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 Post subject: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2003 11:54 am 
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For the last few months I've been considering buying a new 12 gauge automatic shotgun even though I already own a Beretta 390, Remington 1100, Browning 2000, and several others. A person can never own too many guns, ya know. :lol: Anyway, I found this good deal on a new Franchi 612 auto with synthetic stock and 28" barrel. It came with 3 choke tubes... Cylinder, Imp Cyl, and Modified. I paid $500 + tax which seemed to me to be a good deal.

Here are some of the main features of the gun. It weighs 7 pounds, holds 5 shells in the magazine + 1 in the chamber. It has 4 shims to adjust for cast and drop. It will shoot 2 3/4" or 3" shells with NO adjustment necessary. It has the recoil spring around the magazine tube instead of in the buttstock like many automatics. It has the rotary bolt. I should point out that this is the 612 VS model and the gas piston is the type with a spring on the bottom of it. It does not have to be turned around or adjusted in any way to switch from 2 3/4" to 3" shells.

My initial impression of the gun is good. Before I fired the first shot, I completely disassembled the gun and cleaned it thoroughly with kerosene to remove that heavy, sticky rust preventive they put on the gun. In my first shooting session with the gun, I tried several different 2 3/4" loads ranging from 7/8 ounce Winchester Super Speeds to 1 1/8 ounce 3 Dram loads. The gun would not reliably eject the 7/8 ounce loads, but it never missed a beat with some light 1 ounce loads I used. It also never missed a beat with the 1 1/8 ounce loads. Recoil was moderate which was about what I expected from such a light 12 gauge gun. I have since put about 300 rounds through the gun and it has functioned perfectly with all 1 ounce or heavier loads. Perhaps when the gun gets better broken in it may shoot the 7/8 ounce loads.

I have patterned all 3 chokes and they shoot as expected from the marking on the chokes. The gun is dead-on as to POI. It shoots exactly where I point it. The bore is chrome lined and approximately .721" diameter and it takes the exact same choke tubes as my 390 Beretta with the Mobile Chokes. Other than the initial cleaning, I have done no cleaning except to run a Tico Tool through the bore and wipe off the exterior of the gun with an oily cloth. I lubricate the gun well with Breakfree CLP.

As to balance, the gun is a bit front heavy. I'm sure this is due to the lightweight synthetic stock. To fix this, I have added shells filled with shot to the magazine tube and to the buttstock to move the balance point rearward and bring the total weight up to 8 3/4 pounds. It now balances better and recoil is very light with the 1 ounce loads. I still haven't tried any 3" shells in it though. I just don't shoot 3" shells much. My use of the gun on clay targets has been very favorable. I seem to hit with it pretty well.

I have only one real complaint with the gun. The trigger pull SUCKS. When I first got it, the pull was 6 1/4 pounds with a lot of creep. I have worked on the trigger some and reduced the pull to 5 pounds and reduced the creep some, but there is still more creep than I like. I need to do more work on it. I'm also in the process of changing out the recoil pad to increase the LOP and decrease the pitch angle (lengthen the toe) of the buttstock. The original was OK, but I like my guns to fit as well as possible.

Overall, I think it's a fine gun for the money. For a lightweight, durable, hunting gun that is capable of shooting 3" magnums, it is well suited for this job. As a target gun, it needs the extra weight I've added and some work on the trigger. Reliability seems excellent and it is an easy gun to disassemble for cleaning or maintenance. Overall, I think it's an excellent value. They also make the gun with wood stocks for those who prefer wood. The cost of the wood version is about $75 to $100 higher I think. I would recommend this gun to anyone looking for a lightweight automatic for hunting or general purpose use including some target shooting.


Last edited by Ulysses on Sat Nov 22, 2003 1:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2003 1:19 pm 
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Sounds like a nice solid gun but my question to you is which would yuo recomend the Weatherby SAS or the Franchi 612?

Great review again Ulysses :)


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2003 1:47 pm 
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John, that's an excellent question and one that I have given some thought to. Really, the guns are quite similar in their designs. Both have the recoil spring around the magazine tube. Both are manufactured in Italy. The Weatherby SAS has a slightly larger bore (about .729" versus .721"). The Franchi has the rotary bolt while the Weatherby has the more typical tilt/locking bolt. I think the trigger on the Weatherby was just a little better than on the Franchi. Both are easy to disassemble.

