2018 Fabarm XLR5 Waterfowler
The Fabarm XLR5 Waterfowler, introduced to the United States two or so years ago in Kryptek Banshee camo has been extremely well-received. The new version for 2018 is essentially the same gun, with True Timber Viper camo. On this model, the receiver is Cerakote with the forearm nut coated as well, to match.
The originally tested XLR5 Waterfowler weighed 7-1/2 lbs. on the nose, while this particular gun weighs 7 lbs. 5 oz. Both test guns have 28 inch barrels. While hardly excessively heavy guns, they are heavier than the 7 lbs. stated on the Fabarm USA website. As far as corrosion resistance, Fabarm XLR5 and L4S models all have generous, heavy chrome plating on the internals and a titanium finish on the gas piston housing. This Waterfowler adds to that with its PVD coated bolt. The entire gun is designed to get good and wet with no drama.
This is a 3 inch chambered gun, with the long rib approach that stems from XLR5 LR target model. The actual rib portion that resides on the top of the Waterfowler receiver is 6 inches long. It provides a contiguous rib that, combined with the ventilated rib portion of the barrel is 34 inches in length for the 28 inch barrel Waterfowler, 36 inches for the 30 inch Waterfowler.
The most appealing, most unique feature of the XLR5 Waterfowler is the “Long Rib.” Not only does it make target acquisition fast and easy, but the 10.4 mm rib height encourages a very natural, comfortable, heads up shooting style that offers better visibility beneath your target as well, which may well be duck number two or duck number three. The top of the rib is black, and that gives you a very crisp, precise reference point particularly beneficial in the early morning misty, dingy hunting hours and does the same for you at sunset.
That reminds me of a related event from some years back when hunting with Dad in Argentina. Dad bagged 105 ducks in one single morning and Dad wasn't happy. Dad had shot the bead off of his A-5, and in early morning the Brazilian teal were buzzing back and forth along the shoreline and they were thick. It was light rain, hazy, and murky. At the start of the hunt Dad could make out the ducks, but the barrel of his A-5 just disappeared into the mist. Though hard focus is always on the target and the rib is just a reference point, Dad griped that his missing bead cost him 20 ducks or so. Dad would have done better with an XLR5 Waterfowler, but they were not made back then. I was particularly unsympathetic to the “plight” of my Dad, for I suggested that when he told his buddies about his minuscule 105 ducks-in-the-bag morning, no one was going to feel all that terribly sorry for him.
It is the rib of the XLR5 Waterfowler that makes it easy to shoot and shoot well, particularly in very low-contrast conditions. The soft-touch stock finish is nice and grippy, but not sticky. The rubber comb insert makes the gun extra-comfy as well. The large trigger guard and extended bolt handle makes the XLR5 easy to use with wet, cold, or gloved hands, and the gun is easy to load: the shells just glide right in. The XLR5 comes nicely presented in a useful Integrale hard case, along with four choke tubes. The tubes are a 5/10 (Mod), a 7/10 (Full), and two 9/10 (Extra Full) tubes. As is the case with all Fabarm Tribore barrels, all choke tubes are approved for steel shot. Three of the choke tubes are flush, however one of the 9/10 choke tubes is extended. The extended portion of this choke is camouflage-finished to match the gun, a nice touch. An overview video is here: https://youtu.be/ccAet_cUC-c .
As you can see on the video, this XLR5 Waterfowler has no trouble with 1180 fps 1 oz. loads, so it will be easy for anyone to stay in good shooting shape on the clays courses or the dove field in addition to strictly waterfowl duty and have a great time doing it. If you hear an engine in the background, it isn't you're imagination. When its hot, I get to sweat, but the dog resides in the SUV in air-conditioned comfort. That's called entertainment.
Right now, the Fabarm USA semi-auto hunting line-up consists of the synthetic stocked Waterfowler models, and the lighter L4S Hunter series. Both lines are available in left-hand models, they all have adjustment shims, they are all 100% Made in Italy, and they all have the same Tri-Bore barrels proofed to 1630 BAR, and they all take the same choke tubes that are rated for steel regardless of designation.
If you want a lighter gun for pheasants and like the look and feel of walnut, a 26 inch 6-3/4 lb. L4S fits the bill. If you plan on more time in the duck blind and in the rain, the 7 lb. 5 oz. Waterfowler is the better-specified shotgun.
The trustworthy XLR5 Waterfowler is just what most would expect from Fabarm. It is boringly reliable, with a better trigger, better machining, and better finishes than you'll find on most autoloaders, with better factory choke tubes as well. While functionally identical to the Banshee camo model, I personally like the Viper camo and if you hunt flooded timber, it is especially good. MSRP is $1750 and street price is whatever your dealer says it is, something like $1550 or so is my guess. For more info, see https://fabarmusa.com/ .
Copyright 2018 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.