Guerini Invictus VII - tried & tested
- Credit: Archant
Stylish, with a clever modular design making it popular with competition shooters... the Guerini Invictus VII made an impression on Mike Yardley in this detailed review
IN BRIEF - GUERINI INVICTUS VII
WE LIKE: The ingenious engineering; The barrel boring; The general quality of finish
WE DON'T LIKE: The worst thing I can really say is that the grip might be a bit big for some people.
Make/model: Guerini/Invictus VII
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Barrels: 32" (30" option)
Chamber: 3" (76mm)
Proof: fleurs-de-lys steel shot (with half choke or under)
Sighting Rib: 10-7mm tapered and ventilated.
Weight: 8lbs 3oz
IN DEPTH - GUERINI INVICTUS VII
This month's test gun is a 32" Guerini Invictus VII sporter. This is the latest version of the new Invictus line introduced in 2014 and complements an already extensive Guerini range of competition and game guns imported into the UK by Anglo-Italian Arms (a firm created by businessman Mike Mansfield and former Olympian, Kevin Gill). Like its predecessors, the mark VII is built around the clever Invictus modular action which allows for the easy replacement of bearing surfaces without significant gunsmithing (more on this shortly).
Aesthetically, this Invictus will appeal to those who like mild bling. The game scenes on the sideplates are quite bold and combined with well formed medium scroll work. The action is bright 'silver' finished which suits it and the style of the gun and its decoration. It is quite typical of Guerini in this respect. I like the look. It's modern and stylish but not overdone.
Guerini guns have a reputation for stylish Italian design, good finish and competitive pricing. The RRP here is £6,200 - not cheap but not that expensive compared to some potential rivals. Guerinis also win a lot of competitions these days - indeed, the brand has gone from strength to strength in many respects since starting. So, that may well have an impact on this deluxe model's desirability amongst serious clay busters. Perazzis and Krieghoffs both cost significantly more, as does the Beretta DT11. Yet, multiple world and national championships have now been won with Guerinis.
This side-plated Guerini certainly impresses with regard its general presentation. Indeed in the details, I think this is something the makers have significantly improved since their products first arrived here from Italy almost 15 year ago. Guerinis have always had pleasing engraving (especially on the side-plated models). But in the important departments of barrel making and action engineering, they have significantly improved.
The test gun is especially well specified. It has fulsome woodwork with pleasing figure, an adjustable trigger (always useful on a clay gun), and 3" chambered fleur-de-lys steel proofed barrels made from solid barstock 42CrMo4 chrome-moly steel. They come equipped with no less than 13 multichokes (five flush fitting and eight extended)! Sufferers of choke-itis might have a field day here. [Note steel shot is only recommended with half choke or less fitted.]
The bore of the Invictus is unusually wide at 18.8mm and the long 'DueCon' forcing cones leading from the chamber to the main bore appear more gradual than most. These are both features that I favour on a clay gun and which might positively impact on felt recoil and pattern with plastic wadded cartridges (occasionally, on very cold days, there can be performance drawbacks to wide bores and long cones with light payload fibre wad cartridges).
Barrels are mononbloc but most unusual in that they have replaceable cams to their sides which engage in recesses in the forward part of the inner action walls where one might normally expect stud pins. The sighting rib is tapered (from 10mm to 7mm) with a shallow channel and a metal mid-bead. Joining ribs are vented which helps to keep barrel weight down and gives the gun a pointable feel in spite of a slightly forward balance.
This dedicated sporting Guerini is a big gun, but not too big. It hits the scales 3oz over 8lb - ideal for a serious competition gun. When you mount it, it has a muzzle-heavy balance as just noted, with the point of balance about 1" forward of the hinge point behind the knuckle. Purchase on both the rounded fore-end (my favourite pattern on a competition gun) and the large palm-swelled grip is excellent, though some might find the grip just a bit big. The comb is comfortable. The stock measures just under 15" measurements for drop are just over 1¼" to the front of the comb and 21/8" to the rear - again, spot on for Mr Average.
It is not often that I get the chance to describe an action mechanism that really is different, but the Invictus qualifies with honours! As well as having easily replaceable 'cams' to the front of the asymmetrical forward section of monobloc (the ''male' parts of the radical Invictus hinging system), the gun has an unusual central locking block. This is a small replaceable gold-coloured piece mid action. It supplements the rear bolt (also re-engineered to increase bearing surface). The block adds strength and works in conjunction with a conventional Browning style rear bolt.
The action of the Invictus is thus double-locked rather like a Boss or Woodward but by very different means. Guerini claim larger locking surfaces than any other industrially made gun and a million shot potential longevity. In addition to the novel hinging and lock-up, Guerini have improved the sear geometry in their inertia trigger mechanism. And, the fore-end has an interesting 'DTS' (Dynamic Tuning System) feature too. Using a 3mm Allen wrench acting in a key slot in the fore-end iron, one may increase or decrease the friction between fore-end iron and knuckle, thus making the gun harder or easier to open and close (this feature may be used to adjust the operation of the gun to personal preference or to take up future wear).
I use Guerini 20 bores for most of my game shooting now. My preference has been for the 20 bores which particularly suit the standard Guerini action. The Invictus - only available as a 12 - has been bit of a game changer, though. Potentially useful for high-volume competition shooters because wear can be eliminated so easily, it is also an excellent gun to shoot. In this sporter form, it did not have any obvious vices. Mechanical function was fine. Trigger pulls were good. Felt recoil was well below the norm; the back-boring and the 8 pound plus weight obviously helped. The forward balance seemed to suit with the long barrels (I rarely balance out a 32" gun on or near the knuckle as I might a 28 or 30" one). Kills with half and half choke fitted were excellent too - which may relate to the special boring. The grip is quite large and comb quite full. Purchase on the palm swell grip and fore-end was good. The gun is very comfortable in use. Bottom line? The Invictus VII isn't cheap, but it's an attractive, well conceived and finished gun that breaks targets with minimum effort - just what a sporter should be. It might also do double service on high pheasants come the season.
The cartridges used for this test were kindly supplied by Lyalvale Express.