Daniele Perazzi, who has died aged 80, was one of the very few genuinely innovative gunmakers in the second half of the 20th century. He will be best remembered for the design of the Perazzi MX8. While other manufacturers had previously built clay target guns around modified versions of existing actions, the Perazzi was designed with the single objective of providing the optimum specification for competition.
The MX8 was developed with the collaboration of Trap shooter Ennio Mattarelli, for whom Perazzi had previously made a sidelock gun which he used to win the World Olympic Trap Championship in 1964. While Mattarelli’s input was no doubt a useful contribution, the facility a drop lock design provided the serious shooter was Perazzi’s inspiration. Likewise, his adaption in more robust dimensions of a bifurcated locking bolt together with draws and wedges incorporated into the monobloc and the sides of the action body provided the MX8’s durability and elegant appearance.
While there were many gunmaking families in the Gardonne region of northern Italy, Daniele Perazzi’s was not one of them. His early years were ones of hardship and struggle to find his place in an industry in which he would eventually become a leader. In his early teens he accepted menial work of every kind just to be part of the process of gunmaking. Eventually however, he gained recognition both as a gun maker and an original thinker, and at 20 he made his first money by selling a patent he had developed for a single trigger.
In 1957 Armi Perazzi was established, but in 1960 Daniele Perazzi formed a partnership with Ivo Fabbri, who would go on to make his fabulously expensive over-and-unders. His partner’s interest lay in other directions however. The result was the MX8, which Mattarelli took with him to the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. Great Britain’s Bob Brathwaite won the gold medal but Mattarelli captured his second World Championship the following year.
From that period the Perazzi company expanded significantly and, with the many advantages it offered, the MX8 soon became a natural choice for the dedicated target shooter at the highest levels of competition. One of these, which Perazzi assiduously fostered, was the personal service his factory always provided. At a time when individually fitted target guns from other manufacturers were very expensive with a long waiting period, a shooter could arrive at the Perazzi factory, be fitted, try his new stock on the shooting range and take it away with him all on the same day. Target shooters – not only from Italy but from all over the world – travelled to the Perazzi factory for a standard of service and expertise that was unique. This included entire national teams happy to buy into the Perazzi ethos of great design with expert gun fitting. This connection between Perazzi and the top performers in world class clay target competition continues to this day. Now there are at least three generations of Olympic and World Champions who have never used any other gun than a Perazzi throughout their careers.
All this was reflected in the results at the Beijing Olympics, where in the Trap event 15 out of the first 16 shooters, including all the medal winners, used a Perazzi. At the recent London Olympics, 12 out of the 15 medals available in the clay target events were won by Perazzi users. This deliberate policy of accessibility and service built around a gun that can be provided in a multiplicity of specifications for every kind of competitive shooting is Daniele Perazzi’s legacy, and continues to be energetically promoted by his son and heir to the business Mauro Perazzi. There can be no doubt that Daniele Perazzi understood the requirements of good gun design and modern manufacture. Or that he also perceived what clay target shooters really needed, and personally saw to it they got it, ensuring the success of his business and the affection with which he will be remembered.