Franchi Instinct L 12 Gauge O/U Shotgun

By Randy Wakeman

Franchi Instinct L 12 Gauge O/U Shotgun
Photo by Randy Wakeman.

The tested shotgun is the second part of the newly revitalized Franchi brand, joining the Franchi Affinity models previously and favorably reviewed. The Instinct L is a steel receiver, Over/Under shotgun. It is made by Bettinsoli of Italy, imported into the United States by Benelli USA and sold under the Franchi brand. Its published specs are as follows:

    ·        Part #: 40800

    ·        Type: O/U shotgun

    ·        Gauge: 12

    ·        Barrel length: 28" barrels

    ·        Trigger: Single selective

    ·        Ejectors: Automatic selective

    ·        Choke tubes: IC, M, F

    ·        Length of Pull: 14.25"

    ·        Drop at Heel: 2"

    ·        Drop at Comb: 1.5"

    ·        Type of Sights: Red fiber optic front bead

    ·        Stock: Checkered A-Grade walnut with satin finish

    ·        Receiver: Color Case-Hardened

    ·        Barrel Finish: Blued

    ·        Overall length: 44.25"

    ·        Catalog weight: 6.4 lbs. (actual weight as tested 7.1 lbs.)

    ·        Country of Manufacture: Italy

    ·        2012 MSRP: $1149.00

Currently, the Franchi Instinct L has a beguiling street price of about $1000. The claimed weight is way off the mark, as my example weighs a bit over 7 pounds unloaded, clearly over half a pound heavier than touted.

While the stock is called “A grade,” the test gun has plain, straight grained walnut. The fore end and the buttstock are, at least, well matched in color and tone. The Prince of Wales, semi-pistol grip looks good and is functional. The checkering on the stock is cleanly and deeply cut and the recoil pad is correctly fitted.

The receiver, while called “case hardened” appears to be a chemical case-coloring attempt. The safety on my test gun is a bit on the stiff side and, unfortunately, resets after you break the gun open. Automatic safeties are a hassle. The buttstock to receiver fit is amateurish, with both excessively proud wood and easily noticeable visible gaps.

The sliding tang safety and barrel selector is not marked, but if slid to the right the bottom barrel fires first. The selective single trigger is mechanical, as opposed to inertia, a bit heavy with a five pound lower and 5-3/4 pound upper barrel pull weight. This is usable, but unnecessarily stiff and not particularly well-matched.

With B&P F2 1-1/8 ounce, 1230 fps shells and shooting in a short sleeve shirt, the gun becomes unpleasant to shoot in very short order. With one ounce target loads, I found it comfortable enough. The tested gun had no mechanical issues, no failures to fire and the automatic ejectors worked satisfactorily.

There are too many issues with this gun to ignore. They include crude machining and tooling marks inside the receiver, the automatic and excessively stiff safety, heavy and poorly matched triggers, poor buttstock inletting with visible gaps, overly proud wood to metal fit and the far heavier than advertised weight. While one or two issues may not be a deal-breaker, collectively it is too much to ignore, despite the low price tag. This shotgun aspires to mediocrity and doesn't quite make it to even that level. Perhaps this is the best that Bettinsoli can do, I really don't know.

When the Beretta Group outsources vertical doubles, it makes me wonder why. In this case, I'm still wondering, but uninterested for the reasons stated. Unlike the Franchi Affinity autoloaders that quickly impressed in categories of “great for the money” and excellent in general, the Instinct L is nothing more than a barely adequate, unremarkable and immensely forgettable shotgun. While functional, the erratic and sometimes crude build quality quickly left me wanting a lot more, even from an entry-level priced vertical double.

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Copyright 2012, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.