Pedersoli Boarbuster Shadow in .45/70: our live fire test

Our readers will know by now every detail of the new Pedersoli Boarbuster Shadow lever action rifle, which introduced in a preview covered in our SHOT Show 2022 report. For those who have recently logged on, the Pedersoli Shadow is one of the latest versions in the line of lever action rifles produced by the Gardone Val Trompia-based company.

The Boarbuster series of rifles has several variants that share the same receiver based on the Winchester model 1886/71 action, revised and updated to make it more functional and allow modern industrial machining production. The Boarbuster series rifles are chambered in .45/70 Government caliber, a classical North American born round that stands out for its high power and excellent compatibility with lever action repeaters, thanks to its cylindrical rimmed case. In the Hornady produced Lever Evolution load with 325 grain FTX ball specifically designed for lever action rifles, the Yankee cartridge produces 2.925 joules of energy at 100 meters at the muzzle, more than enough for even large game. 

The Pedersoli Boarbuster Shadow at a glance

Boarbuster Shadow lever action carbine
Thanks to the special side mount, the Boarbuster Shadow lever action carbine can mount a riflescope in an “offset” position, like the Garand Sniper rifles of WWII. Please note: the GECO scope uses transparent lens covers!

The Pedersoli Boarbuster Shadow carbine’s most distinctive feature is its synthetic stock designed specifically to be used with a riflescope, and thus ensure the best possible alignment between the shooter's eye and eyepiece. The stock of the Shadow has a raised nosepiece of about 1 cm and a cheek rest that can be adjusted in height and sideways. Even the pistol grip has been slightly modified with a gentler curve, so the necessary movement to cycle the gun is smoother and natural.

The profile of the cocking lever has also been redesigned to make it more ergonomic and easier to operate. Even the handguard has been slightly "fattened" to improve grip and handling even when wearing heavy winter gloves.

The side mount allows to use in co-witness the scope with the adjustable iron sights. The riflescope is a GECO Black 1-6x24i with illuminated reticle – and note that lens covers have transparent windows.
The barrel of the Boarbuster Shadow is 483mm long. Muzzle threading allows mounting muzzle brakes or silencers, where allowed. The front sight uses fiber optics.

Two threaded holes on the left side of the steel receiver are used for installing a special Picatinny side mount made by Contessa, an Italian specialist in this kind of accessories, which allows to mount a riflescope in an offset position with respect to the gun’s barrel axis. This has been done to avoid any interference in the path of the ejected spent case. As standard, the Boarbuster Shadow mounts a height and drift adjustable diopter sight on the bolt and a ramped front sight that features a high visibility fiber optic insert.

The Pedersoli Boarbuster Shadow features a 19"/483 mm long PMG (Pedersoli Match Grade) broached barrel with six groove rifling. The muzzle is threaded so the user can mount accessories such as muzzle brakes or sound moderators (where allowed by law).

Due to its location away from the ejection window, the scope does not interfere with case ejection.

Our Boarbuster Shadow shooting test at the range

The first impact with the Pedersoli Boarbuster Shadow lever action rifle is really positive. Balance and handling feedback surprised me, maybe I am not so used to lever action rifles, but I must say that the front heavy muzzle – compared to a bolt action rifle of the same barrel length (19"/483 mm) – due to the use of a Bull Barrel and a lighter polymer stock in the back, as well as the tubular under-barrel five-cartridge magazine, helps with handling and fast sweep speed but at the same time is not so much that it increases inertia and tends to overrun my aimed point.

The 100 m group shot with a front rest: three rounds in a 1"/25 mm diameter between the centers.

Tracking moving targets with the Shadow is really smooth, with lightning-fast aiming. The iron sights with a ghost ring type diopter (mounted on the bolt block) and the tunnel-less fiber optic front sight are very appropriate for intuitive shooting and the gun comes up naturally, with the eye automatically aligned with the sights so as to be able to make accurate and fast, almost instinctive shots at short distances that are typical of driven hunting (say 25 meters).

But let me talk now about the real new features, the possibility to install a side optics mount to the Pedersoli Shadow, an accessory built by the Italian specialist Contessa exclusively for Pedersoli, and the new composite fiberglass polymer stock with cheek piece adjustable in height and side swing. This cheek piece has been designed specifically for use with a riflescope that, due to the lever action of the 1886/71 that ejects vertically above the bore line, must be mounted on the side of the action itself, in Garand M1C/D style.

The remarkable group shot at 150 meters: distance between the centers of the printed holes equal to 1.9"/49 mm. Not bad at all, considering the center dot of the scope reticle is larger than the diameter of the group…

The mount is on the left side of the gun, using two generously sized Torx screws. The top of the mount features a Picatinny rail, for almost universal use with hunting rings and optics; I mounted a GECO Black 1-6x24i variable magnification riflescope with illuminated reticle for my test, raising the cheekpiece at a suitable height for the glass and moving it about 1.5 cm to the left (the maximum range in sideways adjustment is about 20 mm). Once locked, the cheek piece seems to be welded to the stock and gives an impression of great solidity, with no noticeable flexing or sagging in use.

The lever action, based on the classic and robust Winchester 86/71 in .45-70 Govt, is very smooth, loading the long and heavy Govt. cartridges without hiccups and uncertainties, and positively ejecting the spent cartridge case.  The well thought-out measures and proportions of the lever oval and trigger guard mean that even a total lever action neophyte like myself is able to cycle the gun lightning fast without any problems (and painful pinching! Which has happened to me with other lever action rifles).

The trigger is very clean, with no pre-travel and very little overtravel, breaks like glass and it is of adequate weight for hunting use – I measured about 1700-1800 g – but at the same time I was surprised by the control it offers, which is also part of the excellent groups I got at the range.

Recoil is solid, a nice long shove to the shoulder, never annoying and I can even say satisfying, the .45-70 is a great caliber and the overall setup and configuration of the Pedersoli Shadow manages to tame it very well.

For our range test we used Hornady Lever Evolution load in .45-70 with the 325 grain FTX bullet.

I shot two test groups at the shooting range, using Hornady Lever Evolution rounds in .45-70 with 325 grain, polymer tipped FTX bullet – normal hunting ammunition. I shot with a front rest only, at distances of 100 and 150 meters.

The results at both ranges, with zeroing done at 50 m in the indoor range just a few minutes before my test are at the very least remarkable, in my opinion: I mean, three rounds in just 1"/25 mm measured between the centers at 100 m and 1.9"/49 mm at 150 m, with certainly excellent hunting factory loads but sure as hell not Match Grade, and the GECO optic that just stops at 6x with a combat and LARGE FFP reticle! Really remarkable, well actually – absolutely impressive.

Pedersoli Boarbuster Shadow specs and price


Davide Pedersoli 

Boarbuster Shadow
.45/70 Gov.
Model 1886/71 lever action
Barrel length: 
19"/483 mm
Total length: 
37.4/"950 mm
Magazine capacity: 
5 rounds
Fiber optic sights, adjustable rear diopter, optional proprietary riflescope side mount 
7.7 lb/3.5 kg approx.
Price (MSRP):
1544 euro

For more information please visit Davide Pedersoli website.

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