20-Gauge Semis: Beretta Ekes Out Win in Competition Clash
We look at a trio of competition 20-gauge semiautomatic shotguns: Two Benellis are matched against a Beretta in an all-Italian battle, with wallet shock determining the winner.
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 our field test, we selected three 20-gauge semiautomatics for a clay-crunching challenge that pitted a trio of Italian-made shotguns in a head to head to head battle. The three shotguns we collected from Dury’s Gun Shop in San Antonio (www.durysguns.com) were the Benelli Super Sport, $1,700; the Benelli Cordoba, $1,500; and the Beretta AL 391 Urika, $1,350. All prices reflect Dury’s asking price at the time of our test.
As noted, all of the shotguns are made in Italy and all of them have very similar dimensions, although both the Benelli shotguns featured synthetic stocks and forearms while the Beretta offered the more traditional satin-finished walnut stock and forearm. With all sporting 28-inch ported barrels to help reduce recoil and with little difference in weight and overall length, our test team placed increased emphasis on function and handling ability—and also factoring in the price tags 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.
The Beretta produced the best pattern, a 50-50 spread with half of the hits above the center and half below. Patterns were 60-40 (more hits below the center than above the center) with both of the Benelli shotguns. The Super Sport was also patterned slightly to the left. While all the patterns were acceptable for both clays and birds, the Beretta scored the first victory in our testing with its paper punching performance.
Here are the rest of our test results: