On the Benelli SBE3 Disaster
Well over two years ago, the Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 was released, and the disgust with severe point of impact problems was instant. By now, nearly 1000 SBE3 models have already been returned to Benelli USA as unusable, most often shooting ridiculously high and to the left. Many were just returned to the customers, saying the defective guns were “within Benelli specs.” According to Benelli, the original “Super Black Eagles” often had a problem shooting unacceptably low, well below point of aim. Well, apparently some nameless Italian engineer “fixed it.”
Benelli has a problem with many of their guns, including the M2, according to Benelli USA. Here is a direct quote from Benelli USA: “I will tell you up front that you will not find an M2 that shoots a 50/50 pattern. The M2 is designed to be shot with the target floating just above the front bead for better visibility and the rib is raised at the rear to give a 60/40 to 70/30 pattern.“
Benelli's "new" bizarre standards (if you want to call them that) are 0 - 6 inches high at 21 yards, within 4 inches of the bull horizontally, also at 21 yards. You can call that type of attempt at a tolerance what you wish: I just have to call it a nasty mess, if not a tragic embarrassment. No one at Benelli can explain where the 21 yards came from in the first place: no one uses that for a 12 gauge, and why would they? Industry standards are 40 yards, and all shotguns unless otherwise specified should shoot to point of aim.
For two long years, Benelli ignored the problem, and several of the top gunsmiths in the industry have told me there is no fix. Barrel-bending was tried, but Benelli barrels have memory and often revert to their evil ways after bending attempts. Most shotgun owners do not bother to pattern their guns, much less properly. Also, many shotgun enthusiasts are reticent to send their guns back to the manufacturer. The exact number of afflicted SBE3 models is unknowable . . . but, it seems to be in the many thousands. It is just about the last shotgun anyone would want to buy new, and to buy a used one would mean you actually enjoy being miserable.
If Benelli had any reasonable QC, they wouldn't have sold what is apparently thousands of defective SBE3's in the first place.
If Benelli knew how to fix them, they wouldn't be shipping defective SBE3's back to customers.
If Benelli knew how to fix them, they wouldn't be putting used barrels on new SBE3's and shipping them back to customers.
If Benelli knew what point of aim was, they wouldn't call 6 inches high at 21 yards acceptable.
If Benelli wanted to own up to the mess, they wouldn't tell customers "they are designed to shoot that way."
If Benelli knew how to fix the problem, they wouldn't be shipping guns back with excessively large front beads as a “fix,” nor would they tell customers to “go change a shim.”
If Benelli knew how to fix the problem, they wouldn't give cash refunds to customers who insisted on them after two or three returns on a new, plastic, $1800 shell-thrower.
Benelli has done no recall, nor have they changed their supposed “specification” of 0 - 6 inches high at 21 yards, within 4 inches of the bull horizontally, also at 21 yards. For readers that have dogged determination, a few folks have reported that, after two or three returns to Benelli with no progress, Benelli USA finally gave them a refund on what can only be described as horribly defective shotguns.
After countless problems, Benelli also started the “you don't know how to shoot” fairy tale. “Hey, this is a European gun, they are supposed to shoot that way! Learn to shoot!” Apparently, Perazzi and Kreighoff didn't get that memo, nor did anyone else. That bag of lies didn't work all that well and those that stuck with it got their money back from Benelli.
Benelli actually started to do something, sometimes putting used barrels on new guns that improved things slightly. Then, they started putting cheap over-sized beads on returned guns, which doesn't address the root problem at all, for a jumbo front bead makes any shotgun shoot a bit lower.
It is a collection of comic-book nonsense the likes of which have never before been perpetrated on the snoozing shotgunning public. Now, you can take your pick: “it is within tolerance,” “the barrel didn't fit the receiver quite right,” “learn to shoot,” “it is a European Gun!,” “we fixed it for you with a Christmas tree ornament bead,” or whatever they want to make up tomorrow.
Now, at over two years and four months of selling $290 shotguns, made of high quality plastic by Old World Craftsmen, all for “starting price $1899,” there is no recall, no service advisory, no nothing from Benelli. It is a matter of “you buys your plastic, you takes your chances.” It is a top choice for unintended pheasant and waterfowl conservation.
The last I heard from Benelli USA, there was no fix and none planned. If there is now a new “Benelli Specification” as to point of impact, what is it? It sure sounds like Benelli has become the leader of “The Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight.”
Shoots high; had to return
Location: Denver, CO, United States
I wanted to love this gun. Assembly went great. First time I shot it was opening day for dove season. 0 for 50. That is not a typo. I took it to a professional shooter instructor. Neither of us could hit a coffee can 60 feet away. Gun shot 18 inches target. Instructor aimed 1' in front coffee can and hit the top 2" of it. Anyone else have this problem w/ high shooting?
Country: United States
I have been a Super Black Eagle fan for many years. I own and love both the SBE1 and SBE2. The SBE3 is a very comfortable gun to shoot. It is light, solid and the recoil is managed very well. HOWEVER, this gun is unusable in a hunting situation. The problem is that the sights and the barrel do not line up. Something that is clearly evident when looking at the gun from the side, and something I wish I had noticed before I purchased this item. I took the gun on a goose hunting trip and consistantly missed shot after shot. I assumed it was an issue with the shells and decided to pattern the gun before the next hunt. At 35 yards only 1 pellet hit the paper. After reading several reviews it seemed this was a common problem. If you are shooting competition skeet at 21yds you may like the gun. If you plan to hunt waterfowl buy something else.
