I've owned one since 1978 - an I/C 24" VR model - and @ 5lbs have found it to be one of the best birdguns I've ever had the pleasure to own/use.
I was recently lucky enough to get a 2nd, in a raffle - a new 20ga AL-48 Deluxe with 26" VR bbl & choke tubes - and while it's certainly more versatile than the birdgun. it's also very marginally heavier by maybe a half-pound.
I ended up using the Franchi more than my Rem 1100 20ga Special Field, and a pumpgun I've had forever.
FWIW, I've yet to have issue one, with either AL-48.