Beretta A400 Xtreme Unico Semi auto
By: Mark Stone
Beretta's new A400 Xtreme Unico is a genuinely impressive gun to use no matter where you are or what you're doing
Developing a distinct liking for camo finished semi-autos, Mark Stone became a serious advocate of Beretta’s new A400 Xtreme Unico Max4, a serious gun in anyone’s book
When Beretta’s new range of A400 gas powered semi-autos hit the market the rest of the industry suddenly took notice. Aimed fair and square at the wildfowler or the shooter who requires genuine 3½” magnum ammunition capabilities, the Xtreme in all its guises has got to be a serious contender as the best multipurpose all-rounder to date.
Available in black synthetic for the price of £1,865 or in Max4 camo for £160 more, along with varying barrel lengths of 26”, 28” or 30”, dependant on your individual tastes and requirements, whilst the new Xtreme isn’t exactly budget orientated I’ll say from the start its actually one hell of a gun. And yes, I’d actually pay the penalty and go for the Max4 version, a finish that just seems right for a 12 bore shotgun of this type. However, to describe the Xtreme Unico as being of the no nonsense type would be inaccurate, simplicity being far from this Beretta’s forte, but to suggest it represents the current pinnacle of what can be achieved is as near the mark as I can get. In every respect the Xtreme Unico is a serious semi-auto.
Hi – Tech territory
The gun arrived in a green plastic travelling case, with a cushioned panel of Max4 camo keeping it cosseted within. Besides the gun itself a set of three extended, flush-fit Optima Chokes are included along with their key, plus an additional stock spacer that allows the shooter to replace the ½” spacer as fitted with a wider 1” option. To complete the kit, a small bottle of Beretta oil has also been included along with the detachable sling swivels, small handbook and a glossy sheet of A4 that highlights and explains all the hi-tech, tour de force innovations the gun employs.
Completely encased in what Beretta refers to as their Aqua Technology, the entire inner and outer surfaces of the Xtreme Unico are clad with corrosion proof layers that its claimed will remain impervious to the most extreme of elemental conditions. Next is the item you have to be verbally careful with, given it’s called the B – Lok. Unlike most mag caps that screw into place once the forend has been fitted, the B – Lok cap clicks into position by pushing it down and turning it clockwise through sixty degrees, the anticlockwise removal being just as easy.
Next is the 28”, 3½” chambered Steelium Optima Bore barrel, cold hammer forged and fully steel proofed to withstand the largest, non-toxic loads whilst improving their final patterns. Imperceptibly flaring to accommodate the extended Optima Chokes that in turn form an extended passage for the shot as it passes through the forward forcing cone and into whichever of the full, ½ or ¼ restrictions you’ve fitted. A vented 7mm stipple finished rib and red high visibility bead top off the barrel. The Max4 is so effective it occasionally fools the eye into thinking the rib doesn’t actually exist.
Looking closely at the barrel ring reveals the usual internal twin exhaust ports that feed into Beretta’s newly designed relatively self-regulating, infinitely load variable gas valve that in turn is located in front of a short, stiff spring. Working in conjunction with the main action spring and twin-guide slide that are located around the magazine tube, the valve forms part of Beretta’s new Blink system, a cyclic design that runs from the valve directly into the lightweight alloy receiver. Feeding into the housing that’s formed in the main by the oversized, flat topped barrel extension that also forms the upper section of the ejection port’s internal make up, the new rotating head two piece bolt is noticeably fast in the execution of its task.
Easy to activate, the bolt’s efficiency is actually tangible when shooting the gun, a fact that can be physically demonstrated by applying gentle finger pressure to the head with the barrel removed and the bolt in the forward position. The merest touch causes the head to promptly rotate and compress within the main body of the bolt, highlighting the effectiveness of the design along with the fact that the single claw spinning action and small detente will have ejected the empty hull in an incredibly short space of time.
The receiver itself is ready dovetailed to accept an optical sight whilst the main controls are located in the usual places. A magazine cut-off is located on the left side of the receiver, pushing the enlarged end, allowing the chambered round to be ejected by whatever method but leaving the next round within the mag tube. Deactivation is achieved by pushing the narrow end until the small latch is once again flush with the main surface. The bolt-release is as always positioned just below the ejection port, the short stubby extension that is the bolt-lock located beneath the gun to the rear of the shell-lifter.
Housing the smooth, broad chromed trigger-blade that curves high and backwards into the oversized guard, Beretta’s now recognisable triangular crossbolt safety sits towards the front of the oversized, finger friendly frame. Stippled to increase friction the catch allows the shooter to disengage the safety and apply their finger to the trigger in one quick movement without having to alter the position of their hand on the grip.
