Here’s another “which gun should I buy” question.
I am addicted to quail hunting. I usually try to hunt 50+ days a season and don’t have any problem killing them. I shoot a Remington 1100 12 gauge with a 26 inch barrel and Imp. Cyl. choke. Recently I have decided to buy a new gun. My gun is so heavy that sometimes my neck will hurt for hours after a day’s hunt, therefore I want to get the best, lightest gun available.
I have “shopped around” for some time and tentatively decided to purchase a Beretta Ultralight. Most of the ads I see for these guns only show a 28″ barrel. Additionally I was reading your reply to a similar question and you mentioned that for an upland hunter the 28″ was best. Why? I’m no gun expert and simply thought since I’m used to a 26″ barrel, my new gun ought to be a 26 also (not considering the differences between O/U and semi-auto guns). Additionally, I would appreciate any other suggestions you might have.
First of all, some nuts and bolts: It would make my life much easier if you would set your Email up so that someone can respond by just hitting “reply” and not being forced to cut and past your address. Normally, if I have to cut and paste the return address, I don’t bother to answer as I have so much other mail and not all that much time to spend on it. BUT since you hunt quail 50 days a year, I figure that you are a pretty sick puppy and need all the help that my semi-wise advice can give you so I’ll make this exception.
The Beretta Ultralight is a heck of a gun, though I preferred the earlier version with the dark anodized receiver. How can a nation that gave us the Sistine ceiling have such poor taste in production line gun decoration. At any rate, mechanically the Beretta Ultralight is a winner. It combines the light weight of a 20 with the ability to shoot any sane load. I have handled and shot the guns and they are surprisingly well balanced. Of course, nothing comes for free and light weight 12s are natural born kickers. You may well find that you prefer shooting one oz loads after a while.
As to 26″ vs 28″, the Beretta catalogue shows that both are available, but you never know from Beretta. Just because it is in the catalogue doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to availability. Consistency is a some time thing with them. The Ultralight I shot was 28″ and it balanced perfectly for my taste. Whether or not the 26″ barrel model would feel as good is simply conjecture as I haven’t tried one. Usually very light guns can benefit form a little extra barrel length to smooth them out. Considering that the major part of the weight loss on the Ultralight came from the aluminum receiver, I anticipated that the gun would be nose heavy because it retained the standard steel barrels. This wasn’t the case and the 28″ version balanced properly, so they must have pulled weight off the gun equally all over. Good job, Beretta.
I don’t remember saying that 26″ wasn’t a good upland barrel length (of course, I don’t remember where I live sometimes too). It really depends on the particular gun. I have a 26-1/2″ barreled Belgian Superlight that is perfectly balanced for upland close work. I have also handled one or two 30″ SxS English guns that wouldn’t have been too bad for close stuff. It just depends on what things weigh and how the weight is distributed. As a rule of thumb though, 28″ in a fixed breech gun makes a nice general upland gun compromise with a balance adequate for short grouse shots and long pheasant shots.
You might find that the 28″ model will seem closer to your 26″ 1100 than the shorter barreled Ultralight would. The semi-autos have about an extra 3-1/2″ of receiver when compared to the O/Us. The 28″ Ultralight will actually be about 1-1/2″ shorter than your 1100.
One of the biggest (and nicest) differences that you are going to find when switching from a semi-auto to an O/U is the tang safety. I have never been as comfortable with trigger guard safeties as I am with tang ones, especially since I usually hunt grouse and pheasant behind flushers. If your quail hunting is behind staunch pointers, then I guess that it doesn’t matter as much.
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
+1 on all the comments above. I happened into an Ultralight Deluxe a couple of years ago at a gun show, it is now my only field gun that sees regular use and I have modified my loads to 1 oz and don’t seem to miss anymore birds than I did before. It is my favorite for field and gets some high scores at the occasional Sunday afternoon skeet as well