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 Post subject: The Zoli Bella/// Addendum 3/31/2018
PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:12 pm 
Crown Grade

Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 10:29 am
Posts: 2499
Location: MI
've seen a couple posts with comments on the Bella, mostly it seems from people who just saw a picture. I've got a demo now, so I'll give some hands on stuff.

The crystals are no big deal. They don't really show much. If one fell out, you might not notice for months. Can't say that I like them, but I don't dislike them either. If you were shooting on a squad with a Bella, you might never notice the crystals.

Triggers are about 3lbs. 6 oz. out of the box.

Stock: The Bella's dimensions coupled with an adjustable comb offer quite a wide latitude of fittings options. The other major brands all advertise a drop at comb of 1 3/8's, which seems a bit high. The Bella is 1 5/8 x 1 7/8 x 2 1/2. It will fit anyone a 1 3/8's stock will plus quite a few more ladies and smaller guys. LOP was 13 15/16". The advantage to starting short and going a little longer versus cutting down a full size stock is that the shorter stock has a full sized butt, offering a bit more room to spread recoil. Also the comb line is such that the LOP could be reduced another 1/2" easily and 3/4" if one were careful, and still not be into the comb cut. The factory pad is an inch. I put a 10 Kickeez on and the pull is 14 1/8. The grip length is 3 1/2 inches, a common figure with most, if not all the ladies guns on the market. My smallish hands were smitten by the dimensions. The shape isn't what I would deem as perfect, put it's the closest I've found on a factory stock. There's a smidge of offset, wish there was a bit more. I normally shoot 3/8's off. I can get along well with the comb all the way over on the Bella. The forearm has the same dimensions as a Z sporter.

It has the Bilanx weight system, magnetic barrel weights and the grip weights. I put a couple of the weights in the grip. Doubt I would ever add any to the barrels.

With Zoli tubes, the gun weight 8lb. 9 oz+. Muller chokes, which I like for their light weight, knock an ounce off. That's with 30" barrels. Barrel weight is 1573 grams with Zoli extended chokes and 1541 with Mullers. It's pretty easy to get the front end feel one wants with chokes. I have a set of Pure Golds. They added too much weight for me.

My first, and only outing due to really crappy weather, was 13 boxes. Four were one-ounce 1290's, the rest 1 ounce 1200's. I found the recoil was quite nicely handled. My rheumatoid arthritis was hardly bothered the next day, quite a happy circumstance for me. I'm often blessed with neck and back pain for 3-4 days after I shoot and I normally wouldn't shoot that many shells.

I shoot with my front hand quite far back on the forearm, actually touching the iron, due to short arms and a permanent 20 degree kink in my elbows from the RA. I really, really like how the Bella moves. I wouldn't have bought the last three over-unders I've tried had I been able to get my hands on the Bella first. I used to be 5'8", probably a tad shorter now. This stock is going to fit a lot of smaller guys and gals, especially with the drop dimensions Zoli chose, far more than the other ladies guns out there. Zoli has recognized that and is bringing out a model without the crystals for men. It will be unique in the market. As a smaller person, it's nice to see something that fits without having to cut, fold, spindle and mutilate. I have never picked up a gun that fits as well out of the box and I've worked over stocks a lot of guys found quite comfortable for them. All told there were four shooters during the trial run. The Bella could have been easy to adjust for all of us. I can't help it I shoot with midgets.

I was shooting with one friend who has a Perazzi High Tech with 32", fixed choke barrels. His dimensions and mine are functionally interchangeable. His HT is 8 lb, 6+oz. but actually feels heavier than the Bella at 8-9. I had guessed the HT at 8-10 before I put it on the scales. Still haven't figured out the phenomenon, but the HT owner said the same thing. His HT is 1" longer than the Bella with the Muller chokes. We shot then side by side. I found them virtually indistinguishable. When we finished, I asked him what he thought. He said he liked the matte finish on his HT better. That was it. That isn't a knock on the HT. He's had five Perazzis and the HT is the first one I really liked. The Bella is just that close to the same feel. So...

