September 16, 2008

Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon lI Sporting 20 Gauge

The Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon II Sporting is a traditionally styled and typically proportioned sub-gauge. Trim in stock, wrist, receiver, and fore-end, the gun is a symmetrically shrunken version of the 12 gauge.

Our gun’s buttstock was a well-grained piece of wood oiled to a dull sheen. We didn’t mind this, but think a higher polish or even a light lacquer finish would have better brought out the wood figure. We found the wrist long and sleek, angling gently back from the trigger guard and allowing ample room for larger hands. It did not sport a palm swell. Minimal checkering appeared on both sides and was classically done, neither sharply pronounced nor dull, and was cleanly executed with no runover at the points or corner. The buttstock was slightly cast off, best for right-hand shooters, but it was so slight that a couple of left-handed shooters who tried the gun didn’t notice.

The Silver Pigeon came with two buttpads, both soft rubber and rounded at the toe and heel to prevent catching on clothing. The installed pad was a slim 0.375 inch at its narrowest middle point, while the extra pad was wider by another 0.25 inch. We liked that Beretta provided two pads of differing lengths to accommodate different LOPs.

The inletting where the stock met the receiver showed the wood edge minimally exposed at the metal, and it was completely finished—quality on par with a Beretta Teknys we recently tested that exhibited a marked improvement in fit and finish.

The receiver’s metalwork was well done, too. Pretty without being ostentatious, the gun sported two different bas-relief gamebird portraits. On the right were hen and rooster pheasants; on the left were two flying woodcocks—not at all badly executed for machined engraving.

While we had a lot of fun with this gun, we believe that for sporting sub-gauge purposes, women and teen shooters will like it better than tall adult males. The gun did excel on the skeet field, and thanks to its 3-inch chambers, this gun will hunt, too.

The remainder of the receiver’s metal, including the fences, hinge-pin screws, and lever head, was covered in delicate, traditional rose scroll-type engraving. This, too, was well done, with symmetrical coverage all around. The only "flaw" we could find was the inset screw in the trigger housing tang was slightly out of line with its parent screw.

The combination barrel selector/safety on the Beretta Silver Pigeon II held no surprises. We pushed the safety up for fire and down for safe (revealing an engraved "S"). We pushed the inset barrel selector left to fire the bottom barrel first (showing one red dot) and to the right to shoot the top tube first (revealing two red dots). Both required positive, firm pushes to engage, just what we want in such a feature.

We found the trigger guard provided ample room, both top and bottom and from the trigger itself to the front of the guard, for any finger size. We also found the single selective trigger to be crisp, if a tad heavy, pulling an average 5.25 pounds on the top barrel and 5.5 on the bottom.

The fore-end and barrels proportionally followed the clean, classic lines of the buttstock, right down to the cleanly executed checkering patterning. The Schnabel fore-end featured a slight swell at the belly that could have been longer to assist longer-armed shooters, but none of our test shooters had any complaints about it. Finally, though the fore-end latch was proportionally sized down, we found it easy to engage/disengage, a pleasure compared to several other sub-gauge over/unders we’ve tested in the past.

Of the barrels, we liked that they were solidly seamed between each other, adding weight forward to a lightweight gun. We also liked the wide rib that provided a nice sighting plane on this small-frame gun. We also appreciated jeweling under its topside cuts, which reduced glare.

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Inletting on both sides of the gun was completely finished, and the receiver's metalwork was well done, too. The gun sported two different bas-relief gamebird portraits that were machine-engraved. Metal elsewhere was covered in well-done rose scroll- type engraving.

We do wish this gun came with 32-inch barrels, but beyond that, the only things we could complain about were the beads and the choke tubes. The 20-gauge Silver Pigeon II Sporting has a silver mid-rib bead and a prominent white front bead. Choke tubes supplied in Cylinder, Skeet, Improved, Improved Modified, and Modified were flush-mount, but we prefer extended tubes. We also think a Full choke should have been included on a sub-gauge.

We found fault with the bead not because it was inadequate, but because other Berettas dedicated to competition come with fiber-optic sight pins—as should this one.

The performance we received from the Silver Pigeon was nimble, fast, responsive to a wide range of targets, and light on the recoil and muzzle rise. It took on close-in targets with zeal, and a slight opening of the hand on the fore-end permitted an adequate address on longer targets where the gun might otherwise have been whippy. Note that this was not a gun to be pushed around. An overtight grip and an aggressive swing, especially on longer presentations, led to over lead. Those shooters in control of their leads and target approach found themselves making the breaks much sooner than with the other guns in the test.

Perhaps the greatest testament to this gun’s speed was that all our test shooters came off the sporting clays course liking the gun for that sport, but wanting to head directly for the skeet field. And, indeed, this gun excelled beyond the others at the more regimented sport.

Elsewhere, we experienced no mechanical failures with this gun. Both barrels fired reliably regardless of firing order, and the safety, barrel selector, and ejectors worked flawlessly.

Comments (7)

Beretta isn't the best at customer relations, but when you but one of their proven gun (ALL of their shotguns) you really shouldn't need much customer service. I've put over 10,000 rounds through one of my Berettas without a bobble. As for the flourescent sights, the wretched things should NEVER be put on a shotgun used for serious work. Way too distracting, and as a real purist, TOO GAUDY. An insignificant silver bead will do just fine.

Posted by: Oldbirdhunter | September 18, 2008 8:00 PM    Report this comment

dont buy it, I bought a Beretta CX4 storm cabine in april 2008, it broke in May 2008. I sent it to Beretta, and here it is September and I still dont have it. I called 5 or 6 times and am always told that the broken guide rod is not available. I have sent more than a few guns back to various gun makers when broken and have always had excellent service. It seems like Beretta doesnt really care about customer service.

Posted by: bobparzych | September 18, 2008 5:19 PM    Report this comment

Your Silver Pidgeon II description could have been for my Bretta BL-3 which I purchased new in 1971 for $245. It has performed flawlessly for 37 years now and still looks and performs like new. Beretta makes beautiful over/unders and are a pleasure to own and shoot. Times and prices have drastically changed but you can depend on Beretta to provide great products in long guns and handguns.

Posted by: bobber | September 18, 2008 1:16 PM    Report this comment

My instructor says fluorescent front sights are the worst thing to happen to shooters. Encourages shooter to look at the sight, rather than at the clay. Several textbooks on trap and skeet shooting recommend removing them. You should not fault Beretta for including them, even though they're a current fad, rather than an improvement

Posted by: GreenCay | September 18, 2008 11:53 AM    Report this comment

Yes, the Beretta Silver Pigeon comes with an automatic safety.

Posted by: maggie | September 18, 2008 10:20 AM    Report this comment

Your comment about a need for a da-glo/flourescent bead on a shotgun used for clays (or anything) is surprising. When shooting clays--or real birds--your eyes must be focused on the target,specifically the leading edge of the target, not on the barrel or a bead. That's why shotguns used for birds lack sights. Your eyes cannot focus on both the bird and the gun at the same time, and to hit the bird you have to focus on it. I do not replace beads if they fall off a shotgun. The bead's a distraction, especially for new shooters. The Beretta Silver Pigeon is an accurate, high quality, very strong shotgun and a good value.

Posted by: maggie | September 18, 2008 10:19 AM    Report this comment

You discussed the safety, but failed to mention whether it's an automatic safety or not. Please advise.

Posted by: triangleman606 | September 18, 2008 9:49 AM    Report this comment

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