A Beautiful Beretta: The New 692 Sporting B-Fast Over/Under Shotgun

The Beretta 692 Sporting with B-Fast Adjustable comb.

The Beretta 692 Sporting with B-Fast Adjustable comb.

On this, the 3rd day of October 1526. [To] Master Bartolomeo Beretta of the Brescian territory of Gardone for 185 arquebus barrels [made] for Our House of the Arsenal [given] 296 ducati.

The 692 Sporting is a classic "Sovrapposto" - a beauty and a beast.

The 692 Sporting is a classic “Sovrapposto” – a beauty and a beast.

So begins the history of the world’s oldest gun maker – Beretta. By the way, in 1526, 296 ducati was a lot of Benjamins. While it’s pretty hard to make an inflation-adjusted comparison, we know that Leonardo Da Vinci’s apprentices were paid 1/10th of a ducat per day, about 36 ducats a year, so Beretta’s first order for gun parts was about eight years pay for a hard working artist-inventor-mason-painter worker. We also know that Leonardo had about 600 ducats in his checking account in 1499, so if Beretta had been founded a few years earlier, he could have paid cash for 185 arquebus barrels, leaving plenty in the bank for a healthy ammo stockpile.

Italy’s Trompia Valley, home of Gardone, is flush with the right materials for gun making. Iron ore deposits abound and heavy forests provided the wood to stoke smelteries and smithies. Back in the day, barrel making was a bit different. Craftsmen pounded iron plates around a mandrel, overlapping them along a longitudinal seam. By mashing the snot out of the joints, they created solid barrel blanks, which were then shaped to final dimensions.

Beretta 692 Sporting-6

While early history of Beretta shows an emphasis on military arms, it was Guiseppe Beretta who stepped on the gas to ramp up production of sporting arms. In the 1850s, only 250 to 300 guns were produced annually. By the 1880s, that number exploded to almost 8,000 per annum.

This one features adjustable ejection -a nice touch.

This one features adjustable ejection -a nice touch.

Many early shotguns featured side by side barrel configuration, mainly because it was easier to produce a strong locking mechanism and figure out how to “light” each barrel. By the 1930s, engineers finally got really comfortable with good sidekick designs and over / under shotguns took off. One Beretta story relates company inventor, Tullio Marengoni, demonstrating the strength of his new over / under cross bolt lock to the Berettas by securing the barrel and receiver to the stock with rope – and firing the gun himself. The gun held together, and the design was adopted.

Enter one of the latest Italian shotguns – the Beretta 692 Sporting. Since we’re talking Italian here, we’ll describe it as a “Sovrapposto” meaning over and under barrel configuration.

The newest iteration of the 692 Sporting line fills a gap in the Beretta product line for trap shooters wanting a high-quality gun without spending in the five digit range. At the top end is the DT-11 family – fantastic shotguns and the choice of plenty of Olympian shooters. But the DT-11 comes at a price point out of reach of many non-sponsored shooters. Moving into the two to five thousand price range, there was not a new production gun optimized for trap until now. The 692 Sporting line has been out for a while, but not with an adjustable comb and long barrels. It’s been the same with the recent Silver Pigeon line – fantastic guns for sporting clays and skeet, but none optimized for the trap field. Semi-automatics like the 391 series have been a viable option, but many shooters prefer the feel and convenience of break action shotguns for trap sports.

This particular 692 Sporting model is not off the press – literally. Our sample gun, shown here, is the first one of its type to hit US shores. It’s got the B-Fast comb system for near-infinite adjustment and extra long barrels (32-inch) preferred by many trap shooters. Just to be clear, this is not a dedicated trap gun – it’s well suited for skeet and sporting clays. It just offers features that make it suitable for trap as well.

Let’s take a closer look.

Barrels

The 692 features a wide, tapered rib that's mounted low on the top barrel.

The 692 features a wide, tapered rib that’s mounted low on the top barrel.

Borrowing from that high-end DT-11 line we mentioned earlier, the 692 Sporting model also uses “Steelium” barrel technology. Steelium is a fancy marketing name that, quite frankly, sounds a little goofy to me, but that’s neither here nor there. Here’s what it means.

Now producing over 500,000 gun barrels of various types each year, Beretta knows a thing or two about how to optimize a shotgun barrel. The biggest deal on this one, outside of uniformity, longevity and over/under alignment, is the forcing cone. That’s the conical section at the breach end that helps gently transition the shot load into the standard barrel diameter. By making this transition more gradual, you get a couple of benefits. First, the shot doesn’t get as mashed up. Lead pellets tend to stay round and uniform, and as a result, fly in a tighter and more consistent pattern. Second, the “shock” of the pellets leaving the shell and forcing their way into the muzzle is mellowed and drawn out over a longer period of time. While the overall recoil energy is still the same, the impact of the shooter is smoother and more spread out. This not only helps improve felt recoil, but also muzzle rise, encouraging a faster transition to a second shot.

To put the forcing cone improvements into mathematical perspective, a standard forcing cone has an overall length of about 65 millimeters. The Steelium PRO cone is a whopping 360 millimeters in length. That’s quite a difference that contributes to the gentle shooting and excellent patterns.

Note the low rib mount.

Note the low rib mount.

The chambers are cut for 3-inch shells should you want to hunt with your 692 Sporting. While we’re talking about chambers, the ejection system is adjustable with included tools.

The 692 Sporting features a wide rib that tapers in towards to the muzzle. I measured the rib just forward of the receiver at .39 inches wide. At the front bead, the rib narrows to .318 inches. A single white bead is mounted at the muzzle and there is no center bead or hole for one. This is fine with me as too much stuff on the rib is a distraction that pulls attention away from the target and back to the beads.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

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Pic of the Day: A Pair of Beretta Pistols

A Pair of Berettas: The 92FS 9mm and 3032 Tomcat in .32 ACP.

A Pair of Berettas: The 92FS 9mm and 3032 Tomcat in .32 ACP.

A primary and backup gun perhaps? Shown here are the Beretta 92FS and Beretta 3031 Tomcat.

The Beretta 92FS is a full size 9mm with 15+1 capacity and perhaps the most comfortable to shoot 9mm I own. The Tomcat is a .32 ACP pocket gun with a unique tip-up barrel design. While you can rack the slide to chamber a round, you don’t need to. Just insert a loaded magazine, flip the barrel release and it will open, exposing the chamber. Drop in a round and you’re good to go. Couldn’t be simpler. You can read more about the Tomcat here.

Pic of the Day: Choke Tubes All Choked Up

SCTP Florida Shoot Beretta-4

When you shoot competition shotguns, like this Beretta 682 Gold Trap, gunk accumulates quickly. While one might shoot a half-dozen rounds while hunting, a moderate day on the competition clay fields easily numbers in the hundreds. These are a pair of Pure Gold choke tubes, both Light Modified, used a the recent SCTP Collegiate Florida shoot. Nine colleges, 133 student competitors and some very experienced choke tubes.

Pics of the Day: The Breaking of a Clay

I had the pleasure of attending the SCTP Florida Shoot today where nine southeastern colleges gathered to compete in three clay disciplines: trap, skeet and wobble trap. I caught this sequence from one of Clemson University’s squads.

Pull!

Pull! Note target leaving the bunker…

Target Acquisition

Target acquisition…

Gun is moving and about to cross the anticipated path of the target...

Gun is moving and about to cross the anticipated path of the target…

Boom! Note in ascending order the wad, lead shot cloud and clay in it's last moments.

Boom! Note in ascending order the wad, lead shot cloud and clay in it’s last moments.

Target destroyed!

Target destroyed!

Photo Gallery: Beretta’s 692 Sporting Shotgun with B-Fast Comb

Here are some photos of the first Beretta 692 Sporting model with B-Fast comb and 32″ barrels to make its way to the US. Look for a full review soon!

Beretta’s ARX100: A Quick Tour

 

The Beretta ARX100 is designed to be a Transformer.

The Beretta ARX100 is designed to be a Transformer.

I’ve never watched the Transformers movies, but if my understanding is correct, those flicks were about 1974 AMC Gremlins morphing into deep fried banana splits, thereby earning free admission to the Texas State Fair. Or something along those lines.

