The Death of the Shotgun Inertia Action
While the death of the inertia action may be overstated, it is more true than not. What has happened is now that the Civolani patents have run, the harsh-recoiling but low maintenance inertia (or kinematic action) in an autoloading shotgun has spiraled towards commodity status.
The Benelli Vinci, which I personally appreciate, has not caught fire with the public and the lack of follow-through in gauges and configurations has disappointed many. The very good-looking Ethos has been a bust of sorts, with design defects not discovered or addressed during R & D that has made it a problem gun, according to many. Though hardly a large seller, the problems are wide-spread. This gives you a taste, if a distinctly unpleasant one: http://forums.benelliusa.com/showthread.php/32962-New-Ethos-FTF-FTE . Sometimes the medicine is worse than the disease and this seems to be one of those times.
From a functional standpoint, other manufacturers have been busy. Girsan, Weatherby (ATA), SKB, and many others have launched inertia guns at very low prices compared to the standard-bearer Benelli, and the Benelli-made Franchi has competed with the Benelli brand as well. In the slightly upscale arena, the Browning A5 Kinematic goes after Benelli as well, with notable differences including the forthcoming A5 Sweet Sixteen. There is even more, for the Stevens brand has launched entry-level inertia guns, priced at Stoeger-esque levels: the S1200.
While not dead, the inertia shotgun is now a commodity item in the United States. Their appeal is the same as always: generally light guns, simple and cheap to make, low maintenance, thin forearms. The negatives are the same as well: harsh-recoil compared to gas guns and an inability to compensate for the full spectrum of load intensities. Never a brilliant success as clays guns, they remain simple hunting guns that despite such well-known quirks as the Benelli thumb and the Benelli click, are low in maintenance and require little more than keeping the bolt rails and guides lubed to run for a very, very long time.
More inertia gun reviews are forthcoming: a Weatherby Element Waterfowl MAX-5 12 gauge (MSRP $849, $650 street) is incoming, as is an A5 Sweet Sixteen in September / October.
Copyright 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.