The Beretta 692 Sporter shoots exceptionally well and although designated a clay sporter, it would make an excellent high-bird gun. Beretta has another competitively priced winner, says Mike Yardley
It is not often that Beretta brings out a new gun, so, being a colossus (it made 45,000 over-and-unders last year), it is a big deal when it does.
I am a Beretta fan and have used the marque for decades. Its guns work with almost boring reliability. If someone is in the market for a new gun, “buy a basic Beretta” is rarely wrong advice (and advice I frequently give, though I like the new Brownings as well, not to mention the long-barrelled 20-bore Guerinis).
“Basic Beretta” has usually meant a 600 series/Silver Pigeon gun. Beretta came out with the SV10 chassis a while back, available in both Perennia game and Prevail competition form. The market continued its love affair with the well-priced 600/Silver Pigeon guns, however (a modern classic, and still my one-gun choice for the desert island). The styling on the SV10 guns was radical and incorporated some interesting features, such as a different barrel profiling and boring (improving ballistics), and an unusual detachable stock and trigger unit.
This new Beretta 692 Sporter, first impressions of which are very good with regard to form and finish, is something of a hybrid of the 600 series and the modernistic SV10. It has a wider action than the Silver Pigeon (about 1.5mm thicker but 1mm or so slimmer than the new DT11).
The action styling is not quite as radical as that of the Perennia or Prevail. It does have asymmetrical barrel shoulders but the action panels and scalloping to the rear are symmetrical. The top lever has a polymer “soft touch” thumb-piece, which is unusual, comfortable to the touch and ergonomically efficient (my preference would usually be steel though this might come in handy on cold or wet days).
Aesthetically, the Beretta 692 Sporter looks clean and smart. The action is matt silver with mirror-polished edging similar to the DT11’s. With regard to the stock, it has a medium-sized, well-shaped pistol grip with a radius that does not cramp the hand and a subtle palm swell. The fore-end is of rounded style and comfortable. The comb of the gun is not too thick. Its dimensions are, in most respects, near the Beretta norm, overall stock length being 372mm (c143⁄4in), with a drop of 35mm at the front of the comb and 55mm to the rear, and, interestingly, a little more built-in cast than previous Berettas.
The walnut on the test Beretta 692 Sporter gun and other similar guns that I had the chance to examine was good (although the finish was a little dull and the grain might have been filled more). The laser chequering was well executed and offered good purchase in conventional panels. The test gun had a fixed-comb stock but an adjustable one is an option.
The monobloc barrels bear steel shot fleur de lis proof for 3in (76mm) cartridges. The sighting rib is 10mm to 8mm in a tapered design that would be hard to better, with a white bead at the muzzles. The extended Optima HP Chokes are interchangeable. The joining ribs are vented but are dispensed with altogether in the area under the fore-end – a common feature of modern over-and-unders when manufacturers try to reduce barrel weight. The test gun’s barrels weighed 1,450g – near ideal, in my opinion, for a 30in gun.
The slightly wider Beretta 692 Sporter action might best be described as a mix of the 682 and the SV10. It retains the (split) bifurcated lumps and simple locking bolts of the 600 series. The trigger group – which has an adjustable blade – is fixed in the gun and virtually identical to the 682’s. But, the barrel shoulders are bigger and asymmetrically shaped type of SV10 (so you can’t swap them with 600/Silver Pigeon guns), and the hinging pins are wider in diameter than the Silver Pigeon’s. The ejection system is similar to the SV10’s, so ejectors can be turned on and off, but it hasn’t the complication of a quick-detachable stock or trigger unit.
The 3in-chambered, fleur-de-lis steel-proofed monobloc barrels are what Beretta calls “Steelium Plus”. They incorporate a new profile and a much longer-than-average conic/taper section forward of the chambers instead of a conventional, short forcing cone. This section is 380mm long. The barrels are stamped 18.6 (which would qualify as a back bore); the trap model also on display was marked 18.4.
The 7lb 10oz Beretta 692 Sporter gun shot very well. For me, indeed, it was the best-shooting sporting Beretta to date. If I were to describe it in one word it would be “willing”. The concentration of weight between the hands with the wider action and the weight distribution of the 1,450g barrels made handling natural. I liked the radius of the grip, even the subtle palm swell. Trigger pulls were good and recoil was comparatively soft, aided by the lightweight microcore pad. This pre-production gun’s only vice was that it was a little stiff to open. Overall the Beretta 692 Sporter – which will sell for around £2,500 – shoots exceptionally well and although designated a clay sporter would make an excellent high-bird gun. Beretta has another competitively priced winner.