Even if I’m a bit off in my understanding of the Transformers plot, you have to admit the idea of effortless transformation on demand is a pretty cool thing. Politicians do it all the time based on poll numbers and density of cameras within 25 yards, so why shouldn’t rifles be able to perform the same feat?

Getting back to the point, since I’m writing this on the Beretta Blog, let’s talk about transformation with respect to the new Beretta ARX100 rifle. Its family heritage is the ARX160 – a 21st century rifle designed for the Italian (and other) militaries and law enforcement organizations. As a result, some mondo engineering has been applied to make this rifle fit not only a wide variety of potential shooters, but also easily adapt to a broad range of requirements. If you haven’t noticed, people come in all shapes and size. Some do most things, including shooting, with the right hands, while others buck the trend and use the left side. Folks are also tall, short and everywhere in between. Don’t even get me started on accessories preferences as it seems no two people on the North American continent can agree on exactly how a rifle should be equipped with optional gear.

Apparently the main design goal of the Beretta ARX100 is to not only accept all these physical and opinion differences, but embrace them. The rifle has been designed to be instantly customizable in many, many ways. Most importantly, all this customization can be done without tools – that’s where the engineering magic comes in.

With all that said, let’s take a quick tour, from back to front. In a future article, we’ll do a deep dive on how the ARX100 operates and shoots. For now, we’ll focus on how it’s put together.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

Beretta’s ARX100: A Closer Look

As the exterior appearance indicates, the Beretta ARX100 is a complete redesign.

As the exterior appearance indicates, the Beretta ARX100 is a complete redesign.

If you made me describe one thought about the Beretta ARX100, it would be something along the lines of “ambi-flex-trous.”

Yes, you can easily reconfigure this rifle in all sorts of ways, which we’ll discuss in a minute, but the interesting thing is you can do all of it with a bullet. Macho, isn’t it? So far, I have yet to use a single tool of any kind for reconfiguration. Well, there was one exception. I did need a wrench to remove the factory flash hider, but I don’t think that counts as it doesn’t fall into the category of routine maintenance. Don’t tell the Beretta folks I applied wrenches and a bench vise to their loaner rifle, OK?

Let’s take a closer look.

As the ARX100 is a pistol-operated rifle, there's no buffer tube to prevent a folding stock. It shoots in this configuration too.

As the ARX100 is a piston-operated rifle, there’s no buffer tube to prevent a folding stock. It shoots in this configuration too.

The ARX100 looks large and potentially heavy, but it’s not. Judicious use of polymer keeps weight down and unloaded, it tips the scales at just 6.8 pounds. While the stock appears monolithic in design, it breaks into an upper and lower receiver, although the dividing lines are different than the upper and lower components of an AR rifle.

The butt stock is connected to the upper receiver half through use of a hinge, which allows the rifle to operate like a pistol. While the intent is easier transport, shooting with a folded stock feels very Buck Rogers. Since the rifle is piston operated, there’s no buffer tube in the way of pistol operation. The butt stock itself has four different positions to adjust length of pull.

The rifle is covered in web sling attachment points. A rotating swivel is in front of the gas block. The butt has a web sling loop. There are two flat sling loops on each side of the receiver for a total of six.

Rails are also abundant. The entire top surface of the rifle is a continuous rail, so there is no “joint” between receiver rail and forend rail as with an AR rifle. Four-inch rail segments are located up front in the three and nine o’clock positions. There’s a 1 ½ inch rail segment on the bottom in front of the forend cover. If you need to attach a 40mm grenade launcher, remove the lower cover and you’ll find a proprietary rail segment for this purpose. Because military-style rifle. Word is that Beretta may offer a Picatinny adapter at a later date.

It comes with non-standard height sights. They'll get you going, but may not co-witness with your optic.

It comes with non-standard height sights. They’ll get you going, but may not co-witness with your optic.

The ARX100 comes with polymer flip up sights so you can shoot it out of the box. The front sight features a standard, height-adjustable post while the rear has a rotating aperture dial where apertures are calibrated for ranges of 100 to 600 meters. Be aware that these sights are taller than standard AR models, so they may not co-witness as you like. No worries, by pressing a button on each, you can slide them right off the rail if you don’t want them present.

