Beretta A486 Parallelo
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- Last updated: 28/11/2019
Finally, a really decent side by side shotgun to test! Once the darling of the game fields, this classic layout still has its loyal followers, but over/under shotguns are far more the norm these days. Well, Beretta have introduced the new Parallelo to their range, the name unsurprisingly means ‘in parallel’.
It is designed as a classic looking side by side gun on the outside, with all the trappings of yesteryear with fine engraving, round bodied action and deeply blued steel, beautifully held by quality walnut furniture. However, all the magic is on the inside, as Beretta, rather than revamping an old model, has opted to start again, fresh. This means a redesigned action, springs and trigger group for utmost reliability in the field, as well as their obvious elegance. What you finally end up with is a really nicely handling, pistol grip or straight hand butt.
Calibre dictates model options and specifications. Unsurprisingly, 12-bore is the most prolific, with four pistol grip and four straight hand models, split between 28 and 30” barrels, all with 3” chamberings. You also get the option of fixed restrictions at ¼ and ½ or a set of five, flush-fit multi chokes. Weights vary, according to model, of between 3.25 and 3,3 Kg.
Next, 20-bore, with four choices as above, 28 or 30” tubes, straight hand of pistol grip, but all with multi chokes only, weights here are around ½ Kg lighter. Finally, 28-bore, which is a sweet little calibre that, like the 20, is gaining a larger following these days. Here, the choice is simple; take it or leave it, as there’s a 28”, straight hand with 2 ¾” chamber, multi choke, tipping the scale at 2.8 Kg. Add to this a single trigger, a gravitational safety system and the choice of auto or manual extraction and, although not cheap at £4,445, you have a typical, quality Beretta product!
Lovely, in a word. You can go the straight hand option if you really want to keep things traditional, but this model was the pistol grip version, which I prefer. It offers a better hold and view down the barrel ribs for me and feels more natural. Although; I have to say that I really like a straight grip and they look superb, horses for courses, your choice.
As the grip goes, it has a slender gait with plenty of room for large hands but being without palm swells makes it just as handy for smaller paws too. You have large panels of cut chequering, quite fine but they actually grip and the only other adornment to the stock is a solid walnut recoil pad. This is really nice and in keeping with a fine S/S shotgun. This too is chequered and has the Beretta logo laser cut inside the cartouche.
The forend is a wide, semi beaver tail type; again, sensible, as it allows a very good grip, enhances handling and stops your fingers wrapping around the barrels, so you don’t end up burning your pinkies and also wearing off the fine bluing from the barrels! You also have a very good coverage of chequering from side to side and underneath. There is a small amount of cast and a small drop at the heel for a very natural and ergonomic handling and mount with its 14.5” length of pull (LOP). The walnut is, as one would expect on a premium gun, of superior quality and very well executed, with good metal to wood fit around the action faces. You have a semi, oil-rubbed finish that enhances with use and is very practical. The walnut is high grade and has a dark overall colour with very nice deep and lineated grain flowing through the butt stock with tiger striping to the forend. Just keep your linseed oil to hand to keep it looking 100%!
I was sent the 28” version with the multichoke option, although as a pure game gun, the more traditional might pick the fixed ½ and ¼ fixed options. However, saying that, as the multi’s are flush-fitted, you retain that classic look, with the advantage of being able to select your restrictions as required. The tubes are Beretta’s famous cold hammer forged Optima choked barrels, that are designed for longevity as well as uniformity and concentricity to enhance performance. This 486 had 3” chambers and is proofed for all shot including high performance loads, but I can see this with much milder 12 gauge loads for game and simulated days, but nice to have the built-in pressure margin. There are no visible joining lines either to the barrel seams, due to Beretta’s Triblock barrel technology, good looks and strength also. You do notice the difference, really good!
The Optima chokes are 70mm long and proofed for steel up to ½ choking, as normal. You get a set of five; Cylinder, ¼, ½, ¾ and Full supplied with a fitting key and oil. The choke’s bores are very well polished and finished, no doubt contributing to the fine patterns thrown by the Parallelo. Externally, you have an 8mm concave rib with smooth surface only being punctuated by an engraved Beretta logo and small low-profile silver bead at the muzzles. Overall finish is perfect, seamless and finished in a really good, deep polished bluing befitting this elegant gun.
In vogue, these days, is the round bodied action design, as it allows a low-profile layout, feels very nice and looks very classy to boot; win, win. You have a good coverage of quite slim, but dainty English-type scroll engraving to all sides, tang, safety and trigger guard, as well as pistol grip tang. It just looks so much better than a normal slab-sided action in my opinion. Lock up is very strong, with the two large lumps engaging into recesses in the jewelled finish action floor and then two sliding locks engaging into the top half of these lumps, to form a strong union between barrels and action.
The trigger assembly is removable and has been upgraded and simplified, for the better, with leaf springs, not coil types for the hammer action designs; this is far better, and the recoil activated system is utterly reliable and built to last. It produces a faster lock time. The top tang lever is a good size and the safety is automatic on opening the 486 and the barrel selector is sited, as all Berettas, on the safety button with a clear sliding latch indicating top or bottom barrel selection. There is a small rotating lever that can be set to ‘E’ for cartridges to eject, or ‘M’ for manual i.e. pick the cases out manually. Currently, where we are more conscious about picking up our mess, this is a nice touch for the greener thinking amongst us.
Despite magnum capability, that’s not what this Parallelo is all about, so I tested game and pigeon loads. Handling is very good, as the 486 has a very natural profile and handling characteristics and is well weighted; in other words, not too dainty and light but solid and very balanced.
First up, with the ½ Optima choke fitted to the right barrel, were the Eley VIP Game loads; befitting this gun, they are 2½” shells, so pretty traditional but have a high, 15mm brass base. At 30 yards, using #6 shot and classic 28-gram loading, you noticed how mild the Parallelo recoiled and that’s with a solid walnut butt pad. Good design, straight back and the pattern achieved 211 pellet strikes for 71 inner hits to 15 and 140 around the outer sectors.
Driven Grouse were next from Hull Cartridge Company. This is one of the new copper-plated shells and suits the Beretta’s old and new sentiment in the Parallelo. The 70mm cases are see through, so you can see the fibre wadding and I had a payload of 32 grams of #5.5 copper shot with a high 12mm rim. Nice round pellet size that one. I had a total of 220 pellet strikes within 30” at 30 yards, so quite tight. The inner sector having 113 hits and the outer 30” with a very evenly spread 107 strikes. Lovely pattern and hard hitting too down range, great fast pheasant or Grouse load.
Finally, a Pigeon load, again Hull, with their Superfast Pigeon, although Imperial Game is another good load too. The Superfasts showed a load of 29 grams of #6 shot, with its total of 226 pellets on the boards distributed with 135 outer and 91 inner hits. These are fast at 1450 fps and always work well, so this Berettas is a great game or classic shooting pigeon gun too.
For someone looking for a classic side by side but who appreciates all the modern technical features to improve performance but outwardly looks elegant, will find that the Beretta 486 Parallelo fits the bill. Quality of walnut is good, and handling is excellent, as are the patterns thrown by the barrels. The action is mechanically excellent and, overall, this 486 would probably outlast its owner. It has all the charm of a classic side by side, but with all the benefits of modern manufacture.