I will be going to Argentina next year and was wondering what type of shells do they include in the price? (Sier and/or Hunting Holes outfit.) Are these babies, 3 1/4 dram, 2 3/4 inch, 1 ounce Fiocchis or a local equivalent? The reason I ask is that I have seen the light and gotten rid of all my 390’s and 391’s and only shoot 303 (a most handsome, reliable piece) with AL-2 magnum springs (the factory 303 springs are a bit wimpy)…At one time we spoke of calling Wolf for different springs similar to those of Cole for the 390/391…I haven’t gotten around it…so, I get by with Cole AL-2 magnum springs (they tend to last longer and the gun can handle serious loads with no broken parts). I plan to take a couple of 303 with Kolar Comp barrels (ugly, loud, muzzle heavy BUT it really minimizes kick during high volume shooting). I want to make sure I take all the spare parts and the right springs I need.
Julian in Alaska
P.S. Any other do’s and don’ts you suggest on this trip…
I have gone to Argentina a couple of times as well as Uruguay, Colombia and Honduras. Most of these hunts were dove only, but in Argentina and Uruguay I hunted mixed bag. In the morning we hunt duck, at mid-day we walk up perdiz (a large quail-like Tinamou partridge) and in the evening we deal with the swarms of dove returning to their roosts. Bag limits are extremely generous. I recently saw duck on the Parana plain that were so numerous that they looked like smoke swirling up in the distance. Lead shot is legal and so is baiting.
Many other outfitters, especially in the Cordoba region further to the west of Argentina, offer mainly dove shooting. You can shoot as many dove as you wish. Most people stay around 1,000 shells a day, but you can double that easily if you choose to and can take the recoil. You are the best judge as to whether a mixed hunt or strictly dove would be best for you.
I used to bring my own guns to Latin America. At first it was a 12 gauge gas-operated Browning B-80 (really a Beretta 302) and late a Browning B-80 20. One time I carried a 20 gauge Beretta 391 auto with a 30″ barrel. I was doing a test on it for one of my columns. I knew that the light weight 20 would be an ideal dove gun. Your arms physically get tired of lifting a gun after the first few flats, so a gun that is a pound lighter is nice. Recoil on the 20 using the Fiocchi 7/8 oz shells supplied is nothing. But my recent hunts have all been with “house guns” which I rented there- usually 28” 20 gauge Beretta 391s.
I was very surprised at how well the 20 gauge did on duck using 7/8 oz Argentine Fiocchi lead #5s. Good old lead. I killed some mallard-sized rosy billed pochards at distances further than modesty will permit me to relate. Most of the duck are teal-sized Brazilian ducks or silver and cinnamon teal. The 7/8 oz load was more than enough for them- if you can hit them. At some of our blinds the ducks decoyed right in. At others it was pass shooting mostly. I liked that variety and change of pace.
The guns you take down are strictly up to you, but if you will just shoot dove I would strongly recommend at least one gas auto. Even for combination hunts like the ones I go to, you’ll shoot something around 750 rounds a day. That can get old in a 12 gauge O/U. Some guys like the 28 gauge O/Us for dove, but check with your outfitter for ammo ahead of time.
I’d be a little careful if you take your old 303. Nothing at all wrong with the gun, but it has some rounds through it, then it is just that much closer to breaking something. Like you I think that the 303 is one of the best gas guns Beretta has ever made, but a new 391 beats an old 303 just on parts wear alone. Good move on that magnum spring. You know your stuff. That’s one of the little secrets to keeping the 303s running for ever. If you do bring two guns, better yet. Gas guns are like sheep. They know when they are alone and they don’t like it.
If you like the 303, fine. But bring a second gun too. It’s a long trip to take to get down there and find that your one gun just went belly up. If you don’t want to bring a second gun, find another 303, 302 or B80 and strip every moving part out of it to take along as spares. Your outfitter will almost certainly have backup guns, usually Benellis or Berettas, but it’s always nicer to shoot your own.
Dunno about the Kolar Comp. I’ve always found them a little “blobby” for precision long shots. I prefer the thin sighting plane of a standard barrel. Then again, the best dove shot I ever saw in Columbia used a Beretta 302 12 ga with a Cutts Comp and the Full choke rusted in place. He was simply awesome with it. Used only #9s too. His theory was that the dove is a “soft” target (unlike the pigeon), so hitting it in the right place was far more important than what you hit it with. I can’t argue with his results. He’d shoot 2,000 shells each day, every day. Never less. His gun always worked fine too.
As to ammo, I’ve often used Argentine-made Fiocchis. When I was flying out I picked up “Weekend”, the local Argentine sporting magazine. One of the ammo ads showed Remington, Winchester, B&P, Fiocchi and three or four other brands available in BA. Your outfitter has all the choice he needs as to what to get you. For one combo hunt I used Fiocchi one ounce 12 gauge and 7/8 oz 20 gauge dove loads, plus 30 gram (1-1/16 oz) and 25 gram (7/8 oz) lead #5s for ducks in 12 and 20. Nice loads. Modern ammo. No problems.
Other thing to take? If your hunting ducks, make sure to take some clear shooting glasses. It’s perfectly legal to shoot before sunup, so you’ll want clear lenses in your shooting glasses to see by late moonlight! If you are on a dove marathon, perhaps consider one of those strap-on PAST shoulder pads. Even if you don’t need it with your auto, someone with an O/U will pay you a king’s ransom for it after the first day.
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)