Beretta Silver Pigeon Classic
This gun offers the lowest-priced entry point into the Beretta world. However, at around £2500, you can't really call it cheap.
Beretta Silver Pigeon Classic
Overall Rating: 86%
Pros: Recoil well-handled, overall mount and swing good
Price as reviewed: £2,500
What are you getting for the money?
The Beretta Silver Pigeon Classic is the most expensive gun in the current Silver Pigeon range, with the ‘1’ selling for around £1,500 and the Deluxe model for around £2000. Given all these guns are mechanically identical and so perform and shoot to an almost equal standard, what are you getting for your extra £500?
Well, first off there’s the stock – which is very nice. Beretta claims it brings the gun up to the standard of the 686 EELL, a gun with a price tag in the region of £6,000.
Beautifully figured wood
Look at the two guns viewed alongside and you’ll probably agree that it’s a fair comparison. The Beretta Silver Pigeon Classic’s wood is beautifully figured and it has extra engraving with game scene vignettes over and above its cheaper siblings. Attractive scroll and foliate engraving surrounds a woodcock on one side of the gun and a partridge on the other, while underneath you will find a cock pheasant head and the word “Classic” on the trigger guard. Admittedly the engraving is shallow and obviously applied by machine – however the designs are attractive and suit the bright steel of the action body.
I’m rather of the opinion that on Beretta’s less expensive guns the finishing on the woodwork is a bit disappointing. The wood is just given a light oiling to simply provide a seal. It’s noticeable here because the wood is so attractive.
Mind you, spend a couple of hundred pounds with your local gunsmith to bring the stock up to a better finish and you’ll be spending your money well – and attract admiring glances in the field.
On the heavy side
Our Beretta Silver Pigeon Classic test gun had 28” barrels with 3” chambers and multichokes, though both 12 bore and 20 bore variants are available with 30” barrels. Given the restrained barrel length, the weight of the gun was a surprise, coming in at seven pounds and seven ounces. This really seems to be on the heavy side for a game gun with shorter barrels.
The stock of the Beretta Silver Pigeon Classic is also 14½” long out of the box as standard. Anybody who’s taller than average may well find the gun slightly short. However, Beretta does provide a rubber butt plate as well as a wooden plate in the standard ABS case so it should be easy to fit adequately for most people.
My first impression when I held the Beretta Silver Pigeon Classic was of a weighty gun. This weight is felt forward of the hinge pin very clearly and I was aware of it throughout my session. The semi-pistol grip is comfortable, with a good sweep to it, and though checkering on the grip is minimal (to show off as much of the wood as possible) it did feel secure.
Recoil is well handled as would be expected given the weight. I would also give a tick to the overall mount and swing. I suspect this gun would make more sense when considered for higher birds with heavier loads using the longer set of barrels, or as the basis for a pretty competent clay gun.
Shooting men and women tend to choose between either a Browning/Miroku or a Beretta and very rarely own and shoot both. So brand loyalty is a big factor in purchase choice.
My thoughts out in the field
It’s hard to get away from the weight of this gun and this has a fairly significant bearing on how the gun mounts and moves, though not necessarily in a negative way. It could become wearing over a whole day in the field but whilst I was trying it out on clays I found it moved positively. Producing a good, deliberate swing was easy and the sight plane down the 6mm file-cut rib was good, with little to distract the eye at the breach end.
In one sense it suffers from having the obvious similarities to other Silver Pigeons, but in another sense that dependability is part of its attraction. It is attractive, and I certainly would consider one if I were looking to buy a new over-and-under shotgun but I don’t think it is my heart’s desire.
Thoughts from the gun shop
Bill Elderkin casts his expert eye over the Beretta Silver Pigeon Classic and likes what he sees
I would say this gun does actually represent very good value for money – a Turkish walnut stock blank of this quality would cost something in the region of £700-£800, and enriched engraving of this type probably around £150-£200. And that’s before one takes into account the cost of finishing the gun.
As such, the difference in value between a Silver Pigeon Deluxe and this Classic is clear to see. With a bit of haggling you should be able to knock a bit off the retail price.
The gun fits nicely in the Beretta range, and is likely to take the eye of someone looking at a secondhand 686 EELL. You can pick a good one of these for over £3,000 and make a very fine buy, but this gun means you can pick up something of similarly good looks and performance but with the reassurance and pleasure of buying new. Though you can find EELLs for about the same price as a new Beretta Silver Pigeon Classic, they are going to look a little tired and are probably best avoided. It compares favourably with the likes of a Grade 5 Miroku MK60 or Grade 3 Browning 525, which it will be competing against.
I would be hard pressed to criticise anyone who buys a Beretta Silver Pigeon Classic as it seems to me to be a very good gun at an appealing price.
Engineering: Based on an absolutely solid and proven design. Difficult to fault except for surprising weight. 9/10
Handling: Well balanced and positive, as you would expect from a Beretta, but without feeling special. 8/10
Looks and finishing: Very pleasant. Good lines and well designed engraving. The wood is delightful but would benefit from some extra finishing. 8/10
Reliability and customer service: Proven over years of use at all levels of the sport and in competition. 10/10
Value for money: Sits well in the Silver Pigeon range and in the wider market place. Sure to be an attractive option. 8/10
A very good gun at an appealing price.