Jason Harris recommends the new Beretta A400 Action 28-bore, a light and flexible semi-auto
The semi-auto market is a major arena for most gunmakers. One of the leaders in this market is Beretta. They are constantly innovating and looking for a new angle.
Semi-autos are increasingly common in 20-bore, but smaller than this and the choice narrows considerably. Some years ago, Remington made smaller-bore semi- autos; the .410 had a niche following, but then disappeared. Beretta hasn’t quite got to that point yet, but they do now make a 28-bore — the Beretta A400 Action.
First introduced in the UK in early 2014, initially it was only in a 28in barrel, but was brought in at the end of the year in 26in as well. Although not much smaller than the 20-bore, it is a lovely little gun.
It is very light, but with enough weight to make it very responsive to handle. The gun weighs in at 2.6kg or approx 53⁄4lb.
Where the modern semi-autos come into their own is with lighter materials such as aluminium alloys rather than steel. It gives a very modern light feel and is designed to be much more reliable with smaller cartridges.
This has been a problem for builders of semi-autos, particularly in smaller bores. The gun’s cycling ability is completely dependent on the energy produced by the cartridge as it fires. The snag is that cartridges in general have become lighter-loaded over the years to reduce recoil and noise. So semi- autos have had to become more flexible to accommodate varying loads of cartridge. The smaller the bore, the less recoil, meaning less energy to work the mechanism.
The odd thing with 28-bores is that most are only made today with 70mm chambers. There are only 21⁄2in or 23⁄4in (65 or 70mm) case length cartridges for 28-bores, but there is a wide range of shot loads available in this bore. Off the top of my head, I can think of loads from 14g to 28g. It amazes me that 28g of lead can be squeezed into a 28-bore cartridge case; there’s hardly room for anything else.
I can’t claim the Beretta will work with every shot load, but it will probably work with a wider range of cartridges than most other guns and better still once it has been used for a while.
Views do seem to vary, but I would always recommend using a good amount of oil on the gas piston system. I favour using motor oil as it can stand the high temperatures that it is exposed to and burn away much more slowly.
The oil and parts do get black and dirty, but it is easier to clean off and re- apply each time you clean the gun.
The A400 Action has a gas piston that slides up and down a stem on the end of the magazine tube. The piston sits inside a loop on the barrel that acts as a chamber for the gas to expand in. It has a split spring cleaning ring that acts as a seal, maximising the energy bled from the cartridge and scraping the inside of the loop clean with every cycle.
The gas from the fired cartridge is bled off through a port or hole in the barrel. The piston pushes back the action bar, which is spring-loaded forwards. The bolt spring is lighter than many autos because the gun has a revolving bolt head, which locks it to the action more tightly than it would with just the pressure of the spring.
The A400 Action 28-bore has all the features of the larger calibres: the barrel is Beretta Steelium high-strength steel with chrome lining and multi-chokes. The multi-choke system is the optichoke high performance flush fit. The top rib is 6mm wide, matted and finished with a red foresight.
Barrel blacking is a deep gloss black. The action is finished a non-reflective silver matt-cum-satin. The safe button is larger and curved to comfortably fit the finger.
There is a magazine cut-off button so that the gun can be made safe to cross a stile or ditch without the need to fully unload. Once engaged it retains and locks the cartridges in the mag tube and allows the chambered cartridge to be removed.
The woodwork is walnut with extra grain; enhanced by laser treatment with an oil finish look to it. The stock and fore-end have been ergonomically styled for a better fit into the hands. This is enhanced by laser- cut chequer on the pistol grip and fore-end incorporating the Beretta arrows legend.
The stock has the shim system so can be cast for left or right hand and for a number of drop positions. The butt-end has a micro core recoil pad which is soft and grips, yet allows smooth mounting onto the shoulder.
In 28-bore, the A400 Action offers something that few other gunmakers do. A neat, compact little gun easy to carry and very comfortable to shoot. It is very easy on the shoulder with little recoil, but will still pack a punch. The RRP is £1,495 and at this price offers good value for money.