Beretta Silver Pigeon SC game gun
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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
Our test gun is a SC, an over and under with 28” fixed choke barrels that distinguishes itself from other models in the Beretta Silver Pigeon because of it colour case hardened effect action and its sleeker than average ‘American’ style forend (essentially a Schnabel from which the front lip has been removed). First impressions are very good, the ersatz colour case-hardening is achieved by a chemical process but still looks pleasing to the eye (and will appeal to many more than a silver or nickel plated action). The effect is achieved by means of a high tech chemical process rather than traditional bone meal and ovens as Ray St.Ledger in Birmingham is still famous for.
On The Bench
The presentation of the test gun – a fixed choke (quarter, half) field model - is good. The metal to metal and wood to metal fit are well up to standard. The barrel blacking, and the matt oil-like stock finish are all well done. Solid is the word that might best describe this 7 ½ lb. gun. Mounting it does not dispel the positive first visual impressions, but one does note that it is quite heavy, especially to the front, for a fixed choke gun. The stock comb is thicker than average and the pistol grip is quite large, but both are acceptable.
The SC is built around the well proven, conically bolted, Beretta action. Lumps are bifurcated and the 3” (76mm) chambered barrels are made of hammer-forged, chrome molybdenum steel on the monobloc system. Beretta developed this method of barrel manufacture a hundred years ago and are now the world’s leaders (making something like 50,000 over and unders a year using the principle). More economic than chopper-lump or demi-bloc barrels, and requiring less hand-work, monobloc manufacture is nonetheless extremely strong. Some would argue that it was the strongest of all – I was especially fond of the refined system adopted in some Beretta side by sides (but not the most recent models) whereby the joint between monobloc and barrel tube was fused by laser
(making it invisible). For some reason, this apparently excellent idea has now been rejected. It allowed one to make a very neat set of monobloc barrels, but I suspect that Brescian Behemoth must have had a reason for abandoning it - no-one, meanwhile, makes tougher, harder wearing barrels than Beretta.
If Beretta barrels have any flaw, it is that some can be a bit weighty. The barrels of the test gun certainly seem so. They are marked at 1420 grams – heavy for a 28” gun, especially one with a narrow (6mm) sighting rib. The bores are fairly tight too (both marked at 18.4mm). More open bores and a slight reduction in barrel wall thickness might improve the shooting and handling qualities without any significant loss of durability. The full length, solid, joining ribs get my approval, though. Some modern guns, including some Berettas, dispense with joining ribs under the forend to reduce weight. I never feel they handle as well as guns with full length ribs: the weight is being taken from the wrong place – the rear of the barrels – when the reduction is required to the front.
The action of the test gun is the usual low-profile Beretta design with stud pins for hinging at the knuckle and conical locking bolts engaging circular recesses either side of the top chamber mouth. The main mechanism sits on a trigger-plate with tumblers (hammers) powered by coil springs (it is not properly called a boxlock therefore). The trigger blade is plain in form and matt gold plated. The pulls are good, breaking cleanly just over 3 pounds. My one small gripe – a persistent one with the Silver Pigeon and its 68 series clones – concerns the barrel selector, which sits on the top of the sliding safety catch. It’s small and consequently a little fiddly in use, especially in wet or cold weather.
The stock of the SC was made from reasonably figured timber and was finished well with neat chequering that offered good purchase (I would guess it had been cut mechanically). The stock was 14 ¾” long with a thin, black rubber pad. There was 14 ¼” of wood, so this gun might be brought to 15 ¼” by the simple expedient of a 1” recoil pad (Beretta offer longer pads for the gun in various sizes). The comb was a little low, the measurement for drop at comb being about 1 ½” and 2 3/8” at heel. My preference for an off-the-peg stock on an under and over would be 1 3/8” and 2 1/8”. There was a little right-hand cast and a silver oval in the base.
Although it was no lightweight, and the balance might have been improved by an ounce of lead in the stock, the Silver Pigeon SC shot exceptionally well. I put more than 100 cartridges through it at a variety of simulated game birds and came away smiling. The very small number of birds I missed with the SC (less than 5% of those engaged) were all rising. This was almost certainly explained by the slightly low stock dimension. As tested, this Beretta would make a good wild-fowling gun (or clay gun for that matter). For driven game shooting, my preference would have been for this fixed choke model with a slightly higher stock. It still manages to score 8 ½ out of a possible 10 in my book.
PRICE: from £1430