Cosmi Shotgun

100 Years Of Bespoke Italian Elegance
5

Cosmi Gear List Ammo: Federal 20-ga. Topshot Glasses: Wiley-X Detection Ear Pro: Walker’s Silencer BT 2.0

The entry-level price for the Cosmi is $23,999. The one in the pictures would cost you $43,999. There, I said it. Before you panic and draft hate mail, let me tell you a short story.

Around 1990 I had some plumbing done. The fellow doing it was in his mid-30s, polite, and knew his business. He saw my minty ’67 Dodge truck in the garage and we chatted about cars. I asked if he had a collector car. “Oh, yeah, I have a road car.” So, naturally I asked what he had.

“Oh, a GT40.” I gasped. An original Ford GT40 cost in the low millions at the time. Can you say Le Mans? “Um, please tell me that story!” I said.

It seems he had inherited some land, sold it and used the money to pay off his family debts. He had about $150,000 leftover and was going to invest it. He’d always been enamored with the GT40 design but could never begin to think about owning one. Then he discovered the hard-core reproductions being built using original Ford components. The results were stunning and mirror images of the originals in both performance and looks. They could have raced at Le Mans with the originals. A GT40 is like hooking a fire-breathing dragon to your wagon. But even the reproductions cost about $150,000 at the time.

“Well,” the plumber smiled at me, “my wife said, ‘Why don’t you buy one? I know you love them, and we can afford it now.’ So I did.” He laughed out loud then.

He went on to tell me he drives it all the time, and owning it opened some amazing doors. He’d become friends with Jay Leno, racing drivers, been interviewed in magazines, had TV spots done on him and his car. He told me it had been an amazing experience. He had no plans to sell the car.

His car is worth upward of $500,000 today, by the way.

The magazine tube is hidden in the buttstock and is loaded from just forward of the action group.
Oh, and the walnut blank itself probably costs more than your first car!

The Cosmi

Not everyone would have done what my plumber friend did. But for me, the lesson is this: If it can happen someday, maybe it’s okay to take that leap. A lifetime dream only comes true if you help it along. So before you make any firm decisions about owning something like this Cosmi shotgun hear me out.

The British essentially invented the idea of a “bespoke” level of craftsmanship. From guns to clothing to watches, cars and more, if something is “bespoke,” it’s of the highest quality. I haven’t learned much in my 68 years, but one thing I’ve learned is a single excellent “thing” brings far more pleasure than a dozen common or mediocre possessions. The old adage about the joy of ownership lasting far longer than the memory of the original cost rings true.

I’ve handled, fired and admired Cosmi shotguns up close. If you get a magnifying loupe out and go over one carefully, you won’t find a single mistake — anywhere. They look as stunning under three-power magnification as they do in your hands. But is sheer beauty enough to warrant a price?

he unusual break-open semi-auto action makes the gun instantly safe
in the field, fast and simple to load — and easy to clean.

The slim receiver, weight set to the rear and svelte forend helps
the Cosmi become part of a shooter’s swing.

Engineering Brilliance

Not all new things are innovative, but some very old things remain as innovative today as the day they were conceived 100 years ago. The design of the Cosmi shotgun is one of those brilliantly visualized ideas that, once perfected, shows what can happen when just the right number of design ideas come together. There are no unnecessary parts and those included are exactly right for the job.

Each Cosmi semi-automatic shotgun model is handmade by a small, select team of artisan-craftsmen in the modest “factory” in Italy. The 100 parts making up the whole are, as Cosmi says, “Individually machined and extracted from solid stock.” Everything not a Cosmi shotgun is machined away.

Every gun takes its leisurely time — over 400 hours — being hand-worked and assembled by people who have devoted a lifetime to perfecting their craft. Amazingly, there are exactly zero screws used in the assembly. Each gun is engineered, balanced and blueprinted in such a manner as to fit together as if they grew that way.

And of course, each is custom made to a client’s wishes.

History

The first Cosmi originated in 1895. Rodolfo Cosmi created the first one out of necessity — he couldn’t afford a shotgun. Using parts from a worn-out shotgun, the shaft of an umbrella and innovative thinking, Rodolfo soon had the first of what would later become the Cosmi design.

Soon his work spread and friends, relatives and new clients demanded the quality and clever design Rodolfo was crafting. Even the king of Italy owned a Cosmi shotgun!

Today, shooters select from three models; the Classic (steel), Titanium (lower receiver is titanium) and Superleggero (upper and lower is titanium). Each shotgun is based on the same design, but being bespoke, each is different. There are 30 engraving “models” to choose from, additional custom touches can be had, inlays — or whatever your heart desires — can be accommodated.

The Cosmi design is a break-open semi-auto (below). The slim recoil spring hides under the barrel, while the sculpture-like action group is in the lower.

