Franchi Affinity 3 & Affinity Catalyst — Full Review

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If the Franchi Affinity was a vehicle this would be one of those rare times when consumers would felt like they had won the battle with the car dealer.

Strong features built on decades of experience and improvements make the Affinity a winner.

As a vehicle, the Affinity would look like a great value with its long lasting, highly reliable, low maintenance, high-performance Inertia-Driven power train and long list of standard features. Then consider its customer-inspired list of models and options that allow you to tailor to meet almost any shooters’ desires and at a reasonable price. You couldn’t go wrong. You could buy the Affinity and drive it for a lifetime.

A quick review of the Affinity’s features and a test drive at the range led me to the conclusion — if this is a battle proven, high performance 4×4 SUV with everything needed for the cost of a modest compact car. The Affinity’s long list of standard features set it above the competition.

Franchi Affinity- High-performance hunting machine with excellent maintenance record and fantastic shell per game mileage.

  • Inertia Driven Operating System
  • Target through Magnum Shell Operating Range
  • Vent Rib Barrel
  • Chrome Lined Barrel
  • Screw- In Choke Barrel
  • IC, Mod and Full Choke Tubes and Wrench
  • Red Fiber Optic Front Sight
  • 4+1 rds. Capacity
  • Custom Oversized Bolt Handle (Affinity 3.5 and 3)
  • Custom Oversized Bolt Release (Affinity 3.5 and 3)
  • Custom Enlarged Loading Port
  • Optics Friendly Drilled and Tapped Receiver (Affinity 3.5 and 3)
  • Easy Removable Trigger Group
  • Convenient Safety Location (Rear Trigger Guard)
  • Ambidextrous Safety
  • Slip Resistant Checking
  • TSA Recoil Pad
  • Ergonomic Pistol Grip
  • Slim line Fore End
  • Sling Attachment Points (front and rear)
  • Stock Adjustment Shim Kit (drop and cast)
  • Corrosion Resistant Finish of all Parts
  • Industry Leading 7 Year Warranty

Models and Options

  • 5 Model (2 ¾ to 3 ½ shells)
  • 3 Model (12 Ga or 20 Ga, 2 ¾ or 3 inch)
  • 26” or 28” Barrel
  • Left Hand Model (12 Ga- 28”)
  • Compact Model (12 Ga-26”, 20 ga 24” or 26”)
  • Catalyst (Ladies) Model (12Ga- 28”)
  • Black /Synthetic Finish
  • RealTree Max5 Camo
  • Mossy Oak Bottomland Camo
  • Black Anodized with A-Grade Satin Walnut
  • TSA Recoil Pad in 3 Lengths (to customize length of pull)
  • 5 Additional Choke Tubes -Cylinder, IM, XFull, Pass, Decoy
  • Full Size Stock for Compact Model

Sticker Price/ MSRP – $1,149 (most models less)

Well you get the idea; the Affinity is chock full of “standard” features with a virtual buffet of options so you can have it your way for what you want to do

Many times manufacturers don’t take the time to fully understand what’s happening within the shooting and hunting worlds because they are focusing on market share, production, and profits, but that is far from the case looking at the new Affinity shotguns. The folks at Franchi have been listening and paying attention to their customer base.

Design, fit and finish of the legendary Inertia- Driven operation system ensures years of trouble free operation. The author has been shooting inertia operating guns for over 25 years with minimal maintenance.

Tire Kicking

Getting back to the basics of the Affinity, it’s just a fantastic field gun, IMHO, with an option that suits almost everyone’s needs for a hunting shotgun.  Looking at the Affinity models in the catalog you may have a challenge in deciding exactly which gun you want.  It really depends on what you are going to use if for the most.

There are five basic models of the Affinity: Affinity 3.5, Affinity 3, Affinity Compact, Affinity Left Hand and the Affinity Catalyst.

I don’t think there is a more reliable, lower maintenance, easier to operate system available.  The inertia driven operating system also makes it possible to build the guns lighter and slimmer, and minimizes the number of parts. There’s no gas systems, pistons, rings, ports or connecting rods. In turn, this adds up to less breakage, lower maintenance, and increased reliability.  The lighter, slimmer feels makes it easy to carry in the field and fast to swing and point on target.

The author believes the location of the recoil spring around the magazine tube is a reliability advantage over other designs.

In addition to the operating system being almost bulletproof, the recoil spring is located up around the magazine tube rather than in a captured tube located in the stock of the gun. This allows you to keep the spring and operating area cleaner and lubricated better than one you can’t easily see or access.

Adding to the low maintenance of the Affinity line is the chrome-lined barrel.  The slick, easy to clean and corrosion-resistant coating ensures you will spend much less time cleaning your gun.   They make these guns just too easy to like when you compare to features of other guns.

The Affinity 3.5 is designed to handle the heaviest 3 ½-inch loads and still operate with 2 ¾-inch, 1 1/8 ounce, 3-dram target loads. This means you can hunt the big waterfowl or turkeys and still take the same gun to the dove field for some fast shooting fun.

The Affinity 3 and 3.5models come with a drilled and tapped receiver to allow mounting a base and optics, so you can make those longer shots on turkey or deer.  This certainly adds to the versatility of the Affinity, turning it into your deer gun as well.

Several of the upgrades from the “redesign” of the Affinity have roots originating from the Practical 3 Gun Competition shotguns. These modifications are also advantageous in hunting fields. The new Affinity has several of these features as standard straight from the factory. An oversized bolt handle and larger bolt release are now included as standard equipment on the 3 and 3.5 models. These controls make the operation of the gun faster and more positive.

Oversized bolt handle and bolt release aid in weapon manipulations while wearing gloves.

Another feature that seems to have been borrowed from the practical shooting community is the enlarged loading port. This modification has been utilized for the last couple years to allow faster reloading of the shotguns in competition. Obviously, that’s equally important when in the middle of a field of fast flying doves or an incoming flock of geese. The enlarged port is wider and higher, making it so you don’t have to reach as far up into the receiver to get the shells past the shell catch and into the magazine tube. The side profile of the scattergun reveals the lower part of the receiver has been raised and contoured, allowing shooters to reach higher in the receiver to reload shells. Because it’s more in line with the magazine tube it allows for faster reloads.  Shooters can actually see the shell lifter that is usually hidden well up inside the receiver.

Shotguns used for 3 Gun Practical shooting still are enlarged a bit more than what Franchi engineered on the Affinity, but Franchi is the first manufacturer I have seen do this on a production model primarily meant for the hunting community. I hope the trend catches on, more manufacturers peeking out of the box for improvements. However, with the addition of a magazine extension, the Affinity could become a new contender in the world of practical shotgun shooting. Time will tell if Roth Concepts Inc. (RCI) or Nordic Components start to offer extensions to fit the Affinity design.

Trim Packages

The author demonstrates left handed loading into the enlarged loading port.

The Affinity 3 is available in 12 or 20 gauge with either a 26-inch or a 28-inch chrome-lined ventilated rib barrel. It comes in black/synthetic stocks, Grade A satin walnut, and Mossy Oak or Realtree camo patterns.  I tested the Affinity 3 in 12 gauge with the Mossy Oak Bottomland finish and the Catalyst 12 gauge with the Grade A walnut satin stocks.

Franchi offers standard right-handed models but they also have the option for you to get a left -hand model as well, so you don’t have to just make do if you happen to be left eye dominant.  The left-hand model is only available in black synthetic and in a 28-inch barrel.

The Affinity 3 Compact model is a gun that someone should have built years ago. Kudos to Franchi for seeing the light and being the folks to finally bring this option to market. It has a shortened stock for the younger or smaller statured shooter and also comes with four ¼-inch spacers that can be added to increase the length of pull (12 3/8 inches to 13 3/8 inches) to tailor it to the shooter or build up the length as they grow. Oh my heavens, what a profound idea … well done! The icing on the cake is that an additional full-sized stock can also be purchased if needed, essentially making this a gun you could start your children on and they could use, grow with and keep for a lifetime and it would still fit them. I still own my first shotgun but it needs about 6-inch of stock extension to make it possible for me to shoot these days. The compact is available in 12 or 20 gauge with both accommodating up to 3-inch shells.

Satin Walnut Stocks are just one of the finish options for the Affinity Line. The Affinity Catalyst is designed to fit a greater number of women shooters right off the shelf.

One of the other more focused and interesting models is the Affinity Catalyst, which is designed with the lady shooters in mind.  Not only does it come with a slightly shorter stock, it also has a higher comb on the provided stock. Most women have higher cheekbones and require less drop at the comb for a proper fit. As with all the Affinity models it has the TSA recoil pad to soften the recoil. It was a bit short and the comb was definitely a bit high for me as I found myself looking down on the top of the ribbed barrel.

The TSA recoil pad is designed not only to absorb recoil but to give the gun traction to keep the butt from slipping in the shoulder under recoil.

Test Drive

The entire Affinity line weighs in between 6 and 7 pounds making it a lightweight, fast handling shotgun. Seems strange that a 3 ½-inch magnum gun is that light; but the entire line is designed around the Inertia-Driven system, which makes it possible.

Affinity 3 12 gauge

One of the great things about the Inertia-Driven operating system is its simplicity and that it works across a wide range of shotgun loads. I ran target loads and heavy hunting loads through the Affinity 3 and had no issues.

The small number of powertrain parts of the Affinity operating system makes assembly and maintenance a breeze.

I opted to pattern the Affinity 3 with a good solid hunting load. I used a batch of the Fiocchi High Velocity 1 ¼ oz., number 6’s moving at 1,330 feet per second (fps). They made a significantly more resounding Thwong! as they hit the ¼-inch steel patterning board. What I notice any uncomfortable recoil, the operating system, and recoil pad accomplished their job. I shot the modified choke from just over 30 yards and the pattern densely filled the center area of the board. You can see the size of the pattern in relation to the 26-inch barrel — nothing is flying through that!

