Here's a gun that makes choosing between shotgun models 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.
There is little that can be done to improve on the mechanics of a Beretta and the Beretta 686 Onyx is mechanically similar to the models on each side of it.
The present action in its current form goes back around 20 years or so and it hasn’t changed much since. The original Onyx was developed as a basic low cost gun and was launched in the late 1980s.
At the time the gun was not much cheaper than a 686 but it was well thought of by the shooting community. A bit later, the low cost gap was filled by the Essential.
The first Onyx had black metalwork. On the new model only the barrels and the action frame are black and they also have some decorative 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.
A glare-free surface
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.
This also gives 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.
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.
The blacking on the gun is of a high standard and affords a deep gloss that is very attractive. 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.
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.
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.
Comfortable for the user
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.
Our reviewer’s conclusion
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.