the sample board and on the vary. I actually discovered that to be the case after I not too long ago shot the Chesapeake on paper and on the skeet area.

Fabarm includes four chokes with the Chesapeake.
The Chesapeake cokes with 4 chokes (the modified chokes was not included with the writer’s check gun) Joe Genzel

Fabarm XLR5 Chesapeake Specs

  • Gauge: 12
  • Motion: Semi-auto
  • Capability: 4+1
  • Chamber: 3-inch
  • Barrel kind: Tribore HP metal, vent rib
  • Barrel size: 28-inch (examined), 30-inch
  • Chokes: M, IM, F, and Exis DK full (prolonged choke)
  • Entrance sight: Hello-Viz Fiber-optic
  • Size: 48½ inches
  • LOP: 14¼ inches
  • Set off pull: 3 kilos, 13 ounces
  • General weight: 6.8 kilos
  • MSRP: $1,995 (right-hand); $2,200 (left-hand)
Pattern results from Kent Fasteel.
Kent Faststeel sample outcomes from full (left) and IM (proper) chokes at 40 yards. Joe Genzel

How the Fabarm Chesapeake Patterned

The Chesapeake comes with 4 completely different chokes, an Exis DK prolonged full and flush becoming, modified, improved modified and full chokes. There was no distinction in constriction of the flush and prolonged full chokes on the muzzle (each had been .712 when measured with a digital caliper). I shot patterns from 40 yards with the IM and prolonged full chokes with three completely different 3-inch masses: Kent Fasteel 2.0 1¼-ounce No. 4s, Browning BXD 1¼-ounce BBs, and Federal MeatEater Bismuth 1 3/8-ounce No. 4s.

Pattern results from the Browning BXD.
Full (left) and IM (proper) sample outcomes from Browning BXD BBs at 40 yards. Joe Genzel

Fabarm’s Interior HP chokes are secure for metal shot, so you’ll be able to shoot metal pellets of any dimension by way of them, together with the total choke. The Italians made this doable by lengthening the choke tubes (3.233 inches verified by a digital caliper) and utilizing a hyperbolic curved conical part contained in the choke, which causes much less friction because the payload passes by way of the choke. To be clear, it’s secure to shoot smaller metal shot (no bigger than No. 4s) by way of any full choke. It’s the bigger shot that may trigger harm to the choke tube or bulge your shotgun’s barrel in a phenomenon often called bridging, through which two pellets grow to be interlocked as they journey down the barrel. As a result of metal shot is so exhausting—in contrast to lead or bismuth—there may be nowhere for the power to go, leading to barrel harm.

Federal Bismuth patterned better through the full choke.
Federal’s bismuth load patterned barely higher by way of the total choke (left). Joe Genzel

My patterns with the 2 metal and bismuth masses had been all barely completely different; not unusual whenever you’re taking pictures a number of shot sorts from three separate ammo makers. The Kent 4s constantly printed 80 p.c above my level of purpose and 20 p.c beneath; the Browning BBs yielded a 50/50 sample; and the Federal Bismuth 4s shot 50/50 by way of the IM choke however impacted at a a lot decrease 10/90 by way of the prolonged full. I shot every model of shotshell at the least 5 occasions by way of each chokes to make sure sample consistency inside a 30-inch circle however ran 15 shells by way of the total choke-Federal mixture due to the low sample outcomes. I wished to verify I wasn’t taking errant pictures.

The Fabarm performed well on skeet.
The Chesapeake initially struggled to cycle goal masses on the skeet vary, however functioned completely by the top of the primary spherical. Joe Genzel

Testing the Fabarm Chesapeake

Duck weapons get soiled, so after working 50 rounds by way of the Chesapeake on the sample board, I picked up a dust clod, crumbled it in my hand and threw it into the open motion of the gun. After dumping the surplus filth out, I loaded three shells (a mixture of the Kent 4s and Browning BBs) and fired them consecutively. The Fabarm had no situation biking, however as I loaded up once more, the bolt-release button started to stiffen, and I needed to press exhausting to get the motion to shut and chamber the primary 3-inch shell. I ran three extra rounds by way of the smoothbore with out a hitch and shot 9 extra shells, together with three with the gun at my hip to try to get it to malfunction. However the gun by no means failed me that day. The motion did gradual a bit, however nothing extra.

