If this sounds a bit familiar, you may recall that I wrote a blog post called “Me and My Benelli” a couple of years ago. There I go again . . . falling in love with another Italian shotgun. Embracing my Italian roots (I am of 100% Italian ancestry), I have long been drawn to these wonderful shotguns. My 12-gauge Ultra Light Benelli has been a wonderful gun and is serving me well with its versatility. I love it for hunting turkeys, ducks, doves, and clay shooting with its semiautomatic action. The fact that it weighs less than 6 pounds is a great advantage in every situation. However, there are many occasions where having a gun with a break-open action is preferred. I have attended events where you are required to have a gun with a break-open action for safety reasons on and off the field. If the action is open, there is no possibility of a shell being fired unintentionally.
After much research, I started focusing on the Silver Pigeon V over-and-under 20-gauge shotgun. You might think I was gaga over the gorgeous walnut oil-finished stock and its hand-inlaid gold game scenes on the sides of the action. Or, maybe it was the oval on the stock where I can put my initials or family crest that turned my head. Yes, those Italian gunmakers know how to make you swoon! OK, the sheer beauty of Beretta may have had a thing or two to do with it, but I honestly think that I was drawn to this shotgun, as I believe it will be a gun that will satisfy my quest for quality and durability. This gun will surely be one that I pass down to the next generation of hunters in my family. I am thrilled that my daughter Caroline loves to shoot clays, and I also have three granddaughters who, although very small, share my love for anything relating to hunting, especially wearing camouflage clothes.
Being a member of Back Woods Quail Club, I have had the pleasure of taking some clay shooting lessons from Ken Podraza of 2XL Shooting Sports. I was excited to learn that Ken now offers shotgun fittings and stock modifications, so I was quick to give him a call to help me get my gun fitted. Ken is certainly a perfectionist, and I learned so much from him about my new gun.
“As a shooting instructor and shotgun fitter, I see many people interested in finding that perfect shotgun. A shotgun should feel balanced, swing smoothly to the target, and have the shooter’s eye aligned down the rib of the barrel when the shotgun is mounted to the shoulder and face. Most of us shotgunners quickly realize that the first shotgun purchased will not be the last. Maggie is a great example of this situation. Starting with a Benelli semiautomatic shotgun followed by purchasing a Beretta over-and-under is a common progression, many times associated with moving from a focus of hunting to one of competitive clay target shooting.”
Ken further explained that one benefit of a semiautomatic shotgun is reduced felt recoil, due to some of the force caused by firing the shotshell being used to eject the spent hull and insert a new shell. An over-and-under shotgun does not utilize energy to cycle shells and, as a result, produces more felt recoil. The benefit of an over-and-under shotgun is less maintenance than a semiautomatic shotgun, since the over-and-under has fewer moving parts. Also, the over-and-under shotgun, having two barrels, can utilize two different choke tubes while the semiautomatic shotgun has only one barrel, and thus one choke tube. Multiple choke tubes can be a benefit in competition when the two clay targets are presented at significantly different distances.
“Ultimately, whatever shotgun you shoot, the amount of engraving, beauty of the wood, or its overall cost does not influence how well it shoots; it’s all about the expertise of the shooter. So shoot the shotgun that seems best for you right now. Perfect your shooting process, with lessons and practice, and enjoy shooting,” Ken emphasized.
So, with the help of my friends at Back Woods Quail Club, David, William, and Ken, I was able to actually try out this very gun before making such a big decision. We went out to the range ready to see if it was a match. “Pull!” I yelled. As my eyes met the target, this gun felt like it belonged in my arms as I pulled it close and squeezed the trigger. Yes, I was in love! Since my birthday falls on Christmas, my husband thought it would be a perfect gift as we both agreed it was the right gun for me.
Now that deer season is officially over, I can turn my attention fully to birds! We have a short January season for dove hunting here in South Carolina, and duck and quail are in full swing. This will carry me over until March, when turkey season starts. What’s not to love? Of course, I will find myself at the shooting range as much as possible to make sure that I get in a lot of practice with my new 20-gauge. Since it is a brand new gun, the break is very tight and will require a lot of shooting to get it just right. I guess you can figure out that I will be at the shooting range as often as I can!
As written for Waccamaw Outdoor Magazine- January 2018 Issue