The go-to gun for many game shooters has had an upgrade; Mark Heath looks at what’s changed, what has stayed the same and how it shoots
Our Verdict on the 687 Silver Pigeon III Field
The original Beretta 687 was an all-round gun — is there a place for an updated version in game shooting today? The success of Beretta’s 690 series of guns, both Field and Competition, means you would be forgiven for thinking that the last post would be playing and the flag being slowly lowered as the sun sets on the Silver Pigeon. But such is the popularity of that action, especially among game shooters, that we have a resurrection in the form of the 687 Silver Pigeon III Field.
It was 37°C so I relented and allowed shorts and polo shirts rather than the usual collar and tie for the instructors. Half and three-quarter chokes fitted, we went straight out on to the shooting school loaded with 28g No 8s, some 30g No 5s and a box of 32g No 6s.
Starting at the 40ft tower, the handling, as always with a Silver Pigeon, was predictable on all angles with no vices. Using the 28g No 8s the clays became balls of smoke.
The ejector timing was typical Beretta — efficient and well timed but not so powerful that they would throw the cartridges into the blackthorn 10 yards behind the peg.
Moving on to the 80ft, 90ft and 120ft towers, the gun performed exceptionally well. For targets at 60 yards and more I would prefer a little more weight, but this gun is not intended for extreme birds as a general rule.
In the grouse butts, the fast handling was perfect — you know the clays are travelling when you hear them cutting through the air. The 28g and 30g cartridges were comfortable; the 32g were OK but there was more felt recoil. However, the 28g and 30g loads are more than enough on the type of days this gun is designed for — pheasants or partridges up to a reasonable height.
Those of you who remember the 687 of the 1980s, with the black top-lever and better engraving and wood than the 686, will see that formula is being repeated in the 2020 version. With a total weight of 7lb 7oz, this is classic game gun territory. The barrels, weighing 1,435g, are going to move and, with Optima flush-fitting chokes, the patterns are going to be first class. The action has engraving that is representative of its ancestor, with a partridge on one side and a pheasant on the other. There is also rose and scroll engraving in the background, including on the shoulders.
The semi-pistol grip has an open radius, and the wood is a step up from the Silver Pigeon I with very strong grain. The fore-end is a slim beavertail, which is my preference over the Schnabel style, which also includes rose and scroll engraving on the fore-end release.
The wood-to-metal fit is exceptional and a micropore pad is used — as per other models, a certain amount of length can be added merely by changing the pad. The drop measurements are 1¼in at the comb and 2in at the heel, which is a good starting point, together with the standard ⅛in cast-off at heel. These are excellent starting measurements for an off-the-shelf gun. Left-handed versions are also available.
The Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon III Field features more extensive engraving than earlier versions
NEED TO KNOW
- Manufacturer Beretta
- Model Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon III Field
- Action Boxlock over-and-under
- Calibre 12-bore
- Barrel 30in
- Weight 7lb 7oz
- Price £2,245
- Importer GMK
The 687 is a master of many requirements in game shooting and jack of a couple. This is repeating the exceptionally successful 687 formula of yesteryear.
This is a subtly upgraded Silver Pigeon, with pleasing aesthetics, that will deliver results in a range of game shooting situations. Available with 28in or 30in barrels in both left- and right-handed versions, it performs as you would expect — it handles well, shoots well, looks great, is reliable and will hold its value.
This formula works well on formal days, informal days, walked-up, grouse, pigeon, duck, simulated days and the odd clay shoot. It would make an exceptional ‘first gun’ gift that would last a lifetime. The Silver Pigeon is the go-to gun for many game shooters and the 687 Silver Pigeon III Field gives those looking to buy one a slightly upgraded version. On high bird days it would hold its own, but some might prefer something with longer barrels and a little more weight to absorb the recoil on heavier cartridges. As an all-round gun it takes a lot of beating.
Twenty-bore versions will be available in December this year, while adjustable and Vittoria stock versions are to be launched in 2021.
An all-round gun that takes a lot of beating 97/100
well finished 19/20
Good combination of weight and balance 19/2097
Will stay with original owner for many years 19/20
I’m yet to find a bad trigger on a Beretta 20/20
Action and barrels
Will last for ever and deliver every time 20/20
The gun handles well, shoots well, is reliable and looks great