With a company name of Fabricca Armi Isidoro Rizzini (FAIR), this little 20-gauge jewel has definitely pulled off an under promise and over deliver scenario with the Iside model. FAIR is a northern Italian firearms manufacturer that has been in business since 1971. They have been building and providing fine firearms for years and are now imported by the Italian Firearms Group (IFG) operating out of a facility built in Amarillo, Texas. They are available from dealers and distributors across the U.S. supplied by IFG.
The Iside I tested is manufactured similarly to its pricier, if not somewhat prettier sister the Iside Prestige, but without quite as many upscale cosmetics and with a few differences in features. According to FAIR, the Iside I tested was a lower-cost base model. With this model, you get a shotgun at a price point you won’t lose sleep over if you are taking afield, where it may get the occasional weather or brush abuse. It is available in 12-, 16-, 20-, 28-gauge and .410. There’s an option for whatever your heart desires.
- Type: Side-by-side, breechloading shotgun
- Capacity: 2 rds.
- Bore: 20 gauge; 3-in.
- Barrel Length: 28 in.
- Overall Length: 45.5 in.
- Weight: 5 lbs., 8 oz.
- Stock: Oil finished
- Sights: Silver bead
- MSRP: $1,450
I’ve typically been a semiautomatic scattergun shooter through the years, only owning a couple of pumps and over-and-unders along the way. I always thought side-by-sides were classy, especially in the small gauges. Well, bottom line — this little gun is awesome!
My first impression is that this 20-gauge, even with two 28-inch barrels, is light. It has a very small forend, and the straight English style stock is slim and trim as well. The scale and handling at the range both confirmed that this is a nimble and fast handling natural pointing 20 gauge. It’s partially due to the excellent balance and ergonomics that results in its light handling. My good friend, who owns Limestone Hunting Preserve and Sporting Clays and is an avid upland hunter, raved that “this would be a fantastic little quail gun.” You could carry this shotgun all day in the field and never tire from the weight; if anything, the weight of the birds you could bring down would weigh more than the gun.
FAIR has combined new CAD/CAM and CNC manufacturing with old school craftsmanship to produce a well-fitted, modern shotgun. Like the more upscale Prestige versions, the receiver is machined from a solid monoblock to exacting tolerances and fitting. The wood to metal fit around the curves of the receiver is all flawless, while the case-hardened look of the receiver against the blued barrels and wood transports shooters back in time. Everyone appreciates different ergonomics. Typically, I prefer a nice curve grip with a generous palm swell; however, this is not the case with the FAIR Iside 20-gauge. But what I liked to “shoot” and what I aesthetically enjoy sometimes differs. The straight lines of the stock and curves of the trigger guard and trigger all worked well during testing.
Although the side-by-side has the look and feel of an old classic, it incorporates screw in choke tubes. This allows the shooter to tailor the shotgun to the task and prey, blending some newer technology with the old world. The gun comes standard with three choke tubes with additional ones available for purchase. The bluing on the barrels is deep, dark and pretty; a testament to the care that was taken in buffing and polishing before they went in the bluing tank. The barrels contrasted well with the silver bead at the end to guide it on target. The barrels are chambered to take 3-inch shells, so it can be used for more than just thin-skinned quail and dove. Put in some heavier loads and go after some long flushing pheasants, incoming ducks, squirrels or rabbits. It may not look like it belongs in in the duck blind, but no one would doubt your ability if you brought down the birds with it.
The gun has extractors not ejectors; removing the cases is an easy chore once they are lifted up by the extractor. This may cost you a few dove while on the field compared to an auto loader, but anything you lose letting a couple birds fly by will be more than made up for in the style and grace of carrying this gun across the field and you won’t have to worry about the game warden thinking you have extra shells in your gun. The safety is automatically engaged each time the gun is opened, and the firing pins cocked when it is closed. This safety feature is great in the field but I occasionally had to remember to work the top tang back into fire position while shooting clays after I would call “pull”… Oops!
A trip to the patterning board revealed that both barrels patterned well. A quick load of 7/8 ounce of 7½ and I was confident that hitting what I aimed at shouldn’t be an issue. Pattern density with the little 7/8 oz. loads still showed that there was no room for a clay or bird to slip through unscathed. I shot both barrels and choke tubes from 30 yards, the modified definitely tightening the group up a little bit from the IC that was in the right-hand barrel. I was going to have to have the leads right to break any close birds with the modified barrel.
One of the differences on this model compared to the Prestige is the use of double triggers. Being more of a semiautomatic guy, the double triggers took me a little getting used to, but they broke cleanly and the lil’ gun never hesitated to go off and break a clay on demand. With just a little practice it powdered report pairs all day long.
Initially, I thought the length of pull of the gun was going to be way too long for me to shoot well or naturally. I think this is a common issue in shotguns today. The average male height in the US is only 5 foot, 9 inches, while the average Europeans are a bit taller, depending on the country.
The fit was just fine. The checking on the stock was not overly aggressive but proved useful for keeping my hands in position during the shooting session in the hot and humid southern afternoon. The checkering is artfully done and adds to the old world charm. The stock is fitted with a flat plastic butt plate, and I never noticed it slide or shift under the light recoiling 20 gauge shells.
The real test is when the birds start flying or in the dusting of some clays since none of the hunting seasons I would love to try this on are currently open. The Iside 20 mounted, pointed, tracked and broke birds well beyond my expectations. All the flushing type clays, rising birds, close range crossers and a few overhead tower shots broke easily with my new little friend. The gun is so light and nimble, it points like your finger or like it is mind activated, it just goes where you think without a moment’s delay.
Curiosity got the best of me as I was enjoying shooting this gun (better than I expected.) I wanted to know where the balance point of the gun was with these long tubes and thin little stock. It didn’t seem muzzle heavy at all while shooting but the balance point had to be out there in the front somewhere … Didn’t it? As you can see the gun balances right over the hinge pin, making the gun have a nice neutral balance and feel. The solid receiver is primarily responsible for making it balance out so well. My typical clays gun in an O/U that weighs much more and has an adjustable stock; so for grins, I decided to measure the rest of this little stock. The drop at the comb was 1 ¼ inches and drop at the heel was 2.1875 inches, both of these measurements are within a 1/8 of an inch of how my primary gun is adjusted. This stock also has a slight cast off for a right-hand shooter, which is generally not enough cast for me to get a perfect alignment. However, the fact that the stock is scaled down a little bit for the size of this gun makes it at least 1/10 of an inch thinner at the butt than any of my other guns. What I found is that the thinner design also means the comb is a bit narrower allowing my cheek and eye to move into alignment with the bore just a bit more than with a larger stock allowing me to hit targets more naturally. This gun just fits!
Delightfully the Iside is just full of surprises, one of the best being that it retails for only $1,450. Italian craftsmanship, deep bluing, case hardened receiver, great wood to metal fitting, screw in chokes, lightweight, fast handling, good balance… yeah it’s a FAIR gun and a tremendous value! I’ve learned that from FAIR/ IFG you may be in for a few surprises and get more than you expect!
To learn more about the FAIR Iside 20 gauge, click http://www.fair.it/eng/fucile_parallelo_iside.jsp.
To purchase a FAIR shotgun on GunsAmerica, click https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=fair%20shotgun.