The Franchi Instinct Sideplate 28 — A Over/Under Sub-Gauge Win

Franchi’s latest over/under creation — the Instinct Sideplate 28 — is a shotgun win that’s easy on the eyes, light on the shoulder, and built like a tank.

by Jace Bauserman

Just out of high school, I fancied myself a trap and skeet shooter. I wasn’t too bad. I held my own with the “club” regulars for two months with my pump-action 870 Remington with a modified choke. 

Then, one day, another shooter at the club told me, “Dude, you shoot pretty good. Shoot a round with my Browning Citori.” 

The shotgun was a stunner, and I’d never triggered an over/under before, so I jumped at the offer. I shot a perfect 25 X skeet round, which I’d never done before. 

Since that time, I’ve owned a few over/under shotguns. Though not ultra-practical for my waterfowl missions, which take up most of my winter, I shoot over/under shotguns more accurately than any other build.

She’s A Beaut, Clark! 

I’m a Franchi fan. I smashed a tom with the Affinity 3.5 Turkey Elite this past spring. Before that, in December’s deep winter, I hammered two limits of Canada geese with the Affinity 3.5 Cerakote. The Affinity 3.5 was a shooter.  It wasn’t mine — gun swaps are common with my goose crew — but I will add the shotgun to my waterfowl collection.

My first look at Franchi’s all-new Instinct Sideplate model #41375 took my breath. I’m hard on gear, especially shotguns. I lifted the sleek, slim, and oh-so-sexy over/under from its included orange hard  case, turned to my wife, and said, “This gun is too nice for me.” 

The shotgun looks like it belongs in Cabela’s Gun Library. My eyes couldn’t help but drift to the receiver. The color-casehardened steel gives the gun an old-school European look that I love. Gold inlays of woodcock and a chukar are showcased on each side of the receiver. The trigger is gold-plated, and the AA-grade Prince of Wales walnut stock with checkering is beautiful.

Available in 12-, 20-, and 28-gauge, the model #41375 is chambered in 28 gauge. The forend, also AA-grade walnut, is checkered and slims toward the front to promote excellent feel and balance. A vented rub runs along the top of the 28-inch barrel, and Franchi includes extended chokes in sizes of Improved Cylinder, Cylinder, Modified, Improved Modified, and Full. At the end of the barrel is a red fiber optic sight. 

Why A 28-Gauge?

Before we dive into how well this elegant shotgun shoots, I want to tackle the Why shoot a 28-gauge question. 

Sub-gauge shotguns are increasing in popularity. Of all sub-gauges (anything smaller than a 12-gauge bore), the 28 is my favorite. 

A 28-gauge makes you a better shot because you have fewer pellets in the air, and the gauge is easy on the shoulder. I love busting clays with a 28, but it’s also my go-to dove caliber, and when I’m hunting ducks over decoys by myself and not competing with a blind full of 12 gauges, I yield a 28. 

My wife and 12-year-old son also prefer the 28. Last season, my son shot 100 rounds of Federal dove loads and was ready to hit the field again the next day. Recoil isn’t fun, especially for a young, small-framed shooter. A 28 produces very little felt recoil if built correctly. 

Don’t overlook the 28 if you’re in the market for a sub-gauge.

Time To Go Boom

Shotgun operation is simple, with the horizontal barrel selector set on the tang-mounted safety. When shooting an over/under, I prefer to fire the top barrel first, and since dove season starts on September 1, I opted for the Improved Cylinder choke in the top barrel and Modified choke in the bottom barrel. I pushed the barrel selector switch to the left, which exposed a pair of dots, meaning the top barrel fires first. I also must dote on the build of the break-open lever. It’s airy, engraved, and fits the thumb well.

The Franchi recoil pad welds into the shoulder, and the cheek finds the stock instantly. You can’t beat how a well-crafted over/under throws down, and the balance and swing of this 6.1-pound featherweight are second to none. 

My first shot was on a pair of side-passing clays. Using Federal’s 1-ounce Game Loads in #7-1/2, I puffed the first clay and cracked the second, which I let drift away before pulling the trigger. The felt recoil was nearly zero, and when I slid the brake lever to the left, the Sideplate spoke to me. I love the distinct click the dual auto ejectors make when the over/under breaks open. The hulls shoot into the air and clear the barrels quickly for rapid reloading. 

Without the steep price of 28-gauge ammo, my wife and kids would’ve smashed hundreds of clay targets. Instead, we tested 125 rounds, trying each choke at various distances, and patterned the full choke on paper. I plan to take down a fall turkey with this sweet little shooter. 

Dove season starts in a few days, and I plan to give the gun a thorough field test, which I will add to this article. 

Final Thoughts

This shotgun is beautiful in design, remarkably well-built, and easy on the shoulder. Naturally, a gun this fine will cost some greenbacks, but I can see myself paying the cash and adding one more 28-gauge shotgun to my collection. This is one of the smoothest start-to-finish shotguns I have ever shouldered. 

Franchi Instinct Sideplate 28-Gauge Specifications:

  • Stock Finish: AA-Grade Satin Walnut
  • Receiver Finish: Engraved Color Cased Hardened
  • Barrel Finish: Blued, Gloss
  • Gauge: 28
  • Barrel Length: 28 in.
  • Grip: Prince of Whales Stock
  • Size: Standard
  • Extended Chokes: IC, C, M, IM, F
  • Chambered For: 2-3/4- & 3 in.
  • Sight: Fiber-optic red front bar
  • Action: Over/Under
  • Length of Pull: 14-1/4 in.
  • Drop at Heel: 2 in.
  • Drop at Comb: 1-1/2 in.
  • Overall Length: 46.25 in.
  • Weight: 6.1 lbs.
  • MSRP: $2,399

 

 

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