A Brief History of Fabarm USA Autoloading Shotguns

By Randy Wakeman

FABARM L4S Autoloading Shotgun.
L4S Grey Hunter. Image courtesy of FABARM USA.

Fabarm and Caesar Guerini are the same company. They are now the second largest shotgun manufacturer in Italy. Their autoloading shotgun presence in the U.S. has blossomed over the last few years. However, autoloaders are old news to both Caesar Guerini and Fabarm. Though not generally known in the United States, Caesar Guerini has long had a line of inertia shotguns, the Roman, available throughout Europe.

Four years ago, I reviewed the first of the Fabarm autoloaders designed for the American market. The XLR5 Velocity was, and is, a no compromise clays gun with a 2-3/4 inch chamber, target trigger, oversized bolt release, oversized bolt handle, adjustable rib, adjustable comb, an array of factory forearm weights and competition grade factory chokes. It was a big, heavy gun that was sometimes called "the beast."

The first run of the XLR5 Velocity had a reach from the pistol grip to the trigger that was too long for some shooters. The pistol grip was quickly redesigned and after that, in 2014, the XLR5 was launched as part of the Syren line. The Syren USA is a line of shotguns specifically designed and engineered for the female shooter.

Whether you think the XLR5 is a beast has a lot to do with the specific model to which you are referring. What was initially just the XLR5 Velocity has changed, for you now have the XLR5 Velocity AR (adjustable rib), XLR5 Velocity LR (long rib), XLR5 Velocity FR (flat rib) and XLR5 Velocity FR Compact. There is nothing at all beastly about the XLR5 Velocity FR Compact, for example, as it is only about a 7-1/4 pound gun with a 13-3/4 inch length of pull and a 28 inch barrel.

Of the three dedicated Fabarm clays models with which I have experience, the XLR5 Flat Rib is my favorite. It is a responsive, yet smooth and stable, clays gun. It weighs 7-3/4 pounds out of the box and fits me perfectly.

If we all wore the same shirts, trousers and boots, then I suppose we'd have a better chance at shooting the same configuration of shotgun. We do not, of course, which is why there has to be so many options. Cole Gunsmithing features the XLR5 as their premier clays autoloader and Rich Cole is quite particular about shotguns.

The "Pulse Piston" used in the Fabarm Autoloading Competition line is really the pulseless piston, for it does not incorporate the elastomeric friction brake used in the XLR5 three inch hunting guns and the new three inch chambered L4S. This was done to ensure 7/8 ounce target load reliability. (The three inch Fabarm shotguns only handle one ounce, 1200 fps loads on up.)

I am mentioning all this due to the questions asked about the XLR5. A lot has to do with which XLR5 is being referenced. In the XLR5 competition target line alone there are five distinct models and this does not include the XLR5 hunting line and the XLR5 Waterfowler (released for 2016). The latter is a 7-1/4 to 7-1/2 pound camo hunting model.

The L4S, introduced in 2015, is an aggressive redesign of the XLR5 platform lightened to 6-3/4 pounds and retaining the industry leading proof levels of Fabarm Tri-Bore barrels. These have no velocity loss from having a back-bored section and are approved for steel shot in all choke constrictions, which is another industry first. Like all Fabarm autoloaders, the L4S is available in a left hand configuration.

Therefore, when someone asks, "What do you think of Fabarm autos?" there is no easy answer. It depends on your intended use and your personal preference as far as rib, adjustability, weight and so forth. It is an increasingly broad line and, although the L4S is not strictly marketed as a clays gun, for many people it is as close to the all-around autoloader as can be had.

To summarize: the XLR5 Velocity competition clays line includes the AR, LR, FR versions along with the FR compact. All have 2-3/4 inch chambers, target triggers, target bolt releases and target bolt handles. The action is the same, with a stainless steel piston that does not have the elastomeric component of the three inch Fabarm Pulse Piston models.

The XLR5 hunting line is new for 2016 in the U.S. and starts with the XLR5 Waterfowler. It has a camo composite stock, three inch chamber and the elastomeric Pulse Piston drive system.

The new for 2015 L4S series has an aggressively streamlined action, 3+1 capacity, three inch chamber, Pulse Piston drive and weighs 6-3/4 pounds. I hope this brief overview helps eliminate some of the confusion, for I am advised that sometimes I am quite easily confused, myself.

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Copyright 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.