The first grade gun from any good maker has always had a special attraction for me. As an impecunious youth I always bought them and I remember my first Browning, an A1 Trap gun. Never for a moment did I feel I was at any disadvantage knowing that in all its essentials, in terms of design and standards of manufacture, it was every bit as good as a D5 grade, it just lacked the fancy wood and engraving. I have a similar feeling for the Zoli Kronos – it has all the qualities of the higher-grade Zoli and while the action’s black chrome finish is without engraving, its price tag makes it a huge bargain.
The action body’s low profile, which is created by the use of a bifurcated bolt coming forward from the standing breech and locating in bites above the bottom barrel, places the gun very much in the same generic category as the Perazzi MX8. There are differences, however, in that the system of drawers and wedges at the monobloc and the interior walls of the action body, usual in this type of gun, are absent. Instead, presumably to compensate for this, the actual locking bolt is dimensionally larger. In other respects the Zoli is similar in that the hammers are cocked by way of a bolt activated by the forend iron, as are the ejector rods by kickers, also in the forearm.
With a width of 44mm and weighing just over 2lb, the action body, in terms of heft, represents a good platform for a target gun, and provides a point of balance around which the rest of it can pivot. The layout of the detachable trigger plate mechanism is very similar to that of the Perazzi, with the geometry of the sear hammer engagement providing equally crisp pulls. It is secured by means of a locking screw at the rear of the trigger guard, which is accessed by a small wrench, not quite as quick to remove as the MX8’s arrangement but not so easy to steal either. The finish on all the working parts is to a high standard, which is apparent in every aspect of this gun.
Nowadays what configuration a Sporter stock should take is open to wide interpretation. In the case of this Zoli, the comb is conventionally slim and tapers to the front and locates comfortably at the face. Measurements at drop of comb and heel have been modified significantly since I last reviewed a Zoli with a stock that was far too low. This time my sample gun measured one and three-eights of an inch drop at comb and 2in at the heel, much more to my liking. Length of pull was 14 and three-quarters of an inch, which included an excellent slim, hard-rubber pad with a slightly concave shape. The radius of the grip was tighter than I would usually prefer, but incorporating a small palm swell. My thumb and second finger met comfortably around it, providing a good feeling of control. The forend wood was a slim beavertail shape, which allows the fingers to achieve a comfortable hold rather than having the barrels lying across the palm of the hand.
As with all modern volume production guns the Zoli’s barrels were made on the monobloc principle. Zoli takes pride in the manufacture of its barrels and rightly so as the tubes are bored very accurately and struck off externally equally well. The 75cm long barrels have an ideal specification for a modern Sporter with a bore size of 18.5mm and a weight of 1.53kg, incorporating a set of six short detachable chokes. The gun is sufficiently fast handling with just the right amount of controllable weight.
The Zoli’s combination of solidity and handiness inspires confidence. I had no doubt it was more than up to complementing my modest abilities, and so it proved. At the North Oxfordshire Shooting Ground I began on some crossing targets at moderate range and quickly looked for something more testing. I have mentioned the stock dimensions were very close to mine, and that always helps. Nowadays if a test gun is a poor fit it is usually due to the comb being too low, which I remedy with a comb raiser that invariably makes all the difference. The Zoli required no such modifications and, as I have already mentioned, the grip has an excellent shape. Combined with the adjustable trigger, I was able to make the most of the gun’s excellent trigger pulls.
The Sporter shotgun is now available in many guises, and in contrast, the Kronos has a very conventional specification. I found the low 10x7mm tapered rib, which has a well executed finish, was the only visual aid I needed with this well made, and gadget-free target gun. If you believe, like me, the Sporter shotgun is still something that you can hone your skills with on clay targets and then be able to shoot some pheasants, which originally Sporting clays were all about, the Kronos is the gun for you. Make no mistake though; in the right hands this gun would win a Sporting championship at any level of competition.
You will have guessed I liked this Zoli, and for the right reasons: excellent mechanical design, easy handling, a high standard of finish and great value for money. This gun comes highly recommended.
Maker: Antonio Zoli
Bore size: 12
Barrels length: 30in
Chokes: Five detachable
Action: Drop-lock with coil spring
Rib: Tapered 10x7mm
Stock: Full pistol
Weight: 8lb 2oz
Price: £3,800 inc VAT
Distributor: Edgar Brothers
T: 01625 613177