Beretta 471EL shotgun: Beretta are best known for their huge range of over-under and semi-auto guns, but they are also pretty nifty when it comes to making very good side-by-sides as well.
The 471EL is the flagship gun in a small collection that’s headed by the 471 Silver Hawk.
Although the gun has side plates to make it look like a more expensive sidelock, the plates only there for decorative purposes. The strange thing is there’s actually less engraving on this gun than a standard Beretta boxlock!
Instead of covering the plates with profuse engraving the decoration comes via engraved gold-inlayed ducks on one side and woodcock on the other. The rest of the metalwork, with the exception of the barrels, is colour case hardened.
At first glance the gun appears more complex mechanically than the over-under guns because the emphasis with this design is safety. In has so many safety devices built in it’s a wonder the thing can be made to fire at all.
The Silver Hawk sports an automatic safety catch that not only blocks the sear arms to stop them lifting out of the bents, but also disconnects the selector block at the back of the sear arms as well. In addition to these safety features the makers have fitted interceptors to the back of the hammers to catch the hammers should they be jarred off if the gun is dropped.
Single trigger side-by-sides are certainly not rare creatures but a number of makers have steered clear of single selective trigger mechanisms because of their reliability. However, this hasn’t deterred Beretta who have perfected a design that’s the best of its type. Barrel selection is made with a button on the safety catch that moves from side to side in the same way as the company’s over-unders.
The 28in monoblock barrels sport 3in magnum chambers and the same Optima bore profile and choke system as used on the 682E – to both reduce recoil and also improve pattern quality. The choke tubes supplied are flush fitting as befits a gun of this type and the top rib is concave in the English style.
This theme is continued with a straight hand stock and splinter shaped fore-end wood. Timber quality is good and the stock is finished with a thin, wooden butt plate. This might seem a little odd until you realise the 471EL is held together by a stock bolt in the same way as an over-under, so the plate is merely acting as a cover to the bolt’s access port.
The chequering used is very fine but well cut and the woodwork is nicely oil finished. As for measurements you get 1.1/2in drop at comb and between 2.1/4in and 2.1/2in at heel. The gun weighs 6lb.
This gun is well made and will probably sell on the strength of its reliable single selective trigger mechanism. That said, at £4,000 it’s not cheap and I would want to see more engraving when parting with this sort of money.
It handles and shoots nicely but the stock bolt means the grip isn’t quite as slim as I would like. Some people will love it, but for me the jury’s still out on this one.
Build Quality 9
Value for money 6
More information from www.gmk.co.uk