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- Last updated: 14/12/2016
From the moment the spotlights hit Benelli’s all new Vinci it instantly gained the name of the ‘Marmite Gun’ meaning you’ll either love it or hate it. Personally, I think it’s stunning in both concept and execution and although it mightn’t be the most beautiful semi-auto Benelli have ever built, the three-piece modular design is tangible proof that shotguns don’t all have to look, handle or be constructed the same. What you have to bring to the Vinci table is an open mind, a willingness to understand and the urge to both try and appreciate something new.
Open the Box
Benelli are as renowned for their gun cases as they are their guns and the Vinci’s new travelling case is no different. An extended sculpted oblong, the box opens diagonally revealing the receiver, stock, additional stock-head shims and sling swivels slot sits above the Crio multi-choke case, the Vinci accompanied by a full set of five of these proven flush-fit tubes. Next to these are located the receiver module and stock whilst unclipping the central divided reveals the combined barrel, 3” chamber and bolt housing of the gun.
Now unless someone’s on hand to show you, assembling the Vinci can at first seem confusing. Take my word for it, it isn’t and after a few goes you’ll have the Vinci taken down or ready for action in less than thirty seconds. Similarly, it only goes together and takes down in one way so there’s no chance of confusion or jamming any of the parts. Right, now pay attention and you and the Vinci will soon be up and running.
To start with take a firm grasp of the barrel-receiver in one hand with the stock in the other. The stock head has a white dot on it that must then be aligned with the end of the rib line that extends from the barrel itself. Push together and rotate the stock through 90 degrees in a clockwise direction. When the rib lines up with the triangular striations on the stock-head at the top of the semi pistol grip that’s it - stock, bolt housing and barrel are now fixed firmly together.
Next you first have to ensure the rotating mag cap is in the unlocked position by ensuring the white dot is visible through the small aperture that’s set back a quarter inch or so in the base of the integral fore-end. Next, with the stock and barrel placed vertically against a firm surface take hold of the receiver module and position it against the barrel/bolt housing about a ¼” above the stock head, the squared extension and two short springs lining up with a matching detent and two short pegs in the stock head.
By pushing the receiver module against the barrel then down towards the stock, the unit will then locate. Next, whilst holding the receiver in position rotate the mag cap through a sixth turn clockwise which will then allow the spring loaded securing button to pop up into the locked position. All you then need do is turn the Vinci upside down, depress the bolt-lock that’s located within the trigger-guard moulding and draw the bolt out of battery. To take the gun apart you simply reverse the process. I’ll warn you now that at first assembly is rather stiff, my experience of all Benellis being that they’re extremely tight when new. However, after discharging a few hundred rounds through them they usually relax just a fraction, the Vinci quickly becoming user friendly.
Sum of the Parts
Once constructed you’ll find you’ve got a semi-auto, inertia driven 12-bore that feels right from the off. Weighing a well balanced 6lbs 10oz, the gloss black 28”, free floating, chrome lined, steel proofed barrel is topped off with vented 5mm rib and red high visibility extended bead and flows into the integral bolt-housing. Inside, Benelli have continued the use of their well-proven chromed rotating bolt, the only bright work the Vinci carries, the bolt and action one of the slickest you’re currently likely to encounter. Employing what’s called the Vinci Inertia System, the bolt travels to and fro courtesy of a spring that sits above it, and is kept on track by a runner that’s positioned to the right of the bolt. Mechanically there’s nothing else like it and from the shooter’s point of view, it’s incredibly smooth in function and feel.
As you have seen prior to assembly, all lockwork and controls are fully exposed, a significant benefit when it comes to drying out and lubricating the gun after a wet weather outing. Similarly, it also emphasises what at heart is the simplicity of the Vinci’s concept and design, although the external lines of the receiver can take a little time to appreciate; the shape of the one piece mould is significantly different to anything that’s gone before, a slight visual heaviness more than apparent around what is technically the trigger-guard.