Taking the Beretta Kick – Off system a step further, the externally distinctive stock incorporates the recoil reduction system’s twin spring and twin piston Mega system along with the new Micro-Core butt pad. Gently compressing as both the recoil and the action cycle rearwards, the pistons and springs decelerate the gun whilst the recoil pad ensures the stock remains correctly seated against the shooter’s shoulder, the claimed reduction being 70% over normal, a figure that’s relatively believable when shooting 50 gram plus loads. Externally, the synthetic stock has a distinct chevron shaped groove running around the stock just to the rear of the grip whilst both grip and oversized forend employ textured rubber inserts that envelope both areas and are ideally suited to the conditions the gun is expected to encounter.
A gun of two halves
For what is undoubtedly a physically large shotgun to look at, the Xtreme Unico seems to shrink once you’ve brought it up to your shoulder. Similarly, you could almost divide the gun in half, receiver forward dedicated to the most efficient and accurate discharging of the cartridge’s payload whilst maintaining mechanical integrity, and the receiver backwards devoted to the shooter’s comfort and physical wellbeing. The Xtreme Unico is almost a gun of two halves in how it works.
Size wise as it comes from the factory with the ½” stock spacer fitted, the test gun weighed an exact 8lbs with an overall length of 49 3/8”. Drops at comb and heel were 1 5/16” and 2 3/8” with a length of pull measuring 14 5/8”. Do remember though the fitment of the 1” spacer alters both overall length and pull length by ½” and that the supplied stock shims allow the user to adjust both drops and cast. Weight wise the trigger broke at an average of 6lbs 8oz, the crisp predictable action ideally suited to a shotgun that was built for conditions where most shooters would probably be wearing gloves.
Hooked up to the Arrow Laser Shot the Xtreme Unico came up perfectly from the start, displayed a flat shooting attitude and most importantly looked exactly where I did, only the bright red bead giving hint to the fact that the 7mm vented rib actually existed. Similarly the gun felt comfortable even before the first round was loaded, the lengths and angles as near perfect as they could get, a notable achievement given Beretta had to produce a new shotgun that needed to suit nearly every shooter straight out of the case.
Keeping with Beretta’s suggestion that the Xtreme Unico was initially run in with 36 gram or larger loads, after a lubricating squirt of Ballistol Universal was applied to the bolt and chambers, a selection of over thirty Remington buffered 3½” and 3” magnums were discharged on the local crow, magpie and squirrel population through ½” choke. The immediate result was devastating from their perspective whilst the almost total lack of recoil was a revelation. Even loaded up with these seriously potent magnum cartridges, whilst the entire cyclic system dealt flawlessly and efficiently with each and every round, Beretta’s recoil reduction system softened the expected blow to the shoulder to nothing more than a gentle push.
Although the Xtreme Unico wasn’t intended as a clay breaker no one seems to have bothered telling it. Opening the muzzle up to ¼ and dropping the loads down to my more usual 28 gram Express World Cups, fifty Sunday morning sporting clays were scheduled in. Apart from the fact the gun’s abilities on clays were every bit as impressive as they were on live targets; it was the handling that genuinely surprised. Balancing directly beneath the receiver - where the chamber and bolt come together -the gun’s ability to stop, start, swing smoothly and react instantly to the shooter’s input is striking for such a big semi-auto.
If the precise point of balance and abilities to tame even the most aggressive loads weren’t enough, the elegant lines and contours of the grip along with the rubberised inserts fore and aft emphasise just how pleasant to hold and shoot the Xtreme Unico actually is. The lightest grasp of the shooter’s hands instantly find an assured purchase due to the nature of the inserts surface. Please don’t think for a minute though that the Xtreme Unico is of a dainty nature, it isn’t. If you want a Unico to shoot clays with then go for the A400 Xplor Light, the Xtreme destined for far more demanding and uncompromising purposes.
Beretta’s new Xtreme Unico is for want of a better term a big gun for a big job. Its an absolutely great gun to shoot and for once you can physically sense all the various technological innovations actually working alongside you.
As to the price, always bear in mind that for any new, hi-tech shotgun to be viable there has to be investment that the end user has ultimately to contribute towards. If you need a semi-auto as advanced as the Xtreme Unico and can afford or justify the price then yes, go ahead and get one, since in my opinion you certainly won’t be disappointed. This shotgun lives up to and delivers every claim Beretta has made of it.
Many of the older designs and familiar makes and models can and are manufactured at a price that is significantly less than the Xtreme Unico. But like all technology, things move on and the new Xtreme Unico is a significant advancement in semi – automatic design, construction and overall execution proving that once and for all that every shooter can now comfortably use the most powerful 12 bore magnum ammunition with almost complete physical immunity.
|Name||Beretta A400 Xtreme Unico Max4|
|Calibre||12 – bore|
|Action||Gas operated semi – auto|
|Stock||Realtree Max4 Camo wrapped sporter|
|Chokes||Flush – fit Optima|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates