390 or 391?


i have been saving for a 391 urika with a synthetic stock to use for water fowling for some time and am almost ready to buy. but i saw a 390 in the store for $529. should i buy the 390 and save the money or wait and spend the extra for the 391?

golden, co

Dear Brian,

The short take: The 391 and 390 have slightly different feels, but mechanically they are equally reliable. Pick the one that feels best to you.

The long drawn out take: The 390 action has fewer parts and is easier to clean. The 391 action (in the gas piston area) was designed for a slimmer forend profile. This necessitated a smaller piston, relocation of the gas ports and some other changes to the secondary exhaust valve system. The 391 has been out for a while and all reports show that it will be just as reliable as the 390.

The 390 has a different shaped stock and forend than the 391. Just pick the one that feels best. Both are shim adjustable.

The 391s that I have seen are a bit lighter than the 390s of similar model, but not all that much. The 391 has two extra recoil buffers built into it, one in the rear of the receiver behind the bolt and the other inside the forend nut. I never felt that they made the slightest difference in the recoil feel.

This latter reducer inside the 391 forend nut has been causing some problems when moisture gets inside and it rusts up, freezing the nut onto the shaft. Keep the threaded shaft well greased and don’t keep snugging the nut up as you shoot the gun. It doesn’t need it and won’t come loose. Just keep it lubed and you’ll never have problems.

Personally, I like the feel of the 391 just a little better as I have always preferred “long and light”. Just as many people like to stay with the 390 for its slightly extra “gravitas”, to use a PC word.

Still, a 390 for $529 is a great deal if (big IF) it is the configuration you want and you aren’t settling for something just because of it’s price. A new 391 will cost at least $200 more. That’s a big difference. But it’s not enough of a difference to make it worth buying something that doesn’t feel quite right. You’ll keep this gun for a long time. Don’t let price be the sole deciding factor.

Best regards,

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

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1 Response to 390 or 391?

  1. Ed Sybert says:

    As Bruce said, both are very reliable shotguns. The newer, slimmer gas relief system on the underside of the barrel on the 391 is supposed to require less frequent cleaning – but when it does need cleaning it is much more difficult to take apart and reassemble. The 390 requires no tools to disassemble for cleaning and can easily go for several hundred rounds between cleanings. I shoot one weekly for Sporting Clays and have been for 6-7 years. It still runs like new. Both are great shotguns. -Ed


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