Given that I really don't worry about looks nearly as much as function and the ability to get a good fit out of stock is way high on the top of my list, the Bella scored lots of points with me. I liked it well enough to be attracted even if is was painted pink. But it isn't. It has a nice piece of wood, every bit as nice as the HT stock which was a one-step upgrade. The Bella was listed for $7650 before it was a demo gun. The HT was $12,500. The other ladies guns are priced lower, but some don't have an adjustable comb. They don't have the weight system to play with balance. And IMHO, most of them aren't as attractive. The Zoli action can hold its own with any on the market and is far more robust than some others, although, to be fair, all the actions do get the job done.
I think the crystals accent the gleam in my eye. The Bella may just have found new home and some others will be kicked out of the house because of it. And I won't be the least distressed about shooting a ladies gun...unless I start craving a pink vest.

ADDENDUM: I was asked to do a fitting for a 15 year-old young lady yesterday. She was trying to get a brand name gun to work for her. It was obvious from pictures her dad sent that she needed offset and the gun she was shooting didn't have it. Somebody had jacked the comb up 1/2" and it looked really awkward for her. Her eye was in a relatively good position over the comb, but she had to go through some serious contortions to get it there.

When she arrived, I found the comb had been cut and LOP reduced as well, both reasonable moves to make for her. I knew she wanted to get the gun she had to work, so it was the focus for most of the afternoon,although from the beginning, I strongly suspected we couldn't get there from here. I pulled all the washers out of the comb and she was fine, but the adjustable comb hardware in the stock took up so much space and removed so much wood from the stock that there wasn't a safe way to get what was needed out of the factory stock. In addition, she said she got headaches from shooting and she's only using 7/8 ounce loads. We were able to figure out a few things, but couldn't get rid of the recoil/headache issue.

I wasn't surprised. I had worked with the same model before and I couldn't get rid of the annoying little bump to the face, even with pitch changes, etc. I believe it is a result of the geometry of the action/barrels of the gun. This skeet model had a really heavy front end feel, even with 28" barrels. That weight distribution didn't help either. Even after quite a bit of technique work and much tinkering, she still noticed the recoil to her head.

She mentioned how good a friend of hers gun felt to her. I had done the work on his stock years ago hence knew the dimensions. I pulled my Zoli HR with its heavily re-sculpted stock out of the car and handed it to her. She loved the feel of it and smashed some targets with it. However, its 32" barrels were a bit much. I got the Bella out, took the pad off to reduce LOP and she had everything she needed. The 30" barrels were better suited to her size and the gun moved wonderfully for her without modification. Zero recoil issues with either, upholding Zoli's soft-shooting reputation.

The Bella is the only gun on the market that would have worked for her out of the box. Every other ladies model buys into the "ladies need high combs" myth. She, like so many male shooters, needed offset, not comb height. At 5'5" and 130 lbs, she shoots the same dimensions I need, except for the LOP. The Bella had it, albeit the comb was all the way over and I had pulled the pad for LOP. I haven't fit hundreds of ladies, but of the ones I have fit, only one needed anything resembling a high comb. If you are buying a gun, get something that works for you. Don't buy marketing hype. Marketing people almost never hit on the points of advantage for a particular model. They are the same people that tell you a new rib design leads your eye to the target faster. Do you really think they understand stocks?

At any rate, after my original comb comments and this experience so shortly after, I felt compelled to have an "I told you so" moment. I have a bunch more rounds through the gun and haven't changed my opinion a bit.

As for the young lady,buying a Bella wasn't financially in the game plan. A new stock is the only option. A custom stock is out of the price range, so we're exploring the Wenig New American semi-inlet stock option, cutting the poo out of it to get her dimensions. That was the same stock used to create the stock on her friends gun that lead us to trying the Zoli stocks. I still don't like the weight of the barrels we're working with, but sometimes you just have to make due with what's there.

Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in Zoli. None. I like guns that work well for shooters and show a reasonable level of value in a world where they all seem to cost too much.

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