Test: Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze. A hunting semi-automatic shotgun for extreme weather conditions

About 150 years ago Luigi Franchi founded the company named after him. Based in Brescia, Italy, and run as a family business until 1987, Franchi has been part of the Beretta Group since 1993 and had to move its headquarters to Urbino. Again and again, the company surprises with new models and more than lives up to its reputation. This is why our joy increased when it was announced that a new shotgun was on the way.

Our test gun – Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze

Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze, left side view
The camo design makes the Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze almost invisible in the right environment.

An "affinity" to the Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze can be established quite quickly, not because of the outstanding grain of the stock and a correspondingly high wood class, any elaborate processing or some special detail – actually because of nothing. Everything about this gun is puristic, modern and unobtrusive. The already existing Affinity series is extended by this new variant.

The test gun came in 12 gauge with a 3” chamber, a barrel length of 28”/71 cm and an overall length of 49.2”/125 cm. Total weight is 110.7 oz/3140 grams. The barrel is finished with a burnt bronze Cerakote coating and sports a ventilated rib. The semi-automatic shotgun is delivered with a half choke. According to the manufacturer, the package includes a quarter-choke, a full-choke and the necessary key. The stock is made of plastic and has a technopolymer coating. This is printed with an optic camo pattern.

Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze, stock with TSA ADV recoil pad
Stock of the Franchi semi-automatic shotgun with TSA ADV recoil pad, which is designed to absorb up to 50% of the recoil. 

The stock is simple and ends with a 0.86”/22 millimeter thick black rubber recoil pad. The Twin Shock Absorber Advanced is designed to absorb up to 50% of the recoil. The pad's polyurethane foam expands during recoil and thus absorbs some of the stress. The recoil pad is textured at the sides, except for the upper third. The sling swivel attachment is worked into the stock. The back of the stock is straight, the pistol grip is very short. The neck of the stock is very narrow and checkered.

The single trigger has a short take-up, then breaks crisp and without creeping. The trigger pull weight is 88.18 oz/2500 g. The test gun can hold three cartridges. One is chambered and two find their place into the tubular magazine. The safety mechanism acts on the trigger. To engage and disengage it, a small push button in the trigger guard is moved to the right or left. Whether the shotgun is cocked or not can't be determined externally. A small flag in the middle above the trigger guard on the right side with a small red dot indicates that the loading port is open.

Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze loading port
The large loading port allows the Franchi Affinity 3 to be loaded and unloaded comfortably even with gloved hands.

The receiver is made of aluminum and features a Cerakote coating in the same color as the barrel. The charging handle is protruding far to the right. The bolt release in this case is a button at the front of the receiver, towards the barrel. In the new version of the Franchi semi-automatic shotgun, the bolt release button, charging handle and also the loading port have been enlarged to ensure particularly easy operation. The forend is also made of plastic with a Camo Optifade pattern. For better haptics, there is a groove on the lower part of the forend.  If the screw cap on the front of the gun is loosened, barrel and forend can be removed and the magazine can be seen. Cleaning of the barrel is thus easier. On the screw cap there is a small swivel stud.

Affinity 3 Elite Bronze in detail

Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze, right side view
Affinity 3 Elite Bronze: barrel with ventilated rib and two-tone fiber optic front sight. A great aiming aid in adverse weather conditions.

A 0.31”/8 millimeter wide, ventilated rib sits on the barrel. Since semi-automatic shotguns are rarely used for short periods and with only a few shots, the ventilation is absolutely necessary to prevent thermal distortion of the barrel. It also saves weight. Franchi mounted a dual color fiber optic sight as a sighting aid. The stock length of the test gun (length of  pull), i.e. the length from the center of the trigger to the back center of the recoil pad, is 14.3”/36.5 centimeters. The manufacturer offers two further options – these result from the different recoil pads. The first is the one with a narrow pad, with which the LOP is 14”/35.7 centimeters, the second is the wide cap, with which the LOP is 14.7”/37.5 centimeters. The Franchi semi-automatic shotgun is operated by the inertia system, i.e. a type of recoil loader. This principle consists essentially of three parts: the bolt body, the inertia spring and the rotating bolt head. All parts move only longitudinally. A spring is positioned between the bolt body and head. When a cartridge is fired, the bolt body remains stationary while the recoiling gun and locked bolt head move rearward. At the end of the recoil cycle, as chamber pressure drops, the inertia spring thrusts the bolt assembly rearward, unlocking the rotating the bolt head. The bolt opens completely, the fired case is ejected and the next cartridge is loaded. In contrast to gas-operated guns, which are more prone to fouling, this type is less prone to failure.

Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze: specs and price

Model:Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze
Price:1129 euro (price may vary in your country)
Magazine capacity:2 + 1 rounds
Overall lenght:49.2"/1250 mm
Barrel lenght:28"/710 mm
Stock lenght:14.3"/365 mm
Trigger pull weight:88.18 oz/2500 g
Weight:110.7 oz/3140 g
Left/Right Version:Right version
Notes:Cerakote coating of barrel and receiver, large bolt release button, large charging handle, fiber optic sight, stock with TSA-ADV recoil pad

Practical impression

The Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze is a gun designed for hunting waterfowl. Groupings were not determined, only patterns – which were very even – were evaluated. To get a feeling with the gun, the first way was of course the clay pigeon range. The possibility of firing a third shot at the clay pigeon within the shortest possible time and with a quick index finger increases the probability of hitting the clay pigeon, but the possibility of a third shot may also tempt you to rush the shot. Since the hunting season allowed a test in the wild, the chance should not be missed. Five hunters agreed to participate in a duck hunt. The Franchi Affinity contributed with nine ducks. Everything went smoothly and flawlessly.

Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze: test conclusion

Less is more. That seems to be the common thread running through the Franchi designers' job. The shotgun tested here is mainly designed for waterfowl. These birds have good eyesight and can distinguish very well whether something in their familiar places looks different than usual. As a hunter, camouflage is essential here, not only for yourself but also for your gun. Water surface reflects the fading light that mostly hits shiny barrels. Here no bird will come near. The Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze has a decisive advantage here thanks to its Cerakote coating. This makes the barrel not only particularly resistant against scratches, but also matte. Due to its special combination of small and large camo patterns, the entire gun blends in with the surroundings and thus offers the best camouflage. Recoil of the semi-automatic shotgun is noticeable but not unpleasant. Once you have come to terms with the length of the whole thing and got used to the fact that a third shot is possible, interaction with the shotgun is as smooth as silk. Recoil pad is textured.

Franchi Affinity 3 Elite Bronze chokes
 Everything at hand: the appropriate tool for changing chokes is included and easy to use.

Shouldering the shotgun into the "right" position is difficult – it has to fly into the shoulder. You can hardly feel that the butt plate has an integrated TSA-ADV (Twin Shock Absorber Advanced). There is no extreme muzzle climb when firing. Even with wet fingers and/or gloves the shotgun can be grabbed easily. Franchi has always spent a lot of time and effort in the development of its guns talking with active hunters and shooters about shotgun handling. This is the only way to meet their wishes and needs and to implement them where possible.

To people who are only used to "normal" shotguns, the test gun feels very long. And that already with the actually "shorter" version. But if you get a little familiar with the camo shotgun, it becomes clear very quickly that it is a very well-balanced tool, with which you can do excellent hunting. The ratio of length and weight fits easily and makes the gun swing well. The sight is particularly effective. Especially in the twilight, the two-colored aiming aid is very impressive. Something of light is still captured and so it appears almost like a small red dot sight. Users unaccustomed to semi-automatic shotguns should practice. They should not only train for correct aiming, but also for loading and unloading of the gun in particular – inserting the cartridges into the magazine requires some skill, the spring is very tight and pushes the cartridges back slightly. All in all, a good price/performance ratio, which works and is fun to use.

For more information about Affinity 3 Elite Bronze, please visit the Franchi website.

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