The pattern was horizontally centered and about 60/ 40 above my point of aim, just about perfect for my shooting style, a greater amount of the pattern above the bead as I like to see my target above the bead. I was extremely confident that the modified choke would take birds easily to the 40-yard range.

Pattern from the Affinity 3 Modified choke would be as devastating on game, as it proved to be on clays.

I shot the Affinity 3 for a partial round of a 100 bird course of sporting clays and found it mounted quickly, pointed naturally, and broke birds on demand. Recoil from target loads was not even noticeable, and from the higher power hunting loads was easily manageable and not uncomfortable even while shooting in a t-shirt. I took advantage of the enlarged loading port and loaded like I was on a field full of birds and it worked like a charm; definitely better than other old-style guns. The overall balance, vent rib and fiber optic sight made shooting intuitive and natural.

Affinity Catalyst -12 gauge

The Catalyst is designed with the lady shooter in mind. The entire stock design is based on making it fit female shooters.  My test gun came with some nicely grained, checkered and stained walnut. The length of pull and drop are designed around a lady’s dimensions; that’s not to say it won’t fit any males out there as well though. With a length of pull at 13 7/8-inches and a drop at the comb of 1 ¼ inches, it was just a touch too short for me and the comb was definitely a bit tall. The TSA recoil pad on the stock is available in 3 lengths to allow further customization of the length of pull. The standard stock shim kit is also included to further tweak the cast and drop to the shooter’s needs.

One installed and 4 additional stock shims are included to adjust the stock for right or left handed shooters.

These shims are included on all the Affinity models and fit between the stock and the receiver are tapered to allow slight changes in the stock angle and therefore the shooter’s head position while on the comb in relation to the barrel. I strongly recommend shooters to take advantage of these shim kits to customize their shotgun for the optimal fit. Currently, the Catalyst is only available in the 12 gauge, 28-inch vent rib barrel length and with black metal and the A-Grade satin walnut stock.  At 6.6 pounds, it comes in about the middle of the weight range of the Affinity line.

On the range, I found the Catalyst’s shorter stock mounted quickly with little chance of dragging or catching on clothing or jackets. Even though the comb was a bit high for me and I was seeing way too much of the top of the vent rib, the gun still aligned quickly on target and I was making hits on 35- to 40-yard crossing clays with regularity.  My female test drive Shooter found the Catalyst fit her much better and wasn’t interested in trying the other gun anymore. We shot a selection of birds at Taylor Creek Sporting Clays and shotguns functioned flawlessly. This provided a great opportunity for function testing with a variety of target and hunting loads and as expected, the gun never missed a beat.

Affinity Catalyst test shooter found the stock length, weight and comb much to her liking.

The 28-inch barrel gave plenty of lengths (sight radius) to ensure the gun aimed well and easily broke birds. I’ve found that with shorter barrels it gets harder to ensure you’re getting those hits. Sometimes in an attempt to lighten guns, barrel lengths get a bit short and sacrifice performance, which is definitely not the case here.

Bottom Line

Here’s where the rubber meets the road, all the Affinity models except the 3.5 guns have MSRPs of less than $1,000. With all the features, reliability and performance these guns offer you’ll be hard pressed to find a better alternative. The Affinity is a gun that can and probably will last you a lifetime of hunting, and in addition Franchi has their 7-year warranty to support these guns in case you do drive it hard, take it out in the rain, sleet, snow, dark of night and it ends up needing a little TLC along the way. Choose your model, load up and take one for a spin.

For more information about Franchi shotguns, click here.

For more information about Fiocchi shotgun loads, click here.

To purchase a Franchi shotgun on GunsAmerica, click here.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Super X September 5, 2017, 1:43 pm

    I now own a little Franchi Affinitty in 20 ga and I believe it is one if not the very best shotgun that I have ever own. I have a Benelli M1 Super 90 in 12 ga and it is a great gun but the little Franchi is a better gun simply because I like the fact that the Franchi does not come out of battery like the Benelli does with just a slight bump against the bolt. The Franchi main spring is up front and a around the magazine, which kept pressure on the bolt and does not let it come out of battery so easy. Outside of that I think the Franchi is a Benelli in another name.

  • Bob Dunlap September 4, 2017, 4:25 pm

    Benneli is established and is getting $$ for their reputation, Franchi is fighting to stay in the game. Franch will give more to stay in the game, Beretta doesn’t need to.. Don’t get me wrong, Beretta is a great gun, definitely one of the better auto shotguns on the marke but so is Franchi.

    Bob

  • MJB September 4, 2017, 11:30 am

    Why would you buy a Franchi when you could buy a Benelli Montefeltro for nearly the same price?

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