Beretta A400 Xtreme......


Dave McCracken
November 7, 2011, 05:02 PM
Out of the blue, Beretta contacted me a while back and asked me to conduct "a fair and impartial" test of their new waterfowler, the A400 Xtreme Unico. It's,according to their flack sheet, capable of functioning with 7/8 oz, 2 3/4" loads up to 2 oz, 3.5" Howitzer shells.

I picked it up yesterday at PGC, my home range and FFL. Packed with all the accessories in a typical hard plastic case, it took a few minutes to assemble, and after a glance at the manual, off to the firing line hurried I.

The manual said it was best to break it in with mid level loads, 2 3/4", 1 1/8 oz ones. Rather than fling my 7/8 oz reloaded hulls around in the mud, I bought a case of the Federal "Pinks" to use for the breakin.

First a round of wobble and then a round of sporting, both in the company of two guys named Chris. Met by chance, we struck it off and moved from one venue to the other.

I didn't shoot the new gun well. It balances way different from what I have been shooting and runs a good pound less. Like the last 20 or so shotguns before it, I'll adapt to it fairly soon.

There were stoppages. These decreased as the round count went up, and since I didn't clean off any preservative nor squirt any lube first, I kinda expected them.

100 rounds later, I went home happy despite the poor scores and reliability.

Today saw me back there getting an employee to show me how to clean and lube the gas system. I then had a trap locked down to only throw straightaways and stood at Post 3 in my goose parka. Starting from Low Gun, I shot and noted the breaks. No left/right bias was evident, but I could tell it was shooting a bit high.Hits were mostly solid.

Moving down to range 4, I shot a fast round of wobble. Scores for both rounds were in the low 20s. Had just one failure to feed, the clean and lube definitely improved things.

On the way into work, I stopped at Gunz R Us and picked up a box of 3.5" goose loads, Federal Black Cloud. Some sticker shock there.Since I have never owned a 3.5" shotgun, feeding this one's gargantuan appetite required shelling out (pun intended) some cash and getting some ammo I've been getting along without so far.

That's right, I've never fired off a 3.5" shell.


More later....

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Fred Fuller
November 7, 2011, 05:44 PM
More later....

I imagine. :D

Best pattern the Black Cloud stuff on paper first. It might surprise you...

Dave McCracken
November 7, 2011, 09:36 PM
I will, soon as I figure out how. PGC has a steel pattern board, and I do not want to use that. I've 3" Hevishot 2s for backup, but I think since this has 3.5" capability, I should use it.

And, I'm going to run the rest of the Pinks through it. With all the recoil reduction going on, there's no kick.

November 7, 2011, 10:51 PM
Never fired a 3.5"?:what: Boy are you in for a surprise. I hope yours came with the Kick-off system? -I think they're standard. I'm actually surprised you had any failures at all. My Beretta's have been 100% on all kinds of loads.

If it did come with the KO3 what are your thoughts on it? I've found my Xtrema2 feels like a 20 gauge on regular shells.

Oh, and how did they tell you to clean the piston? Curious what they taught you on cleaning that critical component.

Tom Held
November 8, 2011, 08:04 AM
Dave, I had a chance to shoot the A400 a couple of months ago. It just did not fit me well. The sighting plane was just too high, almost like a trap gun. I guess I could get used to shooting it but if I were buying one I would stick with the Extrema II if you can still find them.

Also, I gave up on the Black Cloud ammo last year. I was hitting geese hard at 50 yards, sometimes they would drop right down, hit the ground, shake their heads, and take off. Two of the last geese I killed had the Black Cloud pellets just under the skin on the breast, never penetrated. The steel shot in the load killed them. Winchester sent me a few boxes of their new hex shaped Blindside ammo and I'm going to try those opening weekend but will pattern them first. Might just be another gimmick. I miss just plain old boring #2 lead.

Remington is sending me one of their new Versa Max shotguns to test. When I get it I'll give you a call and we can compare both at PG. Should have it this week.


November 8, 2011, 10:07 AM
Hey- I want someone to send ME a gun- how does one get in on that?

November 8, 2011, 10:45 AM
Hey- I want someone to send ME a gun- how does one get in on that?
you gotta have juice in the shotgun world ;)

November 8, 2011, 11:04 AM
you gotta have juice in the shotgun world ;) How much "juice" can one have in the shotgun world having never shot a 3.5" shell???

November 8, 2011, 12:01 PM
How much "juice" can one have in the shotgun world having never shot a 3.5" shell???

Plenty as most folks do NOT shoot 3.5 inch shells through their shotguns

Dave McCracken
November 8, 2011, 03:40 PM
HK,this has the Kick Off system. Recoil is un-noticeable. At least with target loads.

I've never shot a 3.5" shell. I have shot maybe 100K of shorter ones though, and since I mod two of the best/biggest firearms fora extant, I may have come to Beretta's attention that way.

Other Mods here are also testing various and sundry stuff from Beretta. I may not be the only one with a loaner A400.