Being a full custom, the Cosmi can serve as a blank canvas for someone’s
dreams. The possibilities with engraving, special woods, inlays, custom
touches, etc., are only limited by a client’s imagination.

Engineering

Cosmi felt the classic design of placing a magazine tube under the barrel is awkward, unnecessary and affects handling. Yet, Cosmi wanted a semi-auto design holding eight rounds (reduced to five for the U.S. version). How?

When you break open a Cosmi, at first it’s a bit confusing. You expect a breech area like a single shot or O/U double, yet you’re greeted with an eye-opening explosion of stunningly designed and crafted parts gleaming at you. This heart of a Cosmi hides the simple concept — and creative design — originally conceived almost 100 years ago.

Once open, you slide the bolt to the rear (at the back end of the open barrel), opening the breech and chamber. Drop a shotgun shell into the chamber and push the breechblock forward, locking it into place. Now even more magic occurs. Hidden in the buttstock is a seven-round magazine tube. You load shells into this tube from the receiver area in the lower. Each one clicks home smartly and reliably. You can also adjust the magazine to stay within laws governing the total number of shells for certain hunting situations. There’s no spacer, but a clever built-in limiter. Once the action is closed, the gun is ready to be fired.

The recoil spring is under the barrel and to take things down, the wood forend slides off after a fitting is removed at the fore-point. The barrel can be removed easily (like an O/U shotgun’s might be), leaving the action group and the buttstock. The action is easily removed with a small tool, slipping out of the lower for cleaning. You can also access the magazine tube area, spring, etc. This can all be done in about the same time as it takes to read this. The pieces fit together elegantly, simply and naturally, as if they grew as a unit rather than an assembly of parts. Plus, they are all so beautifully finished it’s like working on a big piece of jewelry rather than a gun. Stocks are of highest-grade walnut and options can be discussed with the client.

Suffice it to say, after almost 100 years, the design has been as nearly perfected as possible and test guns have gone through tens of thousands of rounds — living through generations of owners — with no issues.

The bespoke Cosmi shotgun — it’s not uncommon for top skeet, trap and
clays competitors to spend $50,000 to $100,000 on their gun, so $43,000
for this beautiful Cosmi isn’t outlandish!

Shooting

I have a limited amount of shooting under my belt with the Cosmi, but what I did left a lasting impression on me. I favor old-school side-by-side guns for upland use — usually my 1930s Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga. — and if I’m serious, a nice Remington Model 1100 Sporting 20 ga. lends a hand. Each has its idiosyncrasies though and each could be improved, I’m sure.

After shooting a 12-ga. Cosmi at the home of Nighthawk Custom President Mark Stone, I confess I was sort of stunned into realizing there is an entirely different world of shotgunning available if you look for it.

The Cosmi handles like an O/U but is lighter, especially forward. The slender forend (due to the small diameter recoil spring) fits snugly into your hand and the shotgun’s weight is set well back in the stock due to the magazine’s location. The two combine to make a Cosmi bright and agile to hold and point. Weight varies due to the steel or titanium construction, but I found even with the steel model it felt much lighter than it was, thanks to the design.

Frankly, I was able to hit more easily and reliably with the Cosmi than I do with my Remington 1100 — and I thought I shot it pretty well!

I found loading and manipulating the very unique Cosmi to become familiar very quickly and I soon felt right at home with the unique manual of arms. At first I thought the break-open design to be odd for a semi-auto, but quickly discovered the convenience loading the chamber, the magazine and topping off the break-open design allows.

Plus, there’s no doubt the gun is safe when the barrel is open. It’s why I’ve always enjoyed being in the field with shooters using O/U shotguns. You can see what’s going on at a glance.

Shooting a Cosmi on the skeet range, sporting clays or in the field is sheer pleasure. And you’d likely never wear it out!

Final Thoughts

There’ve only been about 7,500 Cosmi shotguns made since 1930. Remarkably, each is different enough due to the hand-building and assembly, fitting and adjustments to each owner so parts are often not interchangeable. Rolls-Royce tends to make in-line changes to components in each car made, so to order parts, you need to supply the serial number of your car so they can match it to the build sheet for that particular car.

If you own a Cosmi shotgun, you have a unique item and the same situation. They can be made to your exact wishes, fitting the stock to you precisely and engraving and attending to the various other details precisely as you wish. The result is you own something very much yours and very much unique — like a Rolls-Royce.

As far as costs go? Well, think of it as how much a clean used car costs nowadays. I’m betting if you looked around you could come up with some safe queens to sell, maybe that pickup you don’t drive much anymore — and do you really need a second tractor? Without much effort you just might have a Cosmi in your future. Wait until you handle one, you’ll be smitten.

Besides, you really should follow your dreams now and again. Otherwise you’ll find yourself sitting in the “home” wishing about what might have been.

NighthawkCustom.com

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