Overall, I think the Weatherby has a slight advantage except for one thing. The Franchi is readily avaliable almost anywhere in the US in almost any configuration (barrel length, stock type, etc) that you want while the Weatherby is still on back-order almost everywhere you check on it. In short, the Weatherby simply is not available in anywhere near the numbers that the Franchi is. The availability comparison is not even close. Also, while I have no idea what Franchi/Beretta plans to do with the 612 other than keep on making them, it is anything but certain if Weatherby will stick with the current SAS for the long haul. I would hate to buy a new Weatherby (assuming I could find one I wanted) and then find out that Weatherby is discontinuing importing them next year for some reason. If that happened, getting spare parts would be almost impossible, IMO. So, for that reason, I would give the edge to the Franchi although I liked the Weatherby slightly more. To me the difference wasn't great enough between the guns to warrant buying a gun that hardly exists outside the pages of a Weatherby catalog.


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2003 1:57 pm 
I paid $515 plus tax for my 612VS in Satin Walnut. I can't figure out how you have a model 612 that doesn't have the reversible sleeve over the magazine tube to adjust for light or heavy loads. I didn't know one existed. Anyway...with mine on the "light" setting it cycles 7/8 oz loads without any problem, and as a matter of fact that is what I started the gun on. It even cycles the remington STS "low recoil" target loads with only 2 1/2 drams of powder (for the girlfriend). I have no gripes about mine, except maybe a hair more recoil of heavy loads compared to my 1100. I'm sure it has something to do with the 6.9lb weight of my Franchi vs. 8lbs for my 1100. Over 4 hours in the field and you REALLY appreciate the light gun.


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2003 9:29 pm 
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Another question is does the 612 have a drop out trigger group like the Weatherby SAS does? Iknow you said they are easy to take apart, but I was not sure if that was in reference to the trigger group. Ok CDNN has the Weatherby SAS for $460+$10S&H+$20FFL(this is just in my case so it could vary) so that comes out to $490 w/ 5 choke tubes and walnut stock. So in this situation which would you go for? Sorry to keep pestering you but I have been looking for awhile at a new 3" semi for waterfowl. Aside from a 3" semi around $500 I am pretty open(as long as it is not a Rem, Brown, Beretta, Benelli, or Winchester). Been looking at the Weatherby SAS ($490), Fabarm gold lion II/camo($530), and now will take a look at the 612. :) Mabey when my son graduates form college I will make up my mind.


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2003 10:19 pm 
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Sure, the Franchi 612 has a trigger group that drops out easily by punching out 2 pins. It's no trouble to take out or put back in. Here's a little tip on the trigger assembly pins on any gun. I always take a file and round off the edges on the ends of the pins a little bit. That makes them go back in easier if there is a slight misalignment of the trigger assembly inside the receiver.

If you can get the Weatherby SAS that you want for $490, I'd say go for it. I really liked the looks of that walnut Weatherby I saw. If it had had a 28" barrel, I might have bought it, but it was only 26". BTW, I thought the walnut Weatherby was at least $100 higher than the price you quoted (even with discount), so your price sounds like a very good deal.


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2003 10:29 pm 
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Scatterbrain,

I really expected the 612 to have the reversible piston for light and heavy loads, but when I pulled the forend off the gun at the gun store and looked at it, I could see that the piston would only go one way. I like the idea of not having to adjust anything, but if it limits me to no 7/8 ounce loads, I might not like that so well. Actually, I seldom shoot 7/8 ounce loads in a 12 gauge anyway. Also, I think that once the gun gets broke in better, that it might cycle the 7/8 ounce loads. For now, I'm not worrying about it though. As long as it handles the light 1 ounce loads, I'm happy. What I need to do is take a couple boxes of 3" magnums and run them through the gun. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2003 11:14 pm 
I visited the Franchi website and they indeed do not make a 612 that isn't adjustable. Yours is undoubtedly set on "heavy". I verified this not to prove you wrong, but to help you enjoy your new gun more. It may never cycle light loads properly with it set on the heavy setting. I hadn't taken the foreend off of my gun since purchase, so I took mine off and looked. The little collar is right above the spring and slide, and is half covered by the barrels mounting ring. It should read light on one side and heavy on the other. Just flip it around...hope this helps.


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 8:46 am 
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Scatterbrain,

Nope, mine doesn't look like that. As I said above, mine has a heavy coil spring (about 5 coils) at the bottom of the piston. There are no markings of "Heavy" or "Light" or anything like that. There is only one way that the piston will go on the magazine tube and have the end of it fit into the cylinder attached to the bottom of the barrel and that's the way I've got it. Regardless of what the Franchi website says, this gun has no adjustment for light or heavy loads. Plus, the piston looks exactly like the picture of the piston in the Owner's Manual. In addition, in the Owner's Manual under the heading of OPERATION, it clearly says, "gas operating with self-adjusting piston". Also in the Owner's Manual, it refers to the "piston which works as an absorber thanks to a spring which absorbs the excess of gas of powerful cartridges, while it does not affect the lightest ones."


