By Cameron Hopkins
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas
Rodolfo Cosmi operated outside the bounds of normality, thriving in weirdness as he invented a strange shotgun in 1925—a break-top semiautomatic with a hidden shell magazine in the buttstock. Quite possibly if John Browning had eaten magic mushrooms, he might’ve dreamt up such a peculiarity, but we’ll never know.
What we do know is a Cosmi shotgun will make you the coolest kid on the block. One look at the receiver shows the incredible engineering and craftsmanship in the design, a shell carrier system so complex I couldn’t figure it out without watching Ian McCullum’s “Forgotten Weapons” video describing the gun’s function.
Here’s how it works: a recoil operated design, the mainspring is covered by the forend and, upon firing, the bolt moves rearward with the barrel extension, picks up a shell from the spring-powered buttstock magazine which is then carried by a highly complex lifter and pushed into the chamber by the bolt, powered by the forend mainspring.
Opening the shotgun with its tang release lever must be done with the bolt closed, however, the bolt locks open on the last shot. It must be manually released with a bolt release button on the left side of the action.
Now you have the Cosmi broken open with the bolt forward … so how do you get a shell chambered with the bolt closed? Manually. There’s a lever on the bolt that you push with your thumb—I’ll call it a bolt retraction lever—which then allows you to manually insert a shell into the chamber. However, you can’t close the action with the bolt to the rear, so back to the bolt release button you go.
It’s all rather complicated.
But the quality is superb, from the highly figured Circassian walnut stock to the polish of the steel. The craftsmanship of a Cosmi is on par with the finest Italian shotguns … and the Italians are known for their remarkable shotguns.
And their oddball guns. There’s the Chiappa Rhino, a revolver with its barrel aligned with the bottom of the cylinder, not the top, and their three-barrel shotgun side-by-side over-under. And finally, how about a double-barreled 1911? That’s from Arsenal Firearms.
Hunter S. Thompson would approve… professional weirdness.
Editor’s note: Once you’ve returned from chaperoning your kid’s field trip to the U.S. Treasury with a couple of uncut sheets of “souvenirs,” head over to Nighthawk Custom and treat yourself to a handsome Cosmi shotgun.