Beretta 687 EL II
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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
It is no secret that I am especially fond of 28 bores. It is a wonderful bore size (probably my favourite). It is, moreover, a much, much better gun than the .410. I am not going to tell you to buy one to boost your scores in competition, but do buy a 28 if you want to have some fun whether shooting clays or game. As I write this, I have just come in from shooting a very similar 28 bore to the test gun (my own EELL) with my fifteen year old daughter Lizzie. It was part of her birthday treat, and, I am happy to report, she did really well with it, hitting more than 80% of her clays on a skeet range and sporting layout.
Enough proud parent syndrome. Let’s consider the test gun itself – it is a 28” barrelled, side-plated gun with deep relief engraving. I first saw it in Vic Chapman’s gun shop in Essex and was immediately impressed with the unusual looks and the value for money (this is a very smart new gun retailing just above the £3,000 mark, substantially less than an EELL which now has an RRP close to 5K). The overall lines are as striking as the unusual decoration. The action is as well engineered, and, it is smartly finished too.
In fact, first impressions are A to A+ in all departments. With 28” tubes the little EL is fast handling, but, it remains pointable too. My preference would be for 30” barrels, but the 28” tubes feel good nevertheless. One might easily mistake them for 30” (which are my favourite – all my Beretta 28s have them). The gun weighs in at around 6lb. It is a little light for me, but near to many people’s small bore ideal (and perfect for a gun that is to be used for walking up more than anything else).
Let us put this little EL under the Gun Mart magnifying glass. It has the usual monobloc barrels and they have been proofed in house at Gardone (Beretta, of course, have their own branch of the Italian proof house there inside the Beretta 1 factory). Tubes are hammer forged from chrome-moly steel (as are all 68 series Berettas) and may be relied on to give many years of good service. I don’t know any other maker that produces barrels that are longer-lived or more trouble free. If there is any issue with multi-choked Beretta game gun barrels, it is only the fact that sometimes they can be a smidgen heavy – not the case here.
The barrels are chambered for 2 ¾” (70mm) cartridges. There is no commercial 3” version of the 28 as far as I am aware. I suspect that this is only a matter of time, though, Roman Candle loads being so popular over the great pond and amongst continental hunters - all of whom should know better… My experience is that so called ‘magnum’ cartridges offer no real benefit in a smoothbore in the vast majority of shooting situations. More bang and more buck for little gain and significantly increased pain in most cases.
The test EL has short style Beretta Mobil multi-chokes fitted at the muzzles. They look very neat when removed. The sighting rib is the usual, narrow (6mm), ventilated, ‘game’ pattern. My only criticism is that it is potentially delicate. It suits the gun aesthetically, and helps to reduce barrel weight. But, my preference – often stated in these pages – would be for a solid design of the similar width. The joining ribs of the EL are solid, except for the area beneath the forend. This is a common weight saving measure now and seen in other guns in the Beretta line as well as that of other makers.
The barrels do seem well suited to the gun, however. They are heavier enough to be steady, but not so weighty as to impede rapid reaction and movement. Barrel weight is especially important in a small bore, many are too light and rush about the sky wildly as a result (often inducing what I call ‘rush to a stop’ syndrome). Finish of the barrels – usually a strong point with Berettas - is good. Internally and externally, they are well presented. The joins between tubes and monobloc are well done. Even being picky, there is little to fault.
The side-plated action is well engineered as noted. It looks very neat, and the engraving - though bold - is attractive. The bright silver finish looks good (though, colour case hardening would work as well). Regular readers will be familiar with the mechanical design – stud pins, bifurcated lumps, conical locking bolts, and a trigger plate mechanism rather than a fixed bottom strap. The single trigger, as ever, is recoil operated and there is a safety-mounted barrel selector of the usual Beretta type. There is not much more to add except that this is the older style 20 bore action - the latest Beretta 28 bores are built on a dedicated 28 bore action.
The stock was made from a decent piece of walnut with some reasonable figure. Design was sound. Dimensions were near the Beretta norm – 14 ¾” LOP, drop at 1 3/8” and 2 1/8”. Grip and comb were both comfortable. I often find that I prefer the feel of EELL model small-bores to the standard range, and the same comments applies to the EL. The dimensions are the same though, so I have yet to track down a precise reason, it may relate to the concentration of marginally more weight in the middle of the gun. The comb on the EL seemed a little thicker than the average and better for it; there was still enough taper for elegance. My only minor criticism would be the machine made shape of the flutes beneath the nose of the comb. These would be better if blended in, I think.
When a man is bored with London he is bored with life according to Dr Johnson. Well, according to Dr. Yardley when one is bored with 28 bores, one is bored with shooting. This was a super little gun to use. Recoil was minimal with Lyalvale 21gram loads. With 28 gram loads (my favourite for game shooting, it was still quite acceptable). Much has been written about the 28. My feeling is this – good 28s shoot exceptionally well. I do not feel handicapped when shooting one at normal driven game. Indeed, as far as mass-produced guns are concerned, I prefer the 28 and 20 to the bigger gun.
The 28 is an exceptional cartridge ballistically when well loaded. It smashes clays effectively, and brings down live game cleanly at ranges up to 40 yards. As far as the handling qualities of guns like this are concerned, my opinion is this. You get very similar handling qualities in a good machine made 28 or 20 to a best London 12 costing 20 times more. I am a great fan of the bore size, moreover, I like this unusual, well-made gun. It shoots well and represents excellent value for money. The bad news is that the model is about to be discontinued but there are a few new guns still about if you look. Ask Victor.
PRICE: £3,291 RRP