Benelli Super Vinci semi auto
By: Mike Yardley
Mike Yardley tests the modular Benelli Super Vinci 3 1/2" magnum semi-auto
The original Vinci caused quite a stir when it was introduced in 2009 because of its very modernistic styling and unusual take-down system (it separates into three basic ‘modules’ – barrel/receiver, trigger assembly-forend and magazine tube assembly, and the twist-off stock). It is, of course, the new semi-automatic shotgun from Benelli (a firm now owned by the Beretta corporation).
The range of semi-automatic guns marketed under the Benelli name do not use the gas-operated mechanism of most Beretta’s (and, indeed, most other modern semi-automatics) instead they use their own clever inertia system. It does not bleed gas off the barrel forward of the chamber in the usual manner to cycle the action, instead it operates on inertia energy.
The engineering utilises a rotating bolt head attached to the main body of the bolt by means of a short, very stiff, spring. The bolt head – which engages into keyways in the barrel in the manner of a rifle bolt – is locked and stationary at the moment the gun is fired. The main mass of the bolt behind it, however, accelerates very rapidly forward towards it. This compresses the connecting spring. When it is fully tensioned, it whacks back, unlocking the bolt head.
The Vinci also dispenses with the conventional style of return spring located in a tube located in the stock. This makes possible the interesting and innovative modular design with a detachable stock. It has a return spring though, partially concealed in the bolt, which extends back a bit (it’s about 7” in total length). The Super Vinci supplements this with a shorter second return spring behind the bolt – neither extending beyond the back of the receiver (it needs the extra one because it is intended to cope with very heavy payloads). Not to be confused with these, and the essential component of the inertia mechanism, is the connecting spring between bolt and bolt head as discussed.
On with the rest of the show
The hammer-forged barrel of the test Super Vinci - the Magnum model launched last year and as featured here - is chambered for 3 1/2” cartridges and Fleurs de Lys steel proofed for steel. This particular gun is not designed to fire loads less than 32 grams which is honestly stated (if you want to use 28 gram payloads consider other models in the range). The barrel meantime is well made and has some interesting features. It is stress relieved by a cryogenic freezing process. Benelli make bold claims for this, suggesting that it will reduce friction internally and stop lead and plastic residue building up (presumably because it alters the molecular structure of the metal making it less porous). Chokes on the Super Vinci, like the Vinci, are of long concealed form, and like the barrel, they are cryogenically treated too.
Although there are payload limits, the Super Vinci’s inertia system does not need adjustment within these and will handle anything from 2 ¾” 32gram loads to really heavy 64 gram 3 1/2” fodder reliability. In a live quarry gun, the system offers real benefits. It’s strong and easy to keep clean, it also makes possible a lighter weight with fewer working parts. It also allows for a repeater which is not heavy forward.
Tough and Reliable
This Benelli system really is tough and reliable too. There are Benelli inertia guns that have fired over half a million rounds and are still in use. It has evolved from an older falling-block pattern inertia mechanism as seen on the old Benelli 121/SL80 model (also seen briefly in the budget Beretta ES100 that was offered a couple of years back but is now discontinued). I am usually a conservative when it comes to gun design. Some of the Italian design houses in particular can get a bit carried away. The Super Vinci, like the Vinci, does look very modern indeed, but its smooth styling is appealing. More importantly, I liked the way this light (7 pound) gun handled. It feels lively in the hands – more so than many semi-automatics. It also feels like a quality piece of kit.
V-Grip and ComforTech
The test gun comes in the cheaper black synthetic option, but you can opt for Max 4 Realtree camouflage too (at slightly greater cost). There is a rubberised ‘Comfort Touch’ finish to the stock which offers excellent grip and which is also enhanced by good ergonomic shapes. The ‘V-Grip’ as Benelli call the gripping surface here, is corrugated and ‘non-slip’. It is moulded into the fore part of the stock and pistol-grip. It really does feel secure.
The Super Vinci also has a ‘ComforTech’ stock for reducing recoil. Its most intriguing feature concerns the polymer chevrons positioned diagonally across it. They help to absorb recoil as the top and bottom half of the stock move on firing. Shims are also offered for adjusting cast and drop – a very useful, real-world, feature. Equally useful, plug-in recoil pads are available in several lengths to adjust Length of Pull. Two different comb pieces are available as well to adjust comb height.
The stock attaches to the back of the action by a rather Bondesque screw-lock system (it would look quite good in a black case in the back of an Aston Martin).
As noted, the gun does not take down into barrel, forend, and stock/action like most semis. It breaks down into modules. To take it apart, one depresses a catch at the front of the forend and turns a knob which looks like a forend securing nut but isn’t. You are left with 1) the trigger unit, forend and magazine tube in their polymer housing, and 2) a barrel and upper receiver (one extended tube-like unit) and the polymer stock. These part company in the manner of a take-down rifle built on the interrupted thread system. The Vinci barrel and receiver remain a single connected unit – permanently fixed together. The barrel on take-down also carries the bolt and related parts. This is the first semi-automatic where barrel and receiver remain a single unit on basic disassembly as far as I am aware.
Well after all this, I was not able to shoot the Super Vinci with 3 1/2” loads. With conventional 2 ¾ 32 gram Lyalvale Supreme Game it performed well, but I did find the recoil noticeable. This is perhaps not surprising in a light weight gun – it actually tops the scales just under 7lbs.
Most of its recoil-reducing features don’t really cut in until you are using really heavy cartridges (not that I am suggesting it is going to recoil less with these). I thought the design very clever, meantime, the styling excellent, and the build quality A1. The cost is not unreasonable either for the black gun. This may be the shape of things to come, meantime, it is a very interesting, innovative, model that is radically styled but attractive nevertheless.
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