Benelli Cordoba No. 10650 20 Gauge, $1500
A recent Gun Tests magazine review asserted there are two sides to the competitive shooting coin; one side is the challenge of being the best you can be and the other side is just being able to have a little fun. Picking the right shooting tool to handle both sides of this coin has become a lot easier with the availability of a good number of quality, fine-handling 20-gauge semiautomatics. These small-gauge shotguns provide the shooter with a lighter, quicker target-busting tool that also carries the freight in the field during bird-hunting sessions.
For the magazine's field test, the staff selected the Benelli Cordoba, $1500.
The shotgun is made in Italy and featured a synthetic stock and forearm. Our test team placed increased emphasis on function and handling abilityand also factoring in the price tag as another ledger entry.
Our test ammunition for the trio included Estate Super Sport Competition Target 2.75-inch, 2.5-dram-equivalent shells in No. 7 1/2 shot (muzzle velocity 1200 fps); and Winchester AA Super Sport Sporting Clays 2.75-inch, 2.5-dram-equivalent shells in No. 7 1/2 shot (muzzle velocity 1300 fps). We patterned each of the shotguns with both types of ammunition, using Improved Cylinder chokes when firing at paper set up 25 yards downrange.
Patterns were 60-40 (more hits below the center than above the center) with the Benelli shotgun. Here are the rest of our test results:
Designed as a hunting gun for the high-volume dove-popping found in South America, the Cordoba takes its name from the city of Cordoba, Argentina. We immediately liked the black GripTight coating on the synthetic stock and forearm. The feel of the shotgun with the slight palm swell in the grip and the thin forearm are equal to others, but the coating provided a better, more secure surface, we felt.
The Cordobas ComforTech stock provided an acceptable fit for all of our team members. Once again, we did not experience the advertised reduction in felt recoil.
The overall length of the Cordoba was 48.5 inches, with a length of pull of 14 inches; a drop at the comb of 1.5 inches; and a drop at the heel of 2.0 inches. The slightly lower stock, combined with a 10mm ramped rib, is a fine configuration for a field gun that does not hinder a shooter on the clay target range. Both the unloaded weight of the shotgun and the trigger pull weight were exactly the same, 6 pounds. This is fine for the weight of the shotgun as far as handling ability, we would have preferred a trigger touch off to be around 5 pounds.
We did prefer the feel and balance of the Cordoba. This is what a fine field gun should feel like, a solid shooting tool capable of knocking down a lot of targets or birds while remaining a pleasure to fire and handle.
One of the other features available with the Cordoba is a see-through slot on the forearm that can be used to determine the number of rounds in the magazine. The feature is a nice touch that would find more use in the field than on the clay-target range. We liked it.
As noted earlier, the Cordobas recoil operation is the Inertia Driven system. This is a reliable, although noisy, system that provided flawless function in all of our shooting tests.
Disassembly and reassembly of the Cordoba was a breeze and allowed for easy cleaning and lubrication of the working parts.
One member of our test team had put a similar Cordoba through its paces during a hunt in Argentina and reported that while handling nearly 5,000 rounds during four days of dove shooting, the shotgun performed without a hiccup. That is quite a testament for a shooting tool capable of heavy-duty service both on the clay-target range and in the hunting fields.