Shortly after World War II, an Italian gunmaker by the name of Stefano Fausti began crafting his version of the fine, European, double-barrel shotgun.
Starting a new business amidst the massive upheaval of the region following the war was risky, but Fausti had a passion for firearms which he hoped to bring to fruition. His first creation was a side-by-side, but stackbarreled over/unders soon followed.
The Val Trompia region of northern Italy has a rich gun-making history dating back some 500 years. Fausti’s early creations received favorable international peer reviews, glinting at the eventual success his company would soon enjoy.
Over 60 years and dozens of new product launches later, Fausti’s modernized scatterguns are considered worldwide to be among the best of the best. Today, the business operates out of a high-tech manufacturing facility staffed by around forty skilled craftsmen, producing between 6,000 and 7,000 guns per year.
Although Fausti hoped for sons to carry on his vision, he was instead blessed with three daughters – Elena, Giovanna, and Barbara. Upon retirement in 1990, he passed the reins onto his daughters, whom were poised and prepared to take over the family business.
All three Fausti sisters are active shooters and hunters, pursuing pheasants, quail, partridge, woodcock, and capercaillie in their native Italy. Last year, I had the opportunity to interview middle sister Giovanna about the future of this unique, family-owned business.
“We are very much a family business,” Giovanna assured me. “After so many years of working together, we each understand our individual roles and responsibilities within the company.”
Each sister is actively involved in the long-range strategic planning of the company, which included establishing Fausti USA in 2009.
“Although the home market is important to us,” stressed Giovanna, “the reality is about 90 percent of our production is exported, with Americans among our biggest customers.” Fausti USA, headquartered in Fredericksburg, Virginia, aims to better serve the company’s valued American clientele.
Fausti may enjoy an eventual infusion of male blood back into the family business, though, as Stefano’s grandsons come of age. Giovanna’s college-age son has expressed an interest in following in his mother’s and grandfather’s gun-making footsteps, while Barbara’s young son has also indicated he wants to become a hunter and make shotguns when he grows up, too.
“I think the family business will see a third generation down the road,” said Giovanna. “We want to pass this legacy, which originated with and was developed by our father, onto our sons.”
Under the sister’s guidance, the company expanded throughout the 1990s. For my own part, I own a Fausti-made over/under from that period, a mid-90’s model which I frequently use for waterfowling. It’s of much better quality than comparable Spanish-made shotguns of that era, and of infinitely higher quality than the Turkish imports of today.
As the brand has grown during the last two decades, Fausti’s continued focus has been on making guns of increasingly higher quality and craftsmanship. Fausti shotguns fall in the mid- to high-end range of fine Italian doubles, and while not cheap, there are some attainable offerings within the line, such as the Caledon and Dea models designed mainly for hunters. On the other end of the spectrum are the Senator and Boutique lines, where the sky’s virtually the limit in terms of cost and embellishments.
Upland hunters will be particularly interested in the new Venetian line of small-bores introduced this year, featuring elegant, round-bodied actions in gauges 16, 20, 28, and .410. For more information, visit www.faustiusa.com.
Also, the Ducks Unlimited 2013 Gun of the Year is a Fausti over/under – the Silvery. Watch for this gun at area DU banquets throughout the year.
In an admittedly male-dominated outdoor industry, these three shotgunning sisters are a refreshing anomaly. Under their tenure, their father’s company has risen to new heights, as they pave the way for a new and enlightened generation of hunters, shooters, and business leaders.
Jarrod Spilger writes about the outdoors for The Independent.