Franchi Affinity 20 Gauge Autoloader Review

As mentioned in the 12 gauge Affinity coverage, the published specs for Franchi's new Affinity autoloading line is:

Magazine Capacity: 4+1 Chokes: IC,M,F and wrench
Length of Pull: 14.25" Drop at Heel: Adjustable 2-2.5" Drop at Comb: 1.5" Type of Sights: Fiber optic red-bar front sight
Minimum recommended load: 3-dram, 1-1/8 ounce; 20-Gauge 7/8 ounce, 1275 FPS.

I have no idea where Franchi cooked up the oddball 1275 fps 7/8 oz. 20 gauge load minimum: I'm not sure it even exists. Your standard 20 gauge 7/8 oz. target load, like a Federal Gold Medal, is a 1200 fps load and the Franchi cycles them perfectly.

This 26 inch 20 gauge has the about the same overall length as its 12 gauge bigger brother of 47-1/4 inches. Franchi publishes the weight of this 20 gauge at 5.6 lbs. The test gun is the Realtree Max-4 camo version, retailing at $950 with a street price of close to one hundred dollars less. The matte version knocks $100 off of MSRP.

Just like the 12 gauge, the trigger of this Affinity 20 breaks right at 4-1/2 pounds, very good for a field autoloader and better than most. The weight of the gun is misrepresented. The Affinity 20 actually weighs 6 lbs. on the nose, unloaded, not the claimed 5.6 lbs. Still, it is a light, responsive 20 gauge and knocks a full pound off its 12 gauge counterpart.

Assembly was easy, but there was a very minor quality control problem. There is a simple metal plug that protrudes from the forearm cap, that serves as a sling swivel stud. It is supposed to be retained in that cap by a little external retaining ring. Someone forgot to install the retaining ring on the example shotgun, so removing the cap it falls to the ground.

Though the Affinity 20 that I shot in Las Vegas loaded easy enough, the test gun retains the annoying thumb-busting loading of the Benelli M2. After shoving a dozen shells into the magazine past the nasty shell-stop, you'll have a sore thumb. I sure did. Though the folks at Franchi / Benelli are well aware of the situation, our Italian friends apparently just don't care. It is such an obvious and irritating issue, you'd think they would fix it by now, but it seems they can't be bothered to. It is reason enough for some people not to buy this shotgun. Note that the 12 gauge Affinity does not have this obnoxious problem.

To be fair, the thumb-busting level has to do with the rim diameter of the specific shotshell. While some Fiocchi 1 oz. loads were unbearably stiff to load, the 1 oz. Federal loads to cite but one example were markedly easier to load. As far as I'm concerned, this is a legitimate issue. Of the many dozens of 20 gauge repeaters I've tested and owned, none of them are as remotely as hard on your thumb as the Benelli M2 and now, the Franchi Affinity. It is a shame, as it detracts from what is otherwise a superb shotgun and a terrific value. That's part of the reason it stands out so much. The finish, the trigger, the safety, the overall build quality of the overall shotgun is so good it makes the poor magazine loading really stand out, not in a good way.


This very brief slow motion video of the Affinity 20 shows off its brisk, positive ejection.

The 20 gauge repeater has been largely ignored over the last several years, with a glut of 12 gauge autos, but not much for 20 gauge fans to cheer about. That makes the affordable 20 gauge Affinity all the more interesting. It is a responsible, easy to shoulder, well-balanced shotgun and the end of a long day chasing wild pheasants, the full pound it saves you over the many 7 lb. class 12 gauges may well feel like it is fifty pounds lighter to you. Some people feel that a 7 lb. shotgun is 100 pounds too heavy, so that's all personal preference.

Like the 12 gauge, you get three flush-fitting Mobil chokes and a wrench. Adjustment shims are included if you need them; we didn't. You also get a bottle of Franchi gun oil and a 7 year warranty.

The 20 gauge Affinity comes in any barrel length you want, as long as it is 26 inch. That makes some sense, as one of the ways to reduce street price on a shotgun model is to limit the number of configurations available. Aside from the caveat of the harsh loading into the magazine, this 20 gauge is easy to recommend and very easy to hit with.


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Copyright February, 2012 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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