Jason Harris puts the Bettinsoli X Trail Sporter through its paces.
The so called ‘entry level’ or ‘first time buyers’ market has always been a competitive place in which to pitch and sell guns. It’s the same today. Well, not quite – one change in recent years has been the general overall quality of the guns being sold. Almost without exception standards have improved thanks to the now widespread use of sophisticated computer controlled machinery. And one of the many makers to embrace this cutting edge technology is Bettinsoli based in the bustling gunmaking Val Trompia valley above Brescia, Italy.
Their investment is such that we thought it worth looking at their second, updated, version of the so-called X Trail which now comes with a silver finished action rather than the earlier colour hardened model.
Mechanically the gun incorporates the many tried and tested features found on previous Bettinsolis including a somewhat unusual – but effective – top lever spring mechanism. The design takes the form of a torsion type spring housed under the top lever and one that’s tensioned via a screw through the action frame. Inside you will see that the design follows the Italian norm for hammers pivoting from the trigger plate and sears suspended from the top strap.
The hammers are also powered by captive coil mainsprings to ensure they rebound on firing to prevent striker drag when the gun is opened. The sear lifter is directly connected to the trigger and reset for the second shot by the recoil from the first. Though this is lightly set so the mechanism is almost mechanical.
Lock up is achieved via a full width bottom locking bolt housed in the bottom of the action engaging with bites in the bottom of the barrel lump. In turn the lumps engage into the action frame for greater strength and the barrels hinge on stub pins set into the action side walls.
One noticeable feature is the tapered top rib (10mm down to 7mm), which really does give a lovely sight picture and makes the gun point extremely well.
It’s matted to minimise glare and finished with a small red day-glow sight at the muzzle.
There’s no such thing of course as the perfect all-round shotgun but with its 30in barrels, special steel shot proof, 3in chambers and the way it balances this one ought to make a fair fist at clays, pigeons, wildfowling and general game shooting duties.
With a stock length of 14.3/4in the Bettinsoli X Trail will prove a reasonable fit for most folk and its slightly lower comb height is also more user-friendly than one of greater height.
Bettinsoli X Trail Sporter verdict
All things considered this is a very good gun for the price – it’s well made, looks the part and represents decent value for money.
It points and balances nicely, moves easily and comes with a useful ABS travel case containing choke tubes and key.
Build quality – 20/25
Handling – 21/25
Styling – 20/25
Value for money – 22/25
For more information visit www.ruag.co.uk
Well made, looks the part and represents decent value for money.