For most of us who bird hunt, lighter is better. If you've ever hauled a weighty shotgun on the prairie for a few ringnecks or those public-land walk-ins for mallards, you know what I mean. Beretta's five-pound A400 Xplor Action 20-gauge (it's about a pound heavier with the Kick-Off system) will crush roosters and decoying greenheads alike, with minimal felt recoil.
Of course, clay target shooters usually appreciate some extra gun weight, mainly because more heft means less recoil but also because a somewhat heavier gun can be instrumental in keeping the barrel moving. But the Xplor felt good in my hands, and I managed to break quite a few clays as well.
The 'œBronze Tone' finish on the receiver will hold up to the elements season after season.
The left side of the A400 20-gauge.
The trigger is chrome-plated.
The slim forend makes for a more comfortable grip and easier swings on flushing birds.
The walnut features a hand-rubbed oil finish as well as enhancing Xtra-Grain.
Close up of the checkering and relief design on the underside of the forend.
Close up of the pistol grip. Note the extraordinary checkering and amount of re-curve.
There are many ways to reduce felt recoil. No doubt, a gas-operated semi-auto like this 20 is one of them. Remington led the way on this a half-century ago with its model 1100 — built on a steel receiver. Beretta reduces recoil with an aluminum alloy receiver and, of course, the Kick-Off system located in the buttstock.
"The Kick-Off is the only reduction system in the world that uses hydraulic dampeners, very similar to those used in automobile suspensions," said a Beretta spokesperson. "The result? Far less recoil than most systems."
But the Kick-Off and the gas operation aren't the only special features of the A400 series. There's the unique compensating exhaust valve with its self-cleaning piston keeping the A400 functional and reliable. The Blink system speeds up cycling significantly for faster follow-up shots (think high-volume dove shoots in Argentina).
Another factor in recoil reduction is the recoil pad made of high-tech Micro-Core. And the Optima Bore barrel delivers great patterns.
There's also a lot of eye candy on this little 20-gauge. My guess is that the bronzed tone receiver has some corrosion inhibiting qualities. The bolt is black and lugs built into the front of the bolt lock into recesses milled into the barrel extension, resulting in added strength to the lock up.
This gun has 3-inch chambers, and if you want to take the Xplor turkey hunting or waterfowling, the bigger shell is optimal. There's a magazine cut-off button on the left side of the receiver, a good idea when you just want to remove a shell from the chamber and not have a shell from the magazine pop on to the carrier. The safety is triangular and positioned toward the front of the trigger guard, a small but beneficial feature. The trigger is chrome-plated with a 5-pound pull in my tests.
The stock and forend are walnut checkered in a very unusual but sleek Xtra-Grain Technology with oil finish, laser cut so it's hard to find any imperfections. The 28-inch barrel weighed an even 2 pounds, and vent rib measures .240 at the rear and .235 near the muzzle, so essentially, there's almost no taper.
As with most Berettas, the A400 comes with a set of stock spacers, allowing the shooter to set up the gun with proper drop and cast. At the bottom of the pistol grip, Beretta's Gun Pod, which counts the number of shells fired, read out on a digital display, plus the temperature and more (extra on most A400s).
Action: Gas operated semi-auto
Weight: 6 pounds, 1-ounce with Kick-Off
Barrel: 28-inch vent rib
Chokes: Three screw-ins (Cylinder, Modified and Full)
Length of Pull: 14 1/4 inches