Beretta’s Silver Pigeon series takes a lot of beating and its smaller Vittoria model comes in two versions, put to the test by Mark Heath
Our verdict on the Beretta Silver Pigeon Vittoria
We pitted two models of the Beretta Silver Pigeon Vittoria — field and competition — against each other to compare their performance.
The guns themselves are almost identical in that they are both the well-documented Silver Pigeon actions of which there are hundreds of thousands in circulation. These are among the go- to guns for many shooters with a passion for either game or clays.
We gave both guns an early-morning workout at the shooting school, for which I was joined by two of our instructors. Richard Weller, though an excellent all-round Shot, is not exactly the target market given that he is 6ft 4in and hardly built for ballet. The other was Paul Whitton, again an all-round shooter but a left-hander. I am 6ft and not built for ballet either so it would be an interesting test.
Starting with driven targets and a variety of cartridges from 21g to 28g, both guns were easy to shoot despite the issues of fit. As instructors we become used to a wide range of guns and can switch between different configurations without too much difficulty. Both guns handled very well with no vices, the usual excellent Beretta trigger-pulls and both requiring exactly the same pressure. The ejector timing was identical.
We left the choke in the guns that they arrived with, which were half and full, and consequently the clays were smoking fairly frequently. We all favoured the Sporter marginally, as the slightly heavier barrel made it a little steadier and smoother to shoot, but none of us is slight of stature.
We then shot a super Sporting style stand with six traps and a variety of targets. Both guns were faultless and performed exceptionally well, in part because we were all able to adapt ourselves to the guns. The recoil was absorbed by a combination of the weight and balance of the guns.
A female client tries the guns
I conducted a further test later in the day by asking one of my clients, who matches the target market for the Vittoria in terms of height and build, to shoot one of the guns. She already shoots one of the 690 series of guns with a Vittoria stock and chose the competition model due to the stock being slightly different with the adjustable comb.
When she tried shooting the same super Sporting layout, the gun got the thumbs up on all counts. The whole point of the Vittoria is the stock design; at 14in to the mid-point with the standard pad, it is intended to provide comfort for the shorter shooter as the stocks on both guns are this length. The competition version has an adjustable comb and the field version the Monte Carlo-style parallel comb. Which version you might choose depends more on your build than the intended use.
The competition one is more flexible in terms of fitting for bend or drop. The other attribute both stocks have is the rake of the pistol grip that makes it easier for smaller hands to reach the trigger.
Other than the stocks the only other variation between the guns is the field version has a narrow game top rib, solid mid rib with a barrel weight of 1,441g and an auto-safety. The competition version has a vented mid-rib, wider parallel top rib with a centre bead and slightly heavier barrels at 1,459g together with a manual safety catch.
We haven’t managed to wear a Silver Pigeon action out at the shooting school; some are decades old and have shot millions of rounds.
The critical issue is, does the stock of the Vittoria suit you in terms
of fit? It was originally marketed for female shooters, but many more
are better suited to a standard gun, usually after some adjustments.
Proper gun fittings cannot be done in a static environment because you cannot make multiple adjustments to length, drop and cast on a gun off the shelf, then shoot the gun and see if it works for you. You may shoot a gun well with a ‘guess fit’ but probably not as well as if a full fitting has been done and the stock altered accordingly.
Many shooters spend a lot of money changing their gun when they become disillusioned rather than getting their existing gun fitted using a purpose-built try gun at one of the major shooting schools. The schools’ specialist instructors are trained, practised and proficient because they are doing fittings every day of the week.
There are different versions and calibres available in the Vittoria line so do your homework before you part with the cash, including for the fitting. There is also a 28-bore, 32in barrel version, which would be fun to test.
- Action and barrels 20/20. The Silver Pigeon is tried and tested
- Handling 19/20. These guns do the job exceptionally well
- Trigger 20/20. Standard Beretta, always reliable
- Stock 19/20. Plain wood but not unattractive
- Value 19/20. Both guns will last a lifetime if looked after
- Overall -great for shooters with smaller frames
Both field and competition versions handled and performed brilliantly, despite there being issues of fit with the tall testers at the shooting school