Of the custom gunmakers in the world the name of F.lli Piotti is perhaps less well known than the likes of English makers such as Purdey, Holland & Holland or Rigby. Yet Fratelli Piotti make some of the most outstanding hand made guns and rifles in the world. F.lli Piotti has not been in business for as long as the great names of British gunmaking, having started out in the 1960’s, but over their half century of gunmaking they have established a trusted reputation among those who have been privileged to become familiar with their works.
If we liken guns to cars then just as a gun from Holland & Holland or Rigby could be considered to be like a McLaren, then a gun from Piotti would be like a Ferrari: a hand built, high performance work of art.
In a sense though a gun from Piotti has even more claim to being a unique work of art than a car, because each gun is hand made, and unique.
The Piotti company was begun by Araldo and Faustino Piotti in a workshop in Gardone Val Trompia, located in Brescia, which is the traditional heartland of Italian gunmaking. Araldo and Faustino began their work repairing guns and making their own shotguns based on Anson & Deeley style actions. It was a small concern, much like the beginnings for Bill Harley and the Davidson brothers who started out by making a motorized bike so they could get to their favorite fishing spots more easily. But from small acorns great oak trees can grow and the Piotti brothers business grew, not so much in size because their intention was to keep it small and specialized, but in quality, and in depth of expertise.
As the company matured it expanded to about twenty craftsmen, whose primary role was to make perfect guns, with engraving work entrusted to outside artists.
By the early 1970’s people in shotgun circles began to take notice of the new Piotti guns as they began appearing in the hands of winners of shooting competitions. Production of Piotti guns was only around one hundred per year, with each gun taking between three to four hundred hours to complete, each being created from blocks of the most appropriate steel.
In 1975 the Piotti brothers introduced their most iconic gun, the Monaco. Typically unadorned by engraving the Monaco was a testament to graceful aesthetic form which did not need engraved decoration. Added to this was the artistry that went into making the handling and function of the gun which gave it an almost alive presence. The Monaco was not just a gun, it was a work of art, and just as a beautiful woman does not need an elaborate dress, so the Piotti Monaco did not need dressing up with engraving either.
Over the period of the 1970’s and 1980’s Piotti maintained the highest levels of craftsmanship in that time when such attention to detail had become quite rare. By the 1990’s Araldo and Faustino wanted to bring a new generation to the forefront of running the family business and so their sons, and some cousins who had been trained in the Piotti workshop, were progressively raised up to take over the running of the company.
The four brothers who became key in this new era of the company are Manuel, Fabio, Sergio and Rudy. Manuel became the overall manager and travels to shows and exhibitions to promote Piotti’s works of gunmaking art. He is also in charge of sourcing the best walnut for gun-stock making. Fabio is the master lock maker and he oversees the workshop operations. Sergio’s role is in gun finishing, while Rudy has a major role in quality control of the completed guns.
F.lli Piotti has expanded from being a shotgun maker to also being a maker of custom bolt action magazine rifles, and double rifles. The company’s guns and rifles are made to be at least as good as anything from the best gunmakers that can be found anywhere in the world.
Bolt Action Rifle
The Piotti bolt action magazine rifle is made from forged steel. This means that the bolt handle is not welded on as it is on many if not most production rifles, but the bolt with handle and locking lugs are machined from a single block of forged steel. Likewise the receiver is also machined out completely, and so is the magazine box. The actual design of the Piotti bolt action is based on the original and much respected Mauser M98 but with refinements such as a Piotti designed bolt stop, and the choice of three different styles of safety catch; the original Mauser M98 style flag safety catch, and two based on the Winchester Model 70 three position safety catch which Piotti describe as “the same 3 position safety as the Dakota model” or “the same 3 position and lock safety as the Dakota model”.
Piotti machine the rifle-scope mount bases as a part of the receiver so they are integral and thus there are no screws to potentially work lose, nor is there any ability for the bases to flex or move.
The Piotti bolt action is based on the tried and proven Mauser M98 and is made without any manufacturing shortcuts: parts are machined and neither welding nor electro erosion are used.
Express Double Rifle
The Piotti Express double rifle is made as a sidelock in the “Holland & Holland” style with reinforcing along the top of the pistol grip to ensure against stock splitting. The action used for this double rifle is built specifically for it and is not a standard shotgun action modified for rifle use. From calibers 6.5x57R up to 9.3x74R the action’s external dimensions are the same as those for a 28 gauge shotgun. Above that the action dimensions are specific to the caliber.
The action uses a triple locked design with twin under lugs and a third lug at the breech. Piotti actions can be ordered with an assisted opening feature if desired. The sidelocks have a back spring and feature intercepting sears for optimum safety against an accidental discharge, even if the rifle is dropped.
The Piotti Express double rifle is made in rimmed calibers from 6.5x57R up to the .500 Nitro Express which is a perfect choice if an African Safari is planned and dangerous game are going to be tackled. The .500 Nitro Express provides excellent penetration, reportedly better than that provided by the .600 Nitro Express, and if elephant are going to be engaged it is one of the recommended calibers. It has a reputation as being “A real killer on practically anything”, although one must ensure one does the training necessary to master the recoil of rifles chambered for cartridges of this class.
