One good gun - Beretta DT11 Sport Black
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- Last updated: 08/01/2024
Think of a competition gun that’s designed for serious clay busting and that handles intuitively, with an action design that can handle shooting thousands of rounds without wear, and Beretta’s DT11 will come to mind. It is their flagship competition gun with an Olympic pedigree and is available in several guises including Skeet, Trap, Sporting, or the elegant EELL models. However, it’s the new Sport Black edition that’s on test.
Built around a strong boxlock action design, these hand-finished guns feature my favourite type of mechanism on a shotgun - a strong cross-bolt locking system. They also include a removable trigger unit, hence ‘DT’ (detachable trigger). You have a choice between 30” or 32” Steelium Pro barrels, both having bore surfaces and internal dimensions specifically made to reduce felt recoil, create even shot patterns, and minimise muzzle rise. Add to this the Beretta B-Fast stock balancing system as standard, designed to finely tune the DT11 to your shooting style, and it soon becomes apparent this is a semi-custom gun in anyone’s eyes.
Priced from £9100 for the Skeet, this 30” Sport Black retails for £10,900, and the DT11 EELL for £19,750, but will repay its owner with stellar performance time and time again.
The overall length is 47.5” on this model and the standard length of pull (LOP) is 14.75”, but this can be changed to suit the shooter by fitting a different thickness Micro Core recoil pad. You also have the trigger blade adjustment for finer LOP adjustments if you wish.
The gun weighs in at a full 3.6 kg, which really helps dampen recoil, and that’s the essence of the DT11, as it’s a competition gun designed to take a battering and sustained use without wear.
The stock is grade 3 walnut, with nice overall figuring and colour. It is finished with a rubbed oil look for practicality and the wood-to-metal fit is perfect. The angled pistol grip varies on models to accommodate specific shooting styles and the palm swell is large enough to give good support. It feels substantial and strong, and I really like it. The same can be said for the Beaver tail forend, as it fills the hand and supports it nicely in any shooting position.
You can order the DT11 with or without an adjustable comb. If selected, it can be adjusted left and right as well as up and down. There are twin Allen screws on the right-hand side of the stock. Beretta also fits its B-Fast Balancing system in the stock, allowing you to tailor the DT11’s balance to your own stature or style of shooting.
To the centre
The steel action is pure class and locks differently from other Beretta models. The action faces, walls, and fences are ‘beefed’ up to take repeated shots. The action shows a matte black finish and contrasting polished black accents, which in my eyes, all look very classy and practical. Large fences and enlarged chamber surrounds with twin lugs that lock into the receiver face with a cross-bolt locking system really keep the DT11 tight. It’s a simple yet gratifying action lock-up that inspires confidence, as it closes like a Rolls Royce door.
Features like the raised, ribbed, non-automatic safety and the swept back or kinked top lever are not noticeable at first, but the latter helps ease the opening of the action. The barrel selector is your usual for Berretta shotguns.
Finally, you have an inertia cocking system for the second shot, and the trigger group is actually built on steel, not a carbon fibre plate, like older models.
The barrels show a substantial amount of extra thickness around the chambers, which again, I like. They are strong, yet the gun balances nicely just behind the hinge pin. The ejectors are well-timed and positive, as expected, and the overall finish is now a really even bluing.
The barrels are made from Steelium Pro, a formula of tri-alloy steel which is then drilled, hammer forged, and vacuum heat treated, resulting in steel with a uniform structure and durability for superior ballistic performance. The material allows for a lighter barrel but with increased strength. Within the bores is a 480mm tapered forcing cone that reduces felt recoil and minimizes muzzle rise.
As mentioned previously, you have a choice of 30” or 32” barrels, although the DT11 31” model splits the difference. They are steel shot-proofed and feature a single, highly visible white bead (red dayglo supplied), and the top rib is now steel, not carbon fibre, with a 10 x 8mm profile along its serrated anti-glare length.
You also have a full set of five Optima HP Chokes, including Cylinder, Skeet, Improved Cylinder, Modified, and Improved Modified (no full choke). They extend outside the barrels and are colour-coded for instant choke size recognition. We had the half and ¾ choke fitted. You also get a set of snap caps to practice with, which is a very nice gesture.
So, overall, a well-thought-out competition gun, and features like the B-Fast balancing system and comb adjustment could make a big difference at the competition level.
In the field
As usual, we shot using the ¾ (Improved Cylinder) choke at pattern boards at 30 yards and then shot a few clays as well. The DT11’s weight is not apparent when firing and puts no strain on the swing or sighting. In fact, it is an asset when it comes to prolonged shooting sessions, as it helps to absorb the recoil. I would also happily take it out hunting too! On passing clays, doubles were much easier, as the negligible muzzle rise did not interfere with the swing.
The lock-up with that cross-bolt system was very reassuring and positive, and the adjustable comb was useful for getting correct sighting down the rib. I left the balancing weights as the factory set them.
First up on the cartridge tests were the Eley Superb (28-grams / No. 7.5), and as their name suggests, they are rather good. Indeed, that was the case, and we had a total of 369 pellet strikes on the board. These were distributed with a dense 195 pellets in the inner 15” circle and the remaining 174 pellets around the 30” periphery. A great clay load that, recoil-wise, shot like a pussy cat in the DT11. I was very impressed.
Next up were the Eley DTLs (28-gram / No. 7.5), which also produced a dense swarm of 357 pellets, with 220 inner hits and 137 outer strikes! I pulled the pattern slightly right, annoyingly. It was my fault, not the DT11’s, so a great longer-range clay-busting cartridge this one.
Now my favourite - the NSI Multi Target loads (28-grams / No. 7.5), which always shoot amazingly well. The pellets hit hard and on test produced a staggering 365 total strikes at 30 yards on the boards. The distribution was very even, and 252 pellets hit the inner 15” circle. Nothing is escaping that! You will find that at longer ranges you will still have a decent pattern, so they are highly recommended.
Finally, a steel shot load from Jocker, with their Bio ISO Steel cartridges (21-grams / No. 7). These showed a slightly low/right bias but managed good coverage, with 291 pellets hitting the board. The pattern was a bit more uneven but still decent, with 129 inner and 162 outer strikes.
I am not a competition shooter, but I can really appreciate the craftsmanship and quality of this new DT11, and I like the extra weight but superb balance for sustained usage. Best of all is the ease at which the gun just naturally sits in the shoulder, and I found the 30” barrels ideal, especially with some of those amazing patterns produced. It’s one of those guns I call heirloom, something to use and make memories with and pass down to the next generation. I know many shooters with numerous guns who are now selling them just to buy one good one, and the new DT11 is one good gun for sure.