Bourjaily Reviews the Benelli Legacy

Benelli claims the Legacy to be the lightest semiauto on the market, with the website listing it at 4.9 pounds. The Legacy saves weight with a carbon fiber rib and shortened magazine tube. My scale pegs the 26-inch barreled version I've been shooting at 5 pounds even. That is one light shotgun, perfect for carrying one-handed through the brush for woodcock or quail. On the whole, I like the Legacy. What surprised me is how easy it is to shoot. Light guns don't swing themselves - you have to consciously put the muzzle where it needs to go without strangling the gun. It took me a shot or two on the skeet field to remember how to do that, and once I did, the UltraLight was a pleasure and I had no trouble hitting with it. There's not much recoil to a 28 to begin with, and the inertia action dampens it - not as much as a gas action does -- but enough so you scarcely feel the gun go off.

This one functioned perfectly through several rounds of skeet. In true Benelli fashion It cycled quickly, too: in the picture you can see the empty hasn't fallen far and the bolt is already closed on the next round.* In the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you that I or one of my shooting partners unknowingly put a crack in the forearm which I think says more about me and the people I shoot with than it does about the Legacy's durability.

The engraving on the silver receiver is attractive enough although I could do without the enhanced-grain wood. Actually, I'd like the Legacy even more than I already do if it were finished plainly - and cost a few hundred dollars less - like the 12 and 20 gauge UltraLights, which I adore. As it is, the lightest semiautomatic shotgun on the market lists for $1,985, and my guess is, even at that price, a lot of bird hunters won't be able to resist it.

*I have circled the empty in tribute to the gun magazines I read years ago, in which falling empties in fuzzy black and white pictures were always circled. Remember that?