Becky McKenzie is smitten with the looks and handling of this week’s Gun of the Week, the Caesar Guerini Invictus I Ascent.
I’ll admit I’ve not been a massive fan of Caesar Guerini, but that’s only because I have only ever tried a couple of early models. That was around eight years ago, and when I tested those I felt they produced quite a lot of perceived recoil. At the time, however, I also tried a 28 gauge Caesar Guerini, which I thought was a very nice gun indeed.
So I felt that I hadn’t really given the brand a chance – and now I’m getting the opportunity to do a few more gun reviews, I thought it was high time to give the Caesar Guerini a proper test. Orston Shooting Ground gave me the chance to try a Caesar Guerini Invictus I Ascent in 12 gauge.
Orston is a great ground, one of the best in the country. I have shot there for many years, and was keen to get back to test the Invictus. This one came with 32in barrels and an adjustable comb.
My first thoughts on looking at the Invictus Ascent were that it’s a rather good looking gun, with some simple but attractive laser engraving on the action and trigger guard. It’s quite delicate, nothing too fancy or ‘in your face’. It has a 70mm chamber, and is magnum steel shot proofed, which I am sure is important, as we are heading towards lead being phased out.
The top rib is tapered, which I like, from 10mm to 8mm. This one is 10mm high, unlike the flat rib on my Krieghoff that I’ve been shooting for a couple of years now.
I’m not too keen on wide ribs, as I find that they seem to take my eye off the clay and drag it back to the barrel – when you should always be watching the target of course. Still, I found the slightly higher rib of the Guerini didn’t affect the way it shot, and it didn’t distract me in any way when looking for the clay.
The manufacturers say this gun is designed to shoot 50/50 – in other words with the pattern evenly spread 50% below and 50% above the point of aim. I didn’t pattern plate the gun, but having shot it I can vouch for the fact it shot where I was looking – I could tell from the breaks that the clays were dead centre of the pattern.
Caesar Guerini Invictus I Ascent – specifications
Barrels: 30in or 32in
Chambers: 70mm (2 ¾ in)
Rib: Tapered 10mm-8mm
Side ribs: Ventilated
Safety: Non-auto, selective
Weight: 3.9kg (8lb 9 ½ oz)
Comb: DTS adjustable system
Stock length: 377mm (14.84 ins)
Chokes: Maxis Competition multichokes
Adjust to suit
This model comes with a DTS adjustable comb, with the letters standing for Dynamic Tuning System. That’s basically just a posh name for an adjustable comb but, that said, this is a really nice piece of kit.
It is adjustable up and down, left and right, like most adjustable combs, but this one has a good, solid, feel and look about it. With the DTS system, you can also get barrel weights, and a different kinetic recoil system, to ‘tune’ the gun to your needs.
On collecting my demo gun I adjusted the comb to fit myself. This is never an easy task, as I don’t mount the gun so well when I’m just standing in a shop – it just doesn’t feel natural to me. I got it as close as I could get, then went out onto the shooting range to test the gun.
When I’m shooting a gun for the first time and will need to make minor adjustments, it’s best to start on a really easy target. That way you can see where the gun fits, or doesn’t. This time though, it was first time lucky; I had managed to set the stock correctly.
I have a custom stock on my own gun, so it was always going to feel different going back to a standard, ‘one size fits all’ type of stock. This one felt a bit long for me. The Guerini’s stock is around 377mm in length, or just under 15 inches, including the rubber butt pad. The wood was really good quality, and nice to look at.
I’ve noticed over the years that Caesar Guerini always put quality walnut on their guns, while on some other brands, the stock can look rather basic. I also noticed that the comb raiser on the stock is typical Italian style, which tends to be quite thick.
How did it shoot?
Shooting this Invictus for the first time was a pleasant surprise. The perceived recoil was much lower than I expected. Selecting an easy target to get the feel of it, I immediately noticed the excellent pattern, resulting in good kills of the target, produced by the 32 inch barrels with their Maxis Competition chokes in half and three-quarters.
I do like a gun that shuts cleanly and crisply, without a cheap ‘clanging’ sound – I’m sure you’ll know what I mean. The Guerini met my expectations in that area, which may be due to the Invictus System.
This system was redesigned to completely change the way the barrel locks onto the action, making the whole thing much stronger and more durable. The locking systems on the Guerini are modular, using a double locking mechanism similar to a Boss.
Over the years Caesar Guerini have also improved the sear geometry in the inertia trigger mechanism. This gun has an adjustable trigger, which is useful for us shorter folk with smaller hands – the trigger can be adjusted back or forward to suit your individual requirements.
It has a non-auto safety catch, which is important in a Sporting competition gun. You certainly don’t want to be pushing forward the safety button for every shot.
The only slight down side for me with this gun was that the stock is a little too wide, and it bumped my face a bit – but this is just down to my shape, and size, and for someone else it could be just right.
I also felt that the grip might be quite large for some shooters, but again you’d need to try it for yourself. Bear in mind I’m coming from a custom stock, so any gun is going to feel different to me.
Straight out of the box the Guerini is reasonably balanced, but if you want to fine-tune the balance, the DTS system makes that possible with adjustable barrel weights. I found that the gun moved smoothly, and quite quickly. From my point of view, it has a nice sight picture too.
I could clearly see the clays with the 10mm high rib. As I started to get into the tougher clays, the Invictus I Ascent really started to shine. I enjoyed the speed and handling of this gun.
The trigger pull was just slightly heavier than my own personal gun, but I soon forgot about that! The kills I was getting were really quite impressive. My cartridge choice is RC4 in 24g, which do pattern tight, but through these barrels a lot of the clays disappeared in a puff of smoke.
The market for this gun is predominantly the Sporting or Fitasc competition shooter. It comes with a ten-year mechanical warranty, and with build quality like this it should last you a lifetime.
All in all I was impressed with this gun. After a bad experience years ago, when I had seven bells knocked out of me, I have to admit I’ve been turning my nose up at Caesar Guerini. I approached this Invictus I with an open mind – and I rather liked it.
It looks good, costs around 4½ grand new, it’s not too heavy but not so light that it doesn’t absorb recoil, it moves lovely and patterns great. Well done Caesar Guerini, you have me swayed to liking these guns!
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