Launched to replace the 470 series and now in 20-bore, Michael Yardley considers the Beretta 486 Parallelo EL to be a much better gun – with some interesting features
Replacing the 470 series and now in 20-bore, the Beretta 486 Parallelo EL looks good and feels light and lively. Michael Yardley is impressed.
For a new gun with unusual pedigree, read Browning B15: the new upmarket over and under.
BERETTA 486 PARALLELO EL
The test gun this month is a 20-bore, side-by-side, side-plated, round bar Beretta: the Beretta 486 Parallelo EL. It weighs in at just over 6lb and has a pistol-grip stock with a trim beaver-tail fore-end (there is also a straight hand option with traditional splinter). Barrels are 30in (28in are also available) with 3in chambers proofed for steel shot. The rest of the specification includes a single-selective trigger, flush fitting long “Opti High Performance” multi-chokes and rather unusual ejector work that can be disabled by a switch in the fore-end (useful to reloaders or those who want to collect cartridge cases). Another interesting mechanical feature, inspired by Joe Manton in the early 19th century, is a gravitational safety. This uses a floating weight on the back of the trigger that prevents the gun going off accidentally (Manton developed the system for flintlocks, a pendulum hanging between frizzen and cock).
The new small-bore EL is sleek, with its slim, rounded, Boss-like action with slightly convex side-plates mounted either side. The engraving, laser applied, is rose and scroll in something like Purdey style.
The Beretta 486 Parallelo EL looks good, though my inclination would be to increase the coverage a little at the fences and around the hinge-pins. The action body and plates are presented silver polished or, as Beretta describes it, “without surface finish”, and the action furniture is similarly uncoloured (though a pair of special-order 486 20-bore ELs currently resides in the London Beretta Gallery, chemically “colour hardened” with traditionally blued furniture). Wood to metal and general presentation of the test gun impress; the inletting of the side-plates into the stock wood (accomplished by precision machining) is particularly good. There are no visible joins in the barrels thanks to the unusual construction method. The figure of the wood is above average, too.
Bringing the gun to the shoulder, the Beretta 486 Parallelo EL feels quite light and lively with a slightly forward balance. The pistol grip and beaver-tail provide good purchase, enhancing control in a light gun, and would probably be my choice were I ever to order one. Light guns are made much more manageable by good shapes. The tighter (but not too tight) radius of the grip suited me and gave a sense of security. The beaver-tail aided purchase and kept the hand away from the barrels, useful if they become heated. The fore-end, neither too wide nor deep, is not so bulky that natural pointing is impeded. It reminds of some seen on Purdeys. I also liked the classic concave rib, though a flat, pigeon-style rib would also suit the gun well and might, arguably, be better. For my money, the modern 30in 20-bore side-by-side should have a pigeon rib. I think the pattern makes the guns a little easier to shoot consistently.
This shotgun would be just the ticket for smaller partridge days, walking-up grouse or partridge, or for use in a pigeon hide (where 20-bores and 28s and their cartridges mean less bulk to carry in). The new Beretta EL might also be enjoyed by anyone who likes the idea of a small, stylish, 20-bore side-by-side. Any 20-bore side-by-side would not, however, be my first choice for ladies or young shots. I think the over-and-unders are significantly easier to use. They are easier to point and to control. That said, this is a well-conceived gun that, with a suitably elevated stock and the right load, could be used by both women and youngsters effectively.
The 486 Parallelo was launched as a 12-bore some years back, replacing the 470 series. It was a much better gun than the one it replaced with some interesting features. The action, into which Fausti seems to have had some input, is powered by V-springs with an improved, less-complex trigger mechanism. The round bar is also very different to the old square bar Beretta side-by-sides. The action accommodates a neat trigger-unit secured by a screw underneath the sliding safety-cum-barrel selector in the top tang and another forward of the trigger guard. This assembly includes an inertia-operated single-trigger mechanism. For the barrels, two tubes are laser welded to a combined set of lumps and a platform with a dividing piece upon which the barrels sit – a modern form of “through-lump” construction.
Beginning on a skeet range with the low bird from station 2 (a soft incomer that provides a good datum for testing), the Beretta 486 Parallelo EL performed well but the single-trigger seemed a little cartridge sensitive – an issue that’s easily resolved by additional polishing of the sear arms. I noticed some recoil (as one might expect considering the gun’s weight) and there was a slight harmonic on closing the gun as there is in many guns equipped with a stock bolt rather than a breach pin. This is a much better gun than the old 471, though – mechanically, aesthetically and in use. I liked the 30in barrels, which offer improved pointability with no great weight penalty. The balance is improved, too. The side-plates put a little more mass between the hands and allow for additional decoration. The 486 Parallelo 20 is well designed and styled but my choice for all-round shooting would be the 12-bore Parallelo (not yet available with side-plates).
BERETTA 486 PARALLELO EL
From GMK Ltd, Bear House, Concorde Way, Fareham, Hampshire PO15 5RL
Tel 01489 579999