Bettinsoli Diamond De Luxe shotgun review.
Bettinsoli: you cannot deny that sounds as Italian as spaghetti Bolognese, and so it should as this company is located in Brescia, Italy?s famous gun making region.
It is also a maker that is becoming well known for high-specification guns at realistic prices. The sideplated Diamond De Luxe is from the more up-market end of Bettinsoli?s range but still carries on the policy of affordability.
It is a chunky, good-looking gun and certainly no shrinking violet in the decorative department. The extensive laser-cut foliate designs, gold inlaid birds on the action body and sideplates, and the fretwork thumbpiece to the top-lever are all neatly executed, while at the same time adding a certain flamboyance.
The stock and fore-end are typical Italian walnut ? a background honey colour with darker veining and close-grained, so that the chequering is crisp and even.
The overall styling incorporates a further echo of that flamboyant approach with a semi-Schnabel fore-end and very curved pistol grip that, at its base, flares back into the stock at quite a steep angle.
Style is what we expect with Italian guns and this one has got it by the bucketful.
This is not, of course, to everyone?s taste, but it certainly makes a strong statement.
With its 760mm barrel, or a nominal 30in, wide tapered rib and a weight when loaded of 8.5lb depending upon specification, it feels and handles a bit like a clay gun.
This would be no bad thing for many potential purchasers, especially those that game shoot in the winter and indulge in some friendly clay busting during the summer months.
It is far better to use the same gun suitable for both disciplines rather than, as some shooters do, to use different guns, sometimes even swapping from an over-under to a side-by-side to further compound their disadvantage.
The Diamond De Luxe is certainly pointable, if a little deliberate in handling.
It is not so much a snap-shooting gun, but more for those pheasants climbing high at an angle above the game crop or the bird that gets up early and heads remorselessly towards you over clear stubble.
Very much, perhaps, for the time when you need a steady handling sort of gun to help to calm your nerves.
I found the fit of this gun very encouraging with a comb that is not too wide, and the face of the stock slightly concave and cast for right-handed use.
Guns set up for southpaws are an option.
The length of pull as this gun was delivered measured 14.5in to the middle of the comfortable and well-shaped butt-pad, with a thicker spare pad in the gun case, which is part of the whole package.
When fitted, this would add about another inch to the length of pull and another optional pad that is available would extend the stock to about 15in.
Even better, Bettinsoli has thoughtfully provided a screwdriver with the accessories so, if hard pressed, you could change the butt-pads in the back of your vehicle before taking to the field.
Other accessories include a robust choke key, three spare chokes (two already fitted in the barrels) and a comprehensive instruction book.
The chromed choke tubes are well finished, carry the familiar notch marking and detailed markings on the side including their suitability for use with either lead or steel.
Instructions in the booklet covering their case, fitting and maintenance are comprehensive and well worth reading, as is the section covering the correct method of fore-end removal to avoid damage to the fore-end wood at its thinnest point above the knuckle of the fore-end iron.
Bettinsoli provides a 10-year guarantee and it is taking no chances, especially where it states that ?failure to observe the above safety warnings will invalidate the warranty of the firearm.?
That can only be regarded as fair comment.
TIGHTLY BORED BARRELS
Bettinsoli barrels tend to be bored on the tight side and this gun is no exception, proofed at 18.4mm and gauging spot on at 0.724in.
Parallel from chamber forcing cone to chokes, the half-choke, when fitted, measured an exact half, and the quarter-choke between tight improved cylinder and quarter.
How they would pattern was a matter for field testing. Makers seem to have divided up into two camps: those that have embraced the modern technology of long forcing cones and over-bored barrels tapered up to the chokes, and the others that stick with proven methods around a century-and-a-half old.
In my experience, there is no disadvantage in the more traditionally bored barrels when fibre wads are used.
Anyway, so much for the theory – the real test, as always, is out in the field. This particular gun was not a loan gun that had done the rounds but was brand new and as a result was still a little stiff in operation – something that with use would become easier.
The trigger-pulls are a little long but typical of this sort of modified trigger-plate action and, at about 5lb, not too hard considering their newness.
Likewise, the safety/barrel selector needs a firm thumb to move it in a positive manner, but once again this is in no way detrimental; it simply means that it is new and unused, just as an owner would expect to receive it.
There is no indicator to determine which position selects which barrel, but, as usual, right is for the bottom barrel, left is for the top barrel.
An auto-safe would be an improvement for those of a traditional bent, but the mechanical selection of the second barrel is certainly a bonus.
The Diamond De Luxe action is technically simple and is the so-called Italian guild action.
It is the basic boxlock version for the over-under.
A MULTI-PURPOSE GUN
I tried a variety of cartridges in 30g, 32g and 36g shot loads. The idea was to cover every potential use from some general vermin shooting to fairly high game birds.
Of course, a gun of this sort of substance proved good under recoil, even with the heavier loads.
There is also no doubt that the good stock shape helped, and for someone such as me with fairly large hands it was easy to get a comfortable grip.
On the pattern plate, it shot fairly central for me and only a touch high, which allows nicely for the fact that most birds are climbing, whether crossing, going away or even, from the shooting perspective, driven.
The ejectors tripped together and, while ejection was not of the wham-bang type, the spent cases were thrown cleanly away.
The Bettinsoli Diamond De Luxe is undoubtedly one of those multi-purpose guns that could prove attractive to the ?one gun? owner.
You get a lot of gun for the money at a good specification. It does most things well and if your taste runs to steak and ale pie rather than spaghetti Bolognese I suspect you might still find it to your liking.