Special Guns Episode 16 – Perazzi Q&A

Special Guns with Roger Rule

Episode 16 – Perazzi MX-8 SC-3 Over-and-Under Shotgun


PART 1  {Virginia and Roger sitting behind table}

VIRGINIA: My name is Virginia Hall and I’m here today to introduce you to Roger Rule, author of The Rifleman’s Rifle, and host of this series of episodes, Special Guns with Roger Rule.

ROGER: Thank you, Virginia, welcome, …and welcome viewers to my 16th Episode of Special Guns with Roger Rule.

VIRGINIA: What do we have today?

ROGER:   In the last few episodes, we have been featuring mostly shotguns.  In the evolution of the over-and-under, we have covered four successful models.  In the last episode, it was the great Beretta SO sidelock over-and-under.

Today, we are going to look at a new innovation in the evolution of the actions of over-and-unders. This is the great Perazzi MX-8 and the key innovation was a detachable trigger assembly.

VIRGINIA: When did you first learn about these?

ROGER:  As a senior among us these days, the first time I heard the name Perazzi, I was surprised.  This was in the late ‘70s and I had been an avid follower of guns, but I had left shotguns and concentrated on handguns and rifles.  I was in California with my construction and development company which was booming at the time and I had a new warranty manager from Missouri, named Dan.  At the time, my Winchester Model 70 collection was growing strong, I was deeply involved hunting out of state when time and circumstances permitted; and for local shooting, I was taking several handguns and rifles to the range at my local NRA affiliated club that had no skeet or trap ranges.

One day when my new warranty manager, Dan, was in the office, one of my sub-contractors and I were talking story and he, knowing how much I was into guns, asked me what the best shotgun was for clay pigeons.  While I was thinking about it and before I could answer, Dan spoke up, “Perazzi.”

I said, “What?”

Dan repeated, “Perazzis, they are the most popular over-and-under on the trap range today.”

I had to think about how long I had been out of touch with the shotgun world. I had never even heard of Perazzis.  The last time I was into it, the top guns were Krieghoffs, Berettas and Brownings.

My subcontractor looked at me like, is he right, meaning Dan.  I just said, “I’m sure he knows what he is talking about, it’s been a decade since I shot trap with my Winchester 101 and Remington 1100.”

Dan added, “It was a fella with a Perazzi that took gold at the 1964 Olympics and many others with Perazzis that won several medals again in 1968.  But, there’s a long wait to order one even if you have the 3000 bucks it takes to get it.”

VIRGINIA: And you said that was in the ‘70s?

ROGER: Probably late ‘70s considering when Dan worked for me. But before we look at one of these guns, let’s first take a brief look at Perazzi, the company.

PART 2 {Audio – only}

At 6 years of age, Danielle Perazzi was introduced to firearms by his uncle.  At 14 years of age, Daniele Perazzi was hired by a local gunsmith. He was often noticed running errands around town on his bicycle. At first, working just an errand boy, he eventually served a six-year apprenticeship at a local gun concern, completed it, and at the age of 20, Perazzi began working on his own, building premium sidelock shotguns, capitalizing on his previous experience from his apprenticeship.

In his first year of business, he invented and patented a single trigger design that his company manufactured for the gun trade, selling to others, and becoming a commercial success.  At the age of 25 in 1957, Perazzi established Perazzi Armi in Brescia (Brra’-sha) Italy.

Three years later, in 1960, Perazzi met a young automotive engineer who worked at Fiat by the name of Ivo Fabbri. If that doesn’t ring a bell, it soon will.  Perazzi and Fabbri joined together to research new procedures for building shotguns.  Their goal was to create a high-end, yet affordable shotgun.  We are told that they were inspired by the over-and-under British makers, especially Boss and Woodward, the latter of which was purchased by Purdey.  These are over-and-unders made by hand with extravagant prices. Perazzi and Fabbri believed they could create such high-end firearms, but at a price that would be affordable to most Italians.

Their goals were consistent with the times as there was an optimism in 1960 Italy. The Summer Olympic Games in Rome that year were the first Olympics covered by television.  Inflation was in decline.

The Italian shooting star, Ennio Matterelli gave Perazzi and Fabbri an assignment to render a trap gun for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics that would meet his specifications.  Mr. Matterelli had attained his success with a Belgium-made Browning.  When the new Perazzi gun was finished, Matterelli established a new Olympic and world record of 198/200 that won him the gold medal (Tokyo Olympics 1964).