The subsequent afternoon, I took the Fabarm to the skeet vary with out cleansing it. I loaded two 2¾-inch 1-ounce Kent Elite metal No. 7s at station one and known as for the hen. As I fired the primary shot, I may see the motion sticking open for a second after which closing. I known as for the incoming hen, shot it, after which loaded two extra shells for the double. The motion ran sluggish however cycled. At station two, the bolt wouldn’t chamber the second shell as I tracked the low home hen, making an attempt to finish the double. I eliminated the hung-up shell and labored the motion repeatedly, making an attempt to clear any grit I may from the gun. From that time on the Fabarm slowly improved, which was a shock. I’ve by no means had a shotgun that jammed carry out progressively higher with out a cleansing. However the Chesapeake’s biking improved the extra I shot it. By the top of my first spherical, it was functioning completely.

The Chesapeake's heavy-duty action bars.
You’ll be able to see the heavy-duty motion bars Fabarm used to construct the Chesapeake. Joe Genzel

How the Fabarm Chesapeake Handles

The Chesapeake is a weight-forward shotgun, typical of gasoline operated smoothbores as a result of the gasoline piston slides over the journal tube, which is within the entrance of the gun. Fabarm additionally makes use of a heavy-duty motion bar system that provides heft to the Chesapeake. Nonetheless, the 3-inch auto-loader weighs beneath 7 kilos, so there’s not a lot to complain about whenever you’re carrying this gun afield. And although some choose a extra centrally-balanced shotgun, with the load distributed between their fingers, I’ll take a bit of extra within the entrance—it helps maintain me swinging by way of the hen. You simply should be further diligent to not tip the barrel downward as you mount—straightforward to do with a weight ahead shotgun. For those who dip the muzzle, you’ll make a “examine mark,” dropping after which having to boost the barrel. It’s more durable to get on track than when you merely transfer the muzzle to the area in entrance of the clay or wild hen.

My first spherical of skeet—I shoot low gun—with the Fabarm was a bust as a result of I used to be making an attempt to get it to operate after having left it soiled the day past. However as soon as the gun was up and working, I shot it effectively, scoring a 23 and 22 within the ultimate two rounds. The Chesapeake has a .435-inch-wide vent rib and I seen whereas taking pictures that it served virtually like a runway resulting in the entrance fringe of the goal. I don’t usually use the rib as a information whereas taking pictures, but it surely was useful to have a reference level. If I stored that large, flat rib in entrance of the goal, I crushed it.

There was additionally a inexperienced plastic insert (different colours can be found or you’ll be able to take away it) behind the motion that you should use to verify your cheek is firmly on the inventory and aligned with the rib. Some might discover it obtrusive, however I felt prefer it stored my eye the place it wanted to be.

To open the action, you must push the bolt release button outward.
The small black button subsequent to the set off group is pushed outward, after which the motion could be opened. Joe Genzel

Gun Controls and Exterior End

There are three issues the typical duck hunter will discover barely completely different on the Chesapeake than different competing semi-autos. The primary is the fore-end cap is formed like a miniature ice-cream cone. It’s design and the small slits reduce into the cap, make it straightforward to twist on and off. I used to be capable of get a greater grip on it and twist the cap off extra simply than another auto I’ve shot outdoors of the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus, which has a half-turn cap.

The bolt-release button is positioned on the left facet of the motion. I handed the gun over to brother throughout sample testing to let him shoot it, and after putting the primary spherical within the chamber, he checked out me quizzically and requested, “how the hell do you shut this factor?” So, it could be annoying for some at first to recollect they should attain to the left facet of the gun to shut the motion. To open the motion, there’s a small lever—additionally on the left facet of the motion—you push outward. It’s not an inconvenient function, however once more, you’ll have to get used to it.

Like lots of right this moment’s auto-loaders, the Fabarm contains an over-sized charging deal with, trigger-guard, cross-bolt security, and roomy loading port, so that you don’t catch your thumb and might simply insert a shell into the journal with gloves on. To unload the journal, there’s a small lever you depress on the correct facet above the magazine tube.

The bolt-release button.
To shut the bolt, you need to press this button on the left facet of the motion. Joe Genzel

There’s a ¾-inch recoil pad and skinny rubber cheek weld that mitigated felt recoil effectively after I shot the 1- and 1¼-ounce masses, however the 1 3/8-ounce bismuth providing from Federal had extra kick. It was a manageable quantity of recoil, however you possibly can really feel the distinction. That’s additionally the value you pay for taking pictures most 3-inch manufacturing bismuth shotshells. For those who don’t benefit from the recoil they produce, step all the way down to a decrease cost weight in a 2¾-inch shell.

