A Celebration of History, Craftmanship, and Knowledge
A working gun can be plain, but some have a little style and flair to make them unique. A well-balanced, reliable shotgun is worth its weight in fowl for many of us. However, some gunmakers can produce a work of art with custom wood, engraving, and features that make the firearm seem fictional.
Gun making is both an art and a science. I shared a hunting camp with members of a gunmakers guild. The conversation was at a level that made me nervous, like a kindergarten student about to enter university. The culture in the minds that sat around the table filled the air as the gunmakers described the work they loved in detail.
North America has a firearm history that changed the way of life for early settlers and comrades in arms. However, the fine art of gun making from other parts of the world is challenging to comprehend.
Italian gunmakers have a history the rest of the world could never compete with. The gunmaker’s craft is an inner expression from years of hands-on training and paying attention to those who broke ground ahead of them.
Shotgun aficionados not only appreciate a fine firearm but dream of matched sets with superior quality. Benelli drew an influential crowd at the Safari Club International (SCI) convention in Las Vegas in January 2022. The exclusive invitation-only event unveiled the Benelli Magnifico Set of Five.
Benelli is renowned for producing shotguns that fit—come to shoulder quickly, swing naturally, and point intuitively. The company’s semi-auto shotguns established market authority with its Inertia Driven system. The magic is in the simplicity, consistency, reliability, and intuitive design that breaks down and reassembles quickly.
The teaser for the unveiling stated, “At Benelli, forward-thinking never stops. But sometimes “forward” demands a look back…and that can lead to interesting questions. Benelli designers posed themselves one such question by asking, ‘How would the world’s most advanced semi-auto shotgun look if reimagined as an interpretation of a classical Italian custom?’ In other words, a melding of Old-World firearm artistry paired with 21st-century design manufacturing.”
If you’re a shotgun guru, Benelli grabbed your attention and left you wanting to see the results of the tease, the genesis of the Benelli Magnifico Set of Five.
Benelli described the unique set of shotguns as, “The Benelli Magnifico Set of Five stands as unique creations that draw on the rich tapestry of Italy’s culture, innovation, and the renowned craftsmanship born of the country’s unparalleled artisan heritage. The result is a masterfully creative achievement—functional art rendered in wood and metal. Classical forms long expressed by artists through the Golden Ratio are represented in the trigger guard’s flowing lines, gracefully curved receivers hint at the courtyard arches of the Ducal Palace in Urbino. From muzzle to stock, Italy’s artisan gunmaker craft reaches the apex of classical style and contemporary engineering in the Set of Five.”
History & Heritage
The Set of Five pays homage to the driven hunt reserved for the European noble class. The event was always more than a hunt or a show. It was a celebration of the hunt, the equipment, and the finest things in life that few could partake.
The Magnifico Set of Five
The Magnifico Set of Five is a unique and custom set of semi-auto shotguns. There are two chambered in 12-gauge, two in 20-gauge, and one in 28-gauge—all built with Benelli’s commitment to quality manufacturing, innovation, product refinement, and a substantial historical influence. The Set of Five is also an expression of Benelli’s Italian heritage and artisan culture to celebrate extravagant sporting arms.
The best honored gun-making traditions stretch back through the Italian Renaissance era. The Benelli Set of Five brought together Italy’s leading designers and the historical art of crafting world-class shotguns. Every designer and gunmaker was allowed to add personal nuances to ensure the interpretation of a classical design could marry with the technical advancement of the modern shotgun. The result is more an expression of craftsmanship and art than anything.
Attention to Detail
Benelli’s Inertia Driven system is at the heart of each gun, which delivers reliable cycling with any load, clean operation, and a soft, refined recoil.
The engraving was taken to a new level with the direction of Giovanni Steduto and Valerio Peli, master engravers from Creative Art Laboratorio Incisioni, one of today’s most renowned firearm engraving studios. The two artisans hand-engraved each Set of Five receivers with inspirational scrollwork and modern interpretations of classical hunting scenes.
The goal was simple. The 12-gauge, 20-gauge, and 28-gauge models receive distinctive, unique engravings with scenes aligned with the individual gun’s theme. Waterfowl and wetland settings grace the 12-gauge shotguns with different portrayals on both sides of the receiver. The 20-gauge models are adorned with scenes of an upland hunt with bird dogs and flushing pheasants. The 28-gauge is a pictorial essay of pointers and quail. The scenes were highlighted with oak leaf and acorn motifs, accentuated with embossed rose gold on the acorns and sky elements.
Armi Fratelli Piotti, a renowned establishment with master gun artisans from northern Italy, created the stock and fitment work for the five masterpieces. The Piotti brothers chose the finest walnut billets, hand-fashioning the raw wood to what Benelli describes as “jewel-like perfection (while) seamlessly integrating the metalwork.”
The Set of Five required a unique case to keep up with the gunmakers’ skill and craft. Benelli chose Oscar Maschera to craft a one-of-a-kind handmade leather case. A Renaissance art theme was incorporated into a trifold case, constructed of a wooden frame wrapped in premium vegetable-tanned full-grain leather. Detailed hand-stitching and hardware composed of brass and brass-plated steel completed the case as a work of art. The entire Set of Five fits securely in the case with gauge-specific care sets containing a polished, chrome-plated steel oil bottle, snap cap, and barrel cleaning kit. Foldaway legs are built into the case to facilitate access and protect the leather bottom.
The final touches were integrated into the case lid with an engraving of Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci—the personification of Renaissance expression. To bring the dream together, Benelli said, “To join Italian artistry across the centuries, the unpublished novella Among forests and fields by Umberto Piersanti, 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature nominee, is included in a hand-stitched leather-bound cover.”
The Benelli Magnifico Set of Five project celebrates the history of gun-making and aims to further SCI’s important advocacy work. This luxurious, one-of-a-kind shotgun set will be sold, and Benelli will donate $200,000 to SCI, helping to fund the organization’s wildlife conservation and humanitarian service efforts, as well as the American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS) and the International Wildlife Museum.