As Perazzi mark a milestone by releasing 60 limited edition Platinum Anniversary High Techs, Laura Strachan talks to Mauro Perazzi about the company’s history and where it’s heading…
While Perazzi is a luxury brand, that is certainly not true of the family history. Far from wealthy, the Perazzi company was born of hard times.
“My grandfather was a shoemaker. We were a poor family,” says Mauro Perazzi, who now owns the company along with his sister Roberta.
At 15 years old, Mauro’s father, Daniele Perazzi worked as a cleaner at a gunsmith’s. He was quick and observant, and while sweeping the floors he watched the engineers working around him and knew he had what it would take to do it too. After a few months of studying their work, he approached his employer for an apprenticeship. Daniele, keen and hungry, learned quickly. He soon began to feel restricted by his meagre surroundings and went to work for a larger company. He craved independence and at age 25 he started working alone.
“He worked out of the kitchen,” Mauro says. While my mother was cooking, my father would be working at a little bench at the window.”
Each weekend he would sell what he had made.
“He’d get on his motorbike and go to the range – of course it was live pigeons – and he’d sell to the shooters.”
Each gun would fund the next. Slowly the business grew as Daniele Perazzi made a name for himself on the gunmaking circuit. And there was more to come.
1964 was a major turning point as it brought the Tokyo Olympics. A Perazzi shotgun won gold in the hands of Ennio Mattarelli. Browning had been the biggest name in competition guns at that time, and Perazzi was almost unheard of. With this newfound success, Perazzi guns started to become popular and the emphasis changed towards competitive shooting. This would continue throughout the company’s history, with Perazzi shooters picking up 54 Olympic medals – more than any other manufacturer.
The next milestone for Daniele would come in 1968 with the development of the MX-8 for its namesake, the Mexico City Olympic Games. With clever engineering to counteract the heat and the pioneering introduction of the detachable trigger, the MX-8 would become the grandfather of all Perazzi competition guns – not least of all the High Tech.
Daniele passed away on 7 November 2012. He had withdrawn from the company five years earlier due to ill health. Before he died he got to witness one of Perazzi’s finest moments, when 12 of the 15 shotgun medals on offer at the London Olympics in 2012 went to Perazzi shooters, including Peter Wilson’s unforgettable gold in Double Trap.
“My father was a great teacher,” says Mauro. My favourite quote is from Clarence Buddington Kelland and makes me think of him – ‘My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it’”.
While Daniele did not live long enough to see the success of the High Tech, he would surely have been thrilled by what it has already achieved.
“The High Tech was released in 2015, so it’s only been two years and already we’ve won six world championships with it – one English Sporting, one Compak, one Olympic Trap, one Double Trap, one Skeet and one Helice”.
While an obvious and direct descendant of the MX-8, the High Tech has subtle but brilliant differences.
“The receiver is wider and 40 grams heavier. The recoil is reduced between 10 and 15 per cent.”
Mauro’s personal choice
Perazzi’s approach to guns is reflected in Mauro’s own shooting. He likes to hunt – mostly ducks, pheasants and partridge. And he picks the same gun every time, and it probably isn’t one you were expecting. With any beast in his arsenal to choose from, Mauro shoots with an MX28 sideplate.
“I don’t like big calibres. The receiver is proportional, it’s like a little toy gun. I don’t shoot geese or high pheasants. 12-bores are for other people, I just don’t like recoil”.
It is sometimes hard to see where the business ends and Mauro begins, the two are so heavily entwined. And it is hard to imagine how he finds time to hunt at all when working at the factory takes up so much of his time.
“6.30-8am is the best time, when I come in and I’m alone, catching up on emails and so on. Then I go straight into the factory and I’ll spend most of the day on the benches.”
It is not surprising that Mauro likes to be hands-on when it is the production that drives the company. It is the customisation that makes a Perazzi special and gives it life.
“Every gun has a soul because it is made by hand by our workers. That is what makes our guns unique. We use advanced technology to make our guns, but they still spend most of the time on the benches. Every customer can say ‘my gun has a soul inside’. All the guns we produce are customised – we know that each gun we make has an owner”.
It is not just a luxury service. Mauro feels that a custom-fit gun is essential to improve your shooting.
“If the stock is not made to your size, you won’t hit targets. It is one hundred per cent important to get your stock made to fit you”.
Married to the company
It is a small, but highly skilled team that is housed in the Perazzi factory. There are around 70 employees, and Mauro keeps close to all of them.
“We work with passion and determination. This makes a good product. We try to give passion to our workers like my father did. It is thanks to the workers that we have this product. We are married to the company. I know every worker. I talk to them regularly. I have a fantastic team with four or five heads of department and we are like family. All of our gunsmiths are seasoned and experienced, but to train a new one it would take two to three years to train to them on the woodwork. Even longer on the metalwork.”
The bespoke service that the Perazzi team provides means that they produce guns at a rate of just seven per day. This, along with the obvious Italian connection, are just a couple of the reasons why parallels are so frequently drawn between Perazzi and Ferrari.
“It makes me very proud. Ferrari started the same way – with dirty hands and Enzo Ferrari working for Alfa Romeo. Perazzi’s colour is red, like Ferrari Red is the sportscar colour. That was what my father chose”.
As with Ferrari, style is an integral part of the Perazzi brand, from the smooth sleekness of their guns, to their modern and elegant approach to marketing. They have one of the most instantly recognisable social media presences, and their ballet-dancer advertising was unforgettable. Classic and timeless – their mix of old and new is as well balanced as their guns. This was also applied when designing their limited edition Platinum Anniversary High Tech. In true Perazzi/Ferrari/Italian style, they stayed simple and knew when to leave it alone.
“For the 60th Anniversary High Tech we decided to go platinum with ‘High Tech’ on the side and bottom and their number from 1 to 60. It was a decision I made with the team. We made it all together”.
Of course, Mauro is not the only Perazzi in the modern Perazzi company. He works alongside his sister Roberta, who takes care of the administrative side of the business.
“I love every part of what I do – making guns, meeting customers – except the administration. I don’t like that bit”.
Brothers and sisters working side by side can be taxing and put a strain on the closest siblings, but not so Mauro and Roberta.
“We have a fantastic relationship. We have a great respect for each other.”
Mauro is also looking to the future, bringing forward is 22 year old son, Nicola.
“Nicola was very close to my father. They used to go hunting together. He is working in production at the moment. I want him to know how to do everything. He loves it. As a teenager he chose to come to the factory above being anywhere else. He is like a shadow, learning and watching.”
While the future looks bright for Perazzi in the hands of Mauro, Roberta and Nicola, there are shadows on the horrizon,
“I don’t like politics, but yes, we were worried when the referendum happened. So far the numbers are the same. As for the future, I don’t know what will happen, but so far, so good.”
Whatever the outcome, Mauro and his team will always be waiting to welcome new customers to the Perazzi factory.
“When you enter the lobby it has a really strong impression. We bought carpets from Turkey for the showroom, the workshop is always clean. We are used to it, but when you come to the factory it is quite impressive”.
The bespoke experience only takes a day and is provided at no extra cost. It can be arranged by several companies across the country, or by RUAG, the Perazzi importers directly. Our photographers, Chris and Lloyd went out with John Henry and the Bywell team.
Talking to the charming Mauro Perazzi in his perfect English with a beautiful Italian cadenza about his passion for shooting and creating the very best guns is enough to make anyone long to watch the process first-hand. Only a person with a true love of what they do can instil that the way that Mauro does.