Review: Franchi Diamond Over and Under

I don’t know if this is common knowledge, but over the years, Dick’s Sporting Goods (dickssportinggoods.com) has worked with gun manufacturers to provide models of weapons that are available exclusively through Dick’s Sporting Goods. The Franchi Diamond is an example of one of those weapons.

I’d purchased the weapon in October of 2010 and have since cycled over 3000 rounds through the gun, which makes me comfortable writing a “no BS” review of how the gun has performed.

How I Came to Purchase the Franchi Diamond; a “Dick’s Exclusive”

I had decided last year, since I had begun to get back into shooting sporting clays and after using one of my friend’s over and under, that I was going to look into an over and under for myself. After doing a fair amount of research online, and convincing my wife to let me make the purchase, I decided to stop by Dick’s Sporting Goods on my way home from work. Mywife and I agreed to a maximum spend of $1000 and, given my research, I knew I was basically limited to Mossberg, Savage or Stoeger, from a new model price point perspective. After scanning the rack at the store and mentally noting all of the aforementioned, save for the Mossberg, I come across a fairly ornate O/U with an “Imported by Benelli USA” tag on it and a sale sign stating that the gun was marked down from around $1600 dollars to about $1300. I had to check out this gun! Once in hand, I find the stampings “Franchi Diamond” on the barrel. OK….I’m confused. I knew that the current model of Franchi O/U was the Renaissance. I also knew that the Renaissance had different engraving, a different butt pad, a different forearm and a different stock. So, what’s the deal? The salesperson explains that the Diamond model is a “Dick’s exclusive” but can’t tell me any more than that. Now I’m asking myself, “Why would they do that?”…. ” Is this one of those cases where they contract out this specific model and make it with cheaper components?” I needed more info, but I really liked the feel and look of the gun, so I head for home and yet another online search session.

After several minutes of scanning different blogs, Franchiusa.com, and eventually Franchi.com, their Italian website, it appears that the Diamond is the European market Renaissance model with the forearm from the Veloce. I can’t confirm that, but look for yourself. Reviews on various blogs were mixed, as they often are, but seemingly more positive than negative. So I quickly come to the decision that I’m going to renegotiate my budget with my wife. After all, I’m getting an Italian made O/U with nice engraving and wood that fits well for about $300 off retail (even less since I had both a $25 coupon and scorecard points, which sounds pretty good to me).

Specifications

Gauge: 12
Trigger: Single
Chokes: M & F Type of Sights: Brass Bead
Length of Pull: 14-1/4”
Drop at Comb: 1-1/2”
Drop at Heel: 2-1/4”
Weight: 6.3 pounds
Barrel Length: 28″
Overall Length: 45 1/4″

The New Gun

The Franchi Diamond came in a hard-plastic take-down casewith a plastic choke wrench and space for four chokes, as well as room for various cleaning supplies. It’s a well made case that I haven’t had and problems with. The gun itself is simple to assemble and disassemble with one lever for removing the forearm. New, this gun was very tight. I had to seriously support the stock and apply a fair amount of strength to break the action. Gun grease only makes it slightly more movable.

The gun has an oiled walnut stock with a nice graining. The checkering on the stock and forearm is well done and fairly aggressive for good grip. The metal work on the gun is very attractive, with scrolling all around the receiver and in-laid gold pheasants; one each side. The block itself is jeweled. The top lever, which breaks the action is attractively cut out in a scroll design and the trigger is gold plated. The trigger has very little play in it and isn’t too heavy. I’d guess it’s at just over 5 lbs. of pull. The Diamond has a barrel selector integrated into the safety on the top of the receiver: left for the top barrel, right for the bottom barrel. The safety is the typical field type which resets itself when you open the breach. You have to slide it forward to disengage the safety. The barrels are highly polished with a silver field bead.

Overall the fit and finish of the gun is excellent. The only complaint I can

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make is that the wood is somewhat “soft”. After shooting several time, I noticed indentations in the stock near where my collar would rest against it. They were caused by the zipper in one of the vests I often wear. It’s less a complaint and more of an observation, as after extended use, I don’t think any of my firearms are still out-of-the-box flawless.

Living with the Franchi Diamond

After a few live-fire tests at one of the local sporting clays ranges, I had purchased a set of IC ported Pro Factor extended chokes (pro-factor-chokes.com) and took the gun to the patterning board. The gun has about a 40/60 pattern; 40 percent of the shot above the mid-line of the target and 60% below the mid-line. That pattern will be fine for normal use, though not optimal for some clay games.

