A champion’s choice

Vic Harker looks at the long barrelled version of the MX2003 with UT Trap Champion Ed Ling

At the highest levels of Trap shooting competition, Perazzi shotguns now seem the natural choice for top international performers. In the last Olympics in Beijing, 14 out of the first 15 placed men in the Trap event and all the medal winners used this legendary Italian gun. Why so? For a number of things. In this gun test I am looking at a relatively new version of the MX2000 with former World and European UT Champion Ed Ling.

The Perazzi is not only a great gun, it looks it and for that it owes something to the British. At the beginning of the 20th century, two London gun makers James Woodward and Thomas Boss both produced over-and-under guns that set a benchmark both for great design and elegance.

This was due to the positioning of the bearing surfaces that comprised the jointing at the sides of the barrels and action, together with a split locking bolt engaging with bites between the barrels that clamp them down into the action providing it with a low profile that made some other over-and-unders look rather heavy and ungainly.

In the middle of the 20th century, Daniele Perazzi took some of the basic principles of the Woodward/Boss design, increased the dimensions of the bearing surfaces and added convex extensions to the monobloc that meet recesses each side of the breech face creating even greater strength and rigidity. Bigger and stronger than the English guns, together with a drop-lock trigger design; Perazzi had arguably created the perfect action for any target gun.

The Rib
The example of the MX2003 I received from RUAG, the British distributors for Perazzi, had 31½” barrels and tipped the scales at a fraction over 9lbs. Not lightweight, but balancing right on the hinge pins, it was perfectly balanced and didn’t feel the slightest bit heavy.

We now come to its ramped adjustable rib, which distinguishes the MX2003 from the standard MX2000. At 15mm above the breech face it is by no means the highest rib Perazzi offer on its Trap guns; these are incorporated into the MX2005 and the MX2008.

To a lesser or larger degree, however, the purpose of all these guns is to provide the shooter with a higher head position, which will improve visibility vis-à-vis the target.
As explained to me by Mauro Perazzi when these guns first came onto the market, they all, to a certain degree depending on the height of the rib, help to bring the target into the shooter’s peripheral vision sooner.
The set up
With all this in mind I went through the surprisingly simple process of setting up the MX2003’s rib and stock to suit my own requirements. I agree with Champion shooter Ed Ling that with a high rib gun it’s best to look along it rather than down on it, as I do when I shoot my flat rib Perazzi.

The MX2003’s rib can be adjusted to deliver three points of impact: 50 per cent of the shot charge above and below the point of aim, or 60/40 per cent and the highest 70/30 per cent. As my flat rib MX8 with my current stock prints its pattern closer to the highest placement, I tried that setting first and like Ed raised the adjustable stock until I was looking along the rib. This setting, the manual says, will deliver the centre of the shot charge 16cm (6”) above the point of aim.

To adjust the rib is simple; at each end of it are two spring-loaded catches, which locate in notches cut at the front of the ramp and at the back of a reciprocating fitting at the muzzle ends. A thin steel rod is inserted at the front and the back of the rib that disengages the catches allowing you to make the adjustment up and down.
In the end, by trial and error rather than the pattern plate, I settled for the intermediary 60/40 setting.

The aspect of high rib guns I have difficulty with is what Ed finds both comfortable and natural, the head up position. That is no doubt because I’ve been dropping my head onto a Trap stock much longer than he has – please don’t tell me you shouldn’t drop your head with a conventional Trap stock, everybody has to do it to some degree and I’ve got the photographs to prove it.

Nevertheless, the principle of a high rib, or at least a slightly higher rib, as with the MX2003, does make sense: it’s a matter of taking the time to adapt.
Shooting Impressions

The drop at heel on my sample gun was 56mm 2¼” and so in effect with the parallel comb I had an adjustable Monte Carlo stock and you have to use it as such. Don’t think as a shooter I was talking to the other day did, that a Monte Carlo is designed to sit lower in your shoulder, the opposite is true, if mounted properly it keeps your head in a more upright position.

The view can be disconcerting at first – it’s rather like going from peeping through a letter box to looking through the drawing room windows. For me it worked well as long as I kept the gun well up in my shoulder and remembered not to try and lower my head forward too much.

Apart from that the MX2003 has the same superb build quality and finish every Perazzi has. Great trigger pulls of course and the longer 31½” barrels make it a very forgiving gun.

At Thurlaston Gun Club on the Universal Trap layout, if I missed with the bottom barrel, which is fitted with Perazzi’s excellent detachable choke system, second barrel kills were spectacular.

This longer barrel specification also makes the MX2003 a great gun for Down the Line and as Ed Ling has found out the MX2003 set up on shorter barrels for faster targets really worked for him – it could for you to.

Fit for a champion

One man who knows about this model is 28-year-old former World and European Universal Trap Champion Ed Ling.

In 2009 he won the World Championship with a flat rib Perazzi, but last year, having only been using an MX2003 for three months, he won the European Championship in a remarkable demonstration of skill and concentration, missing one target in his first round he then proceeded to break the next 175.

I asked him his reasons for changing to the MX2003. Apparently his father Steve bought one first which prompted Ed to give it a try. “With a flat rib gun and a high stock that prints the centre of the shot charge well above the point of aim I see a lot of rib” Ed says. “This doesn’t usually present a problem but I found if I got tired I was inclined to look back at the rib instead of the target.

With the MX2003, by raising the rib to print the shot pattern where I want it and then also raising the adjustable comb so that I’m looking along the rib rather than above, it solves the problem.” Well it certainly seemed to work last year at the European Championships and Ed’s sticking with the MX2003. “Once you get used to the more head up position with the combination of the adjustable rib and the stock it feels a lot more natural, your eyes are more level”, Ed explains and adds “shooting an ordinary gun now feels quite strange.”

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