November 29, 2018
By Steve Gash
Franchi was founded in 1868 in Brescia, Italy. It’s now part of the Beretta
Holding Group, which also includes Benelli, Stoeger, Uberti, Steiner, and Burris Optics. While these firms coexist under the same corporate umbrella, each is a separate entity, and they are competitors within their respective markets. Of course, Franchi is a well-known and respected name in shotguns, with a diverse line of over-unders, side-by-sides, pumps, and semiautos. The brand-new Momentum bolt action that is the subject of this review is the company’s first-ever centerfire sporting rifle. I think the new rifle is momentous.
The Momentum Inside & Out
The Momentum is made in Italy and incorporates several features that enhance accuracy, ergonomics, and appearance. Officially introduced on January 22, 2018, at the SHOT Show, the Momentum is now available in the United States in a variety of configurations. Overall, it has smooth contours on the metal and stock surfaces for improved ergonomics. The action’s one-piece bolt is chrome-plated and is the same diameter as the three locking lugs. This produces a quick, 60-degree bolt lift that’s aided by the sleek, cone-shaped bolt knob. The recessed boltface surrounds the cartridge case head in steel and has a sliding extractor and a plunger ejector. The bolt-release lever is at the left rear of the receiver. The two-position safety does not lock the bolt, so the chamber can be unloaded with the safety “On.” The barrel is cold hammer-forged steel.
The Momentum is chambered for several of today’s most popular cartridges, including .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, .30-06 Springfield, and .300 Winchester Magnum. Barrel length is 22 inches, except for the 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 Win. Mag., which have 24-inch tubes. All versions are available with threaded muzzles, and thread-protecting caps are provided. Non-threaded barrels are available on all models except the 6.5 Creedmoor, .30-06, and .300 Win. Mag. The three .30-caliber models have 1:11-inch twists, the .270 and .243 have 1:10-inch twists, and the 6.5 Creedmoor has a 1:8-inch twist. The internal box magazine has a hinged floorplate, and the capacity is four rounds for all chamberings except the .300 Win. Mag. Capacity for the Magnum is three rounds.
The Momentum website says the single-stage trigger is “adjustable from 2 to 4 pounds,” but my gun’s owner’s manual says the trigger mechanism “can only be adjusted by the gun maker or by an authorized gun dealer.” The trigger on my test gun broke at 3 pounds, 5.2 ounces and was very crisp, with little take-up.
The Momentum’s sturdy synthetic stock is very different from most “plastic stocks” these days, as it’s very stiff, highly functional, and attractive. Its rigid midsection has solid bedding points under the action, and the fore-end has molded-in reinforcing cross-members and a longitudinal stabilizing bar along the bottom.
Instead of yucky molded-in “checkering,” the stock has what Franchi calls “integrated grip panels” that look like square fish scales. They are classy and provide a good handhold. There are even textured gripping panels right above the magazine, should you want to hold the stock there for offhand shooting, and there’s a cut-out at the toe of the stock for your hand when you’re shooting off a bench.
Both swivel attachment points are recessed. Plus, the stock has Franchi’s proprietary “Twin Shock Absorption” (TSA) recoil pad that not only soaks up recoil, but also provides for a length of pull adjustment.
I’ve saved one of the Momentum’s best features until last. All models are available as a “Rifle Combo” package that includes a new Burris Fullfield II 3-9X 40mm riflescope, 1-inch steel Burris Zee rings, and a pair of Weaver-type bases, all in the box with the rifle. I’ve used Burris Fullfield scopes for years, and they are top notch and represent an excellent value. But, as they say on TV, there’s more. The MSRP of the Momentum combo package is only $120 more than the rifle alone. Now, I can cipher, so it’s obvious that getting a $239 scope and $28 mounts for only $120 more is obviously a heck of a deal. However, if you opt for the Momentum without scope, the receiver is drilled and tapped for the popular Remington Model 700-pattern two-piece bases.
In the Field & on the Range
I tested the Momentum in two venues. The first was last December when I hunted whitetails, feral hogs, javelina, and raccoons in Zavala County, Texas, with C-T Outfitters on a ranch of about 80,000 acres that is literally crawling with thousands of deer, including many 8- and 10-point trophy bucks, lots of feral hogs, plump Rio Grande turkeys, and the little native javelina.
The Franchi rifle I used was chambered to .308, and it performed to a “T.” Over the course of three days, I took two 8-point bucks; two hogs, including a 200-pound boar; two javelinas; and three raccoons. I have taken dozens of deer and quite a few hogs over the years, but never a javelina, so it was great to check this species off my bucket list.
The rifle I used on the hunt was the European model, and I noted that the space between the barrel and stock on this model was pretty slim, which could possibly adversely affect accuracy. If a flexible synthetic stock has too little space between the barrel and the stock channel, it can flex enough under recoil to touch a “free-floated” barrel, which is then, of course, not free-floated for that shot. This can lead to erratic accuracy. However, the clever engineers at Franchi have avoided this problem in the Momentum by redesigning the barrel channel to be a bit larger than on the one I used and by making the stock stiffer. This modification paid off, as the production Momentum I later used for a thorough shooting session on my home range shot uniformly good groups throughout my testing. Making another stock mold to implement this change is expensive, so kudos to Franchi for biting the bullet and making this important change.
As I just mentioned, my second opportunity with the Momentum was to wring out a brand-new production model on my home range. It also was chambered for .308. In addition to the changes to the stock, the barrel of this Momentum is slightly larger in diameter than the rifle I used in Texas. The bolt has spiral fluting that makes bolt travel smoother, and it looks pretty snazzy, too.
My test gun is the “Rifle Combo” package with the Burris 3-9X scope, rings, and bases. I had the scope mounted on my test gun in a jiffy and was ready for the range.
Since the Momentum is first and foremost a hunting rifle, I stuck mostly with big-game ammo. I fired 10 factory loads and five of my favorite .308 Win. handloads from my shooting building at 100 yards, and the results are shown in the accompanying chart. Overall, the Momentum averaged 1.01 inches with factory loads and a sizzling 0.83 inch with handloads.
On our Texas hunt, we used Fiocchi’s Extrema Hunter ammo loaded with the Hornady 150-grain SST bullet, and it was a pure death ray. Here at home, the velocity of the Fiocchi load averaged 2,808 fps, which produced 2,627 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle. Groups averaged 0.98 inch.
Tops in the accuracy department for factory fodder was Hornady’s Custom Lite loaded with the 125-grain SST bullet, which averaged a terrific 0.60 inch. This ammo is great for recoil-sensitive shooters, as the reduction in recoil over full-strength loads is about 45 percent. And with 1,654 ft-lbs at the muzzle, this makes a good deer load. The Federal 150-grain Fusion load averaged 0.83 inch, and Hornady’s new Precision Hunter ammo with the 178-grain ELD-X bullet was close behind at 0.87 inch.
I used some new Starline cases for my handloads, and they proved tough and long lasting. I’ve had such good luck with Hodgdon CFE 223 and VihtaVuori N540 powders that I used them exclusively for the handloads.
Overall, I give the new Momentum high marks. It is good looking, pleasant to handle, and uniformly accurate. It’s offered chambered for a variety of cartridges, so there’s one that would be suitable for just about any hunting scenario. And at the price, especially the scoped combo package, it represents real value.
This year is Franchi’s 150th anniversary, so the company decided to celebrate by offering a special “Anniversary Limited Edition” of the Momentum. This beauty’s stock is made of AA-grade satin walnut, and it has a 22-inch barrel and glossy blue metal finish. It’s a real looker. And it is chambered for the good old .30-06. Production is limited to 1,000 units.