Inertia Vs Gas Gun For Waterfowl

Dear Technoid,

I need to buy me a new semi automatic shotgun after fathers 30 year old Browning A-5 broke down, they don’t make them any more so i need to find me something else. I’m very interested in Beretta, it’s either that or buying a Stoeger 2000 or Franchi I-2. I would use this gun for waterfowling, seabird hunting and my father would use it for upland bird hunting. So as u can see i’m looking for an all around hunting gun. The main problem is the waterfowl hunting and seabird hunting because of sand and sea salt so that the gun have to be versatile and being able to cope with that kind of situations.

My questions are those. Do you think that a Beretta 391 could do the job? I’ve heard that it can be pretty hard to clean them properly And which one would you recommend if I go for a Beretta the Teknys or Ulrika? And what about the other brands I meantioned are they any good?

Yours sincerly

Dear Sigurjon,

In 2011 Browning introduced the New A5. It has the familiar humpbacked receiver as the old A5 and is recoil operated, but with a rotary bolt inertia system similar to the Benelli. The rotary bolt inertia locking systems have a history of being very reliable, however one can’t say the same for the New A5 because it hasn’t been around for very long.

The guns you mentioned are very different. The Beretta 391 is gas operated, while the Franchi I-12 and Stoeger 2000 both use Benelli’s Inertia Driven system. Your marvelous old A-5 Browning was recoil operated, a system much closer to (but definitely not identical to) the Benelli system. The Franchi 48 AL is much closer to the A-5 in that the barrel moves rearward on recoil. In the Benelli system, the barrel remains stationary while the inertia of the recoil unlocks the bolt and moves it rearward. In a gas operated gun like the Beretta 391, gas pressure bled out of the barrel behind the shell operates the system.

All three systems are equally reliable under ideal operating conditions. But there are differences. The Beretta 391 gas system has proven extremely reliable in most situations. Generally, gas operated shotguns have lower perceived recoil than inertia operated guns like the Benelli, Franchi I-12 and Stoeger 2000. Inertia operated guns have always seemed to me to have a little less recoil than recoil operated guns like the A-5 and Franchi 48 AL. Many people will not agree with me about inertia guns kicking less than recoil operated guns, but most will agree that the gas guns are softest recoiling of the group. The lower recoil of the 391 is an advantage. It’s not the lightest recoiling gas gun (Remington 1100 and Browning Gold are both softer), but it’s pretty good.

Because gas derived from cartridge ignition is used to operate the action of the Beretta 391, the gas carries carbon with it and dirties the action a good bit. Some gas guns like the Remington 1100s would require cleaning every few hundred rounds or more just to keep operating. I’ve owned half a dozen various models of the Beretta gas guns, including a 391, and have found the 391 to go a very, very long time between cleanings without malfunctioning. I don’t think that my current 391 has been properly cleaned in over 5,000 rounds of target shooting. I just put a few drops of BreakFree CLP on the piston and guide rod and it trundles along. It’s remarkable.

So, if the 391 gas gun lowers recoil, is reliable and goes a long time between cleanings, why consider anything else? Because gas guns don’t work as well as inertia operated guns when they are wet. My Beretta 303s and B-80s (essentially a Beretta 302 sold by Browning) do not handle wet weather at all well. The 391 is better, but not in the same class as the Benellis or the other guns with that inertia system. In upland hunting, the ability to operate flawlessly when drenching, soaking, sopping wet may or may not be important, but in waterfowl hunting, it is vital. This is where the inertia action comes into it’s own.

I won’t say that the Benelli action will work under water because even I am not dumb enough to try that one and you shouldn’t either. But it will function properly when very, very wet, the way you often get when hunting ducks and geese all day in the rain. The inertia action doesn’t rely on carbon carrying gas to operate. It uses inertia, which is clean. So inertia operated guns like the Benelli, Franchi I-12 and Stoeger 2000 shoot very, very clean. They kick more, but they do it cleanly. Clean guns are less likely to jam when wet because there is nothing for the water to blend with to turn to sludge to stop the gun.

So, if you plan on hunting in wet weather, I’d look long and hard at the Benelli action. I have no in depth experience with the “Inertia Driven” Benelli style actions of the Stoeger 2000 or Franchi I-12, so you are on your own there.

Personally, I find Benellis extremely reliable in all weather conditions, but not as comfortable to shoot as the Beretta 391. A great many competitive clay target shooters use the 391 and put tens of thousands of rounds through them each year. Virtually no ranked competitive shooter uses a Benelli. But lots and lots of hunters do.

How do the Franchi I-12 and the Stoeger 2000 compare to the Benelli? Dunno exactly. All the companies are owned by Beretta, so my guess is that Beretta was looking for a way to market a less expensive Benelli. The Franchi I-12 is made in Italy, but the Stoeger is not. I think it’s Turkish. Assembly quality is definitely not as good as the Benelli, but it costs a lot less too. The Franchi I-12 is a nice gun and appears well made. Beyond that, I haven’t put enough rounds through either of the guns to form an opinion as to how long they will last. Generally Benelli inertia operated guns are quite free of parts breakage. They aren’t bullet proof, but they are good.

If you do pick the Beretta 391, do you get the Urika or Teknys? For hunting, I’d get the Urika in a heartbeat. The Teknys has a bunch of gingerbread on it that really isn’t going to do a hunter much good. Save the money. Get the plain synthetic stocked 391 Urika for hunting.

Then again you might want to look at he new Browning A5. Their web site is claiming a 100,000 round or 5 year guarantee that the gun “will work, come hell or high water.”

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid for Shotgun Report, LLC

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3 Responses to Inertia Vs Gas Gun For Waterfowl

  1. tony petres says:

    If you could get your hands on a used (or even new) Beretta Pintail (ES-100), you would have a great all rounder also. Inertia action based on an earlier Benelli design re-introduced when Beretta purchased Benelli. Action is 3″ only, but it is truly a poor mans, Benelli Black Eagle. Mine has never let me down and in nearly every lousy weather scenario imaginable (mostly waterfowl hunting).
    Just my 2 cents….


  2. mohee says:

    Hi, I have a question. Is it correct that more shot speed=more recoil and less speed=less recoil? Thanks


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