Drennan Kenderdine reviews this stunning hand-engraved competition grade Caesar Guerini Invictus III Ascent Sporter

credit: Archant

The Caesar Guerini Invictus III Ascent Sporter is one of an array of guns to be on demonstration here at Clay Shooter, and it’s a bang tidy looking thing. But, looks aren’t what makes a gun a bitumen-dusting machine…

Back in the day, we would have said it’s a work of excellent quality, posing dignified lines – a marvel of engineering. Hmmm, that all sounds a little stiff and not at all with the times. So, in modern terms it’s DOPE, SICK, CRACKERJACK!

Coming from the engineering world, I’m no stranger to inflated claims about a machine’s capabilities, but claiming a gun will cope with 1 million rounds of ammo before it dies, with a 10-year warranty thrown into the deal, is frankly unbelievable. So, is that marketing hype or is it actually the truth? From what I’ve seen and heard at CG HQ, this is the truth personified.

The Invictus has been with us for some time now and it’s proven itself to be a well-defined and trusty piece of kit. So, what’s different, if anything, about this model?

credit: Archant

First impressions

Once you open the supplied bright red Negrini flight case, this Invictus just belts out great looks. This sporter came with a Trap-style forend, with the sporter recoil pad. Set-up comes down to personal taste, and I do prefer a Trap forend on my sporters.

Technical characteristics of this Invictus are the same as others in the series. The replaceable hinge pins are brilliant and an easy fix at home, at the dealers, or at CG HQ. An easy, cost-efficient restoration of the locking system alone is worth its weight in gold.

It includes the latest forend action control system – in layman’s terms, you can tighten or loosen the tension when opening/closing the gun, and it’s as easy as opening a packet of Tic-Tacs. 

The 10-8mm high tapered top rib allows for a more upright shooting position and improved target visibility, especially from the peripheral vision side of things.

The stock is fitted with CG’s DTS adjustable comb, giving enough adjustments for those necessary alterations. I had to dial in some cast (off) and lift the comb up to suit my style, and this was very easy to do. The adjustable stock mechanism must have been designed by someone with a degree in ‘How to Make Things That Won’t Break’. Credit here to CG for an adjustable mechanism with the durability of a lump hammer, that even a chimp can figure out how to use.

credit: Archant

More importantly...

Now let’s be honest, this all sounds wonderful (adjustable this, adjustable that, tighten it up, loosen it off), but I’m an engineer, so I understand the work that goes into making guns. And yes, like others, I’m excited if the barrels have been forged from the rock dust of a shooting star, the wood is from the Methuselah tree (the oldest living tree known on the planet), and the engraver’s ancestry has been traced back to the 18th dynasty of Egypt, where their great-great-great-grandfather personally engraved Tutankhamun’s tomb.

I get it, I really do… But the main point for me is what a gun will do, how it feels, and how it behaves as a machine, not as an ornament. (All that aside, this gun is without doubt stunning, and probably one of the prettiest in the price bracket.)

In most gun reviews I’ve read, things get missed out – things that really are more important than people give them credit for. If there is one item on a gun that gets mentioned for just being functional and doing one job, it is the safety catch. Years ago, CG’s safety catches had a reputation for switching barrels while shooting. I’ll be honest – I had a Magnus many years ago which, sure enough, suffered from the dreaded ‘barrel selector jump’ by means of ‘The Safety Poltergeist’, which is one of the reasons I moved from CG to Beretta at that time. Well, CG have rectified this with a completely new operating system for their safety catches, so the poltergeist has been well and truly exorcised.

On the Invictus, the catch is bold, and has presence without it being ostentatious. At first, I wasn’t a fan of the new safety and its on/off system to select the barrel of choice. However, it did grow on me, and the knowledge that the selected barrel would remain selected gave a positive reinforcement to the old grey matter... it’s actually brilliant!

What’s it like to shoot?

The handling is truly that of a competition-grade shotgun, but not without a wee bit of fettling to get it right for me and my preferences. The balance, as you would expect, is front-heavy. Great if you like that feeling, but I prefer a little less.

The problem was easily solved by adding the DTS weight system to the stock (supplied separately). This turned the Invictus III into a completely different machine – smoother and quicker, but with a gliding movement as opposed to a slow start, which then turned into a heavy, fast swing once the weight of the barrels got moving. So, without doubt, the Invictus became a much more controllable gun once balanced. Most shooters can do this themselves, and if not, seek advice from those that can!

The adjustable trigger, giving a length of pull from 14½ -15”, has quality pulls which are crisp, once fired. There’s no need to tug or pull on it, and the pressure for both shots is identical, keeping alignment for shots bob on. This is a good trigger set-up and easily adjustable.

CG always appear to lead the way with a standard eight chokes supplied with all their multi-choke guns, which is a wow factor all on its own. This particular Invictus is fitted with Maxischoke Competition chokes; they extend 21mm past the muzzle, making removing and inserting them a piece of cake. The pattern from these chokes is as good as you’re ever going to get, and I used all four of the UK’s main cartridge brands when testing. They are brilliant, so there’s no need for aftermarket chokes.

The Invictus III is available in three barrel lengths: 28”, 30” and 32”. All lengths have ventilated centre and top ribs. My test gun was a 32” version and, for me, point-ability, weight and movement of the 32” behaved better once it was balanced to my preference. A dedicated 2¾” chamber makes it a true clay smasher, and the overall finish of these barrels is testament to great engineering.

The woodwork is pretty darn good. It’s not an absolute top-end piece of timber, but it’s not exactly a pallet either. What is a delight is the chequering; it’s been thought through to not only be functional for grip but to follow the lines of the wood too, for an aesthetically pleasing result. The finish of the wood is excellent, and waterproof!

I have left the best till last. There’s really nothing to fault on this gun, only things to admire. The pièce de résistance is the engraving. Yes, it’s hand-engraved... blimey! The scene features deep leaf engraving with a blackened, stippled background inlaid with 10 gold mythical creatures... it’s flipping gorgeous.

This gun is simply myth and legend in the flesh!