Learn the backstory and history of the Italian built RFM shotguns
In Europe, shotguns and the business that surrounds them are more akin to the fine art trade. As Dan and I stood among the tables of the “IWA Outdoor Classic” in Nuremberg, Germany, we were enveloped in a room steeped in years of tailored craftsmanship and generations of tradition sprawled before us. From a distance, one booth caught our attention. It was overwhelmed with activity and the hum of Italian conversation. As we watched and listened, the language barrier made things challenging. But underneath the conversation, we understood the universal and unspoken language of the impeccable craftmanship and details of Italian double-barrel shotguns.
We approached the booth several times but had to keep coming back because the booth was filled with customers. Once able to hold the guns, we knew instantly we were holding something special. Something that was made with love and attention to the little details that you don’t see every day. After a quick product review of all the RFM offerings with Sissi, Katia and Maurizio we just asked, “can we come to see you in July?”. They agreed with a sheepish grin and we started a conversation that lead to a unique and exciting partnership.
If you haven’t heard of RFM shotguns you can count yourself among most other Americans as they have never been sold in the North American market (until now, of course).
The Origin Story of RFM Shotguns
Rota Luciano, born in 1935, founder of RFM Armi with his wife Fausti Maria, also a daughter of gunsmiths, began his studies at the trade school in Brescia where young people, mostly children of World War II, were trained in manual skills to insert them into the workforce. After completing his studies, Luciano became passionate about weapons and approached the magical world of gunsmithing and building firearms.
Initially, his passion turned to the wood part of the shotgun and he specialized in the manufacturing of stocks. For several years, he offered his valuable skillset to both hunters and expert shooters. His interest in weapons was so great that he developed the idea to construct his first rifle in 1957. This was the formation of “Rota Luciano.”
Initially, he built shotguns of a specific value, such as a side-by-side with external hammers. Then given the needs of the market of that time, he turned to more commercial firearms.
During the Italian economic boom between the late 1950s and early 1960s, Luciano expanded his offerings abroad by exporting around 20,000 guns a year to many different countries.
The market and the demands of those times were based on the production of commercial produced rifles and shotguns. In the following years and with the introduction of his son-in-law Maurizio Bertolassi, production became more refined and specialized in the firearm’s complete customization. The goal was to give every single customer the dream of hunting and shooting a made-to-measure shotgun “just like a tailor sews a suit for his client,” he says. Maurizio owes his experience and knowledge to his father, also an expert gunsmith. His training started at the age of 14, at a large gunsmith company before subsequently joining RFM Armi.
His legacy is protected by Maurizio, daughters Sissi, Katia and Luciano’s wife Maria; every day, they walk into the shop and handle an RFM shotgun. To this day, what he truly values in his guns is quality craftsmanship for every gun, every day.
After leaving the factory in July, we knew we had to bring RFM to the American wingshooter. With a resurgence in double gun interest and the potential to provide customized Italian-built shotguns, it was simply too exciting an opportunity to pass up. Over the following months, we worked on collaborating, curating and importuning the first RFM shotguns to the United States.