New Autoloading Shotgun Reader Comments

Hi Randy

I am currently based and living in Umbria, central Italy, and I recently decided to get myself a 12 gauge auto-loader for multi use, including upland shooting, doves, quail, snipe, and pheasant, and on occasion a bit of skeet. I had my heart set on the new Beretta A400 xplor Unico ( based on appearance) and did a truckload of research. Now with all the marketing power that Beretta has, and their proud history, I was getting very little impartial comment, save of course for your web reviews , and a similar UK forum... of course, with a weapon as lauded and hyped as was the case with the A400, I started getting a hair raising sensation on the back of my neck... which is never good. what to do... I got myself caught up in all the different web forums, and when I started looking at the Italian forums, it only got worse... there are those who live and die by Beretta, and then there is of course the die Hard Benelli fanatics, and every forum always ends up the same... some love the one, some hate it.

The purpose of my email ( before I continue) is to thank you for your candid outlook, unswayed by the promises of greatness by manufacturers.

I eventually managed to get my hands on an A400, and took it into the field, and then to a range, and after putting about 50 rounds through it, I was firstly impressed ( I agree, I didn’t like the kickoff shock setup) it shot smoothly and performed well. A few days later, I was given the Benelli Raffaello crio to try, and proceeded to put it through much the same treatment, with fairly similar results. I did find its action a bit smoother, and also , as opposed to the A400, it didn’t sound like a tool box moving around on the back of my pickup J All in all, they are both great weapons, and many will favour each of them. I then however applied a word of your wisdom, and that was, “ if I was taking a hunting trip where I was going to push a lot of lead through my barrel, which one would I grab off the gun rack?” there I found my answer. The Benelli is the one for me, and if any new gun owner applies that rule, the answer will be clear to them.

Absolutely love my Raffaello Crio Evo, 26 incher , with its optional 4 inch extender, looks & performance, and 1000 rounds down the line, I know I made the right choice.

Thank you!

Chris van Rooyen


Hello Chris,

Yours is an exceptionally good letter, which is why I'm publishing it. The question often is not at all what shotgun is "best," but "What Is Best For Me?" That distinction is all the difference in the world. The purpose of a shotgun is simply to enjoy it. Individuals enjoy different things in different ways, under widely divergent conditions, under personal conditions of use so there never has been a cute, brief, one size fits all type of shotgun. Some guns are markedly better made than others, to be sure, and some are more forgiving than others when it comes to ammo, cleaning, and so forth that some like to call reliability . . . though no shotgun manufacturer claims to manufacture an unreliable shotgun that I know of.

Let's consider pistol grip stock design. There really isn't a "bad" pistol grip buttstock design. But, there are horribly bad buttstocks for the individual. We don't all wear the same size suits, jeans, boots, jackets, gloves, and so forth. Virtually every personal article we wear or use fits us differently than it would someone else. Why would a shotgun be any different? It isn't.

Features like shim adjustments can help, but they only go so far. If that pistol grip is not the right shape for us or not in the right place, for us, no shim is going to reform it or move it. It isn't that the pistol grip or shotgun that doesn't fit us is evil or bad-- it just doesn't fit us, individually.

Americans seem to enjoy asking the impossible questions, questions that are incapable of answer. "Will this shotgun work with my reloads?" is one. Regardless of who is asking the question, I haven't seen much less shot those home-loaded shells, nor has any manufacturer, so there can be no answer with basis. That question still gets asked all the time, though.

The same goes with recoil. No one can possibly be exact in describing felt recoil of a shotgun to a third party. Recoil varies based on the individual, type of rounds fired, number of rounds fired, manner of dress, etc. It is a personal assessment of shooting comfort that only the individual can make. Certainly, there are physics but shooting comfort is based only on individual perception, not physics, not math.

There are many attributes of firearms easily measured and observed. Weight, finish quality, quality of assembly, trigger break weight, capacities, design features, patterning performance are a few. Those can be easily measured, observed, photographed. Finish durability can be observed, customer service experiences can be documented. All of these things are helpful in honing in on a new gun or guns.

Beyond that, the only answer as to how a gun pleases an individual is personal experience. We have dressing and fitting rooms for clothes, we try on new shoes and boots before we buy, we slip on a pair of gloves before we buy them. Why wouldn't we take a test drive with a shotgun? Of course we should.

You did just that, Chris, which is why you made a very good, informed decision for yourself. It isn't all that difficult, but it can be time-consuming. As far as I'm concerned, those that put more time and effort into evaluating their own personal needs and wants are richly deserving of being more satisfied than those who put little or no personal effort into the process. Congratulations.




Copyright 2011 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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