The Beretta 686 Onyx doesn't so much fill a gap in the market as make the choice between shotgun models that much more difficult
Back in 2007 Jason Harris reviewed the new Beretta 686 Onyx shotgun. Read his review, originally published in December 2007, to see what he thought of the model.
As with those models either side of it, the Beretta 686 Onyx is mechanically the same. And to be fair there is little you can do to improve on the mechanics of a Beretta.
The present action goes back at least 20 years or so in its current form and very few tweaks have been made to it in that time. The original Oynx goes back to the late 1980’s and was originally conceived as a basic low cost gun to the range.
The reality, however, was that the gun was not a great deal cheaper than a 686 at the time. That said the gun was well received by the shooting fraternity here and the low cost slot was later neatly filled by the Essential.
The first Onyx – as the name suggests – had completely black metalwork. The only black part on the new model, however, are the barrels and the action frame has been treated to a small amount of attractive decoration by way of engraving.
The trunnions and trigger plate screw are scroll engraved and the underside of the action has the Beretta name and logo neatly engraved and lightly inlayed in gold. It is the same on the polished side panels of the frame.
The front part of the frame and the under side have been engine turned to break up the mass of polished frame. In turn the top of the action frame has been left with a matt finish which gives a good contrast to the rest of the silver frame.
It also provides a glare-free surface over which a shooter can see the sighting plane without being distracted.
The action is machined from a solid block of steel with no protrusions through the bottom of the action to accommodate barrel lumps and the like. This in part allows the action to be kept as shallow as possible, keeping weight under control and also adding to the looks of the gun.
A new model cost £1,000 new in 2007. Find out how much a second hand shotgun costs with ShootingUK’s Marketplace:
The barrels hinge into the action on stub pins or trunnions in each side of the action wall, and lock up is achieved by a U-bolt protruding through the action face. These engage in corresponding holes in the breech face of the barrels.
The action walls also have cut outs that the barrel fences engage with, thereby producing a very strong closure indeed.One of the features of the Beretta is that the U-bolts and trunnions are available in oversizes, so if the gun should ever work loose after many years of shooting, it can easily be tightened many times, as and when needed.
The main mechanism of the gun is held on the trigger plate and at first glance looks a fairly complicated affair. In fact it is relatively simple – and very reliable. Hammers pivot at the front of the plate with the sears behind them, and the selector mechanism at the back. The safety catch forms the selector for choosing which barrel to shoot and this is achieved via a button in middle of the safety catch.
As this gun is in game configuration, the safe is set for auto return, but it can be easily removed if required. The gun uses inertia from the recoil of the first shot to set itself up for the second shot.
The 28in barrels are chambered for 3in magnum loads and the rib is standard Beretta issue with a width of 6mm and ventilated to dissipate heat. It’s also matt finished to reduce glare and completed with a small silver foresight bead at the muzzle.
The gun is fitted with the Beretta mobilchoke system and comes supplied with a set of five chokes.
I have to say the blacking on this gun has been done to a very high standard and sports a lovely deep gloss. The barrel flats have been engine turned, a finish that goes really well with the engine turned action.
Barrels are made on the usual monoblock configuration and they’ve been chrome lined as standard on a Beretta of this price. There are fores and againsts with chrome, but I believe the advantages win in the long run because it makes it easier to keep the barrels clean and blemish-free. Woodwork is fairly plain yet functional with this gun but then Beretta wood has tended to be a little too light coloured for most peoples’ taste over the last few years.
The stock and fore-end on the Onyx is not dark but it is certainly acceptable for the price. The wood has been treated to a thick gloss polyurethane type finish in an attempt to keep costs low but it can easily be stripped off by the owner and given an oil finish at some later date if needed. The traditional-looking chequering is certainly machine cut but in spite of that the points and diamonds are very neatly cut. In fact they’re extremely precise.
The fore-end is a Schnabel shape which looks good at any distance and is very comfortable for the forward hand. As for the stock dimensions these follow favoured lines and work well with drops at comb of 38mm and 55mm at heel giving the shooter a good sight picture and bringing the face to the rib quite nicely. Cast is for a right handed shooter with about 3mm at the heel and 6mm at the toe.
Beretta seem to be giving their guns quite a bit more cast at toe these days which makes them very comfortable for the user but does make life harder for gunsmiths when we’re asked to re-shape the stock for a left-handed sportsman!
The stock is finished with a black rubber recoil pad of about 3/4in thickness, which feels comfortable and does help soften the recoil when heavier cartridges are used in the gun. The length of pull is 14.3/4in which is a good average length that will suit most people. A second thinner rubber pad is also supplied so that the gun can be quickly made shorter if the need arises.
The gun comes supplied with sling swivels if you really feel the need to use them but of more use to most of us is a small tube of oil and an ABS travel.
Beretta has one of the most comprehensive ranges of guns to be found anywhere and any addition is always welcome.The Onyx doesn’t so much fill a gap as make the choice that much more difficult between models. I am sure this one will please future owners.Alternative buys would be the Miroku MK70, the Winchester Supreme, the Zoli Golden Falcon or the Lincoln Jubilee.