To be honest, I’m not crazy about the ported chokes I had purchased. They’re really dirty and require soaking in solvent and hard brushing with a stiff nylon brush to get clean. I’m considering getting a set of non-ported skeet Brileys, given most of my shooting is done on the skeet field and given that I’m using Brileys in my other scatter guns. If I do end up purchasing the Brileys and they pattern any differently, I’ll post a comment with the new information.

At 6.3 lbs., the light weight of this shotgun makes it easy to carry all day. It also makes recoil a little heavy. Most of my time with this gun is spent at the sheet range, so I primarily use 1150 fps 7/8 ounce loads that I reload. I’m 6′ 1″ tall and come in at 250 lbs., so I’m not small, but the recoil isn’t a problem. I’ve easily shot 200 rounds in a session with out any discomfort from the recoil. For some, a lighter weight shotgun for clays or skeet is more difficult to swing smoothly, which is a problem I don’t have.

The Final Word

After over 3000 rounds through the Franchi, I can honestly say that the gun is of first-rate quality and has performed flawlessly. Cleaning is as easy (with the exception of the after-market ported chokes) as any other over and under I am aware of, and the tightness of the new gun wore off after firing about 500 rounds and the frequent application of gun grease to the block. I fully expect that this gun will continue to serve me well in my frequent skeet engagements and in field use. I’ve considered buying a Franchi O/U in 20 gauge for similar use, but I think I’m leaning towards an other manufacturer only because I’d prefer to add something different to my collection.

In the end, I’ve purchased a new Italian made shotgun for around $1300 which looks great, fits well, shoots well and goes BANG every time I pull the trigger. It ain’t a $15,000

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Rizzini, but it’s pretty damn nice. If you’re in the market and don’t want to completely break the bank, I’d recommend checking out the Franchi Diamond, new or used.

44 comments

  • Based on this article, I went to Dick’s to check this gun out. Not only is it a nice looking, well made Italian shotgun, but it was also on one hell of a sale. Marked down to $1050 from $1250, plus $100 off if you spend more then $800. The icing on the cake was a $200 mail in rebate (good until 12/31/11), so my net cost will be under $800. Excellent value buy. Many thanks to the author for his detailed review on this gun.

    • Glenn,

      I’m glad my write-up was helpful. I’ve cycled a few thousand more rounds through my Franchi since the review, and it remains to be trouble free and without any “loosening” that would cause concern. A great gun for my money!

      Jim

  • Having owned some very high quality O/U’s….This gun is amazing for the money. I recently purchsed one (higher model) and wow!!!! The ONLY thing i would even consider complaining is the lever. Its a bit too off-center. Thats comparing it to guns 5-9 times its cost. I would recomend the dark over the nickle because of it. If your considering a 101 or a citori….Check this one out as well.

  • Jim,

    Great article. I just bought this gun today at Dick’s for my son as a Christmas present. I was looking at, for price reasons, the Mossberg Silver series O/U’s and this seems to be a far superior gun. My question is the chokes that came with my purchase. In the top barrel is a Full Steel choke, bottom is a Imp choke. The 3rd (extra) choke is a Full Lead. My son will use this gun for skeet, and hunting, pheasant and turkey. I’m trying to figure the optimum set up for a pheasant hunt as we booked a hunt for next week week. Any thoughts? Thanks again for youe review.
    Pete

    • Pete,

      I’m glad the article was useful. As for chokes….funny I’ve just booked an upland bird hunt in January, I can help you out there.

      For skeet, I run Briley extended skeet (SK) chokes. They have a variety of different styles.

      Pheasant depends some on how the birds are flushing. Late season can mean flushing early and more distant shots. I’m going to start out with modified chokes in both barrels. I might end up changing one of the barrels to improved cylinder, if they’re flushing closer, or improved modified if they’re flushing further out.

      For turkey go with either full chokes, or you can by specific turkey chokes.

      I hope that helps, Pete. Have a great holiday.

  • I picked up a Diamond Elite yesterday on clearance. It’s my first. I think the only thing different from yours is the metal is blued on mine. I tested it briefly today and love it. Looking forward to breaking it in. Glad I read your article as was nervous about the tightness.

    • Hey Damz. Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed your first “session” with your Franchi. It will loosen up. Don’t worry. I was out again today shooting both clays and skeet. I have no idea where I am now with the number of rounds through this gun, but it breaks open easily and smoothly. It’s not loose at all, just smooth and requires no real effort to open and close.