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 1:55 pm 
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Alright guys, I think I found the problem. I was lookin through the Franchi forums to find out what Franchi owners had to say about their guns and stumbled across this for ya.
2001 Owners Manual calls the piston system "Variopress"
which does NOT mention anything about the arrows;Light or Heavy loads
2002 Owners Manual calls it "Variosytem"
which DOES talk about the arrows; Light and Heavy loads
People think that there are brand new 2001( with NO reversible piston for Light or Heavy loads) still being sold on the shelf at dealers. Ulysses, you might have bought a new 2001 612.
The brand spankin' new 612's from 2002-present DO have the adjustable piston. To check it out fer yer self go to franchiusa.com- then forums- then Franchi- Then topic 'gas piston' and yall can read all about it. I hope I helped.


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 2:39 pm 
Thanks dixieboy....that was a real head scratcher. Adjustable or not, you bought a great gun that I'm sure you will enjoy as much as I have mine.


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 2:50 pm 
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Thanks, Dixieboy. That may very well be the answer. I may have bought a new 2001 model. It did look kind of dusty like it had been sitting on the shelf for awhile. I'm reasonably sure that the gun had never been fired though. My Owner's Manual says "Variopress System" on the front of it. I couldn't find any printing date or anything like that on the manual.

So I guess the only difference is the gas piston, whether it's self adjusting or manual adjusting for light or heavy loads. It seems to me that going from a self adjusting piston to a manual adjusting piston is kind of a step in the wrong direction, but perhaps there were other considerations.


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 5:05 pm 
I'm extremely pleased with my 612VS 24" Advantage Timber.
What Ulysses said is exactly what I have to say... only more eloquent ;).
As for reversible piston, my opinion is that on 612 the piston is only supposed to go one way, whereas the big sister, 912, chambered for 3.5" shells has the light/heavy loads settings.
The trigger pull is horrible indeed, however it is understandable that the factory sends them out that way. Who wants the light pull will find a way to fix it - otherwise it's safer the heavy way.
I have 2 other semi 12 ga. guns: black synthetic Benelli M1Super 90, 22" barrel, and 23" Browning B-80 in walnut wood.
Both served gallantly and are now nice backup guns. Paid $555 for my 612VS, had about 3,000 rounds through it (yes, I take it to the trap range much to the morbid amusement of Perazzi/Krieghoff crowd), the gun never refused to cycle on any round I fed through it.
The kick is about lightest I've experienced, however it is the only gun that kicks me on the cheekbone. 2 other guns, with exactly same drop at the comb don't bruise my face at all.
One more vote for Franchi gun as opposed to Wetherby or x-brand is that you have a certainty of decent part availability and service coming because of association with Benelli/Beretta brands.
I will most certainly get a second 612VS in 2004, and probably retire 2 other guns.
Does anyone know how long is the forcing cone and what angle does it have? thanks.
ChrisS


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 6:00 pm 
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Where are you guys finding these prices? I went to a store by me that has a camo 612, and they want 715$ for it. He made it sound like he was doing me a favor for selling it for 675, because it cost him 590$ for the gun from the wholesale.

Anyways please let me know where you get these prices. I want a semi for around 500$ and I have it narrowed to the 612 or the Rem. 1100.


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 6:17 pm 
I bought mine at a local gun shop here in Oklahoma City. This place stocks more guns than I have ever seen and has decent website sales as well. They are extremely cheap, and will order it for you if they are out of stock. The Franchi's aren't listed on their site, so just call them or email them.

www.outdooramericastore.com


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 6:28 pm 
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ChrisS,

Sorry, I don't know the length of the forcing cone and haven't given much thought on how to accurately measure it.


Sweet16,

I bought my Franchi at a local gun store. They have a pretty good supply of shotguns. They had it marked at $579, but a little negotiating got it down to $500.


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 9:22 am 
I'm the guy who got mine for $555 (truth be told, $20 S&H and $25 FFL on top of it).
Don't mean to violate this forum's posting policies, because the source doesn't advertise here. But think about this: guns and ammo are exempt from returns. That said, unless you intend to get friendly with the particular gunshop/gunsmith, it makes no sense to patronize your local gun emporium, not the big outlet like the you-know-what.
Best deals can be had when buying from individuals in your home state. Second best is the gun auction site, and private message, wink-wink.
ChrisS


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2003 12:33 am 
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:D i have been reading the forum for about three weeks now and desided to buy a franchi 612 i just hope i can find a deal like you guys got i have been shooting a 16 gauge auto 5 for 15 years its going to be hard to put down but i need the 3" sheels for turkey wish me luck


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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2003 12:51 am 
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I wish you the best of luck!

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 Post subject: Re: Franchi 612 Automatic: Initial Review
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2003 3:46 am 
Make sure you post back after your purchase...I like to hear further unbiased review of a firearm I have experience with. I think you will be very pleased......


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