The trigger is all military all the way. It’s big and wide, set in an oversized trigger guard for easy access with gloves. The pull weight leaves something to be desired, measuring 8 1/2 pounds for me, but at least it was smooth and not gritty. The trigger components are held in place by pins, so assuming demand is there, aftermarket companies like Timney should be able to offer replacements.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

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Beretta’s ARX100: A Lesson In Flexibility

Beretta's ARX100 may look like a space gun, but its primary feature is easy configurability.

Beretta’s ARX100 may look like a space gun, but its primary feature is easy configurability.

There’s ambidextrous, and there’s ambidextrous.

Some rifles have safety levers on one side, or at least a safety lever that can be relocated to the opposite side of the frame. Others might have a way to move the magazine release button or even bolt release to the opposite side.

The Beretta ARX100 takes configuration flexibility to a whole new level.

The left side looks... almost exactly like the right side.

The left side looks… almost exactly like the right side.

I just got my hands on a sample unit of this rifle and have been shooting it, taking it apart, and shooting it some more. Rather than waste words here with the specs like weight and length – you can find those here – I’ll focus on how this rifle operates and handles.

For starters, let’s take a look at the many components of what I think is the ARX100’s standout feature: flexibility.

Barrel

Once the bolt is in the maintenance position, pull down these tabs and the barrel pops right off.

Once the bolt is in the maintenance position, pull down these tabs and the barrel pops right off.

You can swap barrels on a standard AR-type rifle, it just takes some doing.

On the Beretta ARX100 with its default 16-inch barrel, it takes no doing and no tools. Just move the bolt to the maintenance position – I’ll describe that in a minute. Then you can pull two spring-loaded levers downward, and the barrel and extension will release and pull right out the front of the stock. The gas piston assembly comes out attached to the barrel.

The process could not be easier. Unlike an AR-type rifle, you have complete and unobstructed access to the barrel and extension with all those nooks and crannies for easy cleaning. Wow. Impressive simplicity and functional too.

Seeing how this works, I was concerned about the ARX’s ability to hold zero through a barrel change. Hold that thought until we get to the shooting report.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

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Shooting the Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun in the Dark

The business end of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun, shown here with a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro light and laser and two-round magazine tube extension.

The business end of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun, shown here with a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro light and laser and two-round magazine tube extension.

Recently I wrote about my first experiences with the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun. I love the “shotgun carbine” idea of a short, light and handy defensive shotgun. What I didn’t get into before was the idea that if you ever had to use a defensive shotgun, it would probably be in the middle of the night, meaning in the dark.

I decided to take a shot at gearing up the Beretta 1301 for night time use and testing it in dark conditions. The perfect opportunity was the recent Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational competition. If you’re not familiar, it’s a three gun event with one important twist of the rules. The competition takes places in the middle of the desert outside of Bend, Oregon, but the shooting doesn’t start until after 9pm. If you haven’t been in the middle of the high desert in the middle of the night recently, I can tell you, it’s dark. Really dark. No residual light from nearby towns. No street lights. Heck, the range doesn’t even have electricity or running water. When the International Space Station passes overhead, they have to pause the match because of the glare.

Anyway, in preparation for my midnight rendezvous, I added some goodies to the Beretta 1301. 

First, I called the nice folks at Crimson Trace and politely explained to them that since I was risking life and limb to compete in this match, they should loan me a light or laser for the shotgun. They sent a Rail Master Pro, which offers both 100 lumen light and a red laser that activates with a simple paddle switch. You can configure the light and laser to operate in different modes – a strobe light, for example, but set mine up so that movement of the paddle would turn on both light and laser until i hit the paddle again to turn them off. I mounted this on the barrel with a Nordic Components magazine tube extension and barrel clamp with rail so that I could reach it with my support hand. As I’m right-handed, I put it on the right side of the barrel, so it’s out of the way of my support hand grip, but easily accessible with my support hand fingers when I want to flip it on.

Next, I called Kristi at Aimpoint. Like my Aimpoint PRO, Kristi has never let me down when it comes to good advice about optics. She loaned me an Aimpoint Micro H-1 optic. I guessed that it would line up perfectly with the iron sights on the. Beretta 1301 and it did. I could see the iron sights through the bottom half of the Aimpoint Micro. If my optic ever failed, then I would have a backup option of using the iron sights. This seemed like a good idea until Kristi reminded me that the whole deal about Aimpoint optics is that the batteries run 75% of forever. In this case, you can leave the Micro on for about 5 years non-stop. I figured I could remember to change batteries every couple of years or so to avoid any risk of downtime. 

