The Breda Xanthos is not expensive but bears comparison with its more pricey competitors, says Charles Smith Jones
Breda guns probably hit the real peak of their popularity about 30 years ago, but today they are still producing high-quality shotguns, which are much sought after.
Breda Xanthos Action
The semi-automatic Breda Xanthos is one such. Introduced in 2006, it remains in production but is no longer imported into the UK, so you are only likely to encounter this shotgun on the pre-owned racks.
The heart of the action is based on the long-recoil inertia system invented by John Moses Browning and refined by Breda designer Bruno Civolani. The result was a design triumph that Breda has used in succeeding gun models. It has also been employed in Benelli semi-autos, the latter having been previously part-owned by Breda before being bought out by Beretta.
It is a very reliable system, which, instead of relying on valves or gas, uses the energy of the fired cartridge. For this reason, Bredas have a special reputation for cycling lighter cartridges that other makes can often be fussier about.
The Xanthos comes in four distinct grades – the Black, Grey, Classic and Damasco. The entry-level Black has a blued receiver, while that of the Grey is nickel, the Classic a more elegant sandblasted and silked finish, while the highest-grade Damasco is finished in ruthenium, an inert and wear-resistant metal in the platinum group. Decoration on the receiver varies from a simple gold inlaid script showing the maker’s name to rather more ornate patterning on more expensive models.
The oiled walnut woodwork varies similarly from an attractive basic grade to the more highly figured quality of the Damasco, with chequering on the woodwork restricted to the pistol grip and fore-end. Sharing the design of the Xanthos but having more of a utilitarian finish, the Breda Chiron has a polymer stock and is offered with a magazine capacity of 4+1, while the Xanthos has only ever been available in a 2+1 magazine.
The mechanism is the same for all models, though. A solid steel receiver ensures strength while keeping overall weight down, although the long action of the inertia-recoil system allows the gun to use a heavier bolt. This has the effect of reducing recoil at the shoulder even with heavier magnum loads. As a result, the weight of the gun, at less than 6½lb, makes it comfortable to carry and use for long periods. The overall effect is functional yet surprisingly elegant.
A button on the left-hand side of the receiver acts as a magazine cut-off, while the bolt release is easily located behind the shell-lifting plate. Trigger release is set at around the 5½lb mark, which suits most people but can be adjusted.
Like most manufacturers of semi-autos, Breda has always stressed the need to bed in a new gun by putting a number of cartridges through it, but this should not be necessary with a pre-owned gun. The 3in chamber and tolerance of a wide variety of loads, coupled with the multichoke option, makes this gun versatile enough. This is increased by the fact that being of relatively recent manufacture, any Xanthos you come across should be proofed for steel shot.
Tech specs for the Breda Xanthos
- Configuration: Single barrel
- Action :Semi-auto
- Choke: Multichoke
- Chamber: 3in magnum
- Barrel length 24in, 26in, 28in, 30in
Magazine capacity: 2+1
- Safety catch: Manual, cross-button
- Weight (12 bore) 6lb 6oz (28in barrel)
- Available in calibres: 12-bore
- Cost new: RRP £1,050
(2016 price for Xanthos Black)
- Cost used: From around £400
depending on model and condition
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An attractive gun
The Breda Xanthos came supplied in a rigid blue or red case depending on the model. It also contained five flush-fitting chokes, ranging from full to cylinder, sling swivels for those who wanted to fit them, and a user’s handbook. Also supplied were shims that allowed the owner to adjust the drop of the stock allowing the fit to be personalised.
With its light weight and reliable field performance, this is an attractive gun that is comfortable to use and would be equally at home shooting clays, waiting for a duck or conducting some serious crow or pigeon control. It is superb value for money and is serious competition for other guns.
With its light weight and reliable field performance, this is an attractive gun that is comfortable to use