By Nancy Jo Adams
A Superior Performing High-End Auto-Loader Shotgun in the Waterfowler and Turkey Shotgun Market.
In 2007, I was introduced to turkey hunting by my husband and hunting mentor. At the time, I did not own my own turkey hunting shotgun so I borrowed his 20+-year-old Mossberg 835. After my first few harvests, I took a liking to his shotgun, confident in the choke and ammo combination and well aware of the pattern for close-up and extended range shots. I became very confident with this shotgun, affectionately naming it “Earl.”
After several turkey seasons, more than a dozen gobblers and working on my final bird of a grand slam, we found ourselves in Montana after a Merriam’s turkey. The second morning out, I was loading Earl when I noticed it was not ejecting and feeding shells. Matter of fact, I couldn’t get a shell in the chamber. I handed the gun to my husband and he fooled with it and finally just manually loaded the shell and handed it back to me and said, “You better make that first shot count. That is all you have.”
Later that afternoon, we were lucky enough to find a gunsmith in the little one horse town. The diagnosis…the mechanism was just simply worn out from age and excessive use of the shotgun. The gunsmith fixed it the only way he knew how and stressed that the temporary fix was simply “temporary.”
That was five years ago and the temporary fix never let us down this entire time. However, other issues started developing to this now antique shotgun and I knew it was time to retire Earl. I had already started looking for a shotgun at the time of the fatal diagnosis. As an avid turkey hunter and new duck hunter, it was important to me to find a shotgun that was versatile enough to perform well in the turkey woods and in the duck marsh.
I ran across a shotgun that I absolutely fell in love with during a visit to the Beretta booth at SHOT Show in Las Vegas. This shotgun was the Beretta AL391 Xtrema with the Kick-Off recoil reduction system. The AL391 Xtrema was designed for recoil reduction with a new system Beretta coined the Kick-Off and after shouldering the gun and it having a perfect length of pull right off the shelf; I just knew that the Beretta AL391 Xtrema was the perfect solution as my new turkey and duck hunting shotgun. I pined and ogled over this gun with a price tag of $1,600, and when I was finally in a position that I was ready to purchase, Beretta had taken the AL391 Xtrema back to the drawing board for redesigns. I just didn’t think it was possible to make the gun any better. After all, the shotgun was PERFECT for me right out of the box.
I waited, patiently. I searched the Beretta website often. I kept my eye out for a press release, waiting for the announcement of the new shotgun release. In 2015, I was at the NWTF Annual Convention in Nashville, TN, when I stopped at the Beretta expo trailer that was set up at the back of the exhibit center. I was looking at another shotgun when I saw it–the Beretta A400 Xtreme Unico shotgun, with a newly designed Kick-Off System now located in the middle of the rear stock and two other recoil reduction systems. I was so excited and to think I had found the new shotgun release at a turkey expo; no, THE turkey expo of all turkey expos, was a sign. My pursuits to wrangle up the funds to put this shotgun in my hands and to name it, making it mine-all-mine, was in play.
I was excited to have the opportunity to take the Beretta A400 Xtreme Unico semi-automatic, 12 gauge shotgun on a recent duck hunt in Arkansas and was truly amazed by this shotguns performance. The first thing I noticed when opening the custom-made breakdown case was the quality Max5 camouflage pattern finish that blended well over the entire shotgun, around the corners and in tight spots and the Aqua Technology finish that makes the shotgun resistant to rain, dust, sand and salt spray, an ideal corrosion-resistant finish for a sporting gun. Packed in a designated area of the case were the Optima Choke HP interchangeable screw-in chokes in improved cylinder, modified and full with a choke tube wrench. Also included were stock drop spacers, quick-detachable swivels, a small bottle of Beretta Gun Oil and an owner’s manual.
The A400 Xtreme is designed with three recoil-reducing systems to reduce an overall combined felt recoil of 70%. The three systems work together to minimize recoil, reduce muzzle raise and to lessen mechanical stress on the shotgun. The one that I noticed on the first shot was the Kick-Off Mega. The Kick-Off Mega is a hydraulic damper system built into the stock, reducing axial movement on the cheek, alleviating 60% felt recoil. Even on rushed shots where I did not mount my gun solid against my cheek, the shots were much less harsh than I experienced with other models. Another recoil reduction system built into the A400 Xtreme is the Kick-Off 3 located just behind the alloy aluminum receiver of the shotgun. It is compressed by rearward travel of the bolt assembly and it reduces 10% felt recoil in the two distinct recoil peaks of a shot: 1) the cartridge ignition, and 2) the impact of the bolt against the receiver, which also aids in reducing wear and tear of mechanism. The third recoil reducing system is located in the butt-end of the gun stock and is a system of two hydraulic dampers and springs which form a spring-loaded recoil absorber with a GelTek recoil pad. The total system is capable of absorbing 3/8″ during recoil.
The reinforced lightweight fiberglass stock, ventilated rib with a low-profile design not only allows for natural placement and line of sight down the barrel; it also allows for fluid motion swings for more control over the shot. The slim fore-grip offers rubber inserts for a better grip. The trigger pull is a single-stage, 5 pounds 3 ounces, with the safety located in front of the ergo friendly trigger guard for quick access. The trigger guard is slightly larger to allow for gloved fingers. The Unico System allows for efficient cycling of any 12-gauge shell, from 2-3/4″ to 3-1/2″ magnums. Beretta’s Optima Bore HP and exclusive tri-alloy blend steelium barrel offers the best ballistic performance available with shot size versatility and dense patterns from magnum shots. Blink Technology is designed for shooting 36% faster than any other system; four shots in less than one second; allowing for quicker follow-up shots. The new feeding system with a rotating bolt and self-cleaning piston allows the shotgun to perform flawlessly in all conditions. The comfort designed loading gate on the underside is easy to load shells into and remove shells from without catching gloves or fingers. The newly designed B-Lock fore-end cap offers a safe, fast 60° rotation and one click locking system, making it easier to assemble and disassemble the A400 Xtreme.
The Beretta A400 Xtreme Unico is available in a 26″, 28″ and 30″ barrel. The 28″ model I used had an overall length of 49-3/8 inches and weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces. The shotgun has a 1-1/15″ drop at comb and 2’1/2″ drop at heel and comes with cast washers/adjustable shims to give the shooter control over stock dimensions. The length of pull is adjustable from 14-1/2″ to 15-5/8″ by using a combination of the supplied 1″ and 1/2″ spacer pads. The tubular magazine offers a four round capacity and a three-shot adapter is provided (2+1). The low profile, lightweight 12-gauge semi-automatic Beretta A400 Xtreme Unico has an MSRP of $1,700-$1,950, depending on configuration.
The Beretta A400 Xtreme Unico is indisputably among the superior performing high-end auto-loader shotguns in the waterfowl and turkey shotgun market and unrivaled by many other brands and models. It was evident that this shotgun exemplified Beretta’s highly regarded reputation for quality, reliability, and craftsmanship. This shotgun proved to be a versatile, do-it-all shotgun with features that enables a shooter to have improved shot placement accuracy with marked recoil reduction. The features were astounding making this my favorite shotgun in the line-up of various brands and models we had available to us on this hunt. As an avid turkey hunter and new duck hunter, it was important to me to find an all-around shotgun that could perform well in the turkey woods and in the duck marsh. This is what I found in the Beretta A400 Xtreme Unico shotgun.
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