The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Italian shotguns

Italian shotguns

Italian shotguns

Buying an over-under gun makes sense not only for your shooting, but also for your wallet.

Most shooting schools will teach you to shoot with an over-under rather than a side-by-side because standard over-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.

Italian shotguns offer superb value

For the prospective buyer Italian shotguns offer superb value for money, allowing you to get hold of a well-built, good quality gun for a fraction of the price of a new English gun.

Of course, it must be said that due to the downturn in the global economy, prices on imported guns have been pushed up. Nevertheless, an over-under offers a great investment, being hugely reliable over many hard seasons of shooting. Rarely will you hear tales of an over-under from the likes of Beretta or Browning breaking down in the field.

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-unders.

Unlike guns from Browning or Japanese manufacturers, who use a full body pin, the disk body bolt enables the depth of the action to be a lot shallower, giving Italian guns their peculiarly elegant forms. Most Italian over-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.

Long and proud history of Italian gun making 

Gun making in Italy is largely based in the Brescia region in the north of the country. 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 Italian gun makers 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.

Be in no doubt that any Italian gun will offer superb shooting, excellent reliability and good looks. The three guns I have selected cover various sectors of the market, but all share good looks and fine handling, and could happily be used for clay or game shooting.

Any one of them would make a fine addition to your collection, and, of course, a sound investment.




This range of guns starts at £1,460 in the form of the Silver Pigeon Universal and taking in the Silver Pigeon S and the Silver Pigeon III.

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 cheapest Universal model is only offered in 12 bore, with either 28″ or 30″ barrels with fixed chokes, pistol grip and scroll engraving.
  • The Silver Pigeon S is available in .410, 28, 20 and 12-bores, again with 28″ and 30″ barrels. All feature the Beretta-style closing mechanism and inertia-driven selective single triggers.
  • 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.

Prices start from £1,615 for the Silver Pigeon S, and from £2,110 for the Silver Pigeon III.




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.

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.
  • These guns are only available in 20-bore, with 28″ or 30″ barrels, with fixed ¼ and ½ chokes or multichokes.
  • They weigh in at just 2.9kg and are an absolute joy to shoot, and would undoubtedly cause envy amongst your shooting friends.

Beretta 687 EELL Classic

Beretta 687 EELL Classic

I first got my hands on this delightful custom Beretta in the April 2015 issue of Shooting Gazette. On first look the differences are…


Our rating:  88%


Prices correct at time of article.