Franchi claims the average female shotgunner stands 5 feet 4 inches tall and sports 28-inch arms. The average male shotgunner is 5 feet 9 inches tall, with 33-inch arms. I land somewhere in between those two averages, and so it was with great interest that I accepted an assignment to test Franchi’s two guns made especially for women—the Instinct Catalyst and the Affinity Catalyst.
Introduced last year at SHOT Show 2016, these guns are Franchi’s answer, or some might write “gift,” to women who want guns tailored to their needs.
Franchi Instinct Catalyst Let’s just put this out there as a blanket statement: Women love anything Italian—if it’s in good taste. Franchi waltzed into the women’s shotgun market, which typically demands at least three Grover Cleveland bills for a purchase, with this 12-gauge over/under designed with a drop, cast, pitch, length-of-pull and grip length attuned to the average woman shotgunner’s body size.
As I opened the shipping box at my local FFL’s shop, I was struck by the complement between the shotgun’s walnut and metal. The A-Grade satin walnut looks attractive next to the color case-hardened receiver and blued barrel. Add the bling of the gold-plated trigger, and you have a very handsome gun.
When I brought the Instinct Catalyst to my shoulder I could immediately feel that the gun was a good fit to me. No need to break out the ¼-inch recoil pad spacer to adjust for my length of pull. I hit a few and missed a few. Then, I took it home to my range to shoot some cross-overs and again, I liked the balance of it and the overall swing-ability of the gun.
• Type: Over/under shotgun • Gauge/Chamber:12 gauge for 2 ¾- and 3-inch shells • Barrel: 28”; ventilated top rib; threaded for choke tubes • Sights: Red fiber optic front bead • Safety:Tang-mounted manual with barrel selector • Trigger:Single, mechanical • Trigger Pull: Bottom barrel 6.5 pounds, top barrel 6.3 pounds • Stock:A-Grade satin walnut • Metal finish: Gloss blued • Overall Length:45” • Weight:9 pounds • Accessories:3 choke tubes (IC, M, F), wrench • Length of Pull: 13-7/8” • Drop at Heel: 2-1/4″ • Drop at Comb: 1-1/4" • Additional features: Auto ejectors, barrel selector, auto safety, 1/4-inch recoil pad spacer • Optional features: Extended choke tubes (C, IC, pass, M, IM, decoy, F and XFT) and also, C, M and F choke tubes • MSRP:$1599
Franchi Affinity Catalyst This one also comes from good bloodlines. Built on the genetics of Franchi’s Affinity, the semi-auto is like a beautiful little sister—still tough enough to take afield, but sporting that polished A-Grade satin walnut finish with a black anodized receiver and blued barrel. The gold trigger completes the look of class in this gun.
The Affinity comes with Franchi’s Inertia-Driven System with its three primary parts: bolt body, inertia spring and rotating bolt head. Believe me, I’ve had to disassemble and clean some gas-driven systems here lately and this one should be a snap compared to those. Also, this type of system weighs less than a gas-driven type, and it also has no springs, gas cylinders or action bar linkages under the forend that add weight and affect balance. Considering that I will be wearing a heavy jacket while duck hunting, I’m sure the recoil from shooting a shotgun with this type of system will not bother me.
Frankly, for wingshooting I like the Affinity better than the Instinct. For me, it feels more like an extension of my arm, and during practice I hit way more than I missed with it. I can hardly wait to take it duck hunting in Arkansas this winter.
• Type:Semi-auto shotgun • Gauge/Chamber:12 gauge for 2 ¾- and 3-inch shells • Barrel:28"; ventilated top and side ribs; threaded for choke tubes • Sights: Fiber optic red-bar front sight • Safety:Cross bolt • Trigger:Single, mechanical • Trigger pull: 5.6 pounds • Stock:A-Grade satin walnut • Metal Finish: Matte black • Overall Length:45” • Weight:6 pounds • Accessories:3 choke tubes (IC, M, F), wrench • Length of Pull: 13-7/8” • Drop at Heel: 2-1/4 ″ • Drop at Comb: 1-1/4" • Magazine Capacity: 4+1 • Additional features: Soft recoil pad, shim kit • Optional features: TSA recoil pads, extended choke tubes (C, IC, pass, M, IM, decoy, F and XFT) • MSRP:$999