Beretta and Blaser made good on their promises to introduce shotguns for women during the recent Ladies Fall Fashion Preview fundraiser at Gordy & Sons Outfitters in Houston. Little-known gun maker Zoli, meanwhile, brought a pleasant surprise from Italy, unveiling its new Bella for ladies.
Beretta’s entry, the 690 Sporting I Vittoria, is the company’s first over-and-under tailored to the female anatomy. Blaser’s F16 Intuition is a second act for the German gun maker. In 2014 Blaser started selling a women’s version of its tournament-grade F3, but the F16 Intuition is about one pound lighter, half the price, and sleek as a Porsche.
According to Christian Socher, the CEO of Blaser USA, the F3 women’s gun “was our stepping stone to the F16 Intuition. The women’s market is growing and we want to be part of it with a proper women’s shotgun.”
The new introductions do indeed join a growing number of shotguns designed for women in the field that have hit the market in recent years, including models from Syren, Fausti, Rizzini, CZ, Perazzi, and Ithaca.
By contrast, typical off-the-shelf shotguns are manufactured to fit an average man, and fit matters when it comes to gaining an accurate down-field target picture and controlling recoil. Women have different facial structures and body shape, and trying to make do with a sloppy-fitting 12 gauge can often lead to a bruising experience.
So what’s the difference between these three new ladies’ shotguns? Stylewise, the Vittoria has classical engraving compared with the lean, high-tech appearance of Blaser’s F16 Intuition. The Zoli Z-Sport Bella is red carpet all the way, with a constellation of tiny Swarovski crystals in the receiver and grip cap.
Otherwise, the 12-gauge Intuition, Vittoria, and Bella fundamentally share the same approach. All three are appointed with female-friendly stocks and slender forends. All have 30-inch barrels with interchangeable chokes. The walnut stocks are shorter for women’s smaller frames yet higher and offset outward to accommodate raised cheekbones, longer necks, and chest profiles. Downsized pistol grips for smaller hands enable better control. Recoil pads angled inward recognize female contours. Zoli’s Z-Sport Bella is lightest at 7.2 pounds, the F16 weighs in at 7.3 pounds, and the Vittoria at 7.6 pounds.
Beretta’s Vittoria costs $3,000, the Blaser F16 Intuition starts at about $4,200, while Zoli’s Bella is $7,650. Both the F16 Intuition and Bella include small add-on weights to personalize balance for optimum handling, while the Bella also adds an adjustable comb, which is a cutout at the top of the stock that can be raised for comfort and accuracy.
When it comes to writing the check, though, it’s always best to try out a shotgun before you buy to make sure it feels comfortable. But the increasing number of manufacturers recognizing the need for guns designed with women in mind is good news all around for pain-free days in the field.