Benelli Crio semi-auto shotgun.
There’s no such thing as a cheaply priced semiautomatic these days and this 28-bore from Benelli is no exception – it costs more than a number of tidy over-unders currently on the gun shop shelves.
So what’s going for it? First off it’s a really handy, lightweight, little gun that copes with a wide range of cartridges right up to 3in magnum, yet stays really easy on the shoulder.
It’s ultra slim, sits in the hands a treat and handles beautifully.
In fact it’s what I suppose can best be described as a versatile, easy-to-carry shotgun for the shooter who gets his enjoyment walking-up on rough shoots.
This gun’s soft-shooting tendencies are complemented by an Air Cell recoil pad attached to a walnut stock that’s covered with a protective film to both enhance its appearance and also protect the wood from scratches and wet weather.
The Benelli range of semi-autos sport a unique inertia driven operating system that’s renowned for reliability and safety coupled to working mechanisms that are machined and finished to precise tolerances.
However this is the first time all this has been teamed with such an extremely lightweight gun.
The name ‘Crio’ comes from the barrel and chokes which have been specially treated to improve the strength and durability of the metal so that they can shrug off long-term heavy use.
The barrel tube undergoes cryogenic cooling to below minus 100 ºC, a process that improves the mechanical properties of the metal by reducing residual tensions within the structure and stabilising it.
This means the barrel is then less susceptible to high temperatures during firing and this results in the shot column suffering minimal friction and deformation on its passage through the bore.
In turn this leads to much improved patterning – or so it’s claimed. What isn’t in doubt is that almost everything about the Benelli works around its bolt.
When the cartridge goes ‘bang’ the magazine stop releases a fresh shell which then sits under the bolt which is still in the forward position.
Recoil from the cartridge now causes the bolt’s rotating head to lock up completely in a recess at the back of the barrel.
In other words, as the gun as a whole is moving backwards under recoil, so the bolt is moving forwards to counter it.
In effect the bolt is staying still as the rest of the gun moves backwards (and around it) causing a large spring within the bolt to compress and store energy.
Then, when the force of the fired cartridge dissipates, the energy within the bolt spring takes over and throws the bolt backwards thus releasing the rotating bolt head and ejecting the fired case.
The second cartridge sitting under the bolt is immediately brought up by the carrier and the bolt comes forward again to take it forwards into the chamber.
This may sound a little complicated, but it really is simple physics. The net effect is that we now have a semi-auto shotgun with fewer moving parts.
And overall this has got to be a good omen for long-term reliability. With no gas flying about the fore-end can be made slimmer and there’s far less muck and powder residue to clog the mechanism so there is less need for cleaning.
This is something of a unique gun and very elegant considering it’s a semi-automatic.
I like it.
It’s going to appeal to a limited market but it will fit the role intended of it extremely well. The gun’s well built, well finished and well balanced.
Build quality 22/25
Value for money 20/25
TOTAL SCORE 85/100
GMK Ltd, Fareham, Hants.
Telephone: 01489 579999