Mark Stone trys the new Breda’s Xanthos semi-automatic shotgun and discovers an unusual smoothbore in the process.
Known more for machine guns and the like, finding reference to Breda’s sporting shotguns is a rarity and I wasn’t fully sure they manufactured them until I visited their stand at IWA. So when UK importer John Fawcett (JPF Supplies UK) invited me to try one, I was more than interested. The gun in question was one of their Xanthos range of 12-bore, semi-autos that work on an inertia/recoil system, as opposed to the more common gas/piston. The one aspect John did point out was that I might find certain similarities with another, well known Italian recoil-operated make, since Breda source a percentage of their components from none other than Benelli.
Costing its potential owner £1,250 it was nice to see the Xanthos came complete with a fully lined Negrini travelling case. Referred to as the Xanthos Grey BHC, (Breda Hard Coating), buyers can also select the Black, Damasco or Limited Edition versions dependant on their wallet and preferences. Whichever you opt for each one comes fitted with well grained furniture, an exceptional quality of finish, a full set of flush fitting multi-chokes, spacers and sling swivels. If you were basing first impressions on looks alone; it’s safe to say you’d probably buy the Xanthos without looking any further, as the package is a good one!
Once assembled you can’t fail but to be impressed by the quality of the walnut, with fine cut yet soft chequering surrounding the pistol grip and forend, the receiver’s detailing continues along each side of the trap-derived wood. The 28” (3” chamber), 6mm vented rib, gloss, chrome- lined barrel is completed by a rather small, high visibility bead. Unusual these days is the fact the Xanthos shows a steel receiver, which is equally well presented.
Curved matte side panels are complimented by bright inlays top and bottom along with the chromed, extractor claw. The bolt is described as “purposely heavy” and is said to reduce felt recoil. Maybe so, but it does add a noticeable clank during the cyclic process. All that remains is the black trigger guard, fixed gold blade and cross-bolt safety catch which, like the barrel are usually to be seen on an alternative make.
Shot over Bond & Bywater’s 30-birder, the Xanthos quickly revealed two particular traits, one relatively common in semi-autos the other slightly more unusual. Loaded up with Express Supremes the gun’s flatness became rapidly apparent, a characteristic that was quickly overcome. The other was the unusual angle of the stock head. Even with the optional spacers fitted the rather wide radius of the pistol grip combined with the length and rather shallow incline conspired to slightly over fill the hand and cock the wrist upwards.
This in itself wouldn’t be an issue if the trigger blade was adjustable but since the length of pull is fixed at 14 5/8ths the angle issue is compounded by having to rather over extend the finger combined with an average weight of 6lbs 7oz. Similarly, I found the comb a fraction to low but once again this is down to my own physical requirements, the standard drop at comb and heel of 1 5/8” and 2 3/8” is no good for me!
Loading the Breda is similar to the Remington 100 and 11-87. Open the bolt and drop the first round into the chamber or action, then with the nose of the next shell touch the lever at the rear of the shell lifter and the bolt slams into battery. As this happens slide this one into the magazine. It seems a little scary but it’s not. For those who only want to shoot one at a time; the magazine cut-off is located to the left side of the action.
Once you’ve physically adapted yourself to this vaguely unusual set up you will discover a 12-bore that in most other respects is as competent to shoot as any you’ll find. Cycling of all three rounds was quick and efficient and Breda’s take on loading definitely speeded up proceedings. Weighing in at exactly 7lbs the Xanthos definitely feels a substantial yet neutral gun in the hands. Fitting a marginally tighter choke than usual did seem beneficial especially for long range kills, with ½ seemingly to be the best all round restriction.
Grip or purchase?
Aesthetically the Xanthos is an extremely attractive shotgun that as the price would suggest comes with everything you could possibly wish for. For me it’s the dimensional restraints of the grip and low comb that dull its shine, although it would be more than possible to have them rectified.
If you’re looking for an upmarket semi-auto that’s slightly different from the rest, Breda’s Xanthos should be a serious consideration. The gun combines looks with a durability of finish that’ll shrug off most things you’ll throw at it. As competent around the layouts as it is on the flight ponds, Breda has introduced a serious alternative to the established norm. They claim that purchasing one of their guns is a personal declaration of an interest in quality, history and value. There’s nothing at all wrong with these guns but in respect of Breda’s suppositions, I’d prefer to let you be the ultimate judge since you will be the one parting with your cash.
• Stylish and unusual
• An interesting alternative to the more familiar makes
• Plenty of classy kit for your money
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates