Beretta 390/391-Which Rib?

Greetings Bruce!

Many thanks for your replies to me (regarding shooting glasses colors and Remington Gun club load shot).

On to more serious topics. I am considering purchasing one of the Beretta AL 390 family of guns for all the target sports. In order of preference: Skeet, 5 Stand, Sporting, Trap. My every day shooter is a 425 Browning, 12 gauge, 30″. I am looking at either the AL 390 Sporting or the AL 390 Parallel Target. Both in 28″

In the gun store the sporting initially fits me best. (length of pull, and I am sighting right down the rib, the middle bead just nicking the bottom of the front sight bead). It also “feels” good.

The Parallel Target “feels” almost as good, but I am high on the rib. The middle bead is below the front bead by about a rear bead width.

The thousand dollar question for the Technoid is this. I noticed the ribs are quite different, the Sporting model is level with the receiver and barrel, the Parallel Target is a step rib, its high at the back of the gun and tapers down to meet the muzzle. BUT the monte carlo comb is higher to meet the step rib in back, so it all lines up (although I need to really bear down on the comb, or shave it down a bit to fit me perfectly). The salesman said the Parallel Target shoots flatter in all disciplines, is his recommendation for a “shoot it all gun,” and they sell more of them. Will this rib configuration really do that?

My way of thinking is that with that step rib in back (being higher than in front), the gun will shoot high because the barrel is pointed up higher. If so, will there will be more space between the end barrel bead and the target? I really don’t want that. I also realize that this is no fantastic wood on this gun, so I would feel better shaping the stock down so my sight plane is lower and thus lower my shot string and have less space between the end barrel bead and the target.


Will the Parallel Target be the better over all gun even though I have to initially play with the fit?

28″ or 30″???

Kindest Regards,


Dear Andy,

Do you mean AL 391, the current model, or the AL 390, the preceding model?

It really doesn’t matter as both are excellent guns, but the 390s haven’t been in Beretta’s lineup for years, discounting the 3901s that the Big Box stores get.

Here are my reservations about the Beretta models: I like the parallel target stock better than the standard 391 sporter stock. For me, the standard sporter stock drops too much from nose to heel no matter how you set the shims. It’s not a matter of stock height, it’s a matter of the slope of the comb. I like a flatter comb.

BUT… I hate stepped ribs on any shotgun. A stepped rib is basically designed to permit the gun to shoot high while presenting the shooter with a flat sight picture right down the rib. It works great in American-style trap with it’s constantly rising target, but for me it doesn’t work well in sporting because half the targets are droppers.

I like to set up my guns with flat ribs. I adjust the stocks so that when cheek “into the bone” 100% hard, I look flat down the rib. I can never go “under” my rib. Normally I shoot with about 70% cheek pressure, so I see a little bit of rib and the gun (in theory) shoots just a little bit high.

For me, I guess that the ideal situation would be to have the parallel target stock mounted on the standard 391 sporter with the flat rib. Note that when the 390 first came out in a sporter version, Beretta used stepped ribs on them. People hated it and Seminole did a land office business retrofitting the flat rib 303 barrels to the 390. Then Beretta converted the 390 sporters to flat ribs and Seminole dropped the practice.

I want to emphasize that the above are my personal preferences. That may be about as interesting to someone else as my shoe size. You have to do what’s best for you. I do want to emphasize though that the stepped rib is mostly seen in ATA trap. You don’t see any where near the same number in skeet, IntSk, bunker trap or sporting clays.

Yes, almost all Krieghoffs come with a stepped rib, or at least one that is raised at the rear, but that’s because K guns tend to shoot low (that comment is directly from the horse’s mouth) so the stepped rib makes them shoot properly.

As far as : “The salesman said the Parallel Target shoots flatter in all disciplines…”, that’s not how I see it. The vast majority of the 391s I see in sporting and skeet are conventionally stocked sporter models. I don’t see that many autos of any kind in trap, though I really don’t understand why. They would seem to me to be ideal for the singles side of the game.

28″ or 30″? Up to you. My 303s are 30″ and my 391 is 28″. Most of the sporting clays and trap guys would say 30″. The skeet guys would say 28″. Remember, the autos have about 3-1/2″ more length due to their receivers compared to the O/Us. A 28″ gas gun has about the same overall length as a 31-1/2″ O/U.

The Optima Bore barrels on the new 391s are a bit heavier than the Mobil choke barrels on the earlier 391s. Bear that in mind when selecting your length. Lots of people weight up the front end of the 391s, so the heavier barrels would do that for you. I sort of like the MobilChoke 391s with the lighter barrels. Up to you. The nice thing about the gas guns is that you can balance them any way you wish and then change it back if you don’t like it. Harder to do that with an O/U.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for ShotgunReport,LLC

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