Alloy Field Guns


Bruce:

I am in the market for a new 12 ga o/u field gun. I recently bought a 20 ga Beretta EELL, and it serves my limited quail and grouse hunting needs very well. I make a few trips each year out west to do some pheasant hunting, which is a combination of released and wild birds. The released birds are put out on a regular basis, and they move about on 10,000+ acres, so they are not the “tame” pheasants we have here on NC preserves, and I prefer the 12 ga versatility for them. My clays gun is a 9 pound Perazzi, a bit on the beefy side for toting all day.

Finally, my question: I recently handled a Browning XS Feather with 30″ barrels that weighed just a mite over 7 pounds. It’s the one with the alloy receiver and titanium insert in the breech face for strength. It felt great to me, and, I am embarrassed to say I shot it better than my Perazzi during a short tryout; probably due to better concentration.

I would appreciate your opinion of this gun. I will not be using it for either high volume shooting, or, loads heavier than standard 1 1/4 oz high velocity, mostly 1 1/8 oz. I have never preferred the Browning under-bolt design, since it requires a taller receiver, but I guess that’s really splitting hairs when considering practical handling characteristics, as evidenced by my favorable shooting experience with it.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts on this gun.

Best regards,

Ed

Dear Ed,

Browning XS Feather? Nice gun. At 7#, it’s just about ideal for a “heavy” field gun. Dunno about the 30″ tubes for the field with those big Invector Plus chokes hunkering down in front, but that’s up to you. Durability of the Feather should be just as good as the standard steel gun- i.e. excellent.

I know just how much difference there can be between western range pheasants and our eastern preserve pen-raised ones. Last year I shot SoDak pheasants, wild or hardened long after release, ducks and prairie chicken with a 6-3/4# 12 gauge Belgian Superlight using 3-3/4 dram 1-1/4 oz Federal Tungsten Polymer #4s.

In this 6-3/4# gun I didn’t find the twenty or so shells I’d fire in a day to be at all onerous. I wouldn’t want to shoot hundreds of clays with that weight gun, but for hunting situations the weight/recoil compromise was more than fine. A 7# Featherweight should be a piece of cake.

The Featherweight isn’t the only light 12 game in town. I shot 25 rounds of 3-1/4 dram 1-1/4 oz Remington pigeon loads through a 6#7oz Beretta Ultralight 28″ 12 gauge. It wasn’t marvelous fun, but it was quite bearable. The stock was a good bit too short for me too, so it would have been softer with a longer stock. I wouldn’t want to shoot high volume driven with it though. Use your Perazzi for that.

By the way, NEVER trust a gun weight given in a catalogue. The Beretta 12 gauge Ultralight is listed at 5.95#. The two 28″ examples I weighed on my electronic scale came in at 6#7oz. I would be equally suspicious of any weight Browning gives, or any other maker for that. I literally bring my own electronic scale to the store when I am buying a field gun. That way you can compare gun to gun. By the way, there are plenty of steel receivered 12s in the low 7# area if you want to go that way. Maybe not in 30″ though.

As to the “deep” action on the Brownings, I think that’s angels on the head of a pin stuff. You want a deep action? Take a look at the Merkel 303s. That’s deep. The Citoris do have slightly deeper actions than the Berettas, but dollar for dollar the Brownings have more uniform quality. The deeper action also has a better gape. However, Beretta certainly wins in the aluminum action weight race.

Personally, I like the feel of the 28″ Beretta Ultralight a bit better than the 30″ Browning Feather when it comes to field use. But that’s personal. The guns have a very different sense to them. If you shoot the Browning well, it’s probably the way to go. Still, I’d just take a peek at the 12 gauge Beretta Ultralight. You can get them with fancy wood too (and you can put masking tape on the nasty “engraving”).

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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