Aimpoint_Micro_H1_Beretta_1301_Tactical-1

The Aimpoint Micro H1 mounted on the Beretta 1301 Tactical’s rail.

Now, when I turn out the lights, I have a compact shotgun with a forward-looking tactical light and I see two red dots out yonder – one from the laser and the other from the Aimpoint. 

For ammo, the choice was easy. I needed something reliable with shot size with a dense enough pattern to break stationary and flying clays at high speed, but with enough “oomph” to knock down steel targets with one shot. I chose Federal Premium Gold Medal Target loads with 7 1/2 shot

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

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Shooting In The Dark: Reports From The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

Everybody knows siblings shouldn't share toys! Here Lanny (left) and Tracy (right) are politely discussing who gets to use the Beretta 1301 Competition shotgun next.

Everybody knows siblings shouldn’t share toys! Here Lanny (left) and Tracy (right) are politely discussing who gets to use the Beretta 1301 Competition shotgun next.

As I write this, I’m coming down off a major high. I’m sitting on an airplane on the way back home from the high desert miles outside of the beautiful town of Bend, Oregon.

I’ve been out there all week at the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational competition. Like last year, the event was held at the COSSA range which is located miles and miles from nowhere. This works out pretty well as neighbors in more populated areas might get a bit upset about hearing gunfire all night long for four straight nights.

The event runs most of the week with two consecutive matches. Wednesday and Thursday, media members and the volunteer range officer staff shoot together. This allows the range staff to shoot the whole match, yet be available for dedicated range safety and logistics duties when the professionals shoot Friday and Saturday nights. All results from the two matches are consolidated into a single overall results tabulation, so everyone is eligible for the same prizes regardless of which nights they shoot.

As the name implies, shooting doesn’t even start until it’s fully dark. Competitors, range staff, media and visitors are all required to illuminate themselves with chemical glow sticks. One on the front and one on the back ensures that anyone still downrange from a target refresh will be clearly visible. As a result of the range staff’s care and attention to detail, the event boasts a perfect safety record.

Crimson_Trace_M3GI-32

Lanny Barnes blasts a clay target with her Beretta 1301 Competition. Or is that Tracy’s gun?

As a media hack, I shot the Wednesday and Thursday match. One of my goals was to really kick the tires of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun I’ve been evaluating. In my next article, I’ll go into detail about how I configured it for nighttime use, but for now, I’ll note the following. I chose the Tactical version even though there is a 1301 Competition model that offers competitive tweaks like higher shell capacity and larger loading port. The environment was great for really exercising a defensive shotgun – dirty, dusty and dark. Three of us shared the Beretta 1301 Tactical as wanted to run as much ammo through it as possible during the match. Since receiving the gun, I haven’t cleaned it, nor did I do any maintenance during the match. No matter, it ran like a champ with zero malfunctions of any kind. The super compact design of this gun made shooting and moving very easy. I chose to run first rate shotshells through the gun as a prize table was on the line. I used Federal Premium Gold Medal Target loads with 7 1/2 shot. I could stuff seven shells into the magazine tube plus one more in the chamber. More importantly, the 1 1/8 ounce shot load knocked down steel with authority. The pattern from the Beretta 1301 Tactical’s cylinder bore was even and blew up the clay targets consistently.

One of the benefits of shooting the pre-match was that I could focus on following the big shots during the main match. Big shots like Tracy and Lanny Barnes. You know them, right? Yeah, they are (now retired) Olympic biathletes, so they know a thing or two about shooting under stress and conditioning. You might also recognize the name as Tracy is a writer right here at Beretta USA. Tracy and Lanny both used the Beretta 1301 Competition shotguns. I’m convinced that my deliberate choice to use the 1301 Tactical, with its lower shell capacity, is the only possible explanation for Tracy and Lanny blowing right past my scores in the first few minutes of the competition. But let’s move away from that topic. At least I got some great trigger time with my home defense gun.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

 

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