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Italian shotguns: why they are definitely worth considering

Attractive and excellent value - here's what you need to know

Beretta Silver Pigeon Italian shotguns

There are plenty of second-hand Beretta Silver Pigeons to be snapped up

Italian shotguns – a proven history

If you’re looking to buy a gun then it’s definitely worth considering Italian shotguns. Buy Italian and you will be the proud owner of a well-built, good quality gun that will cost far less than a new English gun. With names such as Beretta, Bosis, Caesar Guerini, Abbiatico & Salvinelli, Perugini & Visini and countless others, there is a long and proud history of Italian gun making.

Many makers of Italian shotguns can rightly claim to produce guns that will compete with the very best in the world, including handmade guns to take on the likes of Purdey or Holland & Holland.

Mark Heath, shooting instructor West London Shooting School and regular gun reviewer for Shooting Times says: “The core brands, particularly Perazzi and Beretta, are particularly well known within the shooting world. Perazzi are towards the thoroughbred end of the market, very reliable and mostly bespoke although they can be bought off the shelf. If you are going for an Italian shotgun I would strongly recommend bespoke but take professional advice on barrel length and weight, and of course make use of the fitting service. (Read more on gun fit here.)

“Beretta reaches every section of the market starting with the Silver Pigeon up to some exotica in the SO range. Great reliability and back up. The other slightly less well known brand that I rate is Perugini and Visini who make some great handling guns.” (Read a Perugini and Visini gun review here.)


Three different types of action

Italian guns have developed in a particular way over the last 30 years, offering three different type of action: boxlock, trigger plate and sidelock. Most Italian guns have one particularly recognisable characteristic in the form of shallow actions. This is due to the use of disk body bolts, such as you would find on English over-and-unders.


Italian guns have particularly elegant forms. This is because the disk body bolt enables the depth of the action to be a lot shallower than guns made by Browning or Japanese manufacturers, who use a full body pin. Most Italian over-and-unders also use an ejector system with the springs behind the extractors, which also enables them to keep the fore-ends slim, again contributing to their aesthetic appeal.


Italian over-and unders are extremely reliable over many hard seasons of shooting. You rarely, if ever hear of an over-and-under Beretta or Browning breaking down in the field.

Any Italian gun will offer superb shooting, excellent reliability and good looks.

Why choose an over-and-under

Most shooting schools will teach you to shoot with an over-and-under rather than a side-by-side because standard over-and-unders will fit most people, are easier to shoot, with the rib providing the single sight plane, and felt recoil is much less than with a side-by-side. (Read over-and-under or side-by-side?)

An over-and-under is also generally less expensive.


The Silver Pigeon has been around since the 1950s and it’s one of the most reliable guns built.

Read our latest review of the new Beretta Silver Pigeon V Sporter here.

This range of guns starts with the Silver Pigeon Universal and takes in the Silver Pigeon S and the Silver Pigeon III. (Read all our Silver Pigeon reviews on the various models here.)

Beretta Silver Pigeon III shotgun

  • They are the first gun for many shooters up and down the land, offering reliable, consistent shooting at a very reasonable price.
  • The weight of the guns ranges from 2.7kg to 3.6kg depending on the gauge and barrels, and this will have some impact on how the gun handles and shoots.
  • With the balance just forward of the hinge pin, it is good for rough, driven and clay shooting.
  • These guns are excellent value as a brand new starting gun, and can easily be altered to fit.
  • There is a thriving second-hand market


Perazzi produce a great range of guns, many of which are used by professional clay shots. They are still a good choice for the game shooter too.

Perazzi MX8 shotgun

These guns can be had with a huge variation in barrel lengths, but whichever you choose I recommend those with fixed chokes. Perazzi multichokes make the barrels very heavy, making it quite wearing for use over a whole day.

  • If you really want interchangeable chokes in your barrels, I recommend fitting a set of Teague multichokes.
  • These guns operate on a trigger plate action, meaning the action body is slightly wider and allowing for a good fit into the full pistol grip stock. They can be ordered and made to measure to a personal stock length.
  • When bought off the shelf the stock usually comes in at just under 15″, with standard cast and bend. The stock can be easily altered to your specifications.
  • The trigger plate action is a very robust one, though it is easily removed for maintenance when necessary.
  • The gun has a very positive, crisp performance thanks to the springs. For serious clay shooting these guns are ideal, with very little felt recoil with standard loads.


These guns are essentially the very best that Beretta make, competing directly with the best English guns and with a price to match.

 Italian shotguns Beretta S010 EELL shotgun

  • These are full sidelock over-under guns, which have a deserved reputation as being among the finest guns you can buy today.
  • They feature superb wood, elegant engraving and handle and shoot beautifully.
  • The guns are built in much the same way as an English gun, parts being created from CNC machining before being fitted and finished by hand.
  • As well as featuring high technology in their production, they also include precious materials in their construction, with the trigger being made of titanium.
  • The barrels are made with high tensile steel and feature hand chequered fine tapered ribs.
  • The sidelocks are detachable and there are no pins on the surface of the receiver, so there is an extensive canvas on which the hand engraving can be carried out, providing much of their superb looks.
  • The very best exhibition walnut wood is used for the stock and fore-end, which are made to customer’s measurements, as you would expect for a gun of this quality.
  • They weigh in at just 2.9kg and are an absolute joy to shoot, and would undoubtedly cause envy amongst your shooting friends.


This article was first published in 2020 and has been updated.