A year later, 1965, Perazzi and Fabbri dissolved their partnership. Ivo Fabbri sold back his shares and started a company under his own name, Fabbri Arms, to develop extraordinary pigeon guns that may be the highest-priced shotguns in the world.

With Fabbri’s departure, Matterlelli became a partner in Perazzi. The new duo set their sights on the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, vowing to build a gun to enable Ennio Matterelli to defend his title.  The project gun was developed with the designation MX8 for Mexico City 1968.  They continued designing and building innovative competition trap and skeet guns – refining the Perazzi gun which would result in MX8 prototypes. The design objectives for the new shotgun were balance, precision and strength.

The new gun was built specifically for the shooting conditions in Mexico City.  Because of the hotter climate, the gun had a higher rib to reduce heat distortion and because the rib was higher, the comb of the stock was raised.

Making these changes had another positive effect. By raising the stock, it lowered the placement of the stock on the shoulder which resulted in the recoil being directed horizontally back into the shooter, versus getting the normal muzzle jump.

Although the 1968 gold medal eluded Matterelli, by the late 1960s, Perazzi had become a revered name in Europe for state-of-the-art shotguns.

PART 3 {Roger and Virginia sitting}   {Quotes page 6}

ROGER: Here’s a little tidbit – Perazzi claims the MX-8 is also the first gun to have interchangeable screw-in chokes in the lower or under barrel. That feature is now found on nearly all new guns.

But the major feature of the MX-8 was the revolutionary detachable trigger assembly with v-springs. Perazzi preferred v-springs over the traditional coil springs because of their better trigger pulls.  The drawback of v-springs is their unreliability.  They break without warning when they become worn.  Coil springs wear down slowly with age. However, with the easy access trigger assembly in the Perazzi, changing the v-springs can be carried out quickly and easily by the shooter if the parts are kept on-hand as backups.

Another new feature of the Perazzi MX-8 was slanted hammers, which reduced misfires significantly.

For their barrels, Perazzi used deep drilling instead of the more common hammer forging. Their thinking was that hammer forging causes a higher level of molecular distortion then deep drilling – impacting barrel regulation and recoil.  The recoil of the MX8 is described as “round” instead of the linear impact usually felt.

But it is Perazzi’s mechanical trigger with its 3 ½ pounds of pull that became the benchmark in the industry.

The gun’s gold medal winners have described the performance of the MX8 saying the receiver is compact and low-profile with a central axis for quick swings – in a word, agile.

VIRGINIA: If Perazzi is such a young company, is the founder still alive?

ROGER: No, sadly, Daniele Perazzi died in November 7, 2012.  He left the company in the hands of his son, Mauro, and his daughter, Roberta, who have taken over the business of Perazzi Armi.

A list of the Olympic medals, gold, silver and bronze, won by shooters using Perazzi arms has become voluminous since Ennio Mattarelli won the first Gold in 1964 Tokyo.   In the four Olympics prior to 2016, Perazzi shooters had won 14 gold medals, 11 silver medals and 13 bronze for a total of 38 Olympic medals.

In the 2016 Olympics, Californian Kimberly Rhode earned a place in the history books as the first American to win a medal in six consecutive Olympics when she took gold in Women’s Skeet in Rio De Janeiro with her Perazzi.

Ms. Rhode was quoted as saying, (quote) “I’ve never had a reliability problem with Perazzi, I’ve shot about three-million rounds and I’ve never had one break and that’s through three guns. The barrels and triggers have never worn out. The receiver is rugged too.” (close quote)

And for another quote by Ms. Rhode: (quote) “Perazzis handle real nice, they’re fast to the target and well balanced. They make the guns to fit you like a glove. The combination is incredible.” (close quote)

The Blue Book of Gun Values states: (and I quote:)

“Perazzi shotguns are well known for their quality control standards and reliability in clay target championships and in-field conditions.”(close quote)

                        According to the company, they market what they call “The Perazzi Experience” which is a procedure a customer goes through if he purchases one of their shotguns from the factory in Brescia Italy.  Other English makers have a similar procedure.  The customer tries out a “test gun” to determine the correct fit and measurements of the shotgun that he is going to custom order.  There is a list of custom options including the choice of gauge, the blank and grade of wood for stock and forearm, the barrel length, rib height and width, the trigger group, and receiver engraving. The customer can watch his gun being made as there is a public viewing area of shotgun production.  And if that is not custom enough, customers who are at the factory have the option of visiting a nearby Perazzi family restaurant for pasta and wine while their shotgun is being built.

