Fabarm XLR5 Velocity LR Autoloading 12 Gauge Shotgun, Part One
The test gun is the FA03140 XLR5 Velocity LR 12g 30" Black Right Hand model. This new “long rib” XLR5 Velocity has an adjustable trigger, shim adjustments, an adjustable comb, different factory recoil pad thicknesses, etc. To say that this gun is user-adjustable with no gunsmithing required would be an understatement. As fortuitous happenstance would have it, the test gun fit me perfectly, right out of the box, with no adjustments or any kind.
The XLR5 LR weighs a substantial 8.75 lbs. with the factory recoil reducer (5.36 ounce) installed, which can be removed if you wish. Additionally, you have a series of factory barrel weights (1.5 oz. each) that attach directly to the forearm nut, so you can fine-tune your XLR 5 to your own personal preferences. I liked it just as supplied; perhaps I'll add a barrel weight for 27 yard trap or the race games to slow things down a bit, but as supplied it is ideal for sporting clays or skeet.
Everyone who has shot this XLR 5 thus far has said pretty much the same thing. When you first mount it, you'll think that it feels bulky, especially if you are accustomed to field guns. Then, you'll be amazed that it moves like lightning and you'll be left wondering why there is no recoil.
That was the impression that my 85 year old father had. At first he felt it was bulky, but he couldn't miss with it, so it only took a box of shells before he was hooked. Lots of things have been described as giving a shotgun a gentle “push,” instead of a jab or a shove, from wads to propellants to pads. The Fabarm XLR 5 defines it, for with 1 oz. loads there is essentially no recoil or gun movement, you can just barely feel the action working. With hot 1-1/8 oz. loads, there is a gentle push sensation, not at all what I would call a kick or a jab. It is the type of gun you can shoot all day and thoroughly enjoy it.
Dodging the intermittent rain, we refrained from setting up the electric traps (or perhaps too lazy). With just middling spring tension, we get 50 – 55 yard full-size clays out of a Trius trap, not as strong as the 75 yard birds out of the Do-All White Wings. To get snappier, faster, longer, more challenging clays out of a Trius, the way to go is to use 74 gram 90mm “Midi” clays or the 32 gram 60mm Mini clays. A standard clay is 108mm and about 105 grams, for general use out of a hand trap, the 90mm clays are noticeably better.
Fabarm gives you a full array of very good quality extended chokes. All of these EXIS HP™ Competition Chokes are steel rated. I measured the supplied chokes; the exit diameters are as follows: Exis skeet = .722, Exis HP Short 2/10 = .714 in., Exis HP Medium 5/10 = .699 in., Exis Long 7/10 = .691 and Exis HP Extreme 9/10 = .680. Based on a nominal bore diameter before the choke of .725 inches, the actual constrictions approximate: Skeet: .003 in., Exis #2 .011 in., Exis #5 .026 inch, Exis #7 .034 in. and Exis #9 .045 inch effective constriction.
Pattern percentage is commensurate with constriction. With B & P Legend 1-1/8 oz. #7-1/2 1230 fps loads the Exis 2 choke gave consistent ink-blots at 40 yards, with only about eleven thousandths of constriction. The Exis #9 choke throws beautifully tight patterns, perhaps tighter than you'd want for most purposes. Choke selection for the XLR5 LR is straightforward. Use the skeet for skeet, the #2 or #5 for sporting clays (depending on the load and the course), the #7 for trap, the #9 for the race games, at least as a starting point.
· Action: Semi-Automatic - Pulse Piston, gas operated
· Gauge: 12
· Barrel Length: 30"
· Capacity: 4
· Chamber: 2 3/4"
· Weight: 8.4 lbs
· Length of pull: 14.3"
· Drop at comb: 1.37"
· Drop at heel: 2.16"
· Stock: Pistol Luxe
· Wood Finish: Matte, Hand Oiled
· Frame: Ergal 55 alloy
· Frame Finish: Black Anodized
The trigger on the XLR5 LR breaks at 3 lbs. 6 oz., the best trigger on a factory autoloader I've ever tested. It is actually a bit lighter than the previously evaluated Velocity that still had an outstanding, crisp competition trigger at just under 3.75 lbs. If you've ever wondered what the big deal is about vaporizing clays, with an extremely high quality gas-operated autoloader, a few boxes through the XLR5 LR is going to answer that for you in short order. More to follow in Part Two.
Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.