Beretta 687 EL Gold Pigeon II shotgun: Beretta is one of the biggest gun manufacturers in the world and certainly the longest running, being established in 1526.
Incredibly it’s also the oldest company in the world to be still run by the same family!
Obviously, then, they know a thing or two about guns – and their present range proves it. The collection comprises one of the most comprehensive ranges available, with something to suit all tastes and disciplines.
While the guns have changed enormously in their styling, handling and appearance they have remained virtually the same in terms of mechanics.
Originally the 687 EL Gold Pigeon first came with a light game scene engraving, with birds and dogs highlighted in gold. This model has a very distinctive engraving pattern with no gold at all. And it’s the engraving that really does grab the attention with this gun.
Personally I think the contrast between the deep engraving on the plates and the lighter work on the frame sets this gun apart from the rest, and it is very well executed.
The Beretta has always been a very reliable and strongly built gun and mechanically this boxlock is the same as all the others in the series. Its style and layout is what is best described as a trigger plate action whereby the firing mechanism is held complete on the trigger plate.
For ease of repair and maintenance, however, it can be removed from the gun should it ever need to be worked on by a gunsmith.
When the trigger is pulled on most guns the sear is lifted clear of the bent in the top of the hammer. But the Beretta is different in that the trigger – by way of pivoting levers – pushes the back of the sear downwards, thus releasing it from the hammer to connect with the striker. Recoil inertia from the fired cartridge sets the gun for a second shot.
The hammers are powered by coil mainsprings held captive on rods which allow the hammers to rebound slightly and so prevent the strikers dragging on the cartridge primers. This rebounding facility means the gun can open and close cleanly.
The ejection process is activated after the gun has been fired by the relevant cocking lever being held by the weight of the fired hammer spring. As the gun starts to open, this resistance makes the fore-end lever pivot and pick up the hook at the front of the spring-loaded extractor in the barrel walls.
As the gun continues to open the cocking rods are pushed back and the fore-end lever in conjunction with the cocking rod release the extractor at a point fractionally before the gun is fully opened. It is an ingenious system, but one that has stood the test of time supremely well.
All furniture on the action i.e. top lever, safety button, trigger guard and fore-end iron are finished in bright silver. This is very attractive and appears very resilient, though in the past some sideplated Berettas have been susceptible to discolouration, unless kept slightly oiled to protect them from the elements.
The test gun’s 28in barrels are made on the usual Beretta monoblock system and have been chambered to take 3in cartridges.
The chokes are 1/4 and 1/2, perfect for all round game shooting and pretty acceptable for the odd clay or two as well.
Woodwork is very pretty on this gun and takes the form of a nice golden honey colour with the sort of figure you would expect from a gun of this price, and quality. Both fore-end and stock match well for colour.
The chequer pattern is good with a classic design that is easy on the eye. It is also very fine and so precise that it is almost certainly machine cut, yet has the appearance of having being done by hand. The stock is also furnished with a gold oval for your initials to be engraved if desired.
Wood to metal fit is very good and the shape of the stock and fore-end have been well executed and proportioned. My only gripe with the gun is its light gloss varnish finish and the butt plate. I don’t really care for gloss finishes at the best of times, and this is a feeling shared by my customers who would prefer to see a gun of this price treated to a traditional oil finish.
Not only does oiled wood look better but it doesn’t mark as easily as a glossed surface. In time the gloss coating can become a little rough looking.
I take issue with the butt plate simply because the fit is so appalling for a gun of this price bracket. It looks really good being wood, but it is a shame it cannot be fitted to flow with the lines of the stock and fit flush.
Apart from this minor point, the gun is really attractive and the mechanical virtues of Beretta are well proven.
This is a very distinctive looking gun that will catch the eye. But it’s beauty isn’t just skin deep – it handles well and will give years of trouble-free service.
Alternative buys could be the Browning Prestige Grade 5, the MacNab Highlander sideplate or the Lincoln Jubilee.
Build quality: 8
Value for money: 7
More Information from www.gmk.co.uk
Telephone: 01489 579999.