Beretta 486 Parallelo
- By Pete Moore
- 4 Comments
- Last updated: 19/01/2017
Think of side-by-sides and it’s a safe bet that a whole host of manufacturer’s names will come to mind. The one that to a degree is least likely to roll off the tongue is Beretta, the Italian giant best known for over-unders and single barrelled shotguns.
Now they have a new s-b-s – the Model 486 - referred to as the ‘Parallelo’ due to the fact that the barrels are side-by-side. The long serving Beretta 471 Silver Hawk s-b-s has been withdrawn into what could be described as overdue retirement, not in many ways a bad thing given the awkwardness of the stock and the fact most people had never actually heard of it. However, whilst Beretta’s traditional shotgun format has found a degree of favour elsewhere, here in the UK at least, the 486 should ﬁnd greater acceptance given that it’s essentially a far nicer 12-bore to look at, handle and shoot.
Case In Point
Fortuitously, Beretta has elected to supply the 486 in a brown travelling case with a red velvet lining with all the usual compartments. Thing is that since the 486 only comes with two ﬂush-ﬁt Mobil choke tubes Beretta have seen ﬁt not to include a choke key although most other manufacturer’s keys will ﬁt. You also get two sling swivels, which of course hint at how the rest of Europe will view and carry the gun. However, Beretta’s ability to not include things aside, what you do ﬁnd within the case is a side-by-side of elegant proportions and reﬁned looks both of which elevate the 486 over the model it replaces.
The walnut of both the traditionally proportioned and proﬁled game stock and splinter forend are well grained, the richness of the walnut enhanced by the oiled ﬁnish. Curiously, the checkered walnut buttplate is of the disguised variety but for whatever reason it isn’t as disguised as it should or could be. Usually produced from the same walnut blank as the stock, the one on the tester wasn’t, which meant the plate became rather obvious.
The narrow straight grip is complimented by two extended panels of ﬁne checkering whilst the slender proﬁle ensures the 486 remains ﬂuid in handling, only the stock head widening out to accommodate the ﬁtment of the action, deﬁned scallops adding pleasing visual detail. Carrying the same ﬁne checkering as the grip the Anson pushrod latch splinter forend is further enhanced by ﬁne ﬂoral engraving around the irons and rod with an inlaid diamond shaped escutcheon allowing for the owner to engrave their initials should they so wish.
All In One
The demi-block boxlock action, like the top and bottom tangs, fences, trigger-guard, top-lever and all other surfaces, is profusely decorated with ﬂoral engraving, although it was rather disappointing to ﬁnd that the screw heads on the long bottom tang were not in line. Best described as a rounded action, which in turn adds to the gun’s aesthetics, internal lockwork has been based around a proven design the main difference being that the trigger is powered by V-springs. More usually associated with performance competition shotguns; these springs give the 486 excellent reaction times allowing the shooter to discharge the second barrel far quicker than usual. One feature I personally would have disengaged is the auto safety. one reason being that on the 486 as tested it was overly stiff to operate to a degree it became irritating.
Employing the latest technology to achieve a modern take on an older design, the barrel tubes, 3” chambers and barrel ﬂats are struck as one. Referred to as Triblock Technology, this means the usual monobloc weld lines don’t exist, only the lower and 7-4mm concaved top ribs joining the two gloss black barrels together. And whilst the lumps are carefully afﬁxed between the chambers it’s only the slight ﬂair around the muzzles indicating that the 486 is of a multi-choke design.
Even before the 486 was hooked up to the Arrow Laser Shot the attitude of the gun was that of a ﬂat shooter. Unusual, given most side-by-sides are set to shoot slightly high so as to dial in some additional lead on driven birds. However, ﬂat it was and is as the laser conﬁrmed, the view from the stock being nothing more than the bead sat in the concaved rib and to my mind, the ideal physicality for a walked-up shotgun or those new to shooting side-by-sides.
Physically the 486 weighs an exact 7lbs with an overall length of 45¼” although this will extend slightly if the optional 30” barrels are ﬁtted. Drops at comb and heel are 11 5/32” and 2 9/16” with a 14 5/8” length of pull whilst the V-spring driven trigger provides an unfailing 5lbs 1oz release weight, the whole gun balancing perfectly beneath the barrel pivot point. This means the 486 balances perfectly between the hands with no bias either way, the gun moving when and where required with what at times seems to be next to no effort.
Far from the 486’s intended targets, a round of sporting clays was the ﬁrst outing complete with a couple of boxes of Eley’s 28 gram ﬁbrewad VIP Sporting. Usually one of the more demanding styles of shotgun with which to shoot clays, the 486 was breaking them from the off, the gun’s general attitude and shooting where you’re looking attributes meaning the fact the barrels were side-by-side was an irrelevance. If I had to pass an initial comment it would be that until you make a conscious effort to slow down your swing the 486 will be on and through the target before you’ve realised, the gun’s ability to react nigh on quicker than the shooter’s, felt recoil is almost imperceptible.
Even when the loads were ramped up to 36g Eley VIP Game, a load more suited to the 486, an evening’s stroll around a few ﬁelds the 486 absorbed whatever increase in recoil there might have been whilst the gun’s ability to take on a rapidly climbing pheasant and a ‘running’ rabbit as both animals made a dash for it was impressive, both falling to a single barrel, the gun’s ability to switch between targets in a split second conﬁrmation of the gun’s abilities. Similarly, by virtue of the fact you can turn off the ejectors and switch them to extractors and the fact barrel order is changed on the safety, almost everything about the 486 shouts “walked-up”, the 486 light enough and more than fast enough for early season grouse over dogs.
Besides the fact the 486 will appeal to existing side-by-side owners looking to either change to a new, modern gun or add to their Beretta collection, this 12-bore is also to my mind a model that would be a good introduction to this barrel format for those brought up on over-unders. The weight, handling, balance and ﬂat shooting attitude means the transition won’t take long given how the 486 feels and shoots.
Granted I can’t see the wisdom in Beretta having given the 486 a straight stock when a semi-pistol grip of ‘Prince of Wales’ style stock would have been far more inkeeping with the single trigger format especially since a double-trigger option doesn’t appear to exist. But apart from that, as a driven game gun or better still a walked-up, boundary beating shotgun, the 486 is an ideal partner. Similarly, with 3” chambers the usefulness of this gun means that besides the usual pheasant and partridge, the fact the 486 is equally at home with heavier, non-toxic loads means duck and geese form part of this Beretta’s remit, something denied to many a lightweight side-by-side.
For myself, since I’ve always preferred end of season days shot over dogs along with a later evening stroll around the hedges or trying to pick off a couple of snipe, the 486 would for me be a natural choice. The only other thing I’d ask of Beretta is that for £3,800 it would be nice if a couple more choke tubes were included in the deal along with a choke key and pay some attention to adjusting the auto safety or offering a manual option. Yes you can opt for 30” barrels and an American-style wide Beaver-style forend but whilst the longer tubes are considered more fashionable, it’s the shorter 28” barrels that contribute to the handling qualities of the 486 as tested.
All in all Beretta’s 486 is from my own perspective a considerable advancement of what went before. And whilst there’s nothing inherently radical or outstanding about the 486 what it does represent is a modern side-by-side that embodies all the traditional qualities at a price that should prove more than tempting for a new generation of side-by-side shooters. GM
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