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Beretta Ultralight Gold reviewed by Shooting Gazette

With grouse on the agenda and the partridge season fast approaching, a lightweight gun might be just the ticket for early season game, as Alex Flint discovers.

Beretta Ultralight Gold

Beretta Ultralight Gold

Overall Rating: 86%

Manufacturer: Beretta

Price as reviewed: £2,400

Long-term experts in using alloy metals in constructing their guns, Beretta build the Ultralight Gold largely from a tough, lightweight aluminium alloy with the main wearing parts of the gun being made from tougher stuff. This is most clearly seen in the action face where a titanium insert will take the brunt of the forces when the gun is fired.

Beretta claims the alloy receiver delivers all the strength and durability of steel but with 65 per cent less weight and with the company’s vast metallurgical experience their confidence seems justified.

Weight is saved elsewhere, too, with barrels available in 26” or 28” variants only, each featuring side ribs which only extend part-way down the barrels and stop just inside the fore-end.

More is likely to have been bored away inside the stock, too, the end result being a gun which takes to the scales at an impressive 6lb 5oz – significantly less than some 
20 bore shotguns I have tested. Our gun was fitted with multi-chokes, so the fixed-choke variant also available, at £2,225, is likely to be lighter still.

Beretta Ultralight Gold 1

The intriguing tessellated engraving pattern is carried across to almost all parts of the gun.

The Beretta Ultralight Gold is unlikely to surprise many – it is Beretta through and through from an engineering viewpoint, being based on the same classic shallow action and fine lines one would expect. Visually it is familiar, too, sporting the usual handsome lines and pale woodwork. The engraving, however, takes a pleasingly different tack to the current fare seen on other Beretta guns, featuring a rather attractive radiant tessellated design of rounded cross shapes which grow larger as they spill from around the hinge pin.

Game scene vignettes

Also included in the design are game scene vignettes on each side inlaid with a gold game bird, and the Beretta logo inlaid in gold on the bottom of the action body, earning the Ultralight Gold the second part of its name. Though shallow, the overall effect of the engraving is very pleasing indeed, especially when considered alongside the well-figured woodwork.

In what came as quite a surprise, I even found the bright plated trigger to be inoffensive and fitting. The simple steel sight bead is also most welcome. Given the gun’s rather gaudy name, it was an extremely pleasant surprise to find this Ultralight is actually rather restrained and handsome. Some might quibble at the juxtaposition of such a modern design with traditional game scenes, but my feeling is the two blend well, giving the game scenes a sense of movement.

The Beretta Ultralight Gold

Attractive engraving is enhanced by understated gold inlays

Construction overall is pleasingly solid, as one would expect of a Beretta, and in the hand one gets the feeling of a honed, high-quality instrument. Wood-to-metal fit is superb, though clearly much wood has been taken away as part of Beretta’s weight-saving measures. The semi-pistol grip is well shaped, the chequering proving comfortable and secure, and the Schnabel fore-end is also a welcome addition.

Beretta Ultralight Gold is ideal for walked-up or rough shooting

To look at, then, the Ultralight Gold is pleasingly different and modern – it feels like something of a departure. In the field, this feeling continues, with the same flat shooting one expects of Berettas but coupled with a surprising amount of life. Though a little barrel-heavy, muzzle flip and recoil are kept under control. With lighter loads, this is the ideal gun for walked-up or rough shooting, responding well to urgent movements without feeling out of control.

If you are looking for a lightweight 12 bore shotgun, then the Beretta Ultralight Gold is for you.


Engineering: 9/10 Beretta’s tried-and-tested design built with the best materials.
Handling: 9/10 Satisfying without being boring, fun 
yet not out of control.
Looks & finishing: 8/10 Engraving design may be divisive.
Reliability & customer service: 9/10 Built to last and backed by a three-year warranty.
Value: 8/10 A competitive spot in the market – your choice will largely come down to brand loyalty.
Overall: 43/50

In the field

Anyone looking to shoot a lightweight 12 bore gun would be well served giving this little Beretta a go – it is a really lovely gun to shoot. Its light weight suits the naturally flat shooting characteristics of Beretta guns, coming up easily and consistently into the shoulder. It is a lively gun and moves very easily, but it never feels out of control or uncomfortable – it was surprisingly easy to get on line and produce some good swings, though concentration is required.

Ejection was very strong and the gun was generally pleasingly solid in operation, with the top lever, safety catch and trigger all clearly having been carefully tuned. In shooting there is some movement at the muzzle end, though nothing uncontrollable, and recoil is dealt with well – particularly on lighter loads. I would suggest you might go up to a 30gram cartridge, but anything more than that might become rather tricky.

The overall feeling I and instructor Bruce Marks had after shooting the gun was that it seemed excellent value for money, feeling very solid and performing consistently well. Bruce was especially keen on the gun and noted any fears one might have over recoil can be mitigated with proper gun fit. The only really jarring moment with the gun is when you first pick it up as it is so light!

View from the gun shop by Bill Elderkin

This is a competitive sector in the gun market, with the likes of Browning, Beretta and Caesar Guerini all producing lightweight 12 bore variants of their guns. Many sportsmen like the idea of sticking with a 12 bore but need something that bit lighter as age creeps in, or for those long days of rough or walked-up shooting. It is also a popular choice for ladies and younger shooters – though it does come with its own set of issues.

As with any lightweight 12 bore, the balance of the gun is biased towards the barrels and though you might want one gun to take on all targets, the Ultralight is only available with 28” or 26” barrels and 2¾” chambers. Longer barrels would certainly upset the balance of the gun, and shooting heavier cartridges would be, for me, something of an error if you wish to avoid serious recoil.

The Ultralight Gold is a bit like going for a Grade 3 over a Grade 1 with Beretta’s standard guns – you get visual upgrades including higher-quality wood, more engraving, gold inlays and an inlaid silver oval on the stock for engraving one’s initials. Considering the small price difference, I would say the upgrade is well worth it.

These lightweight alloy guns really aren’t anything new – my first gun was a Franchi Falconette and that was an alloy gun. My father bought it for me; he was very crafty, and asked me to check it for size for a customer. I forgot all about it and then on Christmas Day there was this box under the tree. I think I would have been 14 and I can remember the Boxing Day shoot the next day – I couldn’t wait to get out and pull the trigger. I hardly slept that night, quite a contrast to Christmas Eve when I watched Morecambe and Wise before heading off to bed.

The only difficulty you should have with this gun is selecting the right cartridge so it does the business at the muzzle end and not at the other.



If you are looking for a lightweight 12 bore shotgun, then the Beretta Ultralight Gold is for you.