In this article I am presenting my personal opinion regarding Perazzi MX2000, Perazzi MX2000S, with brief references to Krieghoff and Kolar Max Lite Sporting. Since we worked on a number of Perazzis recently and I was exposed to a few Krieghoffs and Kolars as well in the recent past, I thought writing an article to share some of the aspects that I wasn't aware of before might provide others with some insight as well.
Perazzis are fully customizable shotguns (this is not news to anyone, I know!); from the forend to the trigger to the length of the barrel to the stock, everything can be made custom to the customer’s specs; but my comparison is based on a couple of off-the-shelf Perazzis, cut to standard size, that you would purchase from a distributor. This would be the expedited way to purchase a Perazzi. There’s also the option to pay a visit to the Perazzi factory in beautiful, sunny Italy, where people eat real mozzarella, drink real wine and come up with real designs (I wonder if there’s a connection there?). For no additional cost (other than the trip expenses), you can customize your shotgun. If you are to choose between purchasing an off-the-shelf / a second hand Perazzi or having one tailored to your needs, the trip to Italy might be worth it.
The off-the-shelf MX2000 and MX2000S shotguns look very similar in terms of design and general layout. However, internally, there are some differences.
As a preliminary piece of information, the MX2000S is actually an MX12 and the MX2000 is an MX8. The numbers reflect merely the grade of the action; the amount of engraving and detailing that goes into the action is what makes the MX2000 a MX2000.
There are a few differences between MX12 and MX8, and we will cover some of them here – however, if you happen to have these two firearms on hand, the easiest way to notice these differences is to actually take off the stocks (only if you are familiar with the process, please!). Taking off the stocks should not be a particularly difficult task; Perazzis usually come with a large personalized screwdriver which you can use to remove the stock. (If your purchase was a second-hand firearm and it came without a screwdriver, you might be able to order one via Perazzi or purchase it as an accessory off of e-Bay.)
Once the stock is off, you can easily see the internals of the shotgun exposed. The first major difference between the two firearms is that the MX12 features a fixed, non-removable trigger group and coil springs. The MX8 features a removable trigger group and leaf springs.
(I need to insert a parenthesis here, from a gunsmithing shop's perspective: leaf springs are finicky, tricky little bastards. They are very elegant and look classy - and they are - but oh, dear, when it comes to replacement, they can be really challenging to find. Perazzi is obviously up and running, so their leaf springs are more readily available than leaf springs for antiques or vintage firearms. At Brubaker Arms Manufacturing, we have the capacity to manufacture obsolete firearm parts and to reverse engineer missing parts. Leaf springs are among the most sought for obsolete replacement parts. As such, we manufacture yearly quite a significant number of leaf springs for antiques - with orders from as far as Texas and the East Coast. The process of manufacturing leaf springs is quite involved; we usually start with 5-8 blanks, carefully treat the metal and bend it manually; by the time we are done with them, they are tensioned, hardened and annealed. We usually end up with 1-3 springs that we are fully satisfied with and we trust to perform well on the long run. However, leaf springs - like many obsolete firearm parts - are very finicky, and something as basic as storing the firearm incorrectly might lead to having to replace the springs again.)
Another major difference is that the MX12 comes with a trigger selector as standard, which is in the safety. The MX8 does not, but it is customizable and it can have an optional barrel selector installed - which would give the trigger guard a specific and unusual shape.
The MX12 has the safety and barrel selector placed at the topside lever, whereas with the standard MX8 has just the safety placed at the topside lever (lest it features the optional barrel selector). Especially with the older versions of the MX8, one must switch the topside lever to safe, slide the barrel selector to choose the first barrel (located behind the trigger) and then return the topside safety lever back to "fire". I have been informed that if one doesn’t engage the safety first, it could either break something inside the trigger, double-fire, or cause other "unknown or bad" happenings. – Never happened to me, but it seems quite commonsensical, so I would not challenge that.
In comparison, the Kolar Max Lite Sporting that I liked to shoot (before foolishly parting ways with the firearm), has a roll pin through the safety selector that keeps it in "fire" position. Barrel selection is an independent lever just behind the trigger. With the Kolar, you can lock both the barrel selector and the safety. In my opinion, neither is needed in a pure competition gun, hence my Kolar has been locked; you might be interested in this option, if your shooting style is similar to mine: the bottom barrel always fires first and the safety is off. A gunmaker / gunsmith should be able to help you with this, if you ever choose to lock your Kolar. But as a general idea, the way to lock the safety on a Kolar so that it can't be pushed on to engage the safety feature is inside the action. (With the safety off, a roll pin is inserted to keep the safety in the fire position. Do not try this at home, though. Please take your shotgun to a gunsmith.)
Back to our Perazzis - The MX8 is the older of the two designs. This was primarily designed as a truck gun hence the lack of a barrel selector. The MX12 followed later - sometime in the 80s, which is also why it has coil springs rather than leaf springs.
The triggers are absolutely excellent in both shotguns. I made a statement about the Kreighoff shotguns a while ago, regarding the outstanding quality of their triggers. Up to that point, their shotguns had the best trigger I ever shot. But having shot Perazzis, I now tend to like their triggers better – they are absolutely crisp, clean, with a perfect break. (And this time, I reserve the right to amend my statement regarding my top trigger preferences, as I have not exhausted my “shotguns to shoot before I die” bucket list!)
(This being said, when it comes to engraving, if you are enamored by the clean and precise German line & artistic motifs – like I am - your expectations will not fall short when you go with a Kreighoff. There’s just something magical about the simplicity and depth of the German embroidery, lace work and engraving patterns, in my opinion.)
Regarding other differences between the standard Perazzi MX12 and MX8, is that you can remove the complete trigger group on the MX8; the removable trigger group is significantly wider than the non-removable one. So the stock is a little bit more consistent around the trigger group area on the MX12 (non-removable) than on the MX8, where the wood is carved a little bit more to fit the wider removable trigger group. The practical side of removing the trigger group on the MX8 is that it is a fairly easy process; you can do it by pushing the safety forward (push hard) and then the trigger slides out really smoothly and reveals what I would call – from a gunsmith’s perspective - quite a complex and compact work of art. You can see the hammers powered by the springs, the sear and obviously, if your shotgun comes with the optional barrel selector, you will also see that. The hammers have different angled faces on them which meet the firing pins which obviously go to the top and bottom barrel. The great advantage of having a completely removable trigger group is that you can easily replace your current trigger group with the one that you casually carry with you as a spare trigger group on the fly - and feel no difference in the gun.
Last but not least, a small comment on the mechanical aspect of these two Perazzis, which is something to really look at, from our perspective.
These Perazzi firearms feature very, very thick, very strong action fences where the drawers are machined into the side behind the jointing stub pins. The lump has a couple of recesses that these two drawers lock up into, and they give an incredibly strong lock up on the gun. The actual locking itself is carried out by two H pins that visibly protrude in the action (also often called a locking block); it is a really strong system. The design is so smart because it manages to feature thick enough machined metal locks to yield a strong bond, without sacrificing the elegant look. When you look at an equivalent, say DT 11 or even a Krieghoff, you can notice that these companies have been, historically, on a real “tour de force” in engineering and designing different ways in which their shotguns would be strong but also elegant and nimble. When looking from the outside, neither one of these firearms show exactly just how strong the lock is, as they all feature typically beautiful European design elements.