For an entry-level gun, Beretta’s neat little over-and-under offers all the design features you’d expect and won’t let you down, says Roger Glover
It is common for gunmakers to ease back on the proportions of a 20-bore, recognising that the lighter loading of a smaller-bore gun would be easier on a youth or a lady. Yet if you require a full-sized gun in 20-bore, this format can leave you wanting. Not so with the 690 1; its proportions are full-sized and it fitted me all too well. I had dreaded taking delivery of it to test, expecting a short stock and twitchy handling to be a bit of a nightmare. I was wrong.
- The action is downsized from the 12-bore version but all kept neatly in scale
- Nothing looks out of place or odd about it.
- In keeping with Beretta tradition, the trigger-plate action is all steel and very robust in design, a highly developed system that serves Beretta well across a vast range of its guns.
- Not one part of the mechanism looks frail nor fragile — nothing to let you down at a critical moment.
The 690 I did lose one or two features of the 692 Competition gun but neither the replaceable barrel shoulders nor the adjustable trigger really make any difference on a game gun. The 690 1 is significantly cheaper as an entry-level gun within the range.
I found the trigger a little heavy at 4½lb and not the cleanest of breaks, but you can feel it lifting the tumblers so it has an edge of safety, and could be lightened by a gunsmith if required.
- The automatic safety catch engages and disengages with reasonable ease and the selector is slick to move.
- There is something about the actual safety button though — its styling seems to flow with the rest of the gun but to me it looks a little overly modern, whereas the decoration on the action is classically Italian, with its main floral design and delicate embellishments and borders.
- The entire action is finished in bright nickel, leaving only the barrels and fore-end iron in black.