      Jim

  • Thanks Jim for the in depth report. I’ve looked at many O/U’s and was narrowing it down to several. I stopped at Dicks today and looked at a Stoeger 3000, a Savage 512 and the Franchi Diamond. I was really impressed with the weight, fit and detailing, but the price of $749 had me rushing home to do some on line checking. Now most of my gun club fans are all telling me to buy a Browning Citori…sure I would, if I’d just won the lottery! I’ve also been considering the CZ-USA Wingshooter but I’d like to hold one before buying. But the price on that Franchi is drawing me in…

    • Glenn, you’re exactly where I was….Browning?…Guerini?….Beretta?, oh my! The prices are stiffer. I wanted something that I could cost justify at the time, and that would last for the duration. So far, so good! I love the gun. It’s not only a great clay gun, but it’s great in the field given it’s relatively light weight. I had it out the other week for upland birds – http://typicalshooter.com/upland-bird-hunting-for-everyone/ It’s not my money, so I’m not going to tell you what to do, but you won’t go wrong if you get the Diamond.

      • A couple of days after I wrote the above post, I did in fact buy the Franchi Diamond. Shortly after that I went used it for sporting clays and absolutely loved it, only problem was I determined I needed an aftermarket recoil pad. I also had to ship it back to Franchi because a corner of my forearm stock broke off. I hope it was just a bad piece of wood, but we’ll see how they repair it.

  • Good article Jim! In fact Too good! I was all set to buy a Veloce 28ga english stock and then became aware of the Diamond. Used Veloce is $1050 looks like new. Dicks Diamond is. $749.00 (20 GA) new, but is 130 miles away,too far to go just to fondle it.. I have been trying to get a weight on the Diamond 20 but guy at Dicks and ,Beretta and anyone else I have talked to can’t give me an answer. All Beretta would tell me is it has a metal receiver when asked steel or alloy. I know the Veloce is about +- 5.5 lbs. I was wondering if you knew weight of 20 Diamond ? Am hoping it’s not over 6lbs.

    • Hey, Scott. Man, I wish I was getting some kind of kick-back for all the business I’m sending Franchi’s or Dick’s way :-) I’m not sure what the newer 20 ga diamond weights. I did do a little research though. Franchi’s new 20 ga o/u, the Instinct is 5.3 lbs. The Falconet, which is only offered in Europe, is 5.8 lbs. Mine, which is a 12 ga, is 6.3. I couldn’t find the weight on the newer diamonds offered at Dicks, but I would guess that they’re 6 lbs or under given the other models above. Sorry I couldn’t find the exact answer.

  • Well Jim, I got the Guy at Dicks’ to go get a fish scale and weigh it and he’s sayin 6 1/8 to 6 1/4 lb. It’s more than I wanted, but then again I will be shooting some 3″ loads occasionally. Had the Veloce 28 checked today, is actually 5lbs3oz. Really about 1# less. I have reservations about the straight stock, however I have a Citori 12 that has one , and had a CZ Bobwhite 20 that had one, and shot that well. I should say these Franchi’s are a replacement for a CZ Ringneck. 28, which was right at 6lbs. I shoot that really well often 3 for 3 on woodcock.I just want to upgrade to better/ lighter. Did I mention a Franchi Highlander yet? LOL

    • Well..bought the Diamond this past week end, got it home and weighed it and it comes in at 6 3/4 lbs. I am bummed. Over 1/2lb more than the Cz 28, which is now gone. Other than that i really like it. Comes up really nice. Guess I need to see what kinda layaway plan I can get on the Veloce.

      • Scott, you can never have too many guns. I hope you enjoy the Diamond. I’ve seen Voloce’s at fair prices on Gun Broker and other online auctions. You might want to give that avenue a try.

    • Scott, thanks for the follow-up and good idea getting the guy at Dick’s to pull out the fish scale. Now we know the weight. You might want to hunt down the new Instinct. There’s a write-up in the latest American Rifleman. The use some aluminum on the gun to keep it under 6 lbs. I’m certainly curious. You should be able to get a 20 gauge for about $1000.

  • Jim,
    Great discussion. I’ve been looking for my first gun for trap (maybe later skeet)…after just starting to shoot. The Franchi Diamond elite I see at Dick’s really looked attractive for an O/U under $1000. A question I have is whether the recoil might be to severe for me…being smaller than you…and an old guy as well.

    • Hey, Roger. You’ve just hit on one of the downsides of a light weight o/u 12 gauge. The recoil is stout. If you reload, you can work up 3/4 or 7/8 ounce loads that’ll negate the “kick”. My 3/4 ounce loads feel like a light 20 gauge. If you don’t, you can generally find 1 ounce loads somewhere like Dick’s. If you’re really concerned, ask around your club, or where ever you shoot, and find someone that has a Franchi o/u. Minimally, find someone who has a 7’ish pound o/u 12 gauge and ask them if you can put a few rounds through it. I imagine that if you find someone, they’ll be more than happy to let you try their’s out.

  • GlenF or any others…What recoil pad did you purchase for your diamond? I just purchased the identical model to the review above, however I am still uncertain if it’s a Diamond or Diamond Elite. I’ve been trying to find out what stock is on it and whether or not they make a factory recoil pad that can be fitted without modification.

    I am also trying to find some extended choke tubes. I like the brileys but have no idea on the threads. Any help?

  • Hi Jim; Sorry I haven’t posted, but I lost all my bookmarks on the Android I was using and couldn’t figure out till now how to get back here. I have found some Franchi Field model Renaisance for $1,100.00 that are new, 28ga. The 20 Diamond now has grown on me, and I plan on taking it next week when the turkey season starts. Got a Gobble Stopper tube and #6 3″ Supreme loads for that…
    Since the last post I monied down on a Franchi 48 AL 28ga, to satisfy my desire for a sub 6 lb. gun. But I am still vigilant for a lightweight O/U in 28ga. so if one comes up before 90 are up I can jump ship.
    As far as DocF is asking, I am not aware of any pre-fit recoil pads for the Diamond, so permanent installation of an aftermarket pad is going to be a grind to fit operation. You might try the slip on variety that is neoprene and comes with several inserts to change/stack up. The problem I can see coming is your LOP. Even if you go the grind to fit path, you will probably have to cut some off the stock so the gun still fits you, as you said you were of smaller construction.
    As to whether you have an Elite or not, that’s an easy one. Elite’s have a case colored receiver, while the standard ones are silver. Also Elites were only made in 12ga.
    Now for the choke tubes…all the recent Franchi’s use the Beretta/Benelli MobilChoke system, except for the 20 ga Highlander Double Bbl.
    Hope this helps!

    • Scott,you’re dead on with the recoil pad. I slip on is your best bet, and you’re right about the choke as well. I’m running Brileys for skeet in all of my guns.

  • I have purchased the 12 ga. Diamond from Dicks for a whopping $710! It was on clearance and the last one on the shelf.

    I am shooting factory loads and am finding that there is a need for recoil pad, especially with the summer leagues coming up…

    Any recommendations for a recoil pad?

    • Greg,

      I’m sorry, but I don’t have a recommendation to give. I’ve kept the factory recoil pad on and haven’t tried anything else.

  • Victoria Fernandez

    Hello. My husband bought me the Diamond Elite 20 gauge for my birthday a few months ago. I have only been shooting for a year or so and can not figure out if there is something I am doing wrong. I normally shoot trap, but I would like to occasionally shoot skeet with the gun. When I shoot out of the top barrel then want to shoot out of the bottom barrel, I need to turn the safety on, switch the selection then turn the safety back off. Is there a way for this gun to do that on its own? Any other over under that I have shot has done this on its own.

    • Victoria: you shoot the top barrel, and the safety goes back on? There is definitely something wrong if that is the case. The Franchi Diamond is a field gun, as as such, the safety is automatically deployed when you open the breach. So, when you reload and close the breach again, you have to turn the safety off before shooting again. But, if I understand correctly about your situation, the safety is automatically deploying after firing a round, which should not be the case.

      Last year, I had dropped off my Franchi at a gun smith that comes by my club every year. For about $100, he disabled the automatic safety. I’m confident in my safe handling of firearms, and it’s one less step in my skeet routine to think about(disabling the safety). My point is that you can probably get the problem fixed and the auto safety disabled for around $100. Otherwise, I’d contact Franchi to see how they would like to handle it.

  • Enjoyed the article on the Franchi Diamond O/U. I bought my Franchi Diamond 20 gage, 26″ barrels in 2009 and have enjoyed shooting the gun. I’m a dove hunter and after shooting a Winchester 101, 12 ga for many years I wanted a smaller gage that would offer more of a challenge and be lighter in the field. The Diamond has not disappointed. My brother who has the Diamond 12 and 20 gage O/U’s recommended I look at the Diamond as he thought it was a lot of gun for the money. He was so right. In 2009 the going price was $800 at Dicks and they had a sale with a $100’s off. So I got a great gun at a great price. I’ve read several posts on the Franchi Diamond from back in 2006 -2008 and there were folks who had problems. What ever those problems were they seem to be fixed now. I don’t use a recoil pad and shoot a heavy dove load and the recoil is no problem and I’m in my 60’s.

