This month’s test gun is, appropriately, a Beretta Jubilee 12-bore over-and-under with multi-choked barrels (slightly unusual in this model which is normally offered in fixed-choke form; interchangeable chokes are a special order). The Jubilee is a sideplated gun and is distinguishable from the popular EELL model by its special engraving, upgraded wood, and increased handwork and finish. Like the EELL, it is built around the famous, low-profile, conically bolted Beretta 600-style action modified to carry sideplates. The sideplates on the Jubilee, however, are pinless, allowing a blank canvas for the engraving.
First impressions are excellent.
The action engraving is especially attractive, duck on one side, pheasants on the other (with alternative options available). The general form of the gun is especially good, with a semi-pistol grip and slim fore-end without Schnabel lip. The Jubilee gives the impression of being both solid and refined. The only catch is that it carries a not insignificant price tag of £14,000. It is still within reach of normal mortals (whereas the SO sidelocks are now becoming seriously expensive). I have always especially liked this model; it has proven popular with many others and holds its second-hand value well.
Bringing the gun up to the shoulder reinforces the positives. Weighing just over 71⁄2lb, it seems well balanced. It is slightly muzzle heavy with the 30in barrels (there is a 28in option). Nevertheless, the gun achieves the paradox of feeling both stable and lively. The well-conceived stock offers purchase and control. The rounded fore-end and half-pistol grip (an option developed by GMK in the UK) might usefully be the norm on most over-and-under game-guns, scoring not only on the aesthetic front but functionally. The fore-end allows for front-hand placement where wanted (not as the gun dictates). The grip’s style and proportion do not lead to the rear hand dominating the mount, and provide enhanced muzzle control.
This Jubilee’s stock is made from light but exceptionally figured wood. There is hand-cut checkering and a hand-rubbed traditional oil finish (which would benefit from one more coat). The length of pull is an ideal 143⁄4in and there is a well-matched wooden butt plate (not my preference on an extra-finish gun of high grade, but it allows for easy access to the stock bolt as well as providing a simple means of extending length). The comb is just a little low – 13⁄8in at the front but 21⁄4in at heel. My preferred “shelf” measurement on an over-and-under intended for driven work is 13⁄8in and 21⁄8in. There is modest cast here for a right-hander, about 1⁄8in at heel.
As for the action, there are the usual trunnion stud pins at the knuckle, upon which the barrels hinge. This design is based on the Woodward system patented before the First World War. The gun is also Boss-inspired to a degree. Beretta experimented in the Thirties, copying a Boss and soon after creating its SO sidelock. The basic mechanical design of this gun appeared first as the model 55, then evolved into the 600 series, of which the test gun and its immediate Jubilee-grade predecessors are the most upmarket expression.
The 3in (76mm) chambered, steel-proofed, chrome moly steel barrels are monobloc with hammer-forged tubes. When done well, as it is here, it is extraordinarily tough. It is cheaper in production terms than demi bloc (the over-and-under equivalent of chopper lump), but second to none in terms of strength as made by Beretta. If the firm’s barrels have a flaw, it is that they can be a bit weighty. The test gun’s 1.5kg barrels, are not. Forcing cones are of medium length, and the bores relatively tight at 18.4mm (no bad thing in a game-gun). Full-length, solid, joining ribs get my approval, too.
The action is of the usual low-profile Beretta design but with hand-polished internals and pinless plates. The main mechanism sits on a trigger plate, with the hammers powered by extremely reliable helical springs. The trigger blade is of plain form. The pulls are good, breaking around 3lb. Jointing is impeccable. My one small criticism, one that applies to all 600 series guns, concerns the barrel selector, which sits on the safety-catch. It is just a little small.
I felt immediately comfortable with the gun and, before a shot was fired, knew I would connect consistently well with it. The slightly tapered sighting rib was excellent. The first shot revealed a good trigger pull (about as good as this non-sidelock, coil-spring action design will allow).
Subsequent shots revealed few vices. Recoil was not above average.
I noted a very slight vibration in my rear hand on firing. It was not disconcerting and is probably the consequence of a stock-bolt design combined with a relatively slim grip. Most people would not notice and I don’t want to put you off by making such an observation.
This was an outstanding game-gun by any standard. I would go as far as to say it’s the best, functionally and aesthetically, in the existing Beretta range. It is available as a 20-bore as well, and in smaller bores.
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