Historic Shotgun Maker Franchi Introduces New Bolt-Action (Full Review)

Quality, accuracy, and functionality — the Momentum checks all the right boxes.

The Momentum is a nice rifle, but not for the reasons Franchi thinks it is.

The Italian company has been manufacturing high-quality bird guns for 150 years, and in April of 2018, they announced their first foray into the bolt-action rifle market. Franchi hopes to translate its heritage of craftsmanship and innovation to a new kind of firearm, and for the most part, they succeeded.

Shotguns are all about fit, and with model names like “Instinct” and “Affinity,” Franchi’s firearms are designed to, as their company slogan says, “feel right.”  The Momentum tries to replicate this ideal, and its textured stock provides helpful grip surfaces in whichever position you happen to be shooting. But in a market replete with stocks that adjust for comb height and length of pull, the Momentum’s true strength doesn’t lie in ergonomics.

Instead, it’s the second part of the Momentum’s tagline—“Italian tradition”—that sets the firearm apart from other bolt-action rifles. The Momentum doesn’t make Noona’s lasagna, but it does maintain the high-quality standards hunters have come to expect from Franchi since the company began making shotguns in 1868.

The Italians don’t fool around when it comes to their firearms.

 

First, the details.

Chambering: .308 WIN
Magazine Capacity: 4+1
Length of Pull: 14″
Optics Combo: Burris Fullfield II 3-9x40mm scope
Barrel: 22”
Twist: 1:11, RH
Fluted Bolt: 3 large-sized locking lugs, 60-degree bolt throw
BBL: Free-floating, threaded
Trigger: Adjustable, 2-4 lbs.
TSA Recoil Pad: Absorbs 50% of felt recoil
Weight: 7.7 lbs
Stock: Black synthetic
Overall Length: 42.4”
MSRP: $729, $609 w/o scope

Franchi offers the Momentum in six calibers: .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and 300 Win. Mag. All calibers are available with a Burris Fullfield II 3-9X40, and three of the six calibers are available with a non-threaded barrel (243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester). Franchi is also offering a 150th Anniversary Edition in .30-06 with a Walnut stock, though it’ll cost you an extra $400.

Features

The textured, expanded portion just forward of the trigger was a nice touch.

Franchi makes much of their stock’s ergonomic design, and I did find the raised portion just forward of the trigger to be helpful while shooting from the standing position. This expanded, textured section provided a nice grip surface while I steadied my support elbow against my side.

But to call the stock “revolutionary,” as Franchi does, strikes me as a bit of an overstatement. It is indeed comfortable to shoot in a variety of positions, but so is a standard sporter stock. The Momentum’s two unique features—the bench-rest grip in the rear and the recessed sling studs—aren’t overwhelmingly useful. In fact, because the sling studs are molded into the synthetic stock, the front stud marred when I tried to attach my bi-pod. It’s possible my bi-pod simply doesn’t fit, but a metal stud wouldn’t have sustained that kind of damage.

Nice idea. Not actually very helpful.

Maybe other bi-pods will work better, but mine marred the synthetic sling studs and didn’t stay attached.

The stock might not live up to its hype, but you don’t purchase a hunting rifle for the wood or plastic that holds the barrel and action. You spend your hard-earned money to get a rifle that will help you put rounds on target, and the Momentum is designed to do exactly that.

First, Franchi designed the spiral fluted bolt to lock tight and maximize consistency shot after shot. I spoke via email to George Thompson, the Director of Product Management for Benelli, Franchi’s parent company, who told me that while one-piece bolts aren’t new to the market, the design provides benefits in alignment, strength, and ease of disassembly.

“A one piece bolt can be precision machined to mate up perfectly with the bolt channel, chamber, and locking recesses,” he said. “There is no possibility of tolerance stacking between parts making some bolts ‘fit’ better than others. This improves the feel of the action, and could improve accuracy.”

Looks good, works great.

The action is smooth, and the 60-degree bolt throw allows for quick follow-up shots. The bolt is easily installed by pushing the unit into the receiver, and it’s removed by means of a small hinged button on the left side of the firearm.

The short bolt throw is nice for quick follow-up shots.

The barrel is equally well-constructed. It’s cold-hammer forged and chrome-molybdenum lined, which helps preserve longevity, maintain accuracy, decrease corrosion, and aids in cleaning. It’s also free-floated in the stock, which increases accuracy, and the threaded version costs the same as the non-threaded. The 5/8×24 thread pitch will accept all the most common suppressors and muzzle devices.

“Our barrels are mounted to the action with an extremely low tolerance,” Thompson told me. “This is then bedded into the stock with an aluminum block for rigidity.”

The trigger is adjustable between 2 and 4 pounds, and mine weighed in just shy of 4. We’re spoiled for nice triggers these days, and the Momentum follows that trend. It’s crisp and smooth, and at 2 pounds you’d be set to shoot as far as your load of choice will reach.

Franchi doesn’t charge extra for the threaded barrel.

The trigger is crisp and consistent. It’s also adjustable between 2 and 4 pounds.

Plus, Franchi is willing to stand by its workmanship. Their seven-year limited warranty is among the best in the business and will cover anything that might go wrong under normal use. For comparison, Savage Arms, which manufactures excellent rifles, offers a one-year limited warranty, and many companies like Weatherby and Ruger don’t offer any warranty at all. These companies are known for taking care of their customers, but Franchi puts their guarantee in writing.

As part of that guarantee, Franchi also tests each rifle to ensure that each is capable of sub-MOA accuracy. You won’t find this promise on their website, but upon opening the box you’ll see a card with a diagram of the test group and a description of the ammunition used. This is helpful for determining which ammunition your rifle likes best, and it proves that every Momentum will, with the right load, be able to get the job done. Mine shot a .9-inch group using Norma 150g FMJ.

This may be the truest testament to Franchi’s confidence in their workmanship.

Scope

Before I jump into the Momentum’s performance, I want to touch briefly on the scope. Purchasing the combo package is a good deal: a Burris Fullfield II will set you back about $200 and the scoped Momentum only runs $120 more than the standalone rifle.

The scoped version of this rifle is a nice option.

Burris is an American company known for making quality scopes, and the Fullfield II is no exception. It’s a traditional 3-9x power scope with a 40mm objective lens. It’s waterproof and shockproof, weighs 13 ounces, and uses a rear (or “second”) focal plane reticle. The reticle design is called “Ballistic Plex” and includes holdover marks out to 500 yards. You’ll have to calibrate your holdovers to your caliber, but like many of the Momentum’s features, it’s a step above the standard crosshair.

3x on the left, 9x on the right. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but you get the idea.

I found the glass to be clear, and the rear focal plane reticle is easily visible even at the lowest magnification. Though you’re unlikely to be dialing in your drops, the positive turret clicks indicate the scope’s good quality. The results of my box test weren’t anything to write home about, but the reticle’s hash marks will be much more useful for bullet drop compensation in a hunting situation.

I conducted this drill using the Nexus 168g SMK, which this rifle shoots well. I moved the reticle 12 clicks in each direction, which should have translated to 3 inches at 100 yards.

Ultimately, the light-weight, 3-9x scope is the perfect pairing for Franchi’s hunting rifle, and it’ll work well to harvest game at most North American hunting distances.

Function and Performance

It was a great day at the range.

Experienced hunters will be familiar with the Momentum’s controls, so I won’t spend much time here. The two-position safety allows the bolt to be manipulated in the “safe” position, which, combined with the hinged floorplate, allows for safe and easy unloading.

The safety’s clicks are positive and tactile.

The hinged magazine makes unloading easy.

Loading the magazine with .308 WIN takes some practice because rounds can be partially loaded too far forward or to the rear. I had trouble at first, and if the rounds aren’t aligned correctly they won’t be able to travel up the steep feed ramp into the chamber. The action’s tight lock-up also means that sometimes the bolt is difficult to close. New shooters or young shooters (and firearm reviewers) might need some time to acclimate to these small obstacles before they’ll be able to operate the rifle smoothly.

The feed ramp is a bit steep compared to other rifles.

Once a round is loaded and the safety is off, however, the Momentum performs beautifully. The trigger is crisp and consistent, and the recoil pad helps tremendously. The Momentum’s weight is heavy enough to help control recoil while also being light enough to carry into the woods. The bolt is unobtrusive, and the magazine release is located on the inside of the trigger guard, where it won’t be activated by a branch or rock.

I conducted my testing at the 100-yard line from the prone position using a Caldwell Lead Sled. The sled stabilizes both the forend and the stock, and shooting from the ground eliminates wind movement. I used match grade ammunition, but not because I want to reignite the “match ammo for hunting” debate (have at it in the comments, though). I like using match ammo for testing because I want to determine a rifle’s accuracy ceiling before looking for an appropriate hunting load. Also, I get a kick out of shooting tiny groups.

It’s not the most comfortable position, but it keeps the rifle rock solid.

As you can see from the table, my rifle’s sweet spot is the 168 grain Sierra MatchKing loaded by Nexus Ammunition. Nexus uses a proprietary loading method that maximizes consistency, so I wasn’t surprised that their product shot well in the Momentum. Still, I’ve tested rifles that struggle to shoot sub-MOA with match-grade ammunition, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a factory load that performed so well right out of the gate.

