Beretta Silver Pigeon III
- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 09/07/2023
The 687 Silver Pigeon III (SPG 3) continues on the legacy of Beretta’s much loved over and under shotgun, which has been so popular because Beretta got it right the first time.
You have a very well-made gun with great handling and balance, which is largely due to the clever weight distribution and action design. The latter proving itself as reliable and maintenance-free in the field over the years.
Instantly different is the stock, which has a lovely, well-figured, selected grade 2.5 walnut stock that wears a new gloss finish. While the action features well-executed game scenes to marry the metal and wood together into a very classy, lightweight shotgun.
Available in 12 or 20-gauge, and with 28” or 30” barrels, we opted for the lighter (2.85lb) 20-gauge, fitted with the ever-popular 30” tubes. The SPG3 comes with a full complement of Optima HP chokes, and with the Fleur de Lys proof mark, making this 687 steel shot approved for all the new non-lead shot available.
Priced at £2650 in right or left-hand configuration, this 687 SPG 3 will continue Beretta’s well-earned reputation for premium shotguns that actual shooters want.
Everything comes perfectly balanced both visually and ergonomically, and none more so than the very nicely proportioned stock. Shotguns win or lose on their stock design, as a correctly fitting stock is half the battle when it comes to breaking clays or toppling game.
The select 2.5-grade walnut furniture includes nicely matching stock and forend sections that show a good degree of figuring and colour. The stock also features very nice fiddle back stripping as well. Different on this model to previous SPGs is the new, higher gloss, oiled finish. It really accentuates the walnut’s figuring, and also weather-proofs the stock more effectively.
Beretta shotguns just seem to glide into the shoulder, and this one is no different, with the stock showing a drop of 35mm and a comb height of 55mm. The length of pull is equally generous at 14.75”, and it can be altered with the supplied butt pads (10, 15, 20, and 25mm), to suit your needs accordingly. In use, the MicroCore pad takes care of the recoil and does not catch on clothing, so mounting this gun is effortless. Remember, left-hand versions are also available.
The forend has also had a bit of a makeover, showing no Schnabel tip. Instead, a more rounded design is used, with the rear section feeling more full in the hand. Additional grip is provided by large panels of new laser-cut chequering. They are located on the forend and grip.
Famously, Beretta’s 687 action is built on the trigger plate design, so the overall profile is much lower than similar over and under shotguns. The hinge system up front uses a stud pin to each side of the action to traverse the barrels on opening and closing, instead of a full action-width pin. Add to this the use of twin, hardened, conical/tapered locking bolts that protrude from the action face and lock into the monobloc system of the barrels, and you have yourself a reliable, long-lasting action design. The slimline profile just seems to add to the ease at which this Beretta comes up to the shoulder, and it just naturally points so well.
If necessary, you can also replace any of the load-bearing parts of the 687, ensuring that after many thousands of rounds, your gun can be as tight and smooth as the day you bought it. This is a nice touch.
I like the satin, nickel-plate-finished action faces. These are not only highly weather resistant but now feature some engraved game scenes that are well-executed. The left-hand side has a raising partridge, whilst the right shows a raising woodcock. Both are in a woodland setting. You can also find floral and foliate designs and these extend over the escutcheons, top lever, and trigger guard. In all, they are finely laser-cut and provide a pretty classy look.
Operationally, you have powerful coil hammer springs that maintain a constant and safe firing mechanism, with the top lever providing a good amount of bite, allowing easy opening without being slack.
The safety is the traditional sliding type on the tang. It shows a typical inset barrel selection button, which I have always found a bit low-profiled for my big hands, and I think a slightly raised button would help me.
The gun comes with 3” chambers as standard, and as previously mentioned, this SPG 3 Field model came with 30” barrels. These are made using Beretta’s famous version of chrome moly steel, called Steelium, which is a super-hard-wearing Tri-Alloy metal. There is a 6mm vented rib and a single brass bead up by the muzzles for sighting, which I like as it does not impede your vision or block out too much of the target. There are 8x evenly-sized and spaced vents to aid cooling, but the mid-rib is solid, and the barrels show deep, rich bluing throughout.
Pattern spread is governed by the choice of five Optima HP flush-fit multi-chokes. Each one measures 70mm in length and they are steel proofed up to ½ choke.
As expected, the handling was impeccable, which is why the SPG range has been so popular over the years. Its natural ability to just sit perfectly in the shoulder is a great asset to relaxed shooting. The bead was always dead on the game, and the pattern boards showed a dead-centre spread that was very even, too. Due to the gun’s low profile, and despite its lighter weight, the recoil was minimal. It was also easy to maintain a good cheek weld at all times, due to the well-profiled stock.
Once fitted with the ¼ and ½ chokes, we patterned the SPG 3 at 30 yards to ascertain the performance from three popular game loads. First up were the Hull High Pheasant Extreme cartridges. These show a 70mm length, use a fibre wad, and have been formulated to provide ultimate stopping power at extended ranges. The 28-gram loading of No. 5 XTRM shot produced 176 pellets strikes on the board, with 110 outer hits and 66 strikes to the 15” inner sector. The pattern was superbly even throughout, with no holes. Plus, all the areas of the board were covered. Definitely a very good start!
Next up were the Gamebore Traditional Game (28-gram | No. 6 | 65mm | Fibre Wad). They are ideal for all classic and modern guns, and we shot them through the ½ choke on the SPG3. Wow, 201 pellet strikes! Another lovely, dense, and very even pattern on the board. 61 hits were within the inner 15” and the remaining 140 pellets covered all the other sectors. Again, no holes in the pattern. This Silver Pigeon can shoot!
Can we make it a hat trick? Well, the third cartridge to be tested was the Eley Zenith. This game load uses copper-clad pellets, a fibre wad, and has a 28-gram payload of No. 6 shot. Indeed, we did save the best to last, as we had an amazing 118 inner strikes, some hitting dead centre, and then the remaining 93 pellets around the periphery. Nothing will escape performance like this, and the three pattern boards show how good the barrels are on this lovely shotgun.
We both liked the ultra-fast handling, with those 30” barrels giving a lovely swing to aid with the correct amount of lead. The shotgun is elegant and functions smoothly, plus patterns incredibly well. Small tweaks to the design and aesthetics keep the Silver Pigeon bang up-to-date and help to maintain its popularity. The name is therefore still reassuring, helping shooters to navigate what to buy in this busy marketplace.