Bettinsoli X Trail Game (Evo)
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- Last updated: 25/10/2017
The noted Italian gun-maker Bettinsoli, hailing from the traditional gun-making region north of Brescia, have earned a reputation for solid no nonsense shotguns. The Bettinsoli range sits very nicely in the mid-priced range, where youngsters just starting, newcomers or second gun shooters look for a gun. It’s tricky to get it right at this level, as competition is tough but the Bettinsoli shotguns have a good overall range, calibre styles and workmanship, which keep them stocked on gunsmith’s shelves.
The X Trail model is your typical over and under shotgun that is available as this small calibre version, or also as a Sporter in sliver or case hardened finished action and even a 3.5-inch chambered version with camo cladding for wildfowl. All have a single trigger, manual safety catch and are proofed for steel shot.
Here is the X Trail Evo, which is the Game version and is chambered in 28-gauge, one of my favourites and is a very pretty, light-handling little shotgun with a lot of uses.
The silvered action finish, in comparison to the earlier colour case hardened finish, is more traditional I guess and is highly polished. You have a slim but not low-profiled action that has some nice scalloped detail around the edges with machine cut engraving to all faces, tastefully done and enhanced by some gold inlaid game, flighting Pheasants to the left face and landing ducks to the right and a woodcock on the base.
It follows the typical Bettinsoli form, with twin screwed-in stud pins that allow the barrels to swivel on these pins and can be replace when worn. The rear, full-length cross bolt locks on closure to engage the barrels and form a very sturdy union between barrels and action. The top lever is chequered to both sides and has a small amount of engraving and sits well to the right, so plenty of tight locking for years to come. The manual safety sits below this and is blacked not polished with a raised square ‘dome’. Rearward is the safe position and right position to fire the bottom barrel first and left for the top. Coil springs are used throughout and form a reliable and positive action and ejection system. Fit and finish is surprisingly good, which is certainly a product of the modern CNC machined nature of these new Bettinsoli shotguns. The trigger is a single affair, as you would expect and is quite large with a slim, smooth, polished trigger blade that is gold plated. It is quite heavy to pull at 5.35lbs on test but in the field, as with most shotguns, you do not really notice it as you would a rifle’s trigger.
The barrels are typically Monobloc in construction with well-machined lumps and precise cut-outs for the swivel studs and locking cross bar to engage. This all adds up to a really tight, solid feel, so plenty of life to be had in this shotgun. The lumps are also nicely jewelled, which is a good touch on a gun in this price range; the similarly jewelled coil-sprung ejector spurs eject cases positively.
Equally good is the bluing applied to the barrels, it is very even, deep and has a good blacked finish. This 28-gauge has 27.5-inch barrel lengths, wellproportioned to the cartridge it was shooting and chambered for 3-inch shells. You have a solid mid rib for jointing and a thin 6mm top rib. This is also well knurled to stop reflections and has a single silver bead at the muzzle. The barrels are steel shot proofed and bare the fleur de lis proof mark, so peace of mind for flighting game on the foreshore or inland over water.
The multi-chokes are the flush fitting type, with five supplied as standard and are quite short at 42mm, but when coupled to the relatively tight bored barrels, throw decent patterns- see field test. However, with certain loadings the difference between a full and ½ choke is quite marked, so do your homework first and test patterns on a few boards. That goes for all shotguns.
No surprises here, as the game status of this model means it has a has nicely rounded, full forend that looks elegant, at the same time allowing a varied and good hold. It feels full in the grip that is also aided by some well executed laser cut chequering that wraps around the sides and base. The locking lever is also engraved with traditional scrolls and just adds that bit of interest and matches the action engraving.
The rear stock has a length of pull of 14.75-inches, so good for all manner of statures. The walnut is pretty plain and light in colour but at this price point that’s where the compromise comes. It is however a good fit with a reasonably low comb and slight cast to the right and a small palm swell to the pistol grip, which I like, as it positions the hand naturally and consistently. You also have an extra piece of chequering where the thumb lies on the stock, not necessary but a nice touch. The black recoil pad is 20mm thick and suitably profiled to allow a speedy shouldering and then grip.
I set up the pattern boards at 30-yards and used the full choke.
This is available in 70mm only with a gram weight range of 21-grams tested, although 24- or 28-grams are available. I had the No. 7 shot size with a plastic wad and a velocity of 1400fps.
I had a total of 192 pellets strike the board, with a good, even spread of shot. There were 133 pellets to the outer 30-inches and 59 pellets within the inner 15-inches. A nice patterning, solid load this one.
This round is a 2¾-inch plastic case that uses a plastic wad and the payload is 24-grams of No. 7.5 shot. With the full choke, I had a total of 260 pellet strikes at 30-yards, a veritable hailstorm of lead!
An evenly spread 153 pellets to the outer regions and 107 pellets within the inner sector; a superb load this one and excellent patterns from the Bettinsoli.
This is a hard-hitting load and I had the No. 5 shot 23-gram load that used a fibre wad, although other shot sizes are available.
It shot a total of 138 pellets on full choke and had a bias low left, repeated, it did the same but on ½ choke a more even spread. On full, I had 138 strikes, 95 in the outer portion and 43 pellets into the inner 15-inches.
This 16-gram load is available in fibre and a 67mm case length and No. 6 shot.
These 16-gram light loads shot a total of 140 pellet with a spread of 81 outer and 59 pellet strikes inner. Again, this had a bias the other way, top right, so just shows certain barrels like certain loads and is worth patterning all your intended shot weights and sizes with differing chokes.
Within this sub-£1000 price mark the Bettinsoli range represents good value for money and have a good reputation too. They are better made than some of their competitors and if you just get out and use them you will be very happy with it. I liked this small 28-gauge X Trail version as it felt wellproportioned compared to its bigger 12-gauge brother, which I will be testing next.
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