VIRGINIA: Sounds like more fun than just ordering a gun.

ROGER: Maybe not for a gun guy.  The gun of the day, today, is a Perazzi MX-8 in high-grade SC-3 with 29 ½” barrels.

VIRGINIA: Is this one in 12 gauge?

ROGER:  Yes, it is 12 guage with 3” chambers, and it includes a set of 7 Briley thin wall chokes.  It would be described as a sporting clays gun because of its field configuration.

PART 4 {Roger Standing holding gun, Virginia sitting}

ROGER: Before we disassemble this beautiful gun and examine its major components at the sideboard, I want to first demonstrate the removal of this famous trigger assembly that the Perazzi is renowned for.  There are some videos on YouTube on this.

Often, on a new gun like this, it is stiff and hard to remove. However, if it is not so tight and stiff, it is a simple procedure.

You simply slide the safety button forward toward the top lever, and pull the back of the trigger assembly down as you feel it coming free.

{Pull trigger assembly out}


Now looking at the trigger assembly, note this one has the coil springs, which are more durable than the v springs.

To finish disassembling the gun, like most other shotguns, we release the forearm first with its Anson & Deeley lever latch, then separate the barrels holding the top lever to the right. Now, let’s remove to the sideboard and examine the major components for the camera.

PART 5 {Gun in case on sideboard, Roger speaking off camera}

This Perazzi MX-8 in SC-3 grade comes with a heavy-duty molded case made by Nagrini for Perazzi with the name PERAZZI in relief on the lid, trimmed with brown faux leather, with three combination locks.  The interior has compartments molded to fit the components of the gun with a dark gray valuer lining. Accessories include Briley chokes and choke wrench, and a long red-handled hex drive screwdriver for removing the stock, marked Perazzi on the shank.

Separating the forearm from the barrels, let’s look at the forearm first.

{Remove forearm, set barrels down}

The one-piece forearm shows the serial number stamped twice inside, once into the wood channel, and once on the forearm iron. The forearm iron is blued and engraved. And we can see the intricate fittings it makes coupling up to the action.

{Set the forearm down, Pick up the barrels}

Looking at the barrels first, we see the what would be the barrel flat as a block similar to the John Wilke’s Boss.  The locking lugs are on the sides, two on each side.  We see the cutout for hinge pins and the automatic ejectors. On the barrel block, there is the serial number and two Gardone and Brescia proof marks and a single Gardone proof mark.  There is an “N” on the underside of the front left lug.  On the bottom of the lower barrel, we see 12-70 indicating 12 gauge and 70mm chamber or 2 ¾”, and on the lower left side of both barrels.

These were proofed at 18.4 Tons, with the inscription, GAM.70 (again for the chamber length) stamped on the top barrel; and KG1.520 stamped on the lower barrel.

On the right side of the barrels, there are no markings.

Looking down the underside of the barrels, we locate the locking lug for the forearm release. Also, notice that the rib separating the two barrels doesn’t begin for about 10 inches from the action, the space hidden by the forearm when it is assembled.  The matted rib has a recessed center track that is finished with a finer matting than the two higher surfaces on each side of it.  We haven’t seen another rib treated like this. It must be a nice aid for target shooting.

{set barrels down, pick up the stock and action}

Looking at the stock and receiver, the top or ledge of the receiver walls are inscribed: on the right with the serial number 131987, and on the left, SC3.


                        If we move the top lever too far to the right, it will lock up.  It can be unlocked by pressing the little relief button located high up on the right side of the breech face.  Curiously, on a gun of this quality, the strikers are not bushed.

We can see the locking bolts in the breech face that catch the rear barrel lugs just under the ejectors. Looking at the inside of the receiver, we find the locking lugs on both right and left sides and the hinge pins.  Gardone and Brescia proof marks are on the right side of the water table.

PART 6 {Standing holding the gun, Virginia sitting}

ROGER: As a safety check, I will first open the gun to see it is unloaded.

{Open action, point out that it has snap caps, close action}

Looking at the metal first, it has 29 ½” over-and-under barrels.  These have a tramline hand-filed ventilated rib with a recessed center track (as we have already discussed) with an ivory bead. They are separated with a ventilated rib as well — to within about 6 inches of the muzzles.

The receiver of the action has a fancy back and is coin finished which contrasts nicely with the blued parts, which include the barrels, trigger guard and trigger assembly, safety button, top lever, forearm iron, and Anson & Deeley forearm release.  The trigger is gold and the word SAFE is gold-filled.

It has a selective single trigger in a detachable trigger assembly. The selector for the trigger is a small button behind the trigger that operates LORU, Left Over Right Under.  When pushed toward the left, the over barrel is selected; pushed to the right, the under barrel is selected. However, the Perazzi to me has one weird idiosyncrasy about this trigger selector. Before you change it, you must put it on SAFE first.

The ejectors are automatic.  The safety is manual which is the preferred choice for clay pigeon target shooting.

Looking at the inscriptions, other than the word, Safe, the only inscription on the exterior of the gun is on the left receiver, actually a portion of the barrels assembly, which is inscribed “Perazzi Brescia Made in Italy.”

The engraving is called Bulino engraving and is a shallow style as opposed to deep relief, but is more artistic in that it resembles the quality of photographs.

{Show to Virginia}  

VIRGINIA:  The engraving is not as deep, but the images still look real.

ROGER: The right side of the receiver shows a quail taking flight from a ravine.  The left side has a wood duck in flight near a tree with other shrubbery.  The bottom of the receiver or underside, has a mallard landing on a lake scene.  All three of these and the balance of the action parts are surrounded with full coverage engraving in arabesque leaves.  This includes the trigger guard assembly, top lever, safety button and forearm release.

Examining the stock, we first notice that it is a fancy grade made from beautiful French walnut with almost cordovan brown color evenly spread with black streaks.

VIRGINIA: This kind of looks like that one we had with a burgundy colored stock, but it was a little lighter tone.

ROGER: The Arrizabalaga, yes this is a little darker and with more predominate streaks, maybe even a little fancier than that one.  But like the Arrizabalaga, the fancy figure of this one is consistent on both stock and forearm and on both profiles.

The shape of the stock has a classic fluted comb with a large pistol grip. There is no pistol grip cap as the bottom of the pistol grip contours into the toe line of the stock.  There are two side panels on the stock that work nicely with the fancy back of the receiver.  There are no tear drops.

The stock is finished with a ¾” dark brown leather-covered recoil pad, giving this gun a 14 ½” length of pull. The forearm is called a field forearm; it’s slender and ends with a nice truncated curve that parallels the curve at the knuckle, where the forearm shape meets the front of the receiver.

The checkering on the pistol grip is point pattern and comprises two panels which would be independent of each other except for their top borders meeting at a V over the wrist.  The forearm checkering follows the same style, two point patterns that come together on the underside forward of the forearm release metal and with a V about 1 inch forward of the forearm iron.  This creates a pleasing diamond shape of uncheckered wood surrounding the forearm release. The checkering is 24 lines per inch and surrounded with double borders. The finish is glossy but not high gloss.

{Sit the gun in holders and sit down}

For a target gun, the wood to metal fit is fine.  For what is supposed to be an upgrade, this SC-3 model, the wood is evenly proud on both sides and on the underside of the action; and likewise, evenly proud around the forearm iron.  The upper tang is the only place where the wood to metal fit is tight.

VIRGINIA: Do we know how much this gun costs new?

ROGER:  According to the 34th Edition of the Blue Book of Gun Values, the MSRP for a new SC-3 was $16,732.

Finally, although Perazzi now offers a wide variety of models and combinations in Trap, Skeet and Sporting configurations, in all grades and prices, it is the MX8 that will be the definitive shotgun to best understand Daniele Perazzi, and it will always be this gun that is his legacy.

So, that winds up our episode today, thank you Virginia, and thank you viewers for watching, and if you enjoyed this episode, I invite you to subscribe to my YouTube channel and share with others.  And, I hope you join us next week for another episode of Special Guns with Roger Rule.  We will be looking at a couple of cool rifles.