The receiver and barrel are completed in a bronze Cerakote and the inventory and fore-end are coated in True Timber Strata camouflage. The checkering on the pistol grip and fore-end are abrasive, which is a plus when looking in chilly climate so you’ll be able to firmly grip the gun. However on the skeet vary within the lifeless of summer season, it was like holding onto metal wool.

Fabaram’s Specialised Metal Barrels

The Tribore HP barrel system is the pleasure of Fabarm. Many gunmakers outsource their barrels, however Fabarm drills their very own chrome molybdenum metal—a corrosion-resistant alloy that may stand as much as excessive pressures and temperatures—barrels from a stable block of metal. Fabarm additionally overproof exams all its weapons to 1630 BAR (1370 BAR is regular) to make sure the power of the bore and motion. One BAR equals 14.5 kilos per sq. inch (psi), so each Fabarm is constructed to deal with over 23,000 psi. The bore can be tapered from 18.7mm (.736 inches) to 18.4mm (.724 inches) earlier than the payload reaches the Interior HP choke, which Fabarm says is the important thing ingredient in making their weapons sample so successfully.

The Pulse Piston drives the gas system.
The Pulse Piston, seen right here between the barrel and journal tube, drives the Chesapeake’s motion. Joe Genzel

Fabarm’s Gasoline-Pushed Working System

After I picked the Chesapeake up on the gun store it was in two items. The very first thing I seen whereas placing it collectively was the standard of the thick metal chromed motion bars that drive the bolt rewards after the right quantity of gasoline is bled from the barrel. There are some equally costly gasoline pushed shotguns that depend on a less expensive plastic tube that slides over the journal, so it was spectacular to see such consideration to element on an element that’s integral to the gun’s operation.

The Pulse Piston gasoline system is accountable for setting these motion bars in movement. When the shooter fires a shotshell, the propellants enter a twin port system housed beneath the barrel. The stress these gases placed on the piston drive the bolt open, eject the spent hull, and permit the lifter to deliver a recent spherical into battery. Whenever you shoot a heavy load—like 3-inch 1 3/8-ounce bismuth—the elastomer on the again half of the piston expands and slows down the motion rods so that you don’t really feel as a lot recoil.

It's easy to access the magazine plug.
The journal plug is straightforward to take away from the Chesapeake. Joe Genzel

The motion return spring conveniently slides over the journal tube and sits behind the motion bars, however you need to take away the bolt to entry it. To take away the bolt, press down on the bolt-release button, pull out the charging deal with, and free the motion bars from the bolt. The journal plug is straightforward to take out. A spherical metal plate is connected to the plug and sits on high of the journal cap, so that you don’t have to drag the spring from the magazine to take away it.

There are two quirks in disassembling and assembling the Chesapeake. First, you can’t insert or dislodge the barrel from the motion if the bolt is open. And make sure the fore-end is secured tight to the entrance of the motion earlier than you shoot the gun. Typically it won’t match flush, and it is advisable to push up on it, then end tightening the fore-end cap.

The fore-end cap is simple to remove from the Chesapeake.
The design of the fore-end cap makes it easy to take away from the Chesapeake. Joe Genzel

Is the Fabarm XLR5 Chesapeake Versatile?

Most duck hunters purchase an auto-loader with the expectation that they’ll be capable of buy an aftermarket extension journal tube for the spring snow goose conservation order. And Briley does supply two, 4, and six-round extension for the XLR5 platform. It’s additionally doable to mount a Picatinny rail to the Cheasapeake. There are 4 cuts—two on both sides of the motion—that permit for a rail in case you wish to add an optic for turkey season. You may additionally deer hunt with the Chesapeake throughout slug-gun season, however once more it’s not supposed for that pursuit. The Fabarm will serve upland hen and small recreation hunters effectively; it’s a lightweight sufficient 12-gauge that you just gained’t thoughts carrying it throughout a CRP area to flush a rooster or amongst the hardwoods and brush piles to shoot a rabbit.

Learn Subsequent: The Best Duck Hunting Shotguns for Waterfowlers

Ultimate Ideas

For those who’re going to spend $2,000 on a present manufacturing auto-loader, there are solely two different Italian-made weapons that may compete with the XLR5—Benelli’s Super Black Eagle 3 and Beretta’s A400 Xtreme Plus. I’ll go away it to you to resolve which of the three is value your hard-earned cash. However you get what you pay for within the Chesapeake. It’s a well-made repeater that doesn’t actually skimp on any part, apart from the plastic set off group. The working system, superior barrel power, consideration to element, and total performance make the Fabarm probably the greatest 3-inch autos to ever come out of Italy. 





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