Beretta 1201FP Review

This used Beretta has many good features, including easy handling and reliability. The 1201FP is fast on target and controllable. The semi-auto inertia action makes for less recoil than a pump-action shotgun of the same weight. While not common, they are worth the search to locate one of these excellent shotguns. A drawback compared to the other shotguns is its light weight and attendant recoil. Neither can the Beretta accept a red-dot sight.

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GUN TESTS GRADE: B

$500

The Beretta 1201FP is a little-known shotgun in comparison to the Benelli M4 or other Benelli series. The standard 1201 and 1301 shotguns are more common than the 1201FP tested here. The Beretta 1201 features the Benelli inertia-drive-type action. With few moving parts and a promise of low maintenance, the inertia action has proven reliable and long in service. It is not perfect, however, as reports of problems arise if the shotgun is laden with accessories that might not be part of the original design envelope. The system and the shotguns that use this system have an excellent reputation for reliability. The Beretta appears to be an attempt at a more affordable version of the Benelli. The 1201 has been replaced by the 1301 shotgun. The 1201 was used by some agencies but never reached the popularity of the Benelli shotguns and is certainly outsold many times by pump shotguns. The Beretta 1301 is a gas-operated shotgun versus the inertia-type drive used by the Beretta 1201.

Action TypeSemi-auto, inertia driven
Chamber Size3.0 in.
Overall Length42.0 in.
Capacity6+1
Weight6.3 lbs.
Weight Loaded7.15 lbs.
Barrel Length20.0 in.
ReceiverAnodized black aluminum
ChokeCylinder
StockBlack synthetic
Stock Length of Pull13.8 in.
Stock ForendPlastic
Front SightPost with brass bead
Rear SightV blade
Trigger Pull Weight5.0 lbs.
SafetyCrossbolt
WarrantyNone, used
Telephone(800) 237-3882
WebsiteBerettaUSA.com
Made InItaly

The 1201FP features a blue finish on the receiver and barrel. The stock and forend are black synthetic. Our version was found used for the price we noted. In January 2020, we found three 1201s for sale at various sites from $500 to $569. These were straight-stock versions. Pricing and availability are much different now. The 1201FP tested is the less-common version with a pistol-grip stock. We really like this stock and feel that it offers an advantage in fast handling. The shotgun doesn’t feature the extended safety, cocking handle, or oversize bolt release of the more expensive shotguns. But we had no problem quickly manipulating the Beretta. It simply wasn’t as fast and slick as the others. The 20-inch barrel offers a good balance. The rear sight offers an open V for aiming, and the front sight isn’t a simple bead, but it isn’t a rifle sight either. But it is useful primarily with buckshot. The shotgun is much lighter than the other shotguns at 6 pounds and a few ounces. It isn’t a featherweight, but the lighter weight makes for faster handling.

The Beretta is light and kicks hard, but it is controllable.

During the firing test, the shotgun was reliable. We have no idea how many shells had been fired in the Beretta before we obtained it. The Beretta handles quickly and moves between targets smoothly. The problem is recoil. The Beretta, by virtue of its light weight, is a hard kicker. The self-loading action makes a difference compared to a pump, but this shotgun kicks more than a 7.5-pound pump action, in our estimation. Just the same, the shotgun was effective during the firing test when we fired the shotgun quickly. Control was not as good as with the other shotguns. The added recoil must be balanced against the Beretta 1201FP’s light weight and fast handling. For prolonged use, such as competition or for those who simply practice a lot, the Beretta will not be the top choice. As we handed the shotgun back and forth among the raters, all liked the Beretta as it came into the hand, but none liked being beat up from recoil. Still, if you are packing a heavy load over distance, such as hiking with a backpack, the 1201FP has merit.

The Beretta’s pistol grip is comfortable and offers good leverage in fast-paced drills.

When fired off the benchrest, the Beretta put an exclamation point on the shotgun’s recoil. Slugs struck just an inch and a half below point of aim on average, with an average group of 2.0 to 2.4 inches, very consistent across the board with the Hornady slugs, while the Fiocchi cut a 1.8-inch five-shot group and the Remington slugs, 2.35 inches. With no malfunctions and useful slug accuracy, the Beretta is a reliable and useful shotgun. The extended magazine holds six 2¾-inch shells, one more than the Benelli.

Our Team Said: There are several things that play against the Beretta as a viable choice. First, it is no longer in production and limited in availability. It is far less common, than, say, the Remington 870 shotgun. There is no provision for mounting a red-dot sight. Balanced against these demerits is the Beretta’s excellent reliability and fast handling. Performance is comparable to shotguns in the current Beretta/Benelli lineup that cost much more. Depending on the price tag, we would buy this shotgun and trust it.

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