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Beretta 1301 Competition

Beretta 1301 Competition

Beretta’s semiautos never seem to die; they just get better! I know plenty of friends with old 301 and 303s that are still beating strongly.

The new generation of semi-automatics have to deal with a lot of new loads, including steel, light and heavy loads alike and so Beretta’s Blink system gas operation is a welcome addition. This Practically styled and appointed 1301 is designed for Competition use primarily but has some real practical uses for vermin controllers too. Its short, light and high-capacity FAC 9 plus one capacity 12g magazine is very handy. You also have a high rib and synthetic stock with extended bolt handle and bolt release/mag stop for speedy operation. At £1165 you have yourself all the shotgun you need, except a set of chokes, as only ½ is furnished.


I do like semis, and pumps too, for that matter, and the shorter length and light weight of this 1301 is really handy for my purposes of vermin control. First up, is the stock that stands out for a couple of reasons. One, it’s bloody short! At 13.25-inches, it is designed for use around barricades and Practical Shotgun ranges for manoeuvrability. It’s handy too from a 4x4, or whilst nestled in a barn amongst the bales but Beretta’s recoil pad system allows easy length of pull options. I trialled the 1301 as it came but soon put the extension pieces between stock and recoil pad, which gave me 14.75-inches, much better.

The other thing you notice is the really unusual ‘chequering’, which is quite frankly sharp but in a good way. It wraps around the pistol grip at the front and really does grip the hand and or glove in all weathers. The forend too has longer versions of the same and so the 1301 can be very securely handled in any position and controlled under recoil with stiff loads and in rapid succession. Overall, the stock is a tough polymer moulded design and is light and quite hollow in the butt section and has a moulded in black semi/crinkle finish.

The comb is low and slopes rearward, allowing the eye to settle naturally and fast along the rib. For me, the cast was set perfect, but Beretta have the adjustable system, where inserts are placed between the stock and the action to angle and alter the cast to suit your stature.

The forend is long at 13-inches and has a distinct lower bulged section to cup the palm, with that sharp chequering in three long panels. Above this, is a long finger groove and at the tip are four vents to allow gases to escape.


Beretta use high tensile strength steel for their barrels and they are tough, inside and out, with their own proprietary alloy context. The length of the barrel, at 24-inches, instantly catches the eye and it actually does not look too short and suits the Competition stance with its extended mag. You have a smooth satin black finish and it’s marked for 3-inch shells and proudly stamped ‘Made in Italy’.

You have the usual Beretta Optima choke system, with its long choke tube for better patterns and less pellet distortion but you only get one with the 1301, ½ or modified. That’s fine to me, as that’s the most useful choke for field use at normal ranges and for practical too it’s ideal. I also like the extra high rib that is 10mm high of the barrel and gives that great, elevated, instantly trackable and point perfect target acquisition. It is vented with six large holes of equal size and the rib width is 10mm with a silver bead at 10-inches, and then at the muzzle, a red Day-Glo sight. If you want a scope or red dot, then the action is drilled and tapped but no mounts are included.

The barrel is ported, as this is a gas-operated system, and thus allows the pressure from the ignited gases to force a floating metal seal onto a metal piston, to drive the action bars rearward to cycle the action. It is very fast, reliable and easily cleaned.

Action trigger and safety
The action still has that typical Beretta deep girth and rounded back and is machined from solid alloy billet and finished with a black anodising.

The trigger is a smooth, polished steel unit and reasonably hooked in a large trigger guard for ease of access. It broke at 3.45lbs; so, a good weight for a shotgun. In front of the trigger guard, is the push through safety button; this is a round topped triangle shape and is easily operated with the finger.

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The bolt has a separate rotating head with a single claw extractor and has a blued finish. The bolt head locates into the barrel abutments with two large lugs for a positive lock up and ejection is via a spur in the inside wall of the action. In keeping with the Competition theme, the bolt handle is extended to 1.5-inches and has six grooved rings of increasing size, with a hollow centre to aid in grip. It does very well too.

