Shotgun Review: Beretta A300 Outlander

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When people ask me what all-around shotgun they should buy I like to recommend an affordable semiauto* that won’t give them problems. Until recently, that gun was the Beretta 3901, a U.S. made version of the venerable Beretta 390 that sold for $645.

I bought one for my kids to shoot and when Beretta announced that the 3901 would be replaced by the A300 for $100 more, my first thought was to wish I had bought a second, per the advice of Gene Hill in Field & Stream years ago: “When someone makes something you like, buy two because they will either discontinue it or change it.”

It turns out Beretta has replaced the 3901 with a gun I really like, and, at a list of $725 it still counts as “affordable” when measured against top-of-line semiautos costing twice as much.

The A300 is a redesigned 391 made in Beretta’s Maryland factory. It is lighter and sleeker than the bulky 3901. It has a new piston and exhaust valve assembly that makes it easy to clean. I received my test gun a few weeks ago and have shot pheasants and geese with it. It handles well and feels lighter than its 7-1/4 pound weight. As long as you feed it loads of 1 ounce and above it will cycle every 2-3/4 and 3-inch shell you put in it. Like all Beretta’s semiautos, it does not reduce recoil as much as, say, an 1100 or a Browning/Winchster gas gun, but it takes some of the sting out of heavy loads. It comes with a recoil pad and, on the synthetic version, a removable stock spacer that allows for easy length alteration.

The safety is at the front of the trigger guard, and the safety itself is redesigned. It requires a tiny allen wrench to reverse it to left-handed but the operation took me five minutes.

The A300 comes in 12 gauge, 3-inch with a 28 inch barrel and the old-style Beretta Mobilchokes. You can get it in black synthetic for $725 or walnut or camo for $825. As long as you can deal with a safety in front of the trigger – and I am coming to prefer that design – this is a great choice for an all around shotgun.

*I know you can buy an 870 or a Model 500 for less, but if you get interested in target shooting, you will wish for a semiauto.