New Franchi Instinct SL over & under is “above & beyond”

September is not that far off for hunters, and one can safely bet that California Sportsman’s Brian Lull is already chomping at the bit to get back out there for some wingshooting.

The magnet for this is a Franchi 20-gauge over-and-under shotgun, the Instinct SL, with which we opened the 2012 grouse season rather successfully. He likes the gun so much he bought it, which says everything there is to say about a firearm.

When you find a “keeper,” keep it.

That stack barrel impressed me too, and I am presently shopping for a similar model, which may shock my friends, who know I’m a devoted side-by-side, double-trigger aficionado.

Why write about a shotgun for bird hunting now, in the dead of winter, when the season is months away? Because right now is the time for someone to be buying a new gun. Set aside some of that IRS refund. Give yourself a reward, and a bit of a head start. Getting a new gun now gives someone plenty of time to work out any kinks, and get used to the trigger, how it patterns with different choke tubes, and how it shoulders.

A ‘marvelous arm’: The Franchi Instinct SL in 20-gauge is a marvelous shotgun that can tackle anything from quail to ducks, as Lull found out this past fall. After a deer-hunting sojourn to Montana, he was rather busy bringing law and order to anything he could shoot with the Franchi, and that covers a lot of ground.

Fitted with 26-inch vent rib barrels (28-inchers are also available) the Instinct SL now in Lull’s possession came with three extended choke tubes in full, modified and improved cylinder that may be screwed in by hand and tightened with a wrench.

Additional chokes are available in cylinder, improved modified, skeet 1, skeet 2 and extra full. The front ends of the chokes project from the muzzles about an inch.

My own 20-gauge shotgun is a Stoeger S/S with fixed chokes in full and modified, and double triggers. It’s killed some fat grouse and will doubtless see more action. I also tried out a rather pricey test gun, also an O/U, from Fabrica Armi Isidoro Rizzini, but have my sights set on a Franchi O/U and I’m getting that gun as soon as possible, for the reasons stated earlier.

Even if you plunk down money on a new pump or semi-auto, the months between now and hunting season can be put to very good use. Trips to the range, a round of clays, some spring turkey hunting; it all contributes to long-term success, which translates to meat in the cooler and many fine meals.

Weighing 5.3 pounds, the Franchi Instinct SL is marketed by Benelli USA. That’s the same outfit responsible for bringing Stoeger shotguns into the country, so by setting aside some cash for a Franchi, I’ll be “keeping it in the family,” as it were.

One of these days, hopefully far over the horizon, I’m going to slow down a bit on my writing chores and devote more time to hunting grouse. I have a marvelous vintage Beretta S/S 12-gauge with fixed modified and full chokes in the gun safe, and a Stoeger .410 with fixed full chokes on both barrels that is a proven grouse gun, but you can never have enough good shotguns. CS

By Dave Workman
Editor’s note: The author is a veteran West Coast gun writer and reviewer.