  • I am looking slightly used at at 2007 model Diamond Elite. Most of the comments I see about the Diamond Elite were made during late 2011. Anyone know about the difference between the 2011 model and earlier ones like 2007? From the pictures they look identical.

  • I bought my Franchi Diamond 12 ga. at Dick’s 3.5 years ago. I had the clerk open several new-in-box until I found a very nicely grained stock and no rust (some had some rust spots). I have used it for goose, but mostly for sporting clays. After well over 1,000 rounds and good care, “she” has performed very well and opens smoothly, but is certainly not loose. I did have a pad installed to extend the stock, about 1″. I am pleased and will look for a 20 ga. for my wife (good excuse, eh?).

  • I just bought a diamond elite from dicks and the price was great a $500 off the regular price, a $75 and a 10% discount clearance sale because they are moving.

  • Between the review and several comments, it seems “the regular price” can be $800 – $1600. What did you pay?

    • I just got a steal last night that I could not pass up. Our local Dicks had a Franchi Diamond 20 ga with 26″ barrels. Marked down to $599 and after applying for a Dicks card, got another 10% off. $569 out the door. It did have some marks in the stock, but my daughter did not care. I told her it is easier to have a few marks right from the start vs putting the first ones in yourself.

    • Back when I got mine, I paid $1200 and change.

  • Neal, I paid $699.00 including 7% sale tax on my 12 ga franchi diamond elite. From dicks at south hills pittsburgh,pa.

  • Bought my 20ga. Diamond on 11/18 at Dick’s for $572 out the door which included the 8% tax. It weighed in at 6 lbs. 12 ozs. Contrary to what a rep. at Franchi told me, all metal parts are steel including the receiver, thus the weight. I much prefer an O/U with a steel receiver like my two “B” guns vs. the softer aluminum alloy on the rest of the Franchi line. Now I just have to get the time to shoot it!

  • It is not the gun, it!s the person that!s holding it , for the bucks its a good buy

  • I purchased a Franchi Diamond Grade, 20 gauge December 2009. It was on sale at $800 down from $900.
    My brother who owns both a Franchi Diamond 12 and 20 put me on the gun. I have never been disappointed. I hunt doves quiet a bit, so it gets a work out. Additionally I have hunted quail in Missouri with it and it has performed flawlessly. Great gun at a great price. I would not hesitate to recommend a Franchi to anyone.

  • Update, see above. Bought mine a year ago. After a slow start finally got shooting. Lately I’ve been shooting sporting clays twice a month. The gun did loosen up. I have my briley extended chokes coming any day I the mail and can’t wait to get out again. Great gun. Going to try pheasant hunting next month.

  • 20130201

    Jim, I picked this little gun up at Dicks at $739.00 and $10.00 off coupon but that went for the background check.

    ANYWAY – gosh I have been looking for a group that just might be able to help me. I love my Diamond but I hate the Ejectors!

    Is there any specific action I can use to disable the ejectors and simply use the extractors without a gun smith or risk damage ?

    I would love to hear from anyone on this. Thanks you all. //ji

    John – Salem, Oregon

    • John, The answer to you question is beyond my knowledge of o/u shotguns, I’ve gotten used to just grabbing the shells when I break the barrel open. I’d see your local gun smith for help.

  • FOLLOW UP – I may have not mentioned that I called
    FRANCHI/Benelli and they are really not that into discussing this firearm, in fact they refused to let me register the product for warranty on line so I figured that a discussion of changing ejection to extraction was out of the question. //ji

    John – Salem, Oregon

  • Thanks to all for the great thread on the Diamond Elite! You helped me make my decision. I saw a 12 with 26″ barrels in Myrtle Beach and regretted passing it by because of the short barrels. Soooo… I spent a Saturday calling every Dick’s in NC and SC with a commitment to find and buy one. I found one about a half hour away and it is a beauty. Similar rust spots as some have mentioned, but stock is exceptional and the rust cleaned up nicely with a little steel wool.

    Price? $675 plus tax, after sale price and discounts with the Dick’s Master Card.

    Can’t wait to shoot it!

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