One might describe the FABARM XLR5 Black Velocity as fabulous. In this day of specialized shotguns for waterfowl, upland and turkey hunting, the XLR5 Velocity is designed specifically for shooting sporting clays, and as such is available in both right- and left-hand models with adjustable and non-adjustable ribs.
Starting with the barrel, this semi-automatic shotgun is chambered solely for 2¾-inch shells and its gas system is tuned to positively cycle 7/8- to 11/8-ounce target loads. It is a common misconception that it is the payload of shot that governs positive cycling in a gas-operated shotgun. It is not; rather, it is the pressure of the gas at the gas ports and how much of that pressure is imparted to the gas system that determines how well a shotgun will cycle different loads. The XLR5 isn’t designed to shoot the full spectrum of 12-gauge shells; it’s solely for clays. The heavy, stainless-steel gas piston, coupled with oversize gas ports, provides the sufficient inertia to move the massive transfer block, which is attached to the heavy action bars that carry the bolt. When you add up all of these features it’s easy to see why this gun reliably cycled a mix of 1-ounce target loads from several manufacturers.
All XRL5 barrels use FABARM’s Tribore HP technology that begins at the chamber mouth with a very long forcing cone leading to the cylindrical portion of the barrel, which is bored to 0.740 inches (18.8 mm), 15 thousandths wider than the standard 0.725-inch, 12-gauge bore. Nearing the choke, the barrel begins an 8-inch taper to the screw-in choke tubes. FABARM uses a parabolic profile for its choke tubes that continue the taper to the actual choke constriction. This style of barrel boring enhances patterning by cutting down on shot deformation as it provides a more gentle path through the barrel. The choke tubes are numbered from cylinder to 10. We shot the number 5 tube, which measured 0.015 inches of constriction, or light modified, a choke favored by many sporting clay shooters. The average of 10 patterns shot at 40 yards with Federal’s Estate loads containing 1 ounce of No. 8 shot was 47.5 percent, right where light modified should fall, just shy of midway between improved cylinder (45) and modified choke (55) percentages.
The test gun had a traditional rib that was solidly affixed to the barrel. As an additional feature, FABARM offers the XLE5 with an adjustable rib that allows the shooter to fine tune the shot impact to his own particular sight picture. Both rib systems join a 4-inch extension on the top of the receiver that further lengthens the sighting plane.
The test XLR5 weighed 8 pounds, 9.6 ounces. The XLR5’s center of gravity is quite far forward-6-inches forward of the trigger-and the gun has a muzzle-heavy feel. When compared to other sporting shotguns of similar weight using Moment of Inertia calculations-an empirical number for comparison against other shotguns-the XLR5 has a balance ratio of 12.07 while a Perazzi MX8 measures 11.34 and a Beretta DT 10 11.38. The smaller the number, the less effort is needed to move the gun in a lateral plane. However, many top clay-target shots prefer a slightly muzzle-heavy feel as once in motion, guns so balanced tend to slow less easily than a gun with a light muzzle.
The buttstock is a deep Monte Carlo-style with an adjustable comb that enables the shooter to tweak it for drop and cast using the supplied Allen wrenches. The sporting-style recoil pad is thick and the pistol grip is sharply radiused. The fore-end is quite long to accommodate the gas system and the bottom of the fore-end has a 5-inch-long checkered section located an inch from the breech end to add more purchase where the shooter’s hand naturally comes to rest. The buttstock and fore-end are of select Turkish walnut that is oil-finished in a blond color, and both are decorated with a practical blend of laser checkering and carving; not really traditional, but combined they provide a good firm grip. The bluing on the barrel is dark matte black, and the aluminum receiver is anodized matte black. The synthetic trigger guard’s color matches that of the receiver. The overall lines are rather sleek.
The action is the typical Italian-style with a two-piece carrier also used by Beretta and Benelli. To lock the gun open, a small button on the left side of the trigger guard is pushed away from the guard, tripping the carrier and permitting the bolt to lock in the open position. Pulling the bolt to the rear is easy with the extended bolt handle that protrudes a full inch. The bolt release is on the left side of the action, and with its 9/16-inch wide head, is easy to locate and push to close the bolt. The trigger-blocking safety is at the rear of the trigger guard. The fore-end/magazine cap will accept accessory weights to adjust the forward balance to individual tastes. We found the gun performed very well right out of the box, with practice scores closely matching the test shooter’s average. There were no malfunctions through several hundred shots.
We also found recoil to be very mild with a variety of loads, as it should be with a near 9-pound gun using a tuned gas system. All in all, the FABARM XLR5 Velocity sporter represents a step forward in the shooter’s collection of guns for a particular job, and this shotgun truly gets the job done.