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Preview – Beretta 1301 Competition

Photography by Straight 8

The World’s Oldest Firearms Maker Has a New Boomstick. We Take it to the Races.

The 1301 Competition is Beretta’s entry into the growing three-gun shotgun market. It’s a semi-automatic, gas-operated shotgun with either a 21- or 24-inch vent rib barrel, threaded for screw-in chokes. The shotgun comes almost ready to take to a match right out of the box. An extended bolt handle and bolt release come standard. The loading and ejection ports are opened up with smoothed edges.

I received the Beretta 1301 Competition about two weeks before shooting the 2014 Superstition Mystery Mountain 3 Gun Match (SMM3G), with the intention of throwing it into the cauldron of competition to test its reliability and see how easy it is for someone to simply pick up and use with minimal practice.

As any seasoned competitor will tell you, this is usually a recipe for disaster — bugs that take a few practice sessions to make themselves known will immediately leap out in a match and destroy your carefully laid stage plans. While otherwise ready to go, there were some changes the 1301 needed to make it work best for me.

Beretta 1301 - Nordic ExtensionBeretta 1301 Competition Larger Loading Port bottom

(Almost) Competition Ready
As a lefty, the first thing I did was reverse the orientation of the cross-bolt safety. This was easily accomplished by removing the fire control group and backing out a small Allen screw at the front side, while taking care not to lose the safety spring. Then remove the selector, turn it around to face the opposite direction, and replace the screw.

The 1301 ships with a short buttstock, but several spacers are included to optimize the fit to the shooter’s height, arm length, and shooting style. To change the length of pull, simply remove the two Phillips screws that secure the rubber butt-pad, insert the desired spacer, then reattach the butt-pad with longer screws. Unfortunately, Beretta doesn’t include shims to further adjust the stock. The stock system is solid and felt natural when shouldering the gun and under rapid recoil. The pistol grip has aggressive checkering to help the shooter maintain control, and its grip angle is very comfortable and does not strain the wrist when holding it for extended periods.

Due to import restrictions, the 1301 ships with a tube capacity of five rounds (though this can drop to four depending on the type of shells and the way they are crimped), giving it a capacity of five in the tube and one in the chamber. To be competitive in the tactical divisions of three-gun, a shotgun must be able to hold nine rounds at the start of any stage. Nordic Components is one of the go-to companies in the three-gun world when it comes to improving shotgun performance, and the kind folks there sent me several magazine tube lengths to try. I selected their +3 extension which gave an 8+1 total payload and left the end of the tube relatively even with the muzzle. Adding even more capacity is an option by employing a longer, single-piece tube or using Nordic’s MXT tube coupler. Many competitors prefer these longer tubes, providing additional flexibility in selecting when and how many shells to load during a course of fire. The use of Nordic’s barrel and magazine tube clamp reinforces the otherwise potentially fragile tube extension and also provides an accessory mounting point for a flashlight or QD sling swivels.

First Shots
I function tested the 1301 with Federal No. 7½ shot, three dram-equivalent loads, as this would be the primary ammo I’d be using for SMM3G. Burning through three complete extended magazine tubes as fast as possible resulted in zero malfunctions, which was a good start. Switching to Winchester slugs on paper at 50 yards, I started wishing for a rear sight to complement the front bead. With only rudimentary sighting equipment, a consistent cheek weld to align the shooter’s eye behind the bead is critical. Nonetheless, I was able to shoot a 3-inch group — windage was perfect, but the elevation was 6 inches high. With no way to adjust for elevation and the first big match of the season rapidly approaching, I would need to remember to hold at 6 o’clock on slug targets.

Beretta 1301 - InternalsBeretta 1301 - Bolt Handle and Release

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