Opinions are like everything else………..but, I would be interested in your experience with the Beretta 390/391 vs the Benelli S90. I duck hunt and would like to get more into Sporting Clays, and wish to have one gun for all. Obviously, I intend to shoot quite a bit year round. I lean towards the S90, it fits me well, but haven’t thrown a 390 to my shoulder yet.
With Best Regards,
What follows is my personal opinion bolstered by having owned just about all the different Beretta gas gun models and having lived with a Benelli Montefeltro “Sport” for two months, plus having shot others.
Advantages to the Benelli are:
1) Very strong
2) Functions when totally soaked in water
3) Very clean shooting.
Advantages to the 391 Beretta are:
1) Very strong
2) Softer shooting than Benelli
3) Less expensive than Benelli
4) Handles light loads better than the Benelli
Fit: What fits you may or may not fit me, so I don’t give too much credence to “fit” in a gun when advising someone I haven’t met. Both the Beretta and the Benelli use the same shim stock adjustment system. Personally, I find the Benellis too short, but that’s my problem and easy to fix. Gun fit and feel is very important, but they can both be altered to some extent.
The Beretta gas guns are by far the most popular semi-autos used in sporting clays. You don’t see Benellis used unless someone is paid to use them. The reason is recoil. The Benelli’s short recoil system kicks noticeably more than the Beretta’s gas system. You won’t notice it when firing a few shells at ducks, but you sure will when shooting a few hundred shells in an afternoon at clays.
The Benelli’s short recoil action doesn’t function as well with light target loads as the Beretta gas system does. That’s unfortunate as you will want to shoot low recoil shells in the Benelli if you shoot a lot. The Benelli 3″ will handle 1-1/8 oz target loads reliably. It’s when you go lighter that you can have problems in cold or damp weather. The 391 Beretta will happily shoot anything from 7/8 oz training loads to any 3″ shell on the market. Stay away from the 3-1/2″ chambered Benellis if you want to shoot clay targets. The 3-1/2″ Benellis will not reliably shoot all clay target ammo. Their ads say that they will handles 3 dram 1-1/8 oz target ammo, and they will under many conditions, but you will be right on the edge some of the time. Benelli’s newer Ethos line is reported to be able to handle target loads without any issues.
I’ve tested both the Benelli “Sport” and the Beretta “Sporting Clays” models on clays. There was no comparison. The Benelli felt like a hunting gun being forced into use as a clay target gun. The Beretta felt fully at home. I really didn’t like the Benelli Sport at all for clays. It was one of those “nasty” guns you shoot once and don’t want to pick up again. I didn’t like the carbon-fiber rib setup or the trigger either.
In the field, I like the Benelli just a bit better, but not a whole bunch better. If I were only duck hunting I would give a slight edge to the Benelli. The Beretta 391 field guns have very close to the same feel as the Benellis. The Beretta 391 target guns are built with a much heavier feel, as they should be. I don’t like the extremely narrow and thin rib on the Beretta field barrels as I feel that they are too prone to damage. If you are going to use the gun more for clays than ducks, I’d consider the Beretta 391 sporting clays model. The extra weight isn’t a detriment in the duck blind and the features of the target gun may help you on clays.
Wet weather: This is where I give a clear edge to the Benelli. I’ve had my Beretta gas guns turn into single shots when they have been totally filled with water. Not sprinkled on, or involved in showers, but subjected to horizontal rain for the whole day. I’ve heard from some other hunters (one guy who shoots eider ducks from a kayak in the Baltic in winter!) who use Beretta’s just fine. Still, my personal experience is that the Beretta’s will give problems after a certain amount of water. The Benellis, on the other hand, don’t seem to care what the weather is like. Nothing in the way of weather seems to stop them. You don’t mention your typical ducking conditions, so only you can judge how important this Benelli advantage is.
The Benelli ad hype is that it cycles “fast”. It does, but the Beretta is fast enough. Fast enough is fast enough.
The Benelli shoots almost completely clean as there is no gas slooshing around in the system. The Beretta will have to be cleaned every 1,500 rounds or so. They can go longer, but sooner or later the gunk builds up in the trigger group and you get problems. A Canadian friend of mine has run over 13,000 (yup, thirteen thousand) rounds through a 390 without cleaning. He just adds BreakFree.
By the way, both gun have good reputations for durability. The Benelli has better word of mouth for not breaking, but since Benellis are used almost exclusively by hunters, and thus don’t get the 25,000 rounds a year through them that some clay shooters put through Berettas, it’s hard to make a comparison. The Benellis break just like everything else does. Benelli is owned by Beretta, so both parts supplies are equally bad.
Your decision. Try them both, but make sure that you also shoot them both. Personally, I’d pick the Beretta 391 without any hesitation as I shoot that gun much, much better. I always struggled with the Benellis. But that’s mostly gun fit. Your experience may differ.
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)