Made: 1993-2003; barrel/receiver in Gardone, Italy; stock, receiver and assembly in Vitoria, Spain
Variants: ES 100, Pintail, and Vitoria. Benelli relatives: Model 121; SL 80; Montefeltro (parts interchangeable); Black Eagle and Super Black Eagle. Franchi 712 IS
Original price: $475-$500 ; $1,100 in the UK
Current value: Up to $1,000 in Canada
The Beretta 12-gauge is the last firearm my father-in-law ever bought. While he “liked a good chunk of wood,” this was his only gun with a synthetic stock. I didn’t understand why until after I inherited it. Since then, I have shot my first turkey, numerous ducks and geese, and 16 deer with it. Now my “go to” foul-weather shotgun, the Pintail is versatile, reliable, fast, and accurate.
The unique design
Despite this, I have taken it apart more than any other gun. With its one-piece barrel/receiver design, the breech bolt assembly needs to be partially dismantled, removed, and re-assembled every time the barrels are changed. Likewise, since the contours for the 28-inch ventilated rib and the 24-inch rifled barrels are different, separate forends are provided.
The Pintail is inertia-driven, not gas like most Beretta semi-autos. When fired, the breech bolt assembly moves backwards, but not the barrel, like Browning’s Auto 5. Afterwards a connecting rod at the back of the breech bolt compresses a recoil spring in the stock. As a result, this forces the assembly forward, lifting the carrier and feeding a new shell into the chamber.
Today, Beretta is renowned for its side-by-side, over-and-under, and semi-auto shotguns; hunting rifles; military firearms; revolvers, and semi-auto pistols. Beretta Holding also owns: Beretta USA (1977), Benelli (1983), Sako and Tika (1989), Franchi (1993), Stoeger (2000) Umberto (2000) and Burris Optics. Stoeger Canada distributes them.
Regardless of this lineage, the Pintail’s inertia system is pure Benelli. Benelli Armi SpA was founded in 1967. It quickly adopted Bruno Civolani’s patented inertia-driven mechanism for their semi-automatic shotguns series: the Model 121, Montefeltro, and Black Eagle. Its use on the Pintail has prompted some fans to call it a “Berelli”!
As I write this, my 10-week-old yellow Lab, Willow, nips at my feet. Perhaps it’s time to get her and my Pintail ready for rainy “duck days” this fall…
Ken Doherty is a retired teacher, curator, writer, and a long-time resident of Peterborough. He enjoys collecting, target shooting, and hunting with vintage firearms. Contact Ken at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published in the July 2022 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine.