The popular sideplate has an upgrade, with improved wood and engraving, but it's the same reliable gun underneath, says Matt Hunt
The 687 EELL Classic Field was first introduced into the Beretta Premium range in 2006. The physical differences between the standard EELL and the Classic model are subtle and include improved wood, a fuller engraving pattern, Prince of Wales grip, extended trigger tang and an upgraded travel case. However, the biggest difference is clear from the moment you open the case. These guns are genuinely hand finished by the same craftsmen who create the SO series of guns. The result is the EELL Classic immediately looks and feels exceptional.
The latest model of the Beretta 687 EELL Classic Field has raised the bar even further following a full aesthetic restyle. The 2020 model comes with the option of a full deep-relief scroll pattern or a superbly laid-out scroll with the addition of game scene vignettes and Celtic knots on the hinge discs and fore-end catch.
Beretta 687 EELL Classic Field in detail
When ordering an EELL Classic you will never be disappointed with the wood. The selection is carried out by a gunmaker with passion rather than an accountant. Comparing the wood with the standard EELL’s, the difference is striking.
The grip too is a huge improvement on earlier models, with a standard Prince of Wales shape and a neat and traditional chequering pattern.
The wood is finished in a satin oil that brings out the colours and contrasts in the wood grain. Be aware, though, that this finish is thin, leaving the grain open and exposed to water ingression, the result of which is the wood swelling when the gun gets wet. Keeping this finish well nourished with appropriately applied stock oil will be essential.
The barrels are a typical monobloc type with 28in and 30in fixed and multichoke options across 12-, 20- and 28-bore. I’m always surprised a 32in option is not offered anywhere in the Field range of guns.
The test Beretta 687 EELL Classic Field was a 30in 20-bore with Optima-Choke HP system, 3in chamber and proofed for steel. The internal bore is back-bored with a diameter of 16mm, or .630 thou in old money. This is a small departure from the original 20-bore Beretta bore diameter of 15.9mm. This slightly bigger bore size will help with pattern when using heavier loads and should not compromise obturation in the barrel even when using fibre wads.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Beretta
- Model Beretta 687 EELL Classic Field
- Calibre 20-bore
- Barrels 30in Chamber 3in (76mm)
- Chokes Optima-Choke HP system
- Rib Vented, 6mm
- Grip Prince of Wales
- Weight 6lb 3oz
- Importer GMK 01489 579999
- Price £8,025
As with many young Shots it was the Beretta 20-bore 686 that introduced me to shooting, dating back to 1986. I still have it, cherish it and use it regularly. The 687 EELL Classic Field feels and shoots just like it. It’s fast to handle, and though the 30in barrels and multichoke system add weight, slowing the gun, it’s easy to overshoot targets. Using a slow, ‘maintained lead’ method helps immensely, and certainly the best results with the test gun were using this method.
The stock measurements mirror those of a standard gun. Length of pull is 14½in at centre, including a wooden buttplate. Factory recoil pads or wooden buttplates of varying thickness can be used to make the gun longer, and long stocks can be specially ordered. The cast measured just over 1/8th ‘off’ at heel; stockier shooters may want to explore getting the cast increased.
The gun shoots high and this will catch many Shots out. I like a high-shooting gun; the visibility of the target is greatly improved and it’s less likely that your eye will be taken by the barrel. If you’re a side-by-side Shot, pick up this gun and you will never look back.
The Classic is so fine, and beautifully balanced at just over 6lb 3oz, it feels just like a classic London gun. The best and most composed specification is definitely the 28in fixed-choke version, though the 30in does make the gun a bit more pointable and slower-handling.
Overall, the EELL Classic has a timeless appeal that will translate into exceptional residual second-hand value. In the words of Beretta: “The total aesthetic restyle of the 2020 model EELL Classic reflects life and eternity.” Well the EELL Classic is definitely here to stay and not even close to having a mid-life crisis.
- Action and barrels 19/20 reliable; fixed and multichoke options
- Handling 19/20 fast to handle; shoots high’
- Trigger 18/20 extended, engraved trigger tang
- Stock 18/20 striking with good colour and contrast
- Value 17/20 premium price but will hold its value
- Overall score 91/100 A fine, beautifully balanced gun