Bettinsoli Silverline 20 - bore
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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
For many the 20-bore sits in a unique position as the shotgun a junior moves up to, an ideal calibre for women or those sensitive to recoil, or as the gauge you move down to when a 12 gets too big and heavy. However, in Bettinsoli’s Silverline, the boundaries could well have been shifted if not completely rewritten, as this game gun is one of the best balanced 20s you’re likely to encounter.
Complete Package Principle
Like all Bettinsoli’s, the 20-bore Silverline maintains their complete package principle. A full set of flush fitting, multi-chokes, spare alternative length recoil pad, screwdriver, the gun and a plastic travelling case all in for £845. Apart from any additional accessories you may wish to add, from the moment you collect the Silverline, you’re ready to go shooting at almost anything. By all targets, I mean all, as this gun is equally adept at flying pheasants or thrown clay pigeons.
The other aspect of where the Silverline differs from others yet maintains the Bettinsoli philosophy is in the overall size. For a smaller gauge shotgun, it feels generously proportioned, the 7lbs 4oz weight and general dimensions definitely reduce the sub-gauge sensation. Now whilst this may at first seem to go against the whole 20-bore philosophy, it means 12-bore users won’t drop into the little gun frame of mind.
Crisp and Comfortable
It’s safe to say the first thing to hit you about the Silverline is the woodwork. The well grained timber shows a semi-oiled finish, the stylised chequering is crisp and comfortable for the nicely radiused semi pistol grip and Schnable forend. The 30”, steel-proofed barrels are well struck and finished in a lustrous black. On top is a 7mm vented rib complimented by a small, game-style bead. The 2¾” chambers allow the user full versatility of ammunition and intended target.
To describe the exterior of the boxlock action as profusely engraved would be an inexcusable understatement. A pheasant to the left side, a duck to the right with a woodcock to the underneath, rose and scroll occupies nearly every portion of the remaining surfaces. This is especially pleasing around the fences, tangs and top lever. Nicely executed, the effect is further enhanced with a fine curling gold inlay that envelopes the birds in flight. Additionally the Bettinsoli escutcheon has been let into the base of the pistol grip, which is another nice refining touch.
Within an hour of the gun’s arrival it was off to Coniston SG to shoot both skeet and sporting with 100-rounds of Express Special Twenty. As with all Bettinsolis, I fitted the widest chokes, ¼ and Cylinder able to cope with all but the longest birds. Like their 12-bore siblings, Bettinsoli believe in tight bores which from the user’s point of view translates into all the restrictions behaving tighter than usual.
Benefiting from good overall measurements, the drop at comb and heel were 1 7/8” and 2 1/8” , length came up at 14 7/16” and the weight tipped the scale at a pleasing 5lbs 8oz. All factors combining to create a 20-bore that’s fluid and controllable. Placing the pattern slightly above point of aim, the birds were breaking from the off. Next to no recoil combined with excellent pointability and poise that positively encouraged flamboyance, the Silverline rapidly became a shotgun that was efficient and also enjoyable to use. If it had a noticeable downside it was stiffness. Most new guns tend to be harder to open and close but this example resolutely refused to ease up.
As I packed the Silverline away I was left with one overwhelming thought. If Bettinsoli can build a sub-gauge shotgun that handles, balances and shoots to the level of this gun, why do a majority of people want to pay so much more? Fair enough, if it’s English or a European masterpiece you’re after then no, Bettinsoli’s Silverline just won’t do and yes, it isn’t the most refined smoothbore you’ll ever pick up. But if it’s a good honest game gun with clay breaking potential you’re after, this smoothbore has to be it!
When it comes to general perception Bettinsolis have one major problem; their price tag! Because they are as affordable as they are, they tend to be perceived by a large number of shooters as a retrograde step. Why? Well if you’re changing shotguns it tends to be for something theoretically better which too many means more expensive. The irony is if Bettinsoli hiked their prices they’d probably sell more, most game gun sales tending to be a luxury and often spontaneous purchase.
With Bettinsoli’s Silverline you instantly acquire acceptable visuals combined with excellence of performance contained within one of the most comprehensively packaged outfits currently available. Equally, for anyone contemplating a move either up or down to a 20 – bore, besides not breaking the bank, this Silverline has got to be as near to the perfect introduction as possible. Versatile in every sense of the word, there isn’t a target or a discipline this little gun can’t turn its muzzles towards. So what are you waiting for?
• One of the best balanced o/u 20-bores you’ll pick up
• It locks onto the target before you even think about it
• At this price you can’t afford not to buy it