King and Monaco Model Shotguns
The Monaco and the King shotguns are some of Piotti’s oldest models and they are the guns that made Piotti a highly respected name.
The Monaco and King shotguns are built on a “Holland & Holland” style sidelock action and can be ordered with either a flat sided or round action. They can also be ordered with an assisted opening mechanism.
Piotti say of this model that “The building method is the same of the past two centuries, with all the components made from solid steel blocks and traditional tools. This predominance of the handmade comes out magnificently in each single detail, from the sidelocks to the inletting of the wood.” This is the model that made the Piotti name great: each gun is custom tailored for the customer and his/her desired use.
Serpentine Side-Lever Shotgun
The Piotti Serpentine sidelever shotgun uses the same “Holland & Holland” style action but the opening mechanism is a sidelever, which has the advantage of leaving the top of the gun completely uncluttered by a top lever.
Piotti will build a gun in this style in a special way for collectors if desired: all Piotti’s guns are bespoke individual works of art.
External Hammer Shotgun
If you want to turn up to the next Cowboy Action shoot with a shotgun that will really turn heads then a Piotti external hammer shotgun would certainly do the trick. The Piotti external hammer shotgun is without doubt a lot more fancy than the one carried by Doc Holliday at the OK Corral and it is completely hand made, sharing features with its internal hammer (i.e. “hammerless”) siblings.
The Piotti external hammer shotgun features front spring sidelocks and demiblock barrels which are hand made in Piotti’s workshop. The gun is available in all calibers and can be ordered with ejectors and/or self-cocking.
Over and Under “Boss” Style Shotgun
It was London gunmaker Boss who created the first successful over and under shotgun in 1909, and that design has subsequently found its way in one form or other into many of the modern over and under shotguns on the market in this twenty-first century. Rival makers, such as Westley Richards, came up with other designs so as to be able to make over and under guns without infringing on the Boss patents, but it has been the Boss style action that has stood the test of time.
The Boss over and under was not actually designed by Thomas Boss, who passed away with the result that the business was sold to John Robertson in 1891. It was Robertson who designed not only the over and under action for Boss but prior to that the first truly efficient single trigger system.
In the making of the Piotti Boss style over and under shotgun the components are made from solid steel blocks: this includes the action and tang from one steel block with the work being done without the use of EDM. The sidelocks are made in Piotti’s workshop and feature intercepting sears and back springs. The demiblock barrels are made from solid bar and feature special long cone chokes.
Using the Boss system enables the action to be kept quite shallow: the 12 gauge is 60mm deep while the 20 gauge is 54mm deep. The gun is available in calibers from 12 gauge down to 410 with the actions scaled to the correct size for the cartridge.
You will find the Boss style shotgun on Piotti’s website if you click here.
The Piotti Sporting shotgun is made using the Boss style action and is specifically intended for sport shooting, be that hunting or targets such as skeet competition. It features demiblock barrels and its boxlock action is screwed onto the trigger guard.
B.S.E.E. Anson and Deeley Style Shotguns
The Piotti B.S.E.E and B.S.E.E. Luxury guns are made to be simple, lively and light. The guns are based on an Anson and Deeley style action and in these guns the hammer and firing pin are integrated to create a lighter action.
These guns are fitted with double triggers but single triggers are available also. They can be ordered with the standard or rounded style of action and in various levels of luxury finish, or color case hardening.
The B.S.E.E guns are available in calibers from 10 gauge down to 410 gauge.
Piotti/Benelli Semi-Automatic Shotguns
Piotti also make shotguns based on the Benelli semi-automatic action which is often preferred for waterfowl hunting. These guns come in a wide variety of possible finishes including the rather attractive “tartarugato” color case hardening.
The principle reason the guns of F.lli Piotti have gained quite significant acceptance in the United States is because of the efforts of William Larkin Moore & Sons LLC. The story of the relationship between this company began when Bill Moore, who was a collector of fine British and European guns, met Fausto Piotti at a gun show. The relationship between the Italian gunmaking house and Bill Moore’s business became progressively stronger. William Larkin Moore & Sons are nowadays located in Arizona having relocated from California in the 1990’s. It was Bill Moore who recognized just how superb the work of Piotti was and thus took on the role of promoting their superb guns and rifles in the US.
Fratelli Piotti is not a well known name for most gun owners and enthusiasts: but their work is outstanding, very much in the same class as the best that the British produce. Their website is worth a visit, and they also have a Facebook page.
If you are in the market for a top shelf gun or rifle then F.lli Piotti are a company you would be wise to contact as you look for the gun or rifle of your choice.
Picture Credits: Enzo Bertuzzi @ F.lli Piotti
Jon Branch is the founder and senior editor of Revivaler and has written a significant number of articles for various publications including official Buying Guides for eBay, classic car articles for Hagerty, magazine articles for both the Australian Shooters Journal and the Australian Shooter, and he’s a long time contributor to Silodrome.
Jon has done radio, television, magazine and newspaper interviews on various issues, and has traveled extensively, having lived in Britain, Australia, China and Hong Kong. His travels have taken him to Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan and a number of other countries. He has studied the Japanese sword arts and has a long history of involvement in the shooting sports, which has included authoring submissions to government on various firearms related issues and assisting in the design and establishment of shooting ranges.