Benelli SBE III
Country: United States
I purchased this Benelli Super SBE III shotgun and loved the pointing, handling, and over-all speed of it's auto-loading. The problem is I cannot hit a barn door with it. Will not pattern heavy load waterfowl 3" and 3"1/2" hunting loads. Shooting consistently
8" to 12" high, and 8" and 12" to the left, and won't consistently pattern. I Researched on YouTube, and many other's having similar problems shooting heavy loads. Just shipped the shotgun back to Benelli today. Most likely will be trading the firearm off for another waterfowl shotgun.
It's a Lemon!
Country: United States
I was a fan of the Benelli SBE 2 and, after hearing of the improved features on the SBE 3, decided to make the investment. Now I regret my decision. I like the new features overall, the only problem is I can't hit anything. I tried trap, waterfowl, pheasants, and paper targets and it consistently shoots about a foot high and somewhat left. I consulted with several shooting coaches, adjusted the shims, and tried to aim low, but still shot terribly. I am trading it in for another brand, at a loss.
Benelli Dropped the Ball
Location: Papillion, NE
After waiting months for a left handed version of this gun, I took it out exactly one time to pattern test it. The pattern shot nearly 100% over the point of aim, with only a few stray pellets impacting at or under the point of aim. I sent the gun back to Benelli to have the pattern adjusted, only to have the gun come back with a pattern virtually identical to what it was before I sent it to them. The attached repair note said that the pattern was adjusted and the the gun “shot to Benelli specs.” That is, still with virtually no pattern under the aim point/100% high. Personally, I wonder if they did a thing to it. I am at a loss at what to do now, as the duck season is all but here and I am almost certainly going to lose season time if I send it back yet again. It’s a lose-lose for the customer at this point.
Location: Raleigh, NC
I did a lot of research prior to purchase and all reviews were very positive about the SBE3. After I purchased, patterned, and missed a turkey I searched internet for shooting problems with SBE3 and I read complaints for days.
I like the fit and finish, feel, and reliability of this gun but worthless to me if it shoots 6-10” high. I have heard of several solutions online but I don’t want to change my point of aim for this one gun in my inventory.
SBE3 owner A : “When aiming it should hit at that spot, not a foot high plus. I had 3 other people try it and all shot the same. They threw in a bigger bead and said I can put this on the help it shoot lower on the water etc. Try shooting a gun that patterns like this at a turkey head. Where do you aim at each distance? Maybe I have a bad one, but just wanted to let you know what you may get. One of the guys at Benelli said once he learned to shoot his like this, no problem. I asked him what if you shoot different guns, do I relearn every time? If this is the new Benelli's, I guess I am through with them.”
SBE3 owner B: “Patterned mine this afternoon with 6 different types of ammo out of the factory ic and mod. For one disappointed in the factory chokes, which has almost become accepted these days even in a close to 2000 dollar gun, makes you wonder if the big B's get a d**** kick back from aftermarket chokes to send a gun out with such terrible chokes. The worst part though is my gun is also shooting a foot high with i would say a 95/5 pattern at best.”
SBE3 owner C: “So went out and patterned my SBE3 today and mine shoots 100% high with my jebs choke next week I am going to shoot it with the full choke and see what it does at 20 yards. I thought it'd be a little high but most loads I shot were high with 2-6 pellets at the POA. This is kinda ridiculous if you ask me, I used the jebs choke the stock extended mod and a Carlson cremator mid range. All shot high.”
" I bought a SBE3 about a month ago. 1st time I took it out seemed to fringe hit the ducks. Finally had to shoot at a cripple on the water. He was about 40 yrds out. Shot at him a couple of times & couldn't see where the BB's are hitting... Took it to a pattern board & it was shooting way high. I have shot all kinds of shotguns & several benelli's... I was using a 34X34 in piece of paper with a 3in bullseye. At a measured 35 yrds half of the pattern was at the top of the paper the other half over the paper. I tried different chokes etc. Called Benelli, they said they are made to shoot like that.To make a long story short sent it back & they said gun is fine, within their parameters."
SBE3 owner D: "Then SBE III had just come out. The design selling points seemed to address the latter design annoyances. I bought an SBE iii with high hopes... and decided to check the POI and pattern of my SBE III.
I can report that my results are the same as others report. I shot from a bench rest with no wind or into a head wind. the 3 shot pattern averages POI are 100/0, 12" high and 3" left at 21 yards with full choke and 1oz of 6s. POI with Brenneke slugs at 30 yards results are 15" high and 2" left and a 2" group. 00 buck also printed 15" high and 2" left. The results reveal a missed/wounded deer, a missed turkey, missed/wounded small game, or a missed threat. I conclude that my SBE III is precise and pathetic. I have zero confidence with SBE III "scatter gun" in the field, at the range, or in my home. I have pictures of my results and have sent the images to Benelli with request for an RMA."
SBE3 Owner F: "I happen to have bought one of these guns when they came
out and it shoots so high it is worthless. I love everything else they
did and the things they did change were desperately needed. I also have
a brand new SBE II waterfowl edition and it shoots spot on. I am going
to send it back to Benelli. Do you have any advise for me when
describing my problem and yes I did change the shims and still have to
aim way under 23 yard targets to get a clean break. I just don't
understand how they could flub this so badly."
Copyright 2019 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.