Beretta A400 Xplor Light
By: Mark Stone
Mark Stone tries out the Beretta A400 Xplor Light semi-auto, regarded rightly or wrongly as the Xplor Unico’s ‘little brother’
The Xplor Light is what you might refer to as the slightly more deft and graceful member of this new Italianate brotherhood of Beretta guns. Where the Unico is perfectly at home chambering 3½” ammunition, the Light requires nothing longer than 3” to get the job done whilst saving its new owner £200 in the process. That said, just because it weighs less doesn’t mean the new Light is any less a true, high performance semi-auto and more than worthy of carrying the Beretta name forward.
Beretta’s new hint of green first seen on the Xplor Unico continues with the Light, the new look travelling case taking on the new hue in place of Beretta’s more familiar blue. Open the case and beside the three Optima multi-chokes, key and oil, your presented with an extremely smart looking semi-auto, the silver receiver blessed with an almost imperceptible hint of… yes, green. Bristling with Beretta’s latest technology all of which has been granted a distinctive patented name, the first notable components are the stock and fore-end.
Well grained and finished off with a durable, glossy lacquer, the slim semi-pistol grip highlighted with three discrete panels of chequering is fully ambidextrous. From the heel of the grip a line carves its way into the main body of the stock culminating in this instance in the optional Kick – Off recoil reduction butt – plate that eliminates a further 60% of recoil in addition to the third damper located within the stock itself. One of the most unobtrusive of its type and first seen on Beretta’s Perennia O/U shotgun, this twin-hydraulic damper system is concealed within the stock and dials out all but the most severe recoil.
An optional extra on the Xplor Light, the additional £90 it adds to this gun’s basic price is neither here nor there, whilst in my opinion it makes a significant, beneficial difference. The fore-end itself echoes the stock’s sculpted profile with the addition of the Beretta Trident forming part of the chequering design and excess gas vents that culminate in a stylised shroud and outsized mag cap.
Able to save a little space due to the shorter 3” chamber, the Light’s receiver is most definitely Beretta in profile. Manufactured from new, ultra – lightweight aluminium with a soft matte finish, the bolt release is in the usual position just below the loading gate with the magazine cut – off directly opposite on the left with the bolt lock to the rear of the loading gate. Situated to the front of the sculpted, black anodised trigger – guard, the broad triangular stippled cross – bolt safety falls easily to the shooter’s trigger finger as does the smooth conspicuously arched trigger – blade that sits well back inside the guard’s aperture.
From here ‘Blink’ takes over, the new gas cycling system that combines the new single claw rotating bolt and the new three piece, self-cleaning and self-sealing expanding band intelligent valve that is not only considerably faster than what went before but is the reason the Xplor Light can happily cycle such a diverse range of load sizes without jamming. Remove the fore-end and the recoil spring now sits inside a fixed slide that’s wrapped around the magazine tube. From the shooter’s point of view this means the entire action is more refined and far quicker whilst ‘Optima Bore HP’ and ‘Steelium’ play their part in the barrel’s technology, the loose translations of which are Beretta’s own version of internal boring adding to the reduction in recoil along with a variation on cold hammer forging and barrel extrusion.
Fast and flat
With four boxes of Express Supremes and ½ choked screwed in the Light’s muzzle, I was off to tackle fifty of Rishton SG’s sporting targets. But even before the first clay was thrown it was more or less a given that the Xplor Light was going to shoot well; the 3” chambered, 28” chrome lined barrel and 6mm cross-cut vented rib lining up exactly where I was looking, a minute with the Arrow Laser Shot confirming my initial impressions. Likewise, Beretta have always produced a semi-auto with good dimensions, the Xplor Light no exception. With drops at comb and heel of 1 ½” and 2 3/8” with a decent length of pull measuring 14 7/8”, this is a full sized gun for full sized people although the 7lbs average weight of trigger pull would benefit from lightening up a little.
Tipping the scales at 7lbs 2oz the weight is more or less bang on, the Light being heavy enough to promote a smooth swing whilst the distribution of the bulk and balance point directly beneath the loading gate ensures the Light is lithe enough to produce the fast, fluid handling, the gun pivoting centrally yet neutrally between the shooter’s hands, only minimal effort required to drive the Light in the required direction.
The quality of patterning is also more than worthy of Beretta’s Optima chokes, these extended length tubes having proven their worth in numerous of the Beretta range. Although my preference when shooting any single-barrelled shotgun is to remain with ½, loading up with 28 gram Express Supreme 6½ sized shot produced truly impressive kills in excess of forty yards, the Light’s flat shooting attitude allowing for measured, smooth shooting at extended ranges - a point the Light emphasised on an afternoon’s pigeon shooting. Increasing the load size to 34 grams of 5’s, the Light’s attitude remained exactly the same, the gun displaying a notable ability to recover for the second and third shot the Kick – Off system cushioning these and even more powerful rounds.
The cream will rise
It can’t possibly have escaped any shooters notice that the number of new semi – automatic shotguns has increased significantly, nearly every week a new one announced. And whilst some of them are very good indeed you need to remember this one particular fact, they’d all like to lay claim to Beretta’s market dominance. But the moment some get close Beretta shift the bar and introduce their latest creation, the Xplor Light being a prime example.
So step back and take a good close, clinical look and see what you’re getting. Its attractive, well made, works well, is comfortable to shoot especially with the Kick – Off system fitted, employs the most up to date technology which makes the Xplor Light extremely efficient, handles and recycles loads from 24 to 64 grams, comes with useful accessories including a resilient travelling case, benefits from a decent warranty and good back – up… and is all yours for £1,385. Still want to know why Beretta is still top dog when it comes to gas operated semi-autos? Then go shoot an Xplor Light for yourself and the answer will become glaringly obvious.
|Name||Beretta A400 Xplor Light|
|Action||Gas operated semi – auto|
|Chokes||¼, ½ & Full Flush – fit Optima|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates