Perfect Autoloaders for Upland Game

Beretta AL391 Tekny’s Gold. Like all Berettas, it is fairly light at 7 pounds in 12 gauge.

Beretta AL391 Tekny’s Gold. Like all Berettas, it is fairly light at 7 pounds in 12 gauge.

The Benelli Ultra Light is indeed very light, but it is a few ounces heavier than the Franchi. The Franchi has excellent balance combined with feathery weight. A typical Franchi 48AL 20-gauge (the earlier model without screw-in chokes) with 26-inch ventilated rib barrel weighs 5 pounds, 4 ounces. With shorter barrel (Franchi made 24-inch barrels) it would weigh-in at the advertised 5 pounds 2 ounces. Today’s guns, because of the screw-in chokes, tend to weigh a few ounces more, although they are still feathery. The Benelli Ultra Light 20 gauge with 24-inch barrel averages around 5 pounds, 6 ounces, which is 4 ounces more than the advertised 5 pounds, 2 ounces. Perhaps Benelli’s advertising claims are a bit overly optimistic. Still, at less than 5-1/2 pounds, it is plenty light!

In 28 gauge, there is the Remington 1100 and the Franchi 48AL. The Remington tends to be heavier, but it still makes for an excellent upland gun, as does the discontinued Remington, 11-48 which is lighter than the 1100. The Franchi is one of the lightest 28 gauge autoloaders on the market today. It is built on the 20 gauge receiver and weighs about the same as the 20. It’s a wonderful upland gun with an average weight of around 5-1/2 pounds. There’s also the now-defunct Charles Daly import, a gas-operated gun that appears to be pretty good, but the gun has not been around long enough to provide adequate assessment.

Smith & Wesson’s Model 1000 looks a lot like the Remington 1100 but is considerably lighter. At around 7 pounds in 12 gauge, it made for an excellent upland autoloader. The 20 gauge model weighed around 6-1/4 pounds. It is discontinued.

Smith & Wesson’s Model 1000 looks a lot like the Remington 1100 but is considerably lighter. At around 7 pounds in 12 gauge, it made for an excellent upland autoloader. The 20 gauge model weighed around 6-1/4 pounds. It is discontinued.

The latest addition in 28 gauge comes from Benelli. It is a scaled-receiver Legacy Model that weighs 5 pounds. There haven’t been enough of these Benellis in the field yet for them to have built a reputation. They seem to be great little autoloaders, but they are pricey. Benelli would have been better served putting out a Montefeltro or M2 model in 28 gauge rather than the more expensive, engraved Legacy model.

There are those who use the .410 on upland game. However, it should be confined to use on the smaller game birds such as quail and dove and not the larger birds. I know, many a game farm pheasant has been shot with a .410, but a game farm bird is a totally different animal from the tough wild ringneck. Also, shots should be kept to closer distances. For most gunners, 30 yards would be about the maximum distance that they should attempt to use the .410. There just aren’t enough shot pellets in the skinny little hull.

When it comes to the .410 autoloader, there is currently only the Remington 1100. It makes for a fine skeet gun as well as small bird shotgun, although it is a bit hefty at over 6-1/2 pounds. The older Model 11-48 is about a half a pound lighter but is extremely scarce on the used-gun market.

There are a number of inexpensive double guns on the market today that cost less than the pricier autoloaders. But as the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” The inexpensive doubles may very well be durable, but you can rest assured that they will more than likely be crudely finished or with a lot of glitz to cover up poor workmanship. Balance and handling qualities will not be something you will find in these cheaper doubles. It is far better to spend your money on a quality autoloader than on an inexpensive double gun.

This article appeared in the 2012 Edition of the Gun Digest book.


Recommended books and DVDs for gun owners:

Gun Digest 2012, 66th EditionGun Digest 2012, The World’s Greatest Gun Book, 66th Edition - New!

Gun Digest 1944-2009 3-DVD Set

2012 Standard Catalog of Firearms

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