Review: 2024 Weatherby Sorix Storm Semi-Auto

By Randy Wakeman

In 1898, John Browning began to design the world's first successful self-loading shotgun, the Automatic-Five. Recoil-operated as opposed to gas, it uses two springs for basic function. Browning's A-5 had no equal for fifty years or so. When the patents, owned by F.N., finally ran, several shotguns appeared using the same basic action, the Remington 11-48 and the Franchi 48AL being the most familiar.


On February 27, 1967, a patent was filed by Bruno Civolani of Italy for “gun with a floating breech bolt.” The Civolani action patent was purchased by the Benelli Brothers in 1967, who apparently first produced it in 1969. As the story goes, Breda of Italy had an ownership stake in the then-new Benelli Arms. The Civolani short recoil-operated floating or split bolt patents have also run. Benelli Arms failed, as did Franchi, and both were absorbed by Beretta. Benelli became a brand of Beretta in 2000.

Also in 2000 - 2002, Vursan of Turkey, which had been manufacturing an inertia gun variant (though the Civolani patents had not yet expired) was acquired by Beretta. The way the story goes, Beretta was about to sue Vursan for patent infringement, but decided to buy the entire company instead. Beretta has been manufacturing in Turkey heavily ever since, the former Vursan factory renamed as Stoeger. There are “Stoeger” inertia guns, such as the Stoeger 2000, based on the Vursan action variation. The Stoeger action was launched as the Franchi I-12, which was poorly made and not reliable. The updated I-12 was reintroduced as the Franchi Affinity; the current model is the Affinity 3.

Celal Yollu made Turkey's first O/U shotgun in 1973. In 1992, Celal Yollu produced Turkey's first semi-automatic shotgun via Vursan. The story doesn't end there, for in 1997 Celal Yollu founded ATA Arms along with Fatih Yollu. ATA Arms currently makes the Weatherby Orion O/U (ATA SP) and the Weatherby Element inertia shotgun (ATA Neo). It is a small world after all. Today, there is a glut of semi-automatic floating bolt shotguns out there, none of them made in the United States. It is a market dominated by Turkish and Italian shotguns, with the Portugal-made Browning A5 (introduced in 2012) being one of the rare exceptions.

With the floating bolt / inertia shotguns, it isn't like there have been no issues or complaints. To the contrary, there are enough shortcomings to please most everyone. It is hard to find a shotgun enthusiast that has not heard of the “Benelli Click” or the “Benelli Thumb.” Some semi-autos have a propensity to lacerate or pinch your thumb while loading, some are plagued by dinky cross-bolt safeties, and others have malformed choke threads. Benelli SBE3 and Ethos models have point of impact problems so severe that class action lawsuits are being discussed. It looks like Benelli is sawing off the same branch they are sitting on. Some brands were never tested with commonly available American ammo, or tested under North American hunting conditions, with jam-o-matic syndrome being the unpleasant result.


Marocchi of Italy has been around since 1922, founded by Stefano Marocchi and still family run by Mauro Marocchi. The parent company is now named C. D. Europe, and there is a strong relationship between Marocchi and Breda, with Marocchi making much of the Breda shotgun line. About five years ago, Weatherby partnered with Marocchi to introduce the Weatherby 18i series of shotguns to satisfy those looking for a higher standard of shotgun. That was just the beginning, as for the last couple of years the Weatherby team has been quietly hunting and shooting with 18i variations to develop and perfect the Sorix.

Weatherby wanted an Italian waterfowl shotgun that could not pinch fingers while loading, functioned with American ammo under the harshest North American hunting conditions, had a properly sized cross-bolt safety, and was as left-hand shooter friendly as possible right out of the box with no additional parts or gunsmithing needed. Several modifications were made to the shell elevator for easy loading, the spring rates of the action were modified, the safety is easily reversible, and the charging handle is as well.

While most left-handed shooters just put up with right hand charging handles, Weatherby discovered that it was the charging handle oscillating back and forth that was far more annoying to the shooter than the instant shell ejection itself. The thin extra precision machined slot for the changing handle in no way affects the reliability of the shotgun, and does not allow any significant entry of crud. By nature, the bolt and shell elevators of shotguns offer comparatively huge potential entry points for debris, yet that isn't a real-world factor. Weatherby isn't guessing. Naturally, Weatherby could have done nothing like most other companies, ignoring the 10-11 % left hand shooters and the shooters and hunters that are left eye dominate. I'm glad they went the extra mile in testing to make the Sorix as enjoyable to as many folks as possible. 

Beyond that, Weatherby decided they wanted additional tumbling and polish to the receiver, added a stepped rib, and also decided to have the receiver drilled and tapped. That suggests to me that turkey models are in the works. A 20 gauge has already been announced in addition to the inaugural 3 inch 12 gauge. Impressed by the Marocchi tolerances and Marocchi Cerakote application, Weatherby finishes the Sorix stocks by hand in Sheridan, Wyoming, along with performing final inspection prior to shipment.


As supplied, the 28 inch 12 gauge Sorix Storm weighs 6 lbs. 15.6 oz. Five Crio Plus style chokes are included. The trigger is far better than most semi-automatics, breaking at a crisp 5 lbs. 3 oz. with no grit or sand.

This shotgun is CIP proofed and is so stamped. Turkish shotguns are not independently proof tested. Shining a UV light on the Sorix, some of remnant fluorescent penetrant dye used for CIP micro crack detection after proof-firing on each and every shotgun stands out like a sore thumb. Many cracks that extend to the surface of metal parts are completely invisible to the naked eye. They may not open up to a visible size except when subjected to operating stresses or high temperature. These small invisible cracks can continue to grow until they fail catastrophically. This is one of the many reasons that Italian and other CIP proof-tested shotguns are considered to be of far higher quality than Turkish and other non-CIP proof tested shotguns are.

The Sorix has a wavy spring washer in the front of the forearm, which eliminates the slop and rattle found in other semi-autos such as Retay. Weatherby got the trigger and the generous cross-bolt bolt safety exactly right for a hunting shotgun. Dropping the trigger group requires knocking out exactly one pin. This is a very low maintenance shotgun, and to clean it takes very little time or effort , , , for those who actually clean their shotguns. Weatherby has a generous 10 year warranty on their Sorix shotguns.

A 28 inch barrel has long been the most popular for duck guns. Personally, I'd love a 24 inch barrel on the Sorix which would make it an all-around pheasant chaser, waterfowl gun, and turkey smasher. A 24 inch barrel and a Trulock Precision Hunter extended choke give you effectively a 25 inch barrel: perfect for my uses. The zero-care tungsten Cerakote is evenly and smoothly applied.

In order to make this review as comprehensive as possible, I grabbed my bore gauges. The barrel bore measures .720 inches. The supplied cylinder choke measures an overbore .730 inch I.D. The IC choke measures .715 in., MOD measures .702 in., the Improved MOD measures .696 in., and finally the FULL is at .684 in. The chokes through Modified are steel shot rated. Weatherby advises me that the forcing cone is 35 mm in length.


The pinch-free loading is excellent: light and smooth. The gun has a very solid feel and shoots to point of aim at 32.5 yards. Disassembly and reassembly is effortless. Function is good with 1 oz. 1250 fps Fiocchi loads right out of the box, with one hang-up. 1300 fps 1 oz. or 1-1/8 oz. 1200 fps loads were 100%, with strong 7 foot ejection. The Marocchi-made factory recoil pad, while not appearing particularly thick, did a surprisingly good job.

Above: Ejection with 1 oz. 1250 fps shells was good, with the hulls ejecting forward.

Selling at a street price of around $1275, with a Weatherby 10 years warranty makes this Italian semi-automatic a very strong value compared to models like the Browning A5 and Benelli SBE3 that cost about 50% more, hitting the $1800 - $2000 range. The 20 gauge is a couple of months out and 3-1/2 inch chambered 12 gauges are available with no upcharge.

This is a extremely well-built, refined autoloader that I believe is the best autoloader to wear the Weatherby nameplate. The Sorix is as close to a no-maintenance, no-hassle autoloader that can be had, with machining quality and close tolerances that make it a cut above. It is clearly “a buy” and a shotgun that Weatherby and everyone can be proud of.

What often separates a great autoloader from a so-so or forgettable attempt is refinement. That is what the Sorix is, for you don't need pliers to remove the charging handle, you won't need a gunsmith to switch the safety for left-hand operation, and the gun doesn't rattle or have loose forearm syndrome. The Sorix also is perhaps the easiest to load of any current inertia style auto, with a smooth and crisp trigger break that is far better than many, this 3 inch chambered 12 gauge works well with 1 oz. loads, the factory recoil pad is more effective than most, it shoots to point of aim, and not only is it CIP proof-tested, it comes with a ten year warranty. That's why the Sorix is a very big winner: take it out of the box, and just add hunting.


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Copyright 2024 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.