Charles Smith-Jones looks at the Bettinsoli Evolution which, for the price, will be a natural selection for many shooters
Price as reviewed: £1,075
The Bettinsoli Evolution represents a lot of gun at a mid-range price. Although it no longer features in the Bettinsoli catalogues, a few new guns still appear to be offered on the UK market, although most examples encountered now will be pre-owned. It comes in two versions, the Evolution Black (as illustrated) or the Silver. The Black has, as the name suggests, a black action with game scenes engraved in gold on either side. There is further engraving along with the company name on the underside and the bottom of the trigger-guard. The Silver features similar engraving, also in gold, but onto white metal. Neither can be described as particularly ornate but both have a certain understated and unpretentious appeal.
Bettinsoli Evolution – woodwork
The same applies to the woodwork, which is of an attractive, basic grade European walnut in keeping with the overall price. Nevertheless, the overall package is certainly not cheap looking. Well-executed chequering at the hold points on the fore-end and the wrist of the stock complete the look and complement an undeniably Italian finish. The semi-pistol grip fills the hand well and a version with an adjustable cheek pad is also available, which enables the shooter to tailor fit the gun to suit, although most will find that the standard stocks fit well enough. Those with longer arms, however, may still find the stock a little short for them, though this is easily corrected by extending the recoil pad slightly.
The ventilated top and mid ribs immediately suggest that it is intended as a Sporter, although the Evolution would be comfortable in many other situations as well. It is supplied with five flush-fitting internal chokes across the usual range, which ensure that it has the versatility for most occasions.
The monobloc barrels have chrome-lined bores and are proofed for use with steel shot. A feature of many Bettinsoli shotguns is a long forcing cone that extends down the barrel and into the bore itself, with the intention of producing minimum shot deformation to both reduce recoil and produce the best possible patterns.
The single selective and adjustable trigger is gold plated on both the Black and Silver versions. The factory trigger-pull setting may feel a little heavy at something approaching 5½lb but, in reality, this is not really an issue under normal shooting conditions.
Barrels are selected with the safety catch that, as is normal for a clay gun, is not automatic. This seems to be the case with most Bettinsoli guns, even those intended for game shooting, which might come as a surprise to Guns who expect the enhanced security of an automatic safety catch. If this is preferred, Bettinsoli supplies a bar that can be fitted by any competent gunsmith to convert most its guns to an automatic safety.
Bettinsoli has refined its firing mechanisms over the years to produce a fast and reliable system, while its hammers and sears offer an alternative cocking position that intervenes should the first be damaged, a real safety advantage. Other handy features are the interchangeable hinge pins, which can be easily replaced should this ever become necessary. Bettinsoli guns are, consequently, extremely durable and wear resistant, and can be expected to age well.
As you might expect of any shotgun with an Italian pedigree, even one in the more affordable of price ranges, the Evolution looks good and is a pleasure to shoot. Although the aesthetics might not be to everyone’s taste this gun is well-made with pleasing lines and a reassuringly solid feel, and it handles naturally with that indefinable ‘pointability’ factor that encourages instinctive shooting. Comparable with other shotguns of twice the price, it would represent a great choice for anyone looking for an entry-level gun or who might be working to a careful budget.
- Configuration Over-and-under
- Action Boxlock
- Choke Multichoke
- Chamber 3in
- Barrel length 30in
- Ejector/non-ejector Ejector
- Safety catch Manual
- Weight (12-bore) 7lb 9oz
- Available in calibres 12- and 20-bore, and .410
- Cost new RRP £1,075
- Cost used From around £600
For a family company that is quite small compared with other Italian gunmakers, Bettinsoli has a surprisingly large output. Despite this, it has never been as popular as perhaps it should have been here in the UK. Its high production levels can be attributed to a move towards computerised manufacturing techniques that started during the 1980s and enabled precision manufacturing without over-dependence on expensive hand finishing. Bettinsoli may never be ranked among the major players but the firm still enjoys a reputation for well-made, dependable and attractive shotguns at a cost that will suit the shooter who does not want to reach too deeply into their pockets.
A lot of gun at a mid-range price