By Jason Harris
Monday, 09 July 2012
Beretta DT11 Sporter shotgun review: Beretta’s DT10 shotgun has enjoyed phenomenal success in the UK, so why bring in another model?
Beretta DT11 Sporter shotgun.
The boffins at Beretta never rest on their laurels where improvements and innovations to their range of guns are concerned.
The new DT11 is a case in point. Its predecessor, the DT10, had been a hit on the clay scene since the day it arrived on these shores so why change a winning formula?
In a nutshell, the boys at Beretta reckoned they could make it even better.
Cynics might say the new model is simply the old model that’s been given a bit of a brush-up and make-over and had ‘DT11’ stamped on the action body.
But there is more to this gun than that.
Although both models remain the same mechanically, the DT11’s action has been made slightly wider in order to place more weight between a shooter’s hands and thereby enhance its already very good handling qualities, and balance.
However, the biggest change is the introduction of what’s called a Steelium-Pro barrel bore profile.
All it means - name aside – is that the barrels are formed with a very long internal taper.
Now, I’m not sure how this works from a proof point of view but the nominal bore size (18.6mm in the test gun) effectively amounts to 11-bore at the chamber end, tightening to 12-bore at the muzzles.
The major selling points of this arrangement from a
marketing point of view is:
» Reduced perceived muzzle flip.
» Increased shooting stability.
» Increased penetration and better target breaks.
» Quicker target acquisition.
I am sure that all these things are true but the cynic in me can’t help feel that this is like one of those washing powder adverts that guarantee to get the whites whiter than the last version, even though that one previous claimed the same thing.
How white can it get?
For instance the Optimabore system on the DT10 and the 682 Gold E were the best things you could possibly get when they were launched, and yet in gunmaking terms there really is very little that’s new under the sun.
In the dim and distant past there were guns made with tapered bores called ‘Vena Contracta’ which, I understand, were 12-bore guns that tapered to 20-bore at the muzzle.
Wind the clock back more than a century and we had gunmakers building chamberless 12-bores that, in effect, were almost ten bore.
What you notice straightaway is that the DT11 looks different to its predecessor and this is thanks to the main action frame having been given a matt finish along with raised side panels with a sunken line following their profile.
Coming off these panels are ribbons that flow under the belly of the frame and which have been brightly polished to match the hinge pins and contrast nicely with the colour of the action.
The DT11 signature appears on the outer action wall and on the belly you find the Beretta logo, and model legend, highlighted in blue.
The overall effect here is that “less is more” giving the gun a functional yet elegant look.
The shape and size of the angled top lever paddle has been altered slightly to make it more comfortable for both right and left hand shooters – but I actually found it less so.
True, the gun needs to be shot in a little to free things up a bit but I found the lever a little too small for my clumpy thumbs. The safety catch has also been reshaped with a ridge across it to give the thumb a more dynamic grip.
The barrel selector button has also been given a more discreet look, yet afforded better grip with enhanced chequering.
The gun’s drop-out trigger remains the same as in the DT10 which means it can only be removed when the top lever and safety catch are moved together.
This ensures the gun stays safe whenever the mechanism is removed.
Some internal parts have been subtly changed but overall the gun remains mechanically the same as the DT10 complete with its silky smooth vee mainsprings.
What isn’t in doubt is that the DT11 has been built to withstand lots of work and with replaceable hinge pins and bolts it’s going to last a long time too.
As a matter of interest the shoulders on the fences are replaceable, as is the bolt that tensions the fore-end against the action knuckle.
Wood dimensions remain the same with drops at comb and heel of 38 and 60mm respectively and a stock length of 14.1/2in when the trigger is set in the centre position.
This length of pull includes a lightweight Beretta micro-core recoil pad which slides nicely into the shoulder yet takes a positive grip when it’s actually in the shoulder pocket.
The pad also recovers well under recoil to help with a more precise second shot.
A gun with an adjustable comb will arrive in the UK later this year and customers can also order lower combed stocks with drops of 1.1/2in (35mm) and 2.1/4in (56mm).
And for the ultimate custom fit a headed up stock blank version can be factory ordered and then finished to the customer’s exact specification.
Overall weight of the DT11 is approx 8lb 5oz and a fair proportion of this is made up by the big stock with a full pistol grip and palm swell, which could prove a little too much for anyone with small hands.
To help make the grip as comfortable as possible, the trigger shoe has been given multipoint travel adjustment.
Wood quality is very good, highly figured and pretty while the parallel semi beavertail fore-end has the advantage of feeling the same wherever it is held.
The wood has been treated to a matt oil finish; very attractive and practical to boot.
WEIGHING IT UP
In an attempt to keep overall weight to a manageable level the top rib, as well as being tapered from 10mm down to 8mm, has been given a hollow internal profile.
Further weight reduction has been achieved by fitting the barrels with ventilated side ribs.
By way of an aside the tapered rib really does give a lovely sighting picture and adds nicely to the gun’s quick pointability.
The Sporter shown here comes with 3in chambers, which have passed special steel shot proof.
The gun is fitted with a white foresight bead with a choice of red ones held in a spares kit that also includes an extra pair of firing pins contained in a very stylish ABS case with extra chokes and accessories.
When all is said and done the DT11 will prove to be a serious gun for shooters who are serious about their sport.
Few guns, if any, have collectively won as much silverware on a worldwide scale as the DT10 - so the DT11 as it’s natural successor really does have to be taken very seriously.
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