Beretta's Forever Over/Under: The 686 Silver Pigeon I

Beretta's Forever Over/Under: The 686 Silver Pigeon I

At the World Skeet Shooting Championships in 1983 or 1984, I shot a 100 straight in the 28-gauge event using Briley 28-gauge skeet choke tube inserts in Beretta’s model 682 over/under. Various models of the 682 are still in production, but my point is that this action is built to take the pounding of hundreds of thousands of rounds. Further, this is the action/lock-up of the 686 Silver Pigeon I. Both actions are the same—super strong.

Before getting into more specifics about the 686 Silver Pigeon I, let me talk about the lock-up, which Beretta says makes this action “legendary!” The lock-up is considerably different than most of today’s over/unders. Two conical bolts in the face of the receiver move forward upon closing to enter and engage two matching machined cutouts in the monobloc—cutouts that are between the O/U barrels, which pivot on trunnions.

In the receiver, the shoulders nestle behind the blued portion of the monobloc. This is another aspect of the gun’s locking system. The beauty of this action is that there are no underlocking bolts or lugs, resulting in a very low-profile receiver. With that low profile the hands are in closer relationship with the barrels. Theoretically, such a receiver enhances a gun’s natural pointing qualities. That 682-tubed skeet gun mentioned above is long gone, but I doubt I ever shot a gun better.

The 686 Silver Pigeon I 20-gauge is not a competition skeet gun. It was built for hunting. It is light and lively, easy carrying, a joy to shoot, and has especially good looks. Beretta makes a whole fleet of over/under models, but the Silver Pigeon I is one of their least expensive, despite all of its qualities.


Cosmetically, this model shines with its Nistan bright receiver, fore-end iron, trigger guard, opening lever, top tang, and fences—the perfect background for extensive engraving, all with detail, depth, and class. Nistan is a type of nitride coating that fights corrosion very well—better than traditional bluing. Plus, the trigger is gold-plated, adding to the overall good looks.


The stock on my test gun had some figure but looked like all straight grain, which bodes well against stock cracking. All the wood wears a traditional oil finish. The cut checkering, done by expensive and sophisticated machinery, is beautiful, with no over-runs, tight at 20-25 lines per inch, and the feel is not so sharp that you need gloves to shoot this 686. The fore-end is Schnabel in style.

While my test gun was a 20-gauge, there is a 12-gauge in this line, built on its own size receiver. Further, 28 and .410 686 Silver Pigeon I models are both available; the latter two are built on a receiver that’s even smaller than the 20-gauge. Naturally, a bit of weight is saved with these two tiny gauges, but my 20-gauge hefted only 6 pounds, 4 ounces. That’s plenty light enough for easy carrying in a ready position for hours on end.

While my test gun wore 30-inch barrels, this model can also be had with 28- and 26-inchers. Some years back traditional inner barrel 20-gauge dimensions were .615. The barrels on this 20-gauge measured .626 with my Baker Barrel Reader—so overbored some .011-inches, not unusual by today’s standards. Some say such overboring reduces recoil a tad. More importantly, overboring can mean less pellet deformation, and that results in fewer pellets quickly flying out of the effective pattern.

Five flush-mounted screw-in chokes were included in the package; these measured .626 for the Cylinder, .619 for the Improved Cylinder, .612 for the Modified, .605 for the Improved Modified and .597 (.029 constriction) for the Full. I did not pattern these chokes, but I shot mainly the Cylinder and Improved. Both exploded targets on the skeet and sporting clays ranges.


The trigger cannot be adjusted back and forth and the safety is automatic (so you must push the safety off when banging away at clay targets). The trigger goes off at four pounds using my Lyman Digital Trigger-Pull Scale, which is excellent. Stock dimensions are 143/4 for length of pull, 13/8 drop at comb, 21/4 drop at heel. This one comes in a hard impact-resistant plastic case.

In my view, this is primarily an upland gun, ideal for grouse, woodcock, pheasants, quail, Huns and sharptails. But this Silver Pigeon I will also fare well on doves, incoming or crossing. For incoming dove practice on a skeet field, try the low birds from stations 1 and 2 and the high house birds from stations 6 and 7. For crossing-shot practice the middle stations on a skeet field are perfect. Further, similar incoming and crossing shots can be practiced on most any sporting clays course.

This 686 is also a great gun to practice with in the comfort of your own home, obviously always double-checking that the gun is empty. It is light enough that you can easily practice a dozen or more gun mounts and swings without fatigue.


When you read a gun review like this the writer is usually talking about a new model. The 686 is anything but new. It has withstood the test of time. The Silver Pigeon I will last and last. And just think about how good you’ll feel carrying it in the field, where your partners will no doubt be envious.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 4

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 4

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 4

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 10

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 10

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 10

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 14

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 14

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 14

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 9

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 9

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 9

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Gun Dog Editors Pick Their Favorite Travel Crates and Kennels for 2017
Today's gun dogs ride in Accessories

11 Perfect Dog Crates and Kennels

Tony J. Peterson - October 09, 2017

Gun Dog Editors Pick Their Favorite Travel Crates and Kennels for 2017 Today's gun dogs ride in

In the market for a new upland shotgun? Here you'll find shotguns to fit every pocketbook and every style, from side-by-sides and over/unders to semi autos. Shotguns & Ammo

Best New Upland Shotguns

John Taylor - September 10, 2018

In the market for a new upland shotgun? Here you'll find shotguns to fit every pocketbook and...

A gun-shy dog is created, not born, and once the damage is done, gun-shyness can prove impossible to cure. Puppies

Introduce Your Pup To Gunfire The Right Way

Gun Dog Online Staff

A gun-shy dog is created, not born, and once the damage is done, gun-shyness can prove...

A step-by-step analysis on what to expect from your dog Puppies

Your Pup's First Year

Bob West - September 23, 2010

A step-by-step analysis on what to expect from your dog

See More Trending Articles

More Shotguns & Ammo

Here are 15 of the best shotguns that waterfowlers will want to consider this season.
Duck guns Shotguns & Ammo

15 Best Waterfowl Shotguns for 2017

John Taylor - November 02, 2017

Here are 15 of the best shotguns that waterfowlers will want to consider this season. Duck guns

The Fabarm Elos D2 is handsome, easy-handling and tailor-made for the uplands. Shotguns & Ammo

Affordable Upland Gun: Fabarm Elos D2

Patrick Sweeney - December 13, 2018

The Fabarm Elos D2 is handsome, easy-handling and tailor-made for the uplands.

The selection of loads and specialized chokes for upland hunters has never been better. Here's a Shotguns & Ammo

Upland Hunter's Guide to the Latest Loads & Chokes

Gun Dog Online Staff - October 09, 2017

The selection of loads and specialized chokes for upland hunters has never been better. Here's...

This gun is an affordable side-by-side made with modern machinery and skilled craftsmanship. Shotguns & Ammo

Shotgun Report: CZ Bobwhite G2

Steve Gash - March 27, 2020

This gun is an affordable side-by-side made with modern machinery and skilled craftsmanship.

See More Shotguns & Ammo

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Gun Dog subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now