All over the place I’ve read about how great the Urika 391 is. I shot one and it seemed a lot like the AL390 with all (some?) of the problems fixed. I shoot Remington 11-87’s and I like them a lot. Based on your advice-gas guns for sporting clays, I sold off most of my over/unders and I have never looked back. Is the Urika 391 that good? Am I missing something?
If your 11-87 is holding up and is reliable, there’s no reason at all to go to a Beretta auto. I actually like the feel of the Remington autos better. I shot 1100s for years in International Skeet.
My only problem with the 1100s (virtually identical to the 11-87 target guns) was that they started to eat parts after they got a certain number of rounds through them. In skeet and trap that doesn’t matter much because the fields are always close to the parking lot where you have your parts kit in the trunk of your car. A broken part only takes a moment to stuff in and you are off and running again.
Not so in sporting clays. My 1100 would wait patiently until we were a mile or so from the parking lot before it ate it’s little parts snack. Once the Nationals were held on the top of the Okemo ski mountain. It was very picturesque. It took two different chair lift rides to get to the sporting clays course on the top. Then you had to walk part way around the mountain top to the first station. My 1100 broke an action bar at the farthest possible point from the parking lot. I should have known that it would wait for a time like that. It’s a pain in the neck to lug two guns around a sporting course, so I quit the 1100s and got into Berettas.
I still sort of prefer the handling of the 11-87 sporter to the Berettas, but not by much. The Remington does shoot softer. I think that’s because so much of the recoil is absorbed by the crushing of those beer can parts in the Remington. If I went back to IntSk, I’d consider using one again. I particularly liked the 1100 trap gun with the standard trap stock and the 30″ trap barrel cut back to 26″ for a true cylinder bore choke. I had the inside of my muzzle slightly beveled the way Beretta does it on their solid choke skeet guns. With today’s lighter 24 gram loads, I’d probably use more choke, but I’d have to experiment to know for sure.
BUT, mechanically the Beretta 303, 390 and 391 are vastly superior guns. They do break, but with the advent of the hardened links and hammer struts, they break very, very seldom. Most importantly, they don’t seem to increase breakage too much as they get older. I have a 303 with about 70,000 rounds through it. It’s breakage rate has not increased in the slightest and it has very little sign of wear. I didn’t get much more than 35,000 rounds out of my 1100s before something major in the receiver let go and the gun had to be scrapped. By the way, I’ve shot 3 1100s into pieces (meaning receiver cracked or magazine tube shot off), one more was shot into barely serviceable condition, and I sold my last two of the six in pretty good shape. I’ve spent some time with the guns. (All of you 1100 owners out there who claim to have shot your guns for a million billion rounds and never had a malfunction or broken part, write Roland. He’s more charitable than I am and less inclined to point a finger and laugh.)
Beretta’s gas guns got a bad rap in the ’70s because they drilled the gas ports to accommodate the higher pressure Italian loads. The Beretta 301/302 autos often wouldn’t cycle properly with American target ammo. Word got around fast and people wouldn’t touch them. This was solved with the late half of the 303 production. Many still think that the 303 was the best of the Beretta autos.
I think that the 390 gas action was an improvement. They really will shoot anything from 7/8 oz to 3″ magnums. They didn’t get the stock quite right though and the stepped rib on the first 390 sporters wasn’t at all popular. The 391 seems to work just as well as the 390. There really wasn’t much room for improvement from a functioning point. The major difference in the 390/391 is in the lighter and more responsive feel of the 391. I also like the 391 stock configuration a bit better, especially in the pistol grip area. The 391 is slightly harder to fully clean and is a touch more complicated, but it comes standard with the newly hardened hammer struts and like. The only problem reported with the 391 has been with the magazine cut-off latch and also with the polymer buffer and spring combination in the forend nut.
Bottom line: if your 11-87 runs the way you want it to, stick with it. If you are dying to get a Beretta, pick either a used 390 or a used 391. Either is just as good. The current model of the 391 is called the A300. Beretta’s newest line of semi-auto shotguns is their A400.
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)