Enjoy your site. I hope you can shed some light on this problem. Consider this second priority.
I recently tested for the first time the Beretta 391 Urika 12 gauge at a local sporting clay shooting range. I do not own a Beretta auto, but was interested in testing it out on clays. This particular range has guns for shooters who wish to test a gun before purchasing.
Sorry to say my experience with the 391 Urika was disappointing. I would not consider purchasing a 391 unless I have a good understanding of the problem and more importantly confidence the problem is not design related (including having an acceptable rounds between cleaning capacity). This is important for me and is the reason I do not consider the Browning Gold an acceptable auto. I have heard too many Browning Gold owners say the Gold can not shoot more than 200 up to maybe 300 (high side) without requiring heavy cleaning (i.e. soaking gas port mechanism overnight). One gun that performs exceptionally well in this area is the Benelli.
The problem was the bolt release would not close when pressing the release button about 50% of the time. I had to jiggle the bolt back and forth multiple times while depressing the bolt release button before the bolt finally cooperated. The gun cycled flawlessly for the second shot. The problem was related to closing the bolt for the first shot.
This problem was a huge distraction causing delays and impacting my shooting for the worse. About half way through the course , I switched to another gun and let two other people try the 391. At this point my comments about the 391 were anything but URIKA!
They experienced the same problem, but were able to provide some insight into the possible problem. I was informed the magazine cutoff switch might be the culprit. Appears slightly pushing the switch facilitated bolt closure. I was also informed this has been a reoccurring problem, especially early releases, and Beretta may have changed the design.
I would appreciate your insights about this problem, overall reliability of the 391, reasonable volume of rounds between cleanings, and any other pertinent information on the Urika.
There was an early run of 391s that had the problem of automagically engaging the magazine cutoff button on the left side of the receiver occasionally when the gun was fired in a normal way. I believe that this was due to an improper depth of the ball detent notch in the magazine cutoff switch. That was just my guess. It could have been something else. The failure mode you describe matches what I found. Many people thought that they had inadvertently engaged the magazine cutoff switch while shooting, but I tested a gun with that problem (keeping my hands well away from the switch) and proved that it was happening solely due to the gun, not shooter error.
When I called Rich Cole (Beretta guru) and asked about this, he said that he had no reports of it. I didn’t see this problem in later 391s, so it may be that Beretta fixed it themselves. It didn’t involve all that many guns.
Other than the batch of guns with the malady you describe, the only other problem with the 391s (all of them it seems) is that the insides of the forend nut must be kept lubricated. There’s a little spring and poly buffer in the forend nut. If moisture gets in there and starts rust, and if the forend nut is repeatedly tightened down during shooting, you will need Vice Grips to get the nut off. Put a little lube inside the nut, keep some grease on the threads of the shaft and don’t keep tightening the nut down. Tighten it down once moderately when you begin to shoot and then leave it alone. It’s not like an 1100 needing to be cranked down after every few shots. Treat it with some oil and you will never have a problem.
The previous model of the Beretta, the 390, never had either of these problems (magazine cutoff latch or forend nut), but they did have a run of soft links and hammer struts. Beretta fixed those with properly hardened versions and I’m sure that they fixed the 391s problems.
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)