Also, of difference is the loading system. Here, you have a polished steel, extended, vented load ramp and mag block insert tab, so that you can load the chamber as it locks the bolt back and will drop a round into the load ramp. The access to the ramp is enlarged for easy, snag-free loading too.

You also have an extended side button that is 40mm long and has an oblong profile that pivots left and right on a stud; when pushed right, it will release a locked bolt. Operating it left or rear drops a round from the mag onto the follower each time it is pushed, which is handy for emptying the mag with the loading ramp/carrier held down

Finally, being an FAC only option shotgun, and therefore section 1, you have an extended mag fitted, although a smaller mag or end cap and mag restrictor plug is included. With the polymer extended magazine, which is free floated, i.e. no attachments to the barrel, the capacity is increased to nine rounds with one in the chamber: so, a full complement of 10, that’s some serious fire power!

Field test

I shot some patterns with the ½ choke and then fitted the new A -Tec A12 shotgun sound moderator via the Optima choke adaptor for some squirrel dray shooting.

Eley Alphamax BB is a heavy load that I tend to have a few of in the pocket in case old Charlie pops out, unexpectedly. It holds 36-grams of BB shot and as expected functioned perfectly in the 1301. Recoil was surprisingly light despite being a light gun, although muzzle blast from the shorter barrel is noticeable.

I had a total of 43 pellet strikes at 30-yards, with 32 pellets in the outer sectors and 11 within the 15-inches inner circle. A tad sparse but a nice even pattern none the less.

Eley Grand Prix HV seems to be picked by me more and more these days, it’s probably because I used it in my teens with paper cases on my uncle’s farm in Kent. These loads have plastic cases and HV loads and so have 32-grams of No. 6 pellets. I had a really good pattern with this load, with a total of 173 pellet strikes. You had a really even spread, with 61 inner strikes and no holes and 112 pellet hits in the outer regions for any fringe hits.

Because I wanted to do some vermin and squirrel dray shooting, I chose some Eley Hushpower loads. These are subsonic velocity and would be great when I fitted the A12 sound moderator.

First up, and as with most semis, the 1301 would not cycle the subs; shame but it was nearly there, so maybe a little fettling? However, patterns were nothing short of outstanding, look at those pattern boards. A really dense pattern and even and high pellet count too. This load uses 28-grams of No. 7.5 shot and I had a total of 304 Pellets on target. Of these, there were 189 outer strikes and 115 inner strikes, nothing will escape that load!

I fitted the A12 moderator and boy was it quiet! A hollow ‘thong’ noise and excellent patterns still on target. We headed to the woods for some squirrel dray shooting from an invite from a professional gamekeeper Jesse Little. That 1301 was superb at flushing out tree rats from their lofty lairs and all executed quietly and efficiently with that Eley Hushpower load.


I liked the recent A300 test gun but this 1301 version, with its extra capacity and high rib and shorter length, really appeals as a vermin gun to me. It was totally reliable in the tests and threw some patterns that would embarrass high-end shotguns. The price is also good, and if you get over the slight practical look, it’s a good all-round keepers vermin tool in my book.

  • Beretta 1301 Competition - image {image:count}

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  • Beretta 1301 Competition - image {image:count}

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  • Beretta 1301 Competition - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Beretta 1301 Competition - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Beretta 1301 Competition - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge


  • Model: Beretta 1301 Competition
  • Calibre: 12-gauge
  • Type: Semi-automatic
  • Action: Gas piston
  • Length: 45.25-inches
  • Barrel length: 24-inches on test
  • Magazine: 9 plus 1
  • Chamber: 3-inch
  • Weight: 3.2kg
  • Stock: Synthetic
  • Chokes: Opti Multi choke, one supplied (½)
  • Price: £1165
  • Contact: GMK Ltd www.gmk.co.uk