Fausti Stefano Arms was established in Brescia, Italy in 1948 and its firearms soon had a dedicated following among shooters overseas. From humble beginnings the firm grew to what it is today, and founder Cavaliere Ufficiale Fausti Stefano has turned the operation of the company over to his three daughters, Elena, Giovanna and Barbara, who grew up working with their father and uphold the tradition of fine craftsmanship that he established.
Fausti Stefano shotguns are made at a state-of-the-art facility with the latest CNC machining equipment and finished by hand. I took a tour, of sorts, in the form of a DVD demonstrating how the guns are made. In watching the process, I was most impressed by the level of attention paid to detailing, fitting and finishing the firearms. The result is a line of shotguns that is beautiful to behold and offered at prices at or below those of many competing brands.
Fausti Stefano is in the process of introducing both side-by-side and over/under double-barreled shotguns to American shooters. The over/unders will be marketed in three grades with varying degrees of engraving, checkering and gold accents. I was privileged to test the top of the line in the form of a model called the over/under Volo SL Deluxe, and a handsome shotgun it was. The right side of the receiver depicted the scene of a gun dog flushing a woodcock with the gold-plated dog and bird standing out against a polished silver-colored receiver. The left side sported a scene of two flushing partridges, also plated in gold. If that's still not enough gold on a gun for you, the single trigger was also gold-plated. The silver color of the receiver contrasted splendidly with the dark, flawless finish of the dark Turkish walnut checkered hardwood stock and the blued barrels and trigger guard. The shotgun comes in a compact hard-plastic case designed to transport the firearm in two parts. Four chokes are also included along with a choke wrench.
The Volo SL Deluxe was very well balanced. Length of pull was 14.5" and my eye instinctively followed the line of the barrel as I shouldered the gun again and again. The stock looks something of a hybrid between the traditional straight English style of stock and the pistol-grip style so prevalent among shotgun designs these days, and it seemed to combine the best traits of both. Overall length was 45.5" with a 28" barrel that had a tiny red fiber-optic bead atop the muzzle. The gun weighed 7.2 lbs., which is exactly 1 lb. less than a Browning Citori Lightning for comparison purposes. Vent ribbing on the top barrel was not as high as that on some shotguns I've used, and as a matter or personal preference I rather liked that. My Volo SL Deluxe was a 12 gauge chambered to accept 2-3/4" and 3" shells, and a 20-gauge model is also available. Unlike many over/unders the barrel-select switch is not part of the thumb slide safety, but is on the trigger assembly. That took some getting used to but posed no problem. There was a non-ventilated rubber recoil pad that I found quite adequate.
How did the Volo SL Deluxe shoot? I took it to a local sporting clays range to find out. It was tested using Winchester AA Super Sport Sporting Clays shells with a 1-1/8 charge of No. 8 shot. The gun's near-perfect balance enabled me to swing on clays with ease in any direction and I shot my second-best score of the season, besting my average by one clay. That's not bad for grabbing a shotgun out of a case and firing it for score the first time around. My wife also shot the Volo SL Deluxe and enjoyed it. She appreciated its comparatively lighter weight and balance. Personally I think this shotgun's combination of great looks, balance and light weight will make it equally popular among male and female shooters.
After the shooting session I reported one change that I'd like to see Fausti Stefano make to what was otherwise a nearly flawless shotgun. Triggers are a matter of personal preference to shooters, and I like mine light and crisp. There was a bit of creep and a very slight side-to-side play in the trigger on the gun I tested. I asked that the rest of the shotguns shipped with mine be tested and trigger pulls from 4 lbs. to 6 lbs. were recorded. Trigger creep isn't as big of a deal with shotguns as it is with rifles and handguns because shotgun sports and hunting have more to do with instinctive pointing and shooting than precise marksmanship, but Fausti Stefano has assured me (through the dealer I work with) that every effort will be made to address my concern to ensure that their high standards of quality are maintained.
Overall I came away with a very favorable impression of the Fausti Stefano shotguns, an impression I'm sure many shooters will share. And with MSRPs on the Fausti line running up to several hundred dollars less than shotguns with similar features offered by other manufacturers, I'm certain these Italian guns are here to stay.
To see a Fausti Stefano shotgun for yourself, or to get more information, please visit your nearest Cabela's retail store.