Beretta Silver Pigeon 3
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- Last updated: 23/02/2021
The launch of the 687 Silver Pigeon III (SPG 3) is due to its very well proportioned and thus great handling design, coupled to the action being so reliable and maintenance-free. This model has a selected grade 2.5 walnut stock with a new gloss finish and the action shows some tasteful game scenes, culminating in a very elegant and overall classy over and under shotgun.
The 687 still has Beretta’s world-renowned special Steelium barrels fitted, a full complement of Optima HP chokes and the Fleur de Lys proof mark, making this shotgun steel shot approved.
It is priced at £2245 and is available in 12 or 20-gauge with either 30” or 28” barrels, while there is also the option of a left-handed version. So, the 687 SPG 3 should prove extremely popular amongst all walks of the shotgun community.
The action design, as with other gun makers, is usually an evolving process where an initial idea is further enhanced or improved over time. This is certainly true of the 687 action. Beretta uses a deceptively simple action locking mechanism to ensure a safe and durable shotgun, which if it does wear over time can be corrected cheaply and easily.
The heart of the 687 is the action built on the trigger plate design, which Beretta use so that the overall profile is much lower than similar 12-gauge o/u shotguns. This is due to the hinge system up front that uses a stud pin to each side of the action to traverse the barrels on opening and closing, instead of a full action width pin. Add to this the use of twin hardened conical/tapered locking bolts that protrude from the action face and lock into the monobloc system of the barrels and you have yourself a bombproof, long-lasting action that also looks good.
This system also means that over time and countless thousands of rounds fired, the 687 can have the usual hard-wearing parts replaced easily. The conical/tapered locking bolts and hinge pins are sold as over-sized items to breath new life into a cherished Beretta shotgun.
On the outside, there is a new game scene engraving comprising of a pheasant one side of the action and a partridge on the other, with the underneath having an overall scroll design. This is then finished with a satin nickel-plate that looks elegant and is highly weather-resistant too.
The trigger mechanism and coil spring hammer springs ensure a precise and safe firing mechanism, with the top lever providing a good amount of bite to the system, allowing easy opening without being slack. The safety is the traditional sliding-type on the tang with the typical inset barrel selection button, which I still find a bit shallow to operate with my sausage fingers.
This SPG 3 is a field model that comes standard with 30” barrels, although 28” tubes are available. Both have a nice slim 6mm vented rib so not to obscure your target too much.
The barrels are very good as they are manufactured from Beretta’s famous version of chrome-moly steel called Steelium, which is a super hard wearing Tri Alloy metal composition.
They are 3” chambered so a good selection of cartridge sizes and weights can be shot safely. Add to this the steel shot proofing and you have yourself an all-round 12-gauge.
This SPG 3 comes supplied with five Optima HP flush fit multi-chokes that measure 70mm long and are steel proofed up to ½ choke. Interestingly, the actual bore size is a little over size at 18.5mm and those Optima chokes are longer than older designs. Both achieve excellent patterns down range.
Externally, there is the typical excellent Beretta bluing and the sighting is via a single gold bead at the muzzle end, so a nice clear overall sighting image is achieved.
Out of the box, you will immediately notice a difference in the finish applied to the SPG 3. Now, instead of the oil finish, a higher gloss type application. I wasn’t sure at first, to be honest, but it actually has two benefits. Firstly, it is quite weather-resistant and secondly, the gloss really brings out the grain and figuring of the wood beneath. This is also helped by the fact that you have a grade 2.5 walnut stock fitted and it exhibited some nice dark figuring in places and good overall colour.
Fit and finish are excellent and the orientation of the stock has a drop of 35mm and the height of the comb is 55mm. There is a MicroCore recoil pad, and with the 15mm spacer fitted, the length of pull (LOP) is 14.75”. This can be altered with the supplied 10, 20 and 25mm options to suit your needs accordingly. It does a good job at recoil reduction and does not catch on clothing, so mounting the gun is effortless.
The forend is redesigned, gone is the Schnabel tip, it has been replaced with a more rounded field-style end, which actually looks good and allows a fuller feeling grip in the hand. Checkering is changed too, with laser cut diamond patterns and a rounded softer border, which did the job fine but is not to everyone’s tastes. I like larger squarer cuts.
Weighing in at 3.45 kg/7.6 lbs it has a good weight to it without being heavy but has the ability to absorb recoil well from stiffer loads. The higher comb actually ensures the cheek is well placed so does not get thumped either. The inertia cocking system for the second barrel worked well, even with some lighter 21-gram loads, which is nice. The overall balance was just in front of the action with the 30” barrels so the SPG 3 felt lighter than it was and thus handled extremely well.
We shot a variety of loads through the gun and ejection of cases was good, not too brisk. Even after a few boxes of 32-gram loads to check reliability, the recoil was really quite docile.
We tried some 28- gram Titanium Strike #7.5 cartridges for the clay shooters but equally good for all manner of pests! With the ½ choke in the bottom barrel, the SPG 3 recorded a total of 238 No 7.5 shot hits on the 30” pattern board. In regards to distribution, there were 135 outer strikes and 103 inner hits, so really good coverage. Past 30 yards would still give a good pattern density.
Gamebores Grouse Extreme cartridge was next, this uses a 65mm case with a fibre wad, 31-gram load and #6 shot size, so a nice blend of shot size and load weight. Again, with the Optima HP ½ choke fitted, the total number of pellet hits was 214, with a superbly consistent inner strike of 65 pellets and the remaining 149 pellets to the outer sectors. The inner 65 pellets were distributed into 17, 19, 16 and 13 pellets per quadrant, so a great even hit rate.
Finally, a favourite of ours, the light shooting Game Bore Blue Diamond. This cartridge includes 24-grams of #7.5 shot and a fibre wad in a 70mm casing. These are very mild to shoot and create lovely patterns. The total number of hits was 215, which was divided into 72 inner and 143 outer strikes. I love this cartridge, you can shoot it all day without fatigue, it always shoots excellent patterns and has a myriad of shotgun shooting applications.
The 687 Silver Pigeon III still upholds the Beretta tradition for a fine shotgun that not only shoots great patterns but handles as well as it looks. The new stock design and finish might not be for everyone but we liked it. The 2.5 grade walnut is better enhanced with the new finish.
Being steel proofed, 3” chambered and having a good weight overall, I can see this being a ‘buy once’type of shotgun and being used as intended out in the field against any game that your cartridge choice will allow. Good value and build quality overall.