Since its 2014 introduction, Caesar Guerini’s Invictus line has become a top choice for clay shooters, with its beefy, easy-to-service internals that are designed to be durable enough to shoot over one million rounds.
Thus, it was no big surprise when the company known for making bold moves upped the ante once again with the release of the Invictus I Sporting M-Spec 32-inch 12-gauge O/U shotgun ($7,595, gueriniusa.com). One of the best competition guns in the Invictus line, the M-Spec ditches the usual choke tube set with different constrictions—instead opting for fixed-choke barrels (M, IM) that lighten up the business end of the shotgun and enhance pointability. In concert with the groundbreaking Invictus action and the fixed-choke barrels, the M-Spec also sports a narrow top rib taper of 10 mm to 6 mm, enabling tight lines for reaching far-out birds in sporting clays.
Upon first glance, the M-Spec is not much different than your standard premium Italian O/U shotgun. Inside the action is where the Invictus shines. Instead of standard recesses in the receiver to mate with the bottom lugs of the monoblock, the Invictus has its own proprietary block. Attached to the floor of the receiver, along with the bottom lugs the “Invictus block” holds the barrels back against the breech face. The Invictus block can be easily replaced when worn with a new one by removing two screws. In addition, the action has been widened to provide more bearing surface. This allows the Purdey & Sons-style sliding underbolt to extend the full length of the barrels for added strength.
With the Invictus receiver, trunnions are set up the opposite of most Italian-made O/Us. Instead of extending in from the sides of the receiver to engage cutouts in the monoblock, Invictus trunnions—here called “cams”—are attached to the sides of the monoblock with Torx screws, engaging recesses that are cut into the side of the receiver. This setup makes replacing the cams much easier after they are worn, and the large pivot surface also provides robustness.
Like most high-end Italian shotguns, the M-Spec is a piece of functional art. The receiver sports a satin blued finish that includes Caesar Guerini’s Invisalloy clear protection. The finish extends to all metal surfaces, as well as small gold accents. I especially liked the fore-end, where an elastomer bushing has been added to reduce vibration between the pushbutton rod. It’s these nice touches that set the Invictus line apart.
Although the M-Spec comes standard with Modified and Improved Modified fixed chokes on the barrels, both tighter and more open chokes are available by special order. As to be expected, barrel selection is critical for a gun like this. The safety and barrel selector are tang mounted. In the traditional Italian style, barrel selection is with a sliding selector in the safety catch and indicated by small red dots. For the bottom barrel to fire, slide the selector to the left (1 dot) and for the top barrel move it to the right (2 dots). This system is simple and effective.
I found the M-Spec’s trigger to be crisp and responsive. Adjustable, the trigger system has take-up, over-travel and length-of-pull adjustments. The hammers are chrome lined to give a Teflon-like lubricity and to minimize any friction. Additionally, factory selective release triggers are available in single- and double-release.
At 8 pounds, 1 ounce, the M-Spec is hefty, but not a heavyweight scattergun that could become burdensome for some shooters to lug from station to station. The Turkish Circassian walnut stock has a hand-rubbed oil finish, with a conventional-style comb and asymmetrical pistol grip with palmswell. Drop at comb is 1½ inches, and 2¼ inches for the drop at heel. Length-of-pull is 14¾ inches and the pitch is 5 degrees.
Purchase of the M-Spec includes a red hard-plastic case with fit interior and high-end velvet sleeves for the stock and barrel. The case includes cut-outs for the shotgun components, tools and manuals, plus integrated combination locks. It’s one of the nicer cases I’ve seen in this category.
At the Range
My first outing with the M-Spec was on the trap field. From the 16-yard line, after getting into the groove the M-Spec didn’t skip a beat.
While a hefty gun at over 8 pounds, the reduced weight on the muzzle end provides for a wellbalanced gun. After a few birds, I had figured out my move and was crushing clays with ease.
Next, I wanted to see how the top rib taper fared against distant birds in sporting clays, mostly using the Improved Modified choke. Squadding with former SSUSA editor Chip Lohman, we shot an informal round with a variety of shotshells, including Winchester AA Diamond Grade and Federal Gold Medal Grand. Once again, it took a few birds to get the hang of it, but once dialed in the M-Spec was hot for the 40-yard targets. Put simply, this gun can eat far-out birds for breakfast when in the hands of a capable shooter.
Between Lohman and myself, we put about 200 rounds through the M-Spec, with no malfunctions of any kind.
Choosing a clays gun is a highly personal thing. It can be difficult to find one in a market that’s often more focused on sales gimmicks instead of real innovation. When Caesar Guerini fundamentally redesigned the traditional O/U shotgun with the Invictus, it was revolutionary with its easily replaceable locking lug, hinges and receiver block. While the M-Spec version, with its fixed chokes and premium price, is not for everybody—there’s no denying it represents a significant value to prospective buyers as a sporting gun with a lifetime that could span generations.
Something else to note is that earlier this year, Caesar Guerini released the Invictus I M-Spec Specialist 34-inch model. For a shotgun already well-suited to reaching far-off targets with its tapered top rib, an extra two inches on the barrels could be a gamechanger.
About Caesar Guerini
Since 2001, Caesar Guerini has maintained its factory in the heart of Italian firearms manufacture, Brescia in Northern Italy. Purpose-built, this modern manufacturing facility combines old-world craftsmanship with the latest technology to build shotguns about as perfect as they come. In short, the company is extremely serious about precision in its builds. Every Caesar Guerini O/U passes through 256 inspection points before it’s deemed ready to ship. Perhaps more importantly, the company is “committed to giving customers a level of unprecedented customer service.” And since Caesar Guerini’s shotguns have a lifetime warranty, you can rest easy in the rare case of catastrophe striking.
All photos by Peter Fountain.
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