Photo courtesy of JJ Reich
A shootable 28 gauge built on a true 28 gauge frame is a wonderful thing, and hard to find in the U.S. market, too. The discontinued Ruger Red Label 28 is one example. It was a great upland gun, but most 28s you see are built on 20 gauge frames.*
Franchi’s Aspire O/U is a true 28. It’s built on the same action as the 12 and 20 gauge Franchi Instinct O/Us (also the same action used by a whole raft of Italian O/Us) but trimmed down to 28 gauge proportions. It’s nice and slender and weighs right around 6 pounds. The one I shot last week had 28-inch barrels, which gave it just enough heft up front to be easy to shoot. It would make a really nice gun for quail, grouse and woodcock, and maybe the dove field and even the occasional pheasant hunt, too.
The Aspire has subdued, classic looks: an oil-finished AA walnut stock and an unadorned, case-colored rounded receiver. The stock has a Prince of Wales rounded grip. Franchi has mercifully retired the oddly-shaped TSA recoil pad from their O/U line and the stock has a traditionally-styled black rubber buttpad.
The safety is automatic, which hunters don’t mind and target shooters hate. The barrel selector is incorporated into the safety switch, Beretta-style. The Aspire comes with three choke tubes and a hard case. At $2,229 it’s not the tremendous deal that the 12 and 20 gauge Instincts ($1449) are, but it’s not overpriced, either. If you are searching for a 28 gauge on a 28 gauge frame, the Aspire is worth a look.
*_Those guns tend to weigh more than true 28s. Their weight and complete lack of recoil makes them great dove and target guns._