All that remains is the stock that incorporates Benelli’s ComforTech Plus recoil reduction system. Offering a drop at comb and heel of 13/8” and 2” with a standard length of pull set at 14¼” combined with a trigger pull weight of 6lbs 8oz, the gel chevron inserts, sculpted recoil pad and gel comb expand and contract dissipating the recoil in a sideways direction and away from the shooter’s shoulder. Comfortable to use when shooting the Vinci the end result is that the only physical evidence of the fact you’re shooting an inertia semi is the speed, the felt recoil being considerably less than many gas-valve driven shotguns.
If the stock dimensions don’t suit, you can opt to fit the full pistol-grip stock, replace the gel comb with higher versions and lengthen the unit by attaching one of the alternative, thicker recoil pads, something I’d personally do if this Vinci was mine. All that now remains is what the Vinci shoots like, all this designs and concept as nothing.
The Flip Side
This particular Vinci was a three shot although extension mag tubes can be had for five, seven and nine rounds - an option many gamekeepers will go for. Likewise, until you’ve got used to it the Vinci may just feel slightly unusual in its reactions within the hands and shoulder, the dynamics of the gun making it a little bit lively compared to what you maybe used to, whilst using the gun also highlights another of the Vinci’s firsts. The bolt release is unusual in that it rocks in either direction. However, depressing it when the gun is loaded allows the magazine to feed out the additional rounds without having to unload the gun or cycle the bolt, useful if you need to change shot or load size when out and about on vermin.
On the layouts the Vinci was first tested around a small fifty bird shoot using 28g Express World Cup fibres and ½ choke. The first sensation was that the Vinci bounced, the muzzle flip between shots being noticeable. The answer was to pull the gun tighter into the shoulder and take a slightly firmer hold of the heavily moulded fore-end and whilst the situation improved it wasn’t ideal. Next another hundred birds at Rishton SG, this time using Express Supremes and battling against the most inhospitable torrential rain.
Retaining the same muzzle restriction along with a slightly modified shooting style brought the Vinci immediately on the mark delivering maximum scores stand after stand. Likewise, once you’ve become accustomed to the lively muzzle, recovery for the next shot becomes far quicker. In every aspect the Vinci is quick and easy to use, all the external controls falling within fingertip reach when the gun is mounted. After only a matter of minutes you’ll enjoy full familiarity when using this gun.
Where the Vinci really impressed was it’s resilience to the weather, my regular shooting companions electing to leave their own guns back in the car and use the Vinci, a convenient reason to try the gun for themselves if every there was one. This meant that besides over a hundred rounds passing through the gun the previous day, along with no – birds and extras at least another four hundred shells were destined for the gun allied to conditions that would highlight any short potential comings. The end result was that even with water pouring from the muzzle and a whole host of mixed quality and varying load size ammunition slammed into the chamber, the Vinci never missed a beat. To describe the gun’s performance as impressive would be an understatement, the Vinci’s ability to function under duress testament to Benelli’s durability and proven reliability.
Case for the Defence
Until you’ve tried a Vinci for yourself it’s possible to understand the reasons for hesitance. Apart from the fact its one of the best all-round Benellis you’ll shoot, the looks and technology are undeniably different. However, once you’ve become fully acquainted with the gun you’ll soon be able to appreciate the almost unequalled advantages of the new Vinci system. As I commented, the second day of testing subjected the Vinci to unrelenting torrential rain, water pouring into and out of the gun for at least two hours. Any shotgun that’ll tolerate that, fire over four hundred rounds and never once fail to function irrespective of the ammunition and yet take no more than five minutes to strip, dry, lubricate and reassemble into pristine, unfailing condition is a winner in my book.
Yes, I’ll admit that unless you’re used to inertia recoil semi-autos, the Vinci like all Benellis will feel slightly unusual in how it reacts in the hands and at the shoulder. That said it should take no more than three or four stands of clays before you become fully conversant and start to appreciate the Vinci’s refinements, handling and considerable abilities. You’ll also very quickly realise why the Vinci, like all hardcore Benellis, will become a number one gamekeepers’ choice.
If black just isn’t your colour, why not add £165 to the base black version’s price and go for one of the two camo versions or perhaps Amazonia Green, Sequoia Brown or Dessert Dune. Let’s face it, what other gun could you use and abuse yet colour – key to your shooting wardrobe whilst still looking like you mean serious, stylish, cutting edge business? There’s only one and its Benelli’s Vinci.
PRICE: £1,500 srp