Beretta 20 bore Onyx
- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 13/12/2016
This month our first test concerns a Beretta 20 bore Onyx. It is a single trigger, multi-choked, over and under game gun, and hits the scales at 6lbs 3 oz. with its 28” barrels (the only option in 20 and 12 bore game models – there is, however, a 30” sporter on offer as well). This Onyx was taken off the shelves of the West London Gunroom. My special thanks go to George Juer for his help in facilitating this and other guns for testing at GunMart - George is always happy to go the extra mile. The test gun is imported into the UK by GMK of Fareham in Hampshire who are, of course, one our best know distributors and also handle Lanber, Arietta and Benelli shotguns, not to mention Tikka and Sako rifles.
The basic form and specification of the Onyx is familiar though it is visually rather different to most Silver Pigeons with its bright polished, essentially, plain action. It quite attractive with engine turning to the front panels of the action walls, and some chain-mail like patterning to the action fences. Older Onyx’s were black. All things considered, I am not sure which I prefer more. This looks good on an entry level gun, although the black is probably more practical and won’t catch the light.
On the handling front, the Onyx comes up to the shoulder with little effort. It does, however, feel a bit muzzle heavy. The balance point is just on the ironwork of the forend (so the stock could benefit from a little weighting). I have always thought, moreover, that 30” tubes on the smaller bores increase control and pointability with no adverse increase in overall weight (indeed, the little bit they add tends to improve handling). In all cases though, one might need to introduce a little weight in the stock to balance them out well.
On The Test Bench
Taking the Onyx to the bench and maintaining our normal order of scrutiny, let’s examine the barrels in detail first. They are, as might be anticipated, made of Beretta’s tough tri-alloy steel and built on the monobloc system. Berettas are masters of this and developed it some hundred years ago, I have to say that I am not sure who invented
monobloc manufacture – I would like to spend some time researching the point one day – but there is no doubt that Beretta perfected it and that many manufacturers have subsequently copied them. Few manage Beretta’s consistency of quality.
The gun has Italian proof marks. Beretta have a branch of the Italian proof house in their factory. The barrels, like almost all modern Beretta production, are chambered for 3” cartridges. Although, frankly, I think it would be dumb to shoot anything other than 2 ½ and 2 ¾” cartridges in the gun unless you enjoy the experience of recoil! Anyway, 3” 20 bore cartridges are pretty rare in the UK, but they are commonly seen in the US. The test Onyx has bores which are both marked at 15.9 mm for diameter – this is a little more open than average, but not sufficiently so as to be of any real consequence (my preference would be 16mm).
The barrels are chromed internally and well presented. When examined the hammer forged tubes are straight. This is not something to be assumed, many modern guns do not have straight barrels. Typically distortion may occur when tubes are joined together and heated (they are wired together and, typically, run through a furnace on a conveyor belt as part of the production process). Beretta, moreover, are one of the few companies who still bother to test fire every gun for point of impact – even some best guns makers do not do this anymore. It is a particular bug-bear of mine; I think it is vitally important that regulation is checked on any shotgun when it is being made.
Anything else on the barrel front? The Onyx has a narrow, ventilated, 6mm sighting rib and full length, solid, joining ribs. There is a plain metal bead at the muzzles - by far my favourite on a game gun. The gun is equipped with multi-chokes as noted and these are of the older, fairly short, pattern (five supplied).
The action of the Onyx is very familiar. The action on the test gun, decoration apart, is very familiar. It is the thoroughly well proven low-profile Beretta design. Bifurcated lumps, conical locking lugs, it is one of the best known designs in the business. The trigger is inertia operated and there is the usual barrel selector on the safety. The trigger blade is plain in form and matt gold plated. The pull is good, without much creep. I did not check the weights, but would guess they were a fraction over 3 pounds.
The stock of the Onyx is made from fairly plain timber. Its stock is a little short at just under 14 ½” (with a 10mm pad), my favoured shelf dimension is always 14 ¾” or even 14 7/8” today as so many people are taller than they once were. Berettas, at least, make a variety of longer pads for their guns which are easily retro-fitted by means of a Phillips screwdriver. Drop at comb was a little high at just over 1 ¼”, drop at heel was the norm at 2 1/8”. There is standard right-hand cast. Summing up, this Onyx was shorter and higher in the comb than the average. This might make it more suitable, however, for both ladies and younger shots. The pistol grip was of the usual Beretta pattern. The chequering was laser cut and set out in inoffensive panels. The wood had a matt finish and the grain was left a little open.
Frankly, although I love Beretta 20 bores, this one did not float my boat. The handling did not suit me, nor am I a fan of 28” barrels. The gun has integrity, however. It is well made. I have no doubt that it would last indefinitely if well treated (and longer than it should even if abused). On the shooting front, I found the felt recoil was noticeable - although not excessive. Trigger pulls were adequate. This is without doubt a well designed, well crafted gun, built from good quality materials.
I don’t want to damn it with feint praise. It would be ideal for some rough and pigeon shooters, and, as discussed above, it would suit both female and younger shots too. It also represents really good value at its ‘old stock’ price tag of £1,270 at the West London Gun Room. The RRP now is £1,725 (£1785 for 30” sporter).