ManufacturerBulletAvg. VelocityFirst Group (in)Second Group (in)Average (in)
Nexus168g SMK26100.8350.7350.784
Nexus175g SMK26661.4201.3311.376
Federal168g TTMK26101.1381.6731.406
Federal185g SMK26041.6001.8691.735
Federal147g FMJ28152.2452.1912.218

 

From left to right, top to bottom: Federal 147g, Federal 185g. Federal 168g, Nexus 175g.

You reloaders know that this is a pretty good start. (Nexus 168g)

I would have liked to see better accuracy with the other loads I tested, all except one of which used MatchKing bullets. That being said, the performance of the 168 grain MatchKing gives me a great starting place for developing my own loads, and I have no doubt I’ll be able to get those group sizes even smaller with a little tweaking.

If you don’t handload, you might start with the Nexus or look around for another 168-grain SMK load. You’ll notice that the other 168-grain bullet shot the third-smallest group (1.138), though the second group raised its average.

Conclusion

Franchi’s new offering isn’t without its flaws, but the Momentum does what it’s Italian engineers designed it to do: shoot comfortably and accurately. It’s easily capable of .7-inch groups with the right ammunition, and it’s constructed with materials that will maintain that accuracy for many years to come. At just above $600 MSRP, I also expect the price on the street to drop down between $500 and $550, which is comparable to similar-quality rifles.

If you’re in the market for a hunting rifle, the Momentum deserves a look. Franchi stands by its workmanship, and I think you’ll be pleased with what this historic shotgun maker has produced.

***Shop GunsAmerica for your Franchi Momentum.*** 

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • JonA Ranta July 6, 2018, 4:07 am

    True, so to speak, seeing this long-gun pictured has no comparison of similar weapons for me now; far as afield, deadly.

  • Randy July 2, 2018, 12:52 pm

    Nice rifle, but no swivel studs on a hunting rifle is a deal breaker for me. Maybe a Gen 2 to address this.

  • Rick July 2, 2018, 10:09 am

    From the looks of that “box test” target I would say that the scope was not mounted square to the bore of the rifle. Or the shooter canted the rifle when firing. I would not trust a “company” mounted scope in any way. The scope and mounts would have to come off, screws torqued and scope leveled. In today’s market there are too many other rifle options in that price range that shoot as good or better than this one did. Perhaps a break in was needed to get this one to shoot. Wasn’t mentioned in the article.

    • Jordan Michaels July 5, 2018, 10:33 am

      Hey, Rick. That’s a good point. I can tell you that the rifle wasn’t canted while firing, so it’s possible the scope hadn’t been mounted properly. Anyone purchasing this rifle should do as you say — remove the scope and re-mount it to ensure it’s level.

  • OldOutdoorsGuy July 2, 2018, 9:35 am

    Just a few observations, first, if your bipod did NOT fit the test rifle, why didn’t you find one which did?? For those of us who use a bipod, it would have been nice if we had something to compare to.

    Regarding the Burris scope, that is indeed a fair price. The cheapest price I found was on eBay at $166 and some change BUT it didn’t include a set of rings, which might run another $60 to $75 extra for a good set of Burris rings from what I located.

    The overall issues with the stock are, in my opinion, non-negating issues. It was YOUR opinion that the rear prone/bench rest grip was not essential, and YOUR opinion about the marring of the stock trying to fit your bipod to the stock. Neither of those issues, for you, would be deal breakers for me and that is MY opinion. The fact of the matter is that this new rifle, for an entry level long gun, is a sub-1 moa rifle built to exacting standards that has been a trademark of Franchi for many years. The matter of the threaded barrel with thread cover is but one free item that most companies would have seen another chunk of change from the addition.

    Time will tell how this rifle is accepted, but I will predict that, with the caliber selections and choice of threaded or unthreaded barrel coupled with a very good selection of a usable scope as an overall starter package is a great deal for the guy/gal who needs a dependable rifle for hunting purposes. For those who do not want to hone down the ultra-accuracy of their hunting rifle to that of super match grade, I haven’t seen a such a deal since Davy’s flintlock which he used to “kill a b’ar when he was only three”!

    • Jordan Michaels July 5, 2018, 10:40 am

      Haha, great Davy Crockett reference.

      I wouldn’t say the stock is a deal-breaker at all. It works fine, it just isn’t quite as innovative as Franchi claims. I still recommend this rifle for anyone looking for something in this price range.

      As for the bipod, it’s possible I could have found one that worked, but I wasn’t using anything out of the ordinary — just a basic Caldwell 6″-9″ swivel stud model. The fact that the stock didn’t work with that bipod doesn’t mean it won’t work with any bipod, but it is somewhat concerning.

      Thanks for your feedback!

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