Bourjaily: Update on My Beretta A400

Beretta's A400 semiautos - which I saw in Italy earlier this fall -- are trickling into the country. I have one and have been putting it to good use. Thus far, I like almost everything about the A400. Through a flat of target loads and an assortment of hunting loads, it has worked almost perfectly. Its one failure to fire came on the second shot of skeet doubles. I was using 2 ¾ dram, 1 1/8 ounce target loads, and the second round chambered but the bolt didn't close 100% of the way and the gun went "click." I think the loads were a little light for this 3 ½ inch gun, although it may eventually cycle them with complete reliability after I shoot it more.

Starting from a low gun I shot 24x25 at skeet the first time I tried it. I blew my straight by choking on high six (Idiot!) proving that, for me, the A400 fits, points and swings well, and re-proving that no gun, not even the latest, greatest high tech wonder, can break targets you are determined to miss.

The Kick-Off recoil reducer does take a lot of the bite out of heavy loads. I've been shooting 1 3/8 ounces of HeviShot at 1450 fps in the field. Normally in a gun this light (7 pounds for mine, not the 6.6 pounds Beretta lists) would rattle my teeth with such heavy loads, but recoil is remarkably light with hunting and target ammo.

Just a few days ago I got to abuse the A400, laying out in a cornfield for ducks and geese in the early stages of a blizzard. At one point my friend Mike looked over to my blind where I was taking the gun apart to clear the barrel. "You've got duck blood all over your pants and snow in your barrel," he said in a way that suggested life doesn't get any better. Back home, the A400 cleaned up with ease. It's very convenient having the action spring on the magazine tube where you can get at it without removing the stock.

So far the A400 seems to be a heck of a gun but, of course, for $1600, it ought to be.