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).
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 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 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 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.