SBAM Shooting – Italy’s GunTubers
What exactly is SBAM?
It means ”Savona Brescia And Modena” as those cities are where everything began.
What does SBAM do?
SBAM is a project we started back in 2016, at the beginning was just a YouTube channel made for fun. Then we saw that people liked our content, so we opened our Facebook and Instagram pages as well.
We are stable now and each one of us has a part in this madness.
Basically the founders are Andrea and Fabio, here. I’m [Gianluca] one of the last ones to have joined the team, and generally I take care of the subtitles of the videos. Since we noticed that a good percentage of our visuals are from abroad, especially the USA. There are ten of us, and we try to share the tasks between us. Basically we try to cover all the aspects of the shooting world, from collecting old milsurps to modern stuff, reloading, long range shooting, and so on. Dimitri here, is the most recent addition to the SBAM team, he is a former Swiss Infantry military officer and provides our mainly shooting based content for our social media and occasionally a video for the main channel. He doesn’t have access to good recording gear but he does have the ability to shoot on private property which is pretty rare here in Italy.
Where in Italy are you folks based out of?
SBAM is spread all around northern Italy, and most of us are from Modena. Fabio and Dimitri instead live in Liguria to the North West.
What specifically inspired you all to start the channel?
We thought that Italian YouTube gun channels needed to be revamped. The average Italian channel consists of a guy, speaking in front of a camera for half an hour, reading Wikipedia articles without any shooting or whatsoever. And even if we do tabletop reviews too (mainly of milsurp guns with a nice history on the back) we try to keep them as interesting as possible, and we try to integrate them with other kinds of contents. But generally speaking I guess that the short answer to your question is that we just desired to share with others our passion for the gun world.
What is the Italian gun YouTuber sphere like? What about the broader Italian gun presence online?
That’s a tricky question.
The average age of the Italian gun YouTubers is between 35-40 years old but lately more youngsters are starting to make content. But for the broader community, the content itself varies between “tacticool” stuff, tabletop reviews and sometimes even advertisements for gun stores. Unfortunately most channels, as we do, have a difficult situation with ranges. So shooting videos are not common here and shooting on private property is almost impossible.
Italy has a long history with firearms obviously. What was this gun culture like and what do you know about its roots?
We have an ancient tradition with weapons, both firearms and blades. Beretta used to make cannons and muskets back in the 16th century.. For example, Venetian Galleys during the Battle of Lepanto (1571) were equipped with cannons made by Beretta itself. We have a long tradition also in shooting sports, both Olympic (like skeet) and practical (IPSC). Back in the ’70s we also used to make antiques and western replicas for movies. Which are still used and made today. That’s not only limited to Beretta of course. We have many other successful gun manufacturers like Benelli, Franchi, Chiappa, Uberti and so on. In the military field we still produce heavy armament with OTO Melara and others. Hunting is also a big part of the Italian gun culture. Unfortunately, gun owners are not supported by a strong association, because gun permits are not guaranteed by our constitution and are instead a concession made by the State.
Do any of you have any experience gunsmithing? How did you learn?
One of the former members and friends of SBAM is a gunsmith and has a workshop near Brescia. Where he manufactures hunting guns, especially shotguns and such. He makes really fine guns and we are all proud of his job, but unfortunately due to the amount of work he has every day, he decided to leave the SBAM team. We are still in contact with him though and sometimes we still work together.
He was taught the trade under a master. He started working for a company specialized in luxury shotguns, then he took all the licenses and opened his own workshop. There are some programs for learning to smith. Every year in Brescia CONARMI, which is the union of Italian gunsmiths, organizes a 2 week course in gunsmithing. All gunsmithing activities here are located in the city of Brescia and apart from few industrial realities like Beretta. Generally overall gunsmithing is indeed treated still as an artisan activity.
How common are firearms in Italy? If you had to guess what % of the population own guns?
Firearms are pretty abundant in Italy, but they are often concentrated in the hands of a few collectors. Basically a lot of guns but not so many armed citizens. If I have to guess I’ll say that less than 10% of Italians possess firearms.
What are guns on the market, what sells, and what brands are common? How easy is it to acquire say, an HK from Germany, or Daniel Defense from America, etc.?
Well for sure there are many people attached to Italian brands, especially for handguns (like Beretta) and shotguns (again Beretta, Benelli and such). But AR15s and AKs are growing in interest and factions of AK guys and AR guys are rising. Also practical shooting is really booming here. The most appreciated handguns are Glock, the new Berettas and Tanfoglio too. Also brands like Uberti are hard to get here as lever actions are not that popular, and most of them are shipped to America. They are typically around a thousand euros at our local gun stores.
What are the most common calibers?
9×21, (because 9×19 is forbidden in pistols for civilians), 12GA, .223 and .357 above all are the most common.
What are the general legalities of gun ownership?
Except for some specific restrictions on platforms and calibers, I’d say that we have access to almost everything. Pricing may be an obstacle and private citizens cannot simply import weapons, but our gun shops can provide. Private citizens can import a max of 3 guns a year from European countries. After all the paperwork and authorizations by the police, that is. Basically we have 3 kinds of permit: Concealed Carry Permit, Hunting Licence, and a Sport Shooting License.
The concealed carry one is only for people who have a high risk job, such as people who work in government facilities, or for law enforcement officers and private security. So to sum it up, the biggest difference here compared to the USA is that gun ownership is not a constitutional right [in Italy]. is a concession of the government. To have a sporting gun license (which is the one 90% of Italian gun owners have) you must prove to not only have a clean criminal record, but pay state fees, attend a theoretical course about gun safety, and take a practical shooting course in which they check that you learned the main safety rules about gun handling. After this you get a gun proficiency certificate to bring to the police station, they check that everything is okay, and after some time, if they don’t find anything against you, you are granted a sporting permit. Time varies a lot between cities and police stations.
In Italy, similarly to the US, we have concealed carry permits and hunting permits. Concealed carry is granted to almost no one. Only people threatened by criminal organizations or that have risky jobs, like private guards and armored truck guards. A hunting permit is like a sporting permit, but allows you to go hunting, and you have to attend a further course about fauna.
What kind of shooting sports and activities are common there?
Depends on the latitude. In Southern Italy, shooting ranges are scarce, and people mainly hunt with shotguns. In Northern Italy it is a totally different story. Shotgun hunting is very popular but there are many more sport shooting facilities as well. So people are much more inclined to practice long range shooting and so on.
What kind of shooting sports and activities are common there?
Target shooting (the Olympic type with .22s and CO2), IPSC, IDPA, skeet shooting, some long range, and even competitions with old milsurp rifles and pistols.