First Look: FABARM L4S Autoloading Shotgun
The new FABARM L4S series includes three 12 gauge autoloaders with 26 or 28 inch barrels. The Initial Hunter has a MSRP of $1250, the Grey Hunter is at $1695 and the Deluxe Hunter is at $2100. This is what FABARM has to say:
"FABARM USA is introducing an innovative new line of semiautomatic shotguns designed for bird hunting. The new L4S family of shotguns exhibits the same high level of precision and finish that FABARM is famous for in a product that is competitively priced for the North American market."
"The L4S incorporates an innovative new design that allows the fore-end to be removed without disassembling the shotgun. The design has two significant advantages. Removing the fore-end allows the action to be cleaned and lubricated without having to disassemble the whole gun. Additionally, it eliminates having the wood be part of the structural assembly of the gun, making the action and barrel relationship more accurate and stronger. By taking the stress off of the wood forend you also eliminate the forces that can damage and crack the wood. All grades will feature Turkish walnut with a satin oil finish."
"The L4S is lightweight making it a pleasure to carry in the field and has a gas operating system that significantly reduces recoil. It will handle every type of ammunition from light 2-3/4" target to heavy 3" magnum hunting loads. Other notable features include a stock shim system for adjusting fit and TRIBORE HP tapered barrels for the ultimate in ballistic performance. The initial offering is available in three attractive grades: Initial Hunter (black action), Grey Hunter (silver action with game scene) and Deluxe Hunter (silver action with detailed game scene with gold inlays and upgraded wood)."
Autoloading shotguns (and firearms in general) seem to get uglier every year. Much of it is self-inflicted by the consumer, for we like low prices. This translates to synthetic stocks made of melted milk jugs and ground up garbage can lids, with rough, matte, unfinished metal surfaces and a minimum of polishing, finishing and fitting.
When was the last time a new autoloader was introduced that made you say, "That's a beautiful gun!" It has been a very long time, for crate-wood stocks have descended into plastic, bluing has become water-transfer printing, and even the triggers have too often become a penny's worth of plastic droppings.
Despite retail prices climbing beyond $1700 for autoloading field guns, what often comes in the box gets cheaper-looking and uglier. (Manufacturers increasingly adopt Euro-trash styling, with hooked curves and dis-jointed lines in an attempt to inject some interest into what are fundamentally inferior offerings. No one is going to sit with a magnifying glass to observe and enjoy the details of the fit, checkering and engraving of such firearms. Gunmakers striving for perfection has become corporate accounts striving to minimize costs. -Editor)
The last repeating field shotgun I reviewed that looked like the folks that made it actually cared was the Remington 870 Classic. Prior to that, I have to go way back, to a Beretta A390 ST Deluxe twelve gauge that I still enjoy, although it is on the heavy side for chasing pheasants. Even the generally good Winchester SX3 Field (aside from the heavy trigger and lousy factory choke tubes) breaches the $1000 retail mark and has just barely adequate wood and an uninspiring matte black metal finish.
FABARM seems to have finally addressed this, for even the $1250 Initial Hunter trim level of the L4S line is far better looking than most contemporary autoloaders. Rather than the hoary old tactic of using cheap wood and slathering on dark stain, the base model is a cut above. Additionally, it appears that FABARM does a far better job with the fundamentals of trigger quality and choke tube quality than most, along with what is now recognized as a top-notch customer service and a five year warranty that actually means something.
The L4S is just now beginning to become available (summer 2015). The discount retail price looks to be right at $1100 for the Initial Hunter. A FABARM L4S is in transit, so expect a full review shortly.
Note: For a review of the Fabarm LS4 Initial Hunter 12 gauge shotgun, see the Product Reviews index page.
Copyright 2015 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.