Lead 2s worked for me, Tom. So do Hevi shot 2s, though those ragged pellets must be made of gold from the price. I may take the Black Cloud stuff back and trade them in on some 3.5" Hevis.

Let me know when you'll be at PGC and we'll meet up.

This does show me all the rib, like a trap gun. I can work with it, though.

Tom Held
November 8, 2011, 04:25 PM
I guess I could make the A400 work Dave but I have enough problems already trying to get guns to shoot where I want the shot string to go. When I get the VersaMax we can take them out to PG and work them out hard.

Good luck trying to take ammo back. Most places won't do it. I don't buy any of the "exotic" non-toxic ammo. I'm sticking to steel and there's some good stuff out there. If it's just one box burn them up on ducks.

I've been shooting a Browning 10 gauge auto for the past couple of years for geese. You can hardly feel the recoil from the3.5" shells but the gun weighs 10 pounds ( a gun boy would help get it out to the pit ). add the heavy winter camo coats and you could shoot it all day. But it gets my attention shooting turkey. The Winchester Supreme Turkey load is 2 1/4 oz of 6s pushed by 4 drams of powder. I don't enjoy shooting it over one time each spring and fall. I put one of those small video game video cameras on it and it blew it off.


Dave McCracken
November 8, 2011, 04:58 PM
Gunz R US will not give me any problems on a return, Tom. Over 30 years of spending money there gives me, dare I say it, juice.

Ithaca Mag 10s are the only 10s I've shot. I'll stick to 12 gauges, thank you.

When I hit the Lottery I'm getting a gun bearer....

Check PMs....

Tom Held
November 8, 2011, 05:14 PM
After the 13 year old kid shooting next to me in the pit was whacking canadas with his 20 ga 870 I did feel kind of silly. Tom

Larry Ashcraft
November 8, 2011, 07:45 PM
My son likes shooting heavy kicking guns. He'll shoot his .480 Ruger until he's bleeding.

But he does not enjoy shooting 3.5" shotshells out of his 870 Express.

I had trouble with the Beretta because it didn't swing like my Citori, but that's just because I'm set in my ways. I think I could get used to it, though, because it's such a pleasant shooting gun.

Dave McCracken
November 8, 2011, 11:09 PM
I've been shown up more than once by some kid, Tom, and not just Rebecca Etchen.

Larry, I had trouble adapting due to the balance and the high POI, but I can make it work.

And it's such a pleasant shooter.

Dave McCracken
November 9, 2011, 03:30 PM
I put it on the kitchen scale today. 7 lbs, 7 oz.

That's light for a waterfowler, a bit heavy for an uplander. We'll see how it does this weekend.

November 11, 2011, 08:54 PM
Hi Tom,
Its Rob Beers. It's been a long, long time. I talked to Brian yesterday. Looks like we will be neighbors hunting this year. We have a group who have rented a farm up in Still Pond about 3 miles from Molly's. Plan on meeting Brian for lunch next Saturday (11/19). Perhaps you can join us. lots to catch up on. Best, Rob

Tom Held
November 11, 2011, 10:20 PM
Rob, what are you going to do, throw menhaden at the geese. I'm in Costa Rica catching sailfish and will be in Illinois deer hunting the opening week of Maryland goose season. Besides this forum was created to allow men to tell various assorted lies about their prowess with shotguns. And we're all very good at it. I'll send you a private note before Dave retracts our membership. Tom

November 12, 2011, 09:25 PM
bump for educational purposes

November 14, 2011, 01:10 PM
Dave, was the 1-inch spacer in the case? The Xtreme comes with both a 0.5 and 1-inch stock spacer. With the 1-inch, the LOP would be close to 15 inches, which would probably fit better for you.

I took my new Xteme out for the first time yesterday. Approx. 100 rounds, no jams even with some 7/8-oz loads, but I gave it a dose of BreakFree beforehand.

Dave McCracken
November 14, 2011, 04:16 PM
Welcome, Perdiz.

Yes. The spacer was there, I could use it but this will primarily be a waterfowler, used from a coffin blind while wearing 6 layers of Goretex, polywhatever and wool.

One 870 here I use for general wingshooting has well over 15" LOP. My personal goose tool,Frankenstein,though has the standard Remington stock, which works for me under those conditions.

I'm shooting this one with oil where it counts. A little messy, but more reliable.

I've now gone through the case of Fed pinks and the A400 was lent to a couple of my students to try. General impressions are quite favorable, the lack of kick was noticed by all. Next, I hope, some goosin'.

I used the choke tube marked Sk for some Wobble. Smashed the birds when I pointed it right.

November 14, 2011, 04:59 PM
Understood. Not surprised that the skeet choke worked for wobble trap. I put in an aftermarket Trulock light mod, and was nearly ink-balling targets at ranges where I would not expect a LM choke to have that result. Not sure if it was the heavier loads or better choke performance, will have to pattern the gun to find out.

