Beretta A400 Xplor Unico shotgun review.
The Italians, modestly, reckon they do and if attention to detail is anything to go by then if these gun makers were to brew beer they’d probably produce the best lager in the world as well.
When Beretta launched its A300 range back in the 1960s it created a clear benchmark for others to follow.
And that catch-us-if-you can approach has continued ever since: each new model to come out of the Gardone Valley factory has been an improvement on the last.
Most thought the ultimate had come recently in the shape of the Teknys Stonecoat. Design, technology, materials and workmanship couldn’t come any better than this, surely?
We now have Beretta’s A400 Xplor Unico to contend with.
According to Beretta the A400 “provides hunters with maximum ballistic performance as well as a comfort in shooting and handling never experienced before.”
That’s some claim, but the best is yet to come: “It’s the only shotgun a hunter needs” say the makers.
That’s clearly not true of course; if it were then Beretta’s considerable sale of profit-making over-unders around the world would dry up overnight.
And they wouldn’t want that to happen would they now?
No. What they were saying in among all the marketing hype and razzamatazz at the A400’s launch party is that this is the only semi-automatic you will ever need – if you’re in the market for a semi-auto in the first place.
Clearly the makers are proud of their new baby.
And so they should be.
Beretta say its gun makers and designers have brought the ‘world’s most advanced solutions’ to bear on a project that from start to finish has been ‘dedicated to the pursuit of exceptional performance.’
And the A400 12-bore with 3.1/2in chamber is certainly an exceptional performer in that the Unico technology used in its gas metering system, bolt design and magazine layout means that it can handle every type of cartridge from 24gram to a massive 64grams – that’s an impressive 2.1/4oz in old money.
This is no ideal boast; shooting journalists from 16 countries got the chance to test fire the gun at the launch party and it never once missed a beat.
The gun weighs just 6.1/2lb which will make it a hit with rough shooters and wildfowlers around the world who have to walk in search of a shot.
But how on earth does such a light gun cope with cartridge loads more suited to a 10 or 8-bore?
The answer is in the Unico’s recoil reduction system comprising three shock absorbers – one fitted to the inner stock bolt and the other two contained within the stock and recoil pad.
I found the gun very comfortable to shoot with; light loads to 32gram (1.1/8oz) were hardly noticeable and it was only when I got to 42gram semi-magnum cartridges that a bit of a kick set in.
Yes, it handled the massive 3.1/2in super magnum loads as well, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience. No way would you want to fire too many of them through one of these guns without the recoil reducer in place – and that, I suppose, speaks volumes about the efficiency of the system developed by Beretta.
Firing these monster loads through such a light gun produced massive muzzle flip and I noticed that one or two lighter framed journos took an involuntary step backward when the bang happened!
– Recoil with the A400 has been reduced by a massive 70%.
– It boasts the world’s fastest firing and recycling time – 36% faster than any other semi-auto out there.
–All-load top performance (24g – 64g)
– One of the shortest receivers on the market – and it’s coloured green!
– Beretta spent 27 million Euros between 2007 – 2009 on product development and research.
– The company expects to spend the same – if not more – over the next two years.
– Almost 17 million Euros was spent between 2007-09 on manufacturing investment. Another 21.6 million has been earmarked for the future.
– Beretta plans to introduce 270 new products, clothing and accessories over the next couple of years.
– The factory produces more than 500,000 shotgun barrels every year.
HOW DOES IT SHOOT?
First impressions were very favourable, it’s very well balanced for a semi-auto and points exceptionally well.
Rough shooters and wildfowlers will appreciate its smooth, quick, handling characteristics and the lack of recoil will definitely go down a treat with pigeon shooters.
Even though it’s capable of firing massive cartridges I can’t see the sense in doing so – all it means is that some people will be tempted to fire heavy loads of big shot at out of range wildfowl.
However, the A400 isn’t cheap at an expected retail price of £1,600, but you can make your own minds up when you pick it up and have a waggle. It’s in the shops any day now.