Bettinsoli X-8 Extra Trap
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- Last updated: 19/12/2016
Once upon a time the small Italian maker Bettinsoli released a new model once every few years, which meant they slightly went off the boil. However, someone’s turned up the heat over in Italy to a degree that Bettinsoli don’t seem to be able to stop introducing new shotguns. Christened the X range, its getting to the stage where there’ll be an X for every conceivable shooting scenario, plus a shotgun to do something that you’d never thought of. This all means from the shooter’s point of view that, no matter what they shoot, there’s now an ‘X’ for the job.
Designed for Italian trap, it’s worth taking a moment to explain that over in sunny Italy the term ‘trap’ tends not always to mean Down the Line. But whilst DTL is the mainstay of UK trap shooting, the Italians prefer their going away clays to be a little faster, Olympic Trap, ABT and Double Rise all incredibly quick in comparison to DTL. This means that Bettinsoli’s X-8 Extra is the style of 12 bore that finds greater favour. More nimble than a trap gun UK shooters are familiar with, due to the speed of the targets, an Italian trap gun designed for Italian trap is faster in handling, whilst the balance is more akin to a Sporter. The reason being, when thrown from traps sunk below ground level and thrown at an increased speed, the bird doesn’t come into focus until it’s at least 30 yards out whilst the angles are far greater, making the target far less predictable. This all means that the gun has to be far quicker to react as it chases the target, the UK style trap gun invariably being too bulky, slow and cumbersome by comparison. And it’s for these reasons that a genuine Italian trap gun is incredibly accomplished as a Sporter, the X-8 Extra complete with high rib being one of the best examples of its type.
If you miss the bright orange case the X-8 Extra arrives in then you probably shouldn’t be let loose with a firearm, ‘fluorescent’ failing to describe it. Complete with substantial blue script, contained within is, of course, the gun along with a smaller but equally orange case containing the extended multi-chokes. These actually hint at the X-8’s true purpose, two Full, two ½ and one ¼, which means if you want an extra wide choke you’ll have to buy one.
The other noticeable feature of this new Bettinsoli is the quality of the walnut. The rich semi-oiled finish brings out the grain whilst enhancing the wide panels of fine checkering around the broad, palm swelled grip and trap-style Anson-latch forend. Complete with Bettinsoli’s familiar soft rubber recoil pad, where the X-8 Extra differs is that, whilst there is a fixed stock version, this X-8 comes complete with a fully adjustable comb, two adjustable posts and a supplied hex key part and parcel. Whilst I’m surprised there weren’t any in the case, my advice is, should you wish to raise the comb, once you’ve found the ideal position, drop a small stack of washers over each post to prevent movement and allow the comb placement to be replicated time and time again.
Allowing the shooter to fit the X-8 to their own exact requirements, this new stock along with the forend is tangible proof that, when it comes to their shotgun furniture, Bettinsoli have significantly upped their game. It also means that should it be needed, the comb can be reset if the shooter requires a height variation over the various disciplines.
Another first is the high rib, until now Bettinsoli having preserved a more traditional format for their shotguns. Monobloc construction the gloss black 30 inch tubes or 30½ inch with the chokes fitted swage into three inch chambers above which the 7-10mm tapering high rib begins its climb. Complete with a vented mid rib, the top rib sits 8mm above the top barrel supported by seven vented stanchions that carry the rib down to the muzzles and a long, squared high visibility bead.
The mechanical boxlock action remains Bettinsoli’s proven design and the basis for many an over/under shotgun from the region. Steel construction, the polished sides, base, fences, top tang and trigger-guard are variously decorated in detailed and well-defined light scroll with inlayed pairs of gold clays. Not a form of ornamentation I’m overly fond of, in the case of the X-8 it’s actually been quite tastefully executed.
Even the singleton on the top-lever isn’t bad. Interestingly, whilst the ornamentation has been kept relatively light around the action, the forend irons and latch feature far greater detailing to a level, it would have been nice if this design had been extended. This would have given the X-8 a far more prestigious, upmarket look, something this new Bettinsoli would definitely stand.
Dimensionally, the X-8 Extra is one of those 12 bores that just feels right the moment you hold it. In other words, the person who designed the X-8 understood the meaning of balance and a physicality that often eludes some of the more affordable shotguns. Whilst I’ve never shot a bad Bettinsoli, the X-8 Extra Trap instantly elevates this already established maker into the major leagues, every part of this new gun feeling right.
Weight-wise, the X-8 Extra Trap tips the scales at 8lbs 2oz with an overall length inclusive of the ½ inch choke extension of 47¾ inches and a point of balance two inches in front of the hinges. Fixed, the drop at heel is 2 1/32 inches, the comb at its lowest and the position that suited me was 1½ inches with a slight offset. Adjustment-wise, the comb can be raised to provide a minimum drop of 1 3/16 inches whilst the posts can be independently shifted 5mm to the left or right, some shooters finding an angled comb to their liking.
Non-adjustable apart from the addition of butt spacers, the factory length of pull to the 6lbs 4oz average breaking trigger is a comfortable 14 11/16 inches, the combination of factory dimensions resulting in a more than comfortable 12 bore to mount and swing. It’s the X-8 Extra’s movement that allows it to be so adaptable in respect of the targets it can be applied to.
With the opening of Bond & Bywater’s summer clay shoot, I was able to shoot both sporting and trap in one go. For the sporting birds the gun was choked ½ and ¼ changing to ½ and ½ for the trap. Both shot with 28g Eley VIP Sporting, for my own purposes, the stock position was ideal irrespective of the clays, the benefit being the Bettinsoli felt the same at all times.
With the weight evenly distributed between the hands and the high rib offering the much improved more upright, wider view of the world as a whole, the gun hit the targets it was aimed at with seemingly little or no effort. By virtue of the X-8’s trap underpinnings and core physicality, the swing is smooth and unhurried whilst the higher positioning of the head means the clays not only come into view earlier, they stay in view, the bright orange bead allowing the muzzles to drift up and onto the bird then pull cleanly away.
Likewise recoil, the gun’s format ensuring that what little recoil makes it back to the shoulder is nothing more than a gentle confirmation that the detonation process has actually taken place. Soft and smooth this new Bettinsoli in reality makes you feel like you’re on a go slow, so modest is the effort needed to make things happen. Break open the gun and the empties are thrown at the exact same time, the wide gape allowing for ease or reloading.