The new A400 isn't cheap but is it worth its salt? The Editor finds out
I’ll be honest with you, the first thing I noticed about the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus was the price. At £2,195 it is not cheap for a semi-auto. Regular readers will know I like value for money. That’s not saying I just like economy – I don’t. If I have to pay a lot of money for something I want to know that it will work well, have all the functions I need, be well made and last years. With this in mind, does the new Beretta offer the value for money I am seeking?
Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus – innovative
If we were to judge the semi-auto on mechanical innovations, then it would certainly be worth the money. One of the most impressive is the new Kick-off Mega recoil system. Behind the rubber section mid-stock is a telescopic anti-recoil system. At first I wondered whether having the recoil system mid stock instead of at the rear was just a gimmick, but when I shot the gun I felt the benefit. Having the recoil-absorbing mechanism mid stock in front of the shooter’s cheek means the shooter’s head can remain on the stock undisturbed by recoil, making follow-up shots much easier. That has to be worth the money.
There is also a recoil absorbing butt pad making the A400 one of the most comfortable guns to shoot. If you need a longer or shorter length of pull, a thicker or thinner butt pad can be fitted.
The new Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus was introduced in Mossy Oak Bottomland Camo (seen here) at the end of last year. It is darker than many camos and as such will suit wildfowlers more than summer pigeon shooters, where the colours of the field are brighter. That said, geese and pigeon probably don’t see colour as we do, so whether it is a dark camo or light matters more to the shooter than the quarry. There are two other camos available and for those who don’t like camo a black synthetic version is available and it’s cheaper.
Apart from the new paint job, other tweaks are a larger ejector port, an over-sized cocking handle, a bolt-release lever and a new gas valve. All these features have practical functions. The larger ejector port makes it easier to load the gun wearing gloves, while the larger charging handle also offers ease of use when your hands are cold, as does the release lever.
Other features of the A400 Xtreme Plus have been adapted from previous models. The rotating bolt-head mechanism was originally developed for the A391 Xtrema, which made its debut in 2002. This tried and tested action is reminiscent of the Benelli M2, the big difference being that the A400 action is gas-operated whereas the M2 is inertia driven. This type of action has earned itself a good reputation over the years and is considered reliable.
A gas-operated system has the advantage of not being cartridge fussy. Lighter loads will cycle the mechanism as easy as heavy ones because the mechanism isn’t cycled by recoil but by gas from the explosion of the cartridge. Having a gun with a 3½in chamber that can shoot super magnum loads and loads as light as 24g makes it versatile.
Of course, in the ying and yang of life every upside has a downside and in this case the downside is that the gas parts have to be cleaned to keep the gun working properly and this can be time consuming and fiddly. That said, when I cleaned the A400 I didn’t find it fiddly or difficult. My only problem was securing the front nut. It is meant to click into place but I found it took more strength than I realised to make it secure. This is something you would get used to.
What helped keep the gas parts clean is the new valve, which has been designed to keep the gasses from leaking out and makes the new A400 cycle 36% faster, according to the manufacturers, than other semi-autos. This has the benefit of reducing the amount of carbon that gets into the rest of the action, thereby reducing cleaning intervals. I didn’t have any way of quantifying how quickly this gun cycled, but let’s just say that the rounds go off as fast as you can pull the trigger. Even when the gun was hot, the mechanism functioned flawlessly. (To see the gun in action go to our Facebook page or ShootingUK and you will see what I mean.)
You’ll find the Steelium Plus barrels on a lot of Berettas. The DT11 reviewed last month uses this sort of barrel technology and the Italian gunmaker is rightly proud of its expertise in this area. Barrel making is a complex process. Get it wrong and the gun will be a dud. Beretta’s Steelium barrels are made out of high-quality material and have a 14in forcing cone instead of the usual 6in, and the gradual taper means less perceived recoil, better patterns and better long-range shots, even with steel shot.
The gun uses Beretta’s Optima Choke HP and they are clearly marked with their constriction, which is useful if you are using steel cartridges. They extend from the end of the barrel and are easy to change in the field. As you would expect, shims and spacers come with the gun, should you need to alter the cast or length of pull.
Another practical feature is the tactile rubber inserts on the stock that provide extra grip. This would be particularly useful on the marsh but even on the clayground I was glad of the full control it gave me of the gun.
I was also pleased to see the safety catch on the trigger guard in front of the trigger, as you get on many rifles. It was easy to access when on aim without fear of touching the trigger blade accidentally.
I started the test using light load cartridges. The gas mechanism shot through them with no problem at all. I would be unlikely to use such cartridges on a gun like this but it’s good to know the gun isn’t cartridge fussy. Next I used the 28gm cartridges. Again, a fairly light load for a gun like this but that was the maximum permitted on a clay ground. It cycled those flawlessly and what’s more it was very comfortable to shoot thanks to its state-of-the-art recoil system.
I tried it on various targets, ranging from crossers, going away and incomers to simulate the sort of shooting you would do from a pigeon hide or on the marsh. My marksmanship has not been good of late, especially with semi-autos, largely because the combs have been set too low on them and I don’t have time to put in the shims or change the butt pad. However, on the A400 my eye was in. The drop at comb was just about right for me and the gun felt light and wieldy. It was perhaps a little light at the barrel end but that didn’t stop me hitting things.
To test this gun’s capability thoroughly I launched (with a little help from the photographer) three clay targets. There was a crossing sim pair followed by a quartering away clay on report. Second time I managed to hit all three. This sort of gun breeds confidence in the shooter because you know it won’t let you down.
I waited until the gun had got well and truly warmed up before I tested its capabilities on fast shooting. The Americans say the A400 has a ‘blink’ action in that it can get the rounds off as fast as you can blink your eyes. I got all three shots off very quickly without any jams, my only limitation being how fast I could pull the trigger.
It was great fun and I love a semi-auto that is this responsive. There’s nothing worse than having a lag when you pull the trigger on a semi. Look at the video and you will see how quick it is. I did this quite a few times for the camera and there weren’t any mishaps, even though the gun was red hot.
- Available in 12-bore only
- 3½ in chambers
- Multichoke Optima bore
- Kick-off mega recoil system
- HP Steelium
- Imported by GMK
So was this gun worth the money? With all the new technology it has and the build quality, I would say yes. None of these innovations were gimmicks, they all added to the shooting experience. Yes, you can get a very good semi-auto for half the money and it would perform about as well, but what you are paying for here is top-quality engineering, reliability and finesse. This gun is also a beauty to shoot. The trigger pull is crisp and the recoil is low. If you’ve got the money, the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus is a worthwhile investment.
Scores on the doors
- Build quality 24/25
- Handling 23/25
- Styling 24/25
- Value for money 23/25
What you are paying for here is top-quality engineering, reliability and finesse.