Editor of Sporting Gun, Matt Clarke, tests the ever-popular EELL in a super-deluxe version with upgraded wood and engraving. Here's what he thinks of this exclusive gun.
Beretta’s 687 EELL has been the Italian gunmaker’s bestseller for the past 30 years. So how can the company improve something that is already a firm favourite with shooters? Bring out a limited edition, of course.
Limited to just 100 guns, the 687 EELL Deluxe Field features deep scroll engraving on the decorative sideplates, which are pinless, allowing for a profusion of decoration. The engraving is done by machine and finished by hand, but if you prefer something even more special, then a hand-engraved version is available with prices starting from around £17,000.
Wood on the Deluxe is grade 3. On the
20-bore (12-bore is also available) we tested it was a lustrous dark, figured wood, which set off the deeply engraved action a treat.
Another nice feature of the special edition is the double fences, beautifully engraved, which made the gun look that bit special.
It is the wood and the decoration that set this deluxe model apart from the regular EELL field guns. The rest of the gun is mechanically the same as the run of the mill guns, which is a good thing because it incorporates Beretta’s tried and tested, robust internals. EL stands for ‘Extra Luxury’ with EELL being even more special. The sideplates on the EELL Deluxe are added for aesthetic charm because the gun is essentially a boxlock. This is not a bad thing because sidelocks are less robust and not as easy to work on as boxlocks.
As you would expect, this field gun sports fixed chokes: they were ¼ and ½ on the 20-bore we tested, which had 30in barrels (32in available on the 20-bore only). They were of solid, monobloc construction and being fixed choke were a great weight for the gun. Multi-choke barrels are available on the 20-bore 32in barrel model only. Be aware that barrels with interchangeable chokes tend to be thicker and heavier to accommodate threads to fit them. A ventilated top rib helps to cool the barrels during extended firing and this is finished with a metal bead, which can easily be removed if you wish.
The lock-up is Beretta’s usual vault-like system that uses conical lugs at mid-action, between the barrels, which self-adjust the more the gun is used by setting themselves slightly deeper into the barrel unit. This helps to keep the action low, bringing the shooter’s eye closer in line with the leading hand, meaning better gun swing. Just what you need in the field.
I’m always impressed by just how smoothly everything fits together on Berettas. Removing the fore-end and barrels is a cinch and it all fits back together again smoothly. This demonstrates the attention to detail that goes into making these guns.
- Typical of an Italian gun, the safety and selector toggle are on the top strap and top and bottom barrels are denoted by dots; one dot being the bottom barrel.
- As a game gun the 687 EELL Deluxe has an auto-safety, but a gunsmith can change that to manual should this be your preference.
- Wood-to-metal fit was excellent, as you’d expect, and the gun’s dimensions were sensible. At 14½in length of pull the stock was a little short for me, but then I have long arms. Also, you must remember that as you are shooting in the game season, you will be wearing a thick coat and this should be taken into consideration.
- If needs be, you can easily lengthen the stock by removing the wooden butt pad and replacing it with one of Beretta’s thicker pads. This also means that you can tailor the length of pull to suit.
- If you lengthen the stock your head will sit lower on it, which will only be a problem if, like me, you find the stock is a little low to begin with. I have this problem with Miroku shotguns as well but that is down to my body type and nothing else.
Shooting the Beretta 687 EELL Deluxe Field
We tested the 20-bore 687 on various clay targets and it was a delight to shoot, but then again 20-bores are usually nice to handle being light and lively.
With 30in barrels the gun swung nicely. The point of balance was just forward of the trigger guard and you hardly felt the gun in your hands. No muzzle flip was evident, even though the barrels are light and the point of balance is quite far back. This made the gun feel very agile and fast handling. Snap shooting is something this gun excels at.
I tried some fast quartering away rabbit targets that you only got a glimpse of before they disappeared behind an earth bank and the gun was fantastic at these ‘point and shoot’ targets. This would make it ideal for shooting from a pigeon hide, but what would it be like on driven game? Rather good, is the short answer. The gun was lively but moved in a controlled way when you swung it.
- Limited (100 guns only) edition version from £9995
- Multi-chokes available on the 20-bore version
- Calibres 12, 20 (tested)
- Field Classic 687 EELL are available from £7,265
- Stockists EJ Churchill or GMK
While testing the 687 I bumped into a Sporting Gun reader, Chris Mawson. He is an avid game shooter and shot 48 days last season. He wanted a go with the Beretta Deluxe and is used to shooting 20-bore. After shooting it he said: “It fits me perfectly. I like the lockwork and the decorative scrolling with the dark, oiled wood is very nice.
“You could use that gun anywhere. It wouldn’t look out of place on a fancy shoot and is practical enough to use on less elevated occasions.”
Chris’s last comment sums up this gun. It is good-looking, some might call it pretty, but its rugged, boxlock action and build means it could be used for a variety of sporting shooting, from pigeons and rabbits through to high pheasants.
With the 3in chambers and fairly open chokes, you could even use steel shot through it for the odd wildfowling foray. Although you probably wouldn’t want to ruin this beautiful gun on the foreshore.
What’s more, with the production run limited to 100 guns, you are unlikely to see another person with a 687 EELL Deluxe Field, which makes it very exclusive indeed.
The Beretta 687 EELL Deluxe is expensive, but for the money you get a gun that is not only extremely good-looking, it is mechanically robust and shoots like a dream. I tested the 20-bore version, which was particularly sweet handling, but I’m sure the 12-bore would handle well, too. The Limited Edition Deluxe is a good all-round sporting gun and as such is probably the only gun you will ever need in the field. You could even use it for informal clay shooting and as such you would have one gun that would perform the function of at least two guns and what’s more, do it well. Put it in that context, then, the Beretta doesn’t seem so expensive after all. And you know what they say about the man with one gun.
Scores on the doors
Build quality: 23/25
Value for money: 22/25[collection name=”small”]
Weight: 6lbs 2oz (20-bore, tested)
Trigger: Single selective
Barrel: 30in (tested), 32in (20-bore only)
Length of pull: 14 ½ in
Drop at comb: 1 ½
Heel to toe: 1 3⁄8 toe and 2 ¼ heel
The Beretta 687 EELL Deluxe is expensive, but for the money you get a gun that is not only extremely good-looking, it is mechanically robust and shoots like a dream.