In the market for a budget gun? That's fine, but it doesn't limit you to something created from cheap materials. Far better is to buy a well-designed gun with fewer details - that way you'll get an affordable new gun that you'll be proud of. Which is how we'd describe the ever-popular Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon 1 shotgun
If you’re looking for a budget gun, you may be considering buying a gun made from budget materials.
Well think again. It’s not necessary and a cheaply made gun won’t be a good investment as it’s more likely to deteriorate faster. What you should be investigating is a good, no-frills gun that’s built to a normal standard. But which still looks good.
Check out the ever-popular Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon 1
The Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon 1 shotgun is one such model. This gun was introduced to the UK seven years ago in 2010, bringing the most popular specifications from Beretta’s Silver Pigeon range to the European market. However by only offering the most limited options the cost was effectively kept lower. Basically the Silver Pigeon 1 shotgun offers a multichoke 12-bore with a choice of 28 or 30in barrels – and that is that.
When Lewis Potter first reviewed the Beretta Silver Pigeon he searched for evidence that Beretta had economised on certain aspects, perhaps in using less complex lockwork or cheaper materials. But he didn’t find any evidence of economy. This gun is a Beretta as we’re used to seeing Beretta and our reviewer commented on the quality.
Here’s what Lewis Potter said about the Beretta Silver Pigeon
I’ve never reviewed a Beretta Silver Pigeon before. Which is strange given their popularity. So I relished the opportunity to test one out and I was pleased that a few surprises were thrown up.
- The first was upon mounting the gun to the shoulder as the length of pull is 14.7⁄8in — a goodly length — which suits me just fine. For shooters of average build wearing bulky winter clothing, easy adjustment such as fitting a thinner butt-pad or plate, may be advantageous.
- Secondly, there was more drop on the stock than one is used to with Berettas, a full 2.1⁄2in at the heel, which is about right for many shooters, especially in a game gun, or field model as the manufacturers would call it.
- The feel was more solid than I anticipated, given its familiar slim styling and low action body.
The catalogued weight is 7.1⁄4lb, though the Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon 1 weighed in at nearer 7.1⁄2lb on my scale, which is still quite acceptable for a 12-bore over-under.
It was then that I realised the last Beretta I had used was the Ultralight Gold, about 1lb lighter, which impressed me at the time.
Familiar to Beretta aficianados
The barrels on the test Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon 1 gun were the 30in option, nicely blacked with the expected hard-chromed bores and 3in chambers. Five flush-fitting chokes are provided covering the common choices of full, three-quarter, half, quarter and improved cylinder. Even the choke key is the usual Beretta product without any cutback.
A neat touch – the jewelled finish on the sides of the monobloc.
So have Beretta managed to keep the price reasonable by making the lockwork more straightforward? No, they haven’t economised here. The lockwork is still the same, a bit complex, reliable with neatly made parts assembled on the trigger-plate. Beretta aficianados will be familiar with the gold trigger and trilobite-shaped safety/barrel selector features.
Economies of scale during production
I believe this is how the costs have been kept down with the standards remaining high. Maybe a small saving has been made on the walnut grade used in the stock and fore-end. However, the butt exhibited a lot of pattern – better than many older models I have looked at. I liked the fit of the leather-effect butt-pad. The chequering has been done by laser. Reliable trigger-plate lock
The Beretta Silver Pigeon 1 uses the same slightly complex but reliable trigger-plate lock common to the boxlock models.
The balance point is a little in front of the fore-end knuckle and this contributes towards a smooth swing.
Excellent fit for length
I went out on a beautiful spring morning, lightly dressed and the fit for length proved excellent.
By concentrating I discovered I could overcome the modest amount of stock cast. For instinctive shooting, however, this was one area that could be improved upon (as with a lot of over-and-unders, to be fair).
Everything as it should be
Everything else worked as expected: crisp, clean trigger-pulls; an auto-safe a little stiff to operate due to its newness but still precise in operation; strong, properly timed ejection and good primer strikes. Everything was as it should be.
I tried a selection of cartridges and most performed well with the Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon 1. The only problem I encountered was with light subsonic loads where occasionally the second barrel was not selected. This is not an unusual fault with inertia operation and due in part, no doubt, to this gun being brand new and not “run in”.
The loads I settled on, which gave consistently good performance, were Express 30g Supreme Game No. 6 shot and 36g Super Game No. 5 shot. Using the latter was where the modest extra weight of the Silver Pigeon 1, compared with the Ultralight, was appreciated. It smoothed out the recoil, especially on driven clays when simulating high birds.
On the pattern-plate it was noticeable that the heavier loads placed the shot pattern a little higher.
What’s the score?
Built to Beretta’s usual proven design with no compromise in the quality to make a cheaper model. 17/20
The balance point in front of the fore-end knuckle contributes to its smooth swing 18/20
The walnut stock and fore-end is a little more dense but retains a sense of quality in the pattern 17/20
A good fit, even a little improvement over some older guns. More solid than expected 18/20
A keenly priced gun that will do everything you expect of this range and manufacturer 18/20
No surprises here. Except possibly for the competitive price.
The Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon I appeals. There is little else to say except it is a Beretta and does everything one expects of this make — some things even with a little improvement.
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Does everything you'd expect from a Beretta - and more