I primarily shoot Beretta 391s at clays. Initial impression from several of us that shoot them was that the Xtreme was better balanced, and that we liked the more open pistol grip. As noted, recoil was negligible even with 1 and 1/8 oz heavy trap loads, which was a real joy.

Dave McCracken
November 14, 2011, 08:20 PM
I'd like to mike both the bore and chokes, Perdiz, but the friend that used to do it has died. I usually use 10 (IC) and 15 (LM) in my O/U for wobble these days with my reloads.

The grip is more open than either my O/U or the 870s. A subtle shift in where I hold it may be part of the trouble getting used to this. Still, not doing bad.

One of the new shooters trying out the A400 has some rounds through his 3901. He stated that the A400 is lighter and kicked less.

November 15, 2011, 09:49 AM
Good thread Dave, keep us posted on the A400 trial. Sure would like to hear how your hunt goes with those 3.5" shells. Never felt a need for those.

I'm with Tom on the Black Cloud (over hyped) but than one of my hunting partners uses it and likes it. Give it a try since you already have it....IMO

Personally, they best waterfowl pattern (30" @ 40yrd) I've recorded from the 390/391 guns is with factory (mod) choke, 3" - 1.25oz. Fiocchi Golden Waterfowl loads with the nickel plated shot. Perfectly round and polished shot of #2s have been deadly, even on the big honkers out to max 50yrds. Beyond that is a wish and prayer on the big birds, plus out of my league anyway so we let 'em fly.....

Tom Held
November 15, 2011, 10:29 AM
My oldest grandson (10) killed his first mallards on Saturday using a Model 50 Winchester 20 gauge. This was the gun my father gave me in 1955 as my first shotgun (seems like they multiplied since then). I'm going to give it to him as his Christmas present this year. The old gun still works great. I still think this was the best autoloader that Winchester every made. I killed a lot of squirrels, rabbits, and quail with it growing up in Illinois. My son killed his first small gave with it also. So now it's going to the third generation.


Dave McCracken
November 15, 2011, 05:24 PM
Fascast, I took the Black Cloud back to Gunz R Us and swapped it for the highly effective and horribly priced Hevi shot 2s in 3.5". The 3" version has worked very well for me.

Tom, that's the kind of story that chokes me up. A hunter taking his or her first game with a classic shotgun owned by three generations of ancestors. Thanks, you made my day better.

Dunno much about the 50, but have shot a few 59s and liked them. Odd balance, but doable.

As soon as things gell here, I'll take the Beretta out for doves. Late season's on till the 25th.

Tom Held
November 15, 2011, 05:53 PM
Well it's not a hand down Parker like the old days but he will appreciate it.

if I remember correctly the 59s had the fiberglas wrapped barrel. Balance was way off. Winchester took a good gun and tried to "improve" it with what they advertised as a fiberglas barrel. It made for a much lighter field gun but very whippy on the front end. The Model 50 was machine made, not stamped and simple to take apart. Tom

Dave McCracken
November 16, 2011, 04:38 PM
Correct, Tom. The 59 platform went less than 6.25 lbs, and people like Frank Woolner shaved down the stock and got them even lighter. Whippy is a kind way of saying "If you stop swingin' it like a %^&* it stops right there".

Still, some grouse hunters love them. More love the 20 gauge Al 48, which doesn't have the balance point behind the trigger....

February 24, 2012, 09:44 PM
Anything new to report on the A400 Dave? Bonus time is a comin'!

Tom Held
February 24, 2012, 10:34 PM
The A 400 that remington sent me to try out was one hell of a lot better than the one I shot in September. This one is really a quality shotgun. Better fit and handled 3 1/2 inch shells this past fall perfectly. I think they have it right now. One of my sons had it for a couple of days and shot it 5 times and killed 5 canadas. No complaints here. Hardly any recoil. Tom

February 24, 2012, 10:42 PM
***? How did Remington send you a Beretta gun? guess I am missing something there Tom

February 24, 2012, 10:43 PM
Never mind

Tom Held
February 24, 2012, 10:58 PM
Just another senior moment, had my shotguns mixed up. Remington sent me one of their Versamax's earlier this year to play around with. I had a chance to shoot a waterfowl version of the A400 in Virginia on pheasant. The stock had been adjusted to drop the comb slightly and it shot like a house on fire. Maybe it was the optional camo finish but I was impressed with it as I was with the Remington. If I was in the market for a new autoloader it would be a toss up between the two.

Sorry for mixup. Been a long day on airplanes. Tom

Dave McCracken
February 25, 2012, 10:34 PM
Not much new. Missed out on goose season, they didn't come down in time.

Did do some patterning. The pattern was ALL above POA at 30 yards. It took some fumbling, but we got it down some.

Unless Beretta insists on getting it back before then, I'll use it on Turkey in a couple months. Meanwhile I'll run a case or two of RWBs through it at SC and Wobble.

Overall, it's a good shotgun IMO. I find the length a trifle ungainly, but I've little personal experience with autos in general and 3.5" howitzers in particular.

IOW, I've little love for it but considerable respect....

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