Test: Benelli 828U over/under shotgun in 12/76 gauge

Benelli 828U in plastic case
The Benelli 828U over/under shotgun is delivered in a padded hard plastic case broken down with the barrels attached to the fore-stock
Benelli 828U accessory box
Benelli 828U over/under shotgun: the accessory box contains all sorts of useful accessories

The Benelli 828U came in a discreet hunting green gun case. The gun was disassembled for transport in the case, enclosed in predefined compartments with padding under textile in a Scottish plaid pattern. 

As usual, the pair of barrels was in it together with the fore-stock separated from the butt stock with receiver to keep the gun case as compact and handy as possible. 

The whole package makes a very tidy impression. In one compartment of the case at the bottom left there is also an accessory box made of transparent acrylic with a black cover in modern carbon-fiber finish. 

This likewise tidy box holds the user’s manual, three interchangeable chokes (two are in the barrels), one convenient choke wrench, a small bottle of lubricant and other accessory parts for rattle-free customization of the stock. The total of five chokes include the types Full, Improved Modified, Modified, Improved Cylinder and Cylinder, of which only the last three can be used with steel shot.

Manfred Alberts, the Benelli importer for Germany, sets the price here for the basic 828U version at 2,648 euros. That puts the new Benelli into direct competition with the Browning 725, but also with the Beretta 690 models or the Silver Pigeon.

Benelli 828U: design of the test gun

In terms of its construction, there is no difference between the new Benelli over/under and the familiar models from the competitors. Once the shotgun is ready to use, the shooter holds an elegant, well balanced over/under shotgun with a few surprises up its sleeve, not least because of its low weight of only some 2.9 kilograms. The reason for this is that Benelli only uses thick and thus heavy steel for parts where it is absolutely necessary because of wear or which are directly subjected to heavy shooting stress. This applies in particular to the barrels and the locking system, which also houses the spring-loaded firing pins.

Benelli 828U lock block
The Benelli 828U locks using a tilting lock block which seats into a slot on the underside of the monoblock when the gun is closed
Benelli 828U trigger group
Benelli 828U: If needed, the Benelli 828U’s complete trigger group can be removed from the receiver for cleaning

That’s right: The Benelli 828U has an innovative tilting lock block. The L-shaped block, which is pressed forward by springs in the receiver, straightens up when the shotgun is closed. 

In the process a semi-circular cam in the floor of the block fits into a corresponding slot on the underside of the monoblock. At the same time, a lip at the top side of the block engages into the receiver. 

Two locking bolts connected with the top lever prevent the barrels from opening unintentionally. They therefore indirectly also hold the block in its locked position. That means that it is the solid steel block which serves as the bolt face and not the receiver, as is the case in other system designs. 

This, however, makes it possible for Benelli to construct a very slender receiver for the 828U which is also made of lighter and weaker aluminum. Both the breech block as well as the internal components of the receiver are finished in top quality and appear extremely robust, which means we can expect them to have a long life span.

The receiver itself consists of a black anodized, in this case an eloxodized aluminum alloy, to be precise. Apart from the discreet “828U” model designation on a white background, the test gun came without engravings on either side. 

The contour of the receiver follows a curvy design with alternating matt and polished surfaces. The search for a flat surface in these areas is almost in vain. Only one part of the bottom of the receiver is flat and it matches the “sweep” of the trigger guard. 

Even the top lever is fashioned in the form of an elongated, lightly curved drop, emphasizing the attention to detail applied here as well as the modern, dynamic appearance of the 828U. 

The black finishing on the barrels matches the same black color as the polished surfaces of the receiver and flows into it as well as the matt shimmer of the sight rail made of light carbon fiber. The ergonomically shaped fore-stock with fish-scale checkering also takes on the curvy design of the receiver. 

Shooters who do not find the black elegance appealing can also get the Benelli 828U with a shiny, silvery nickel-plated receiver. In this case, even with an engraving adapted to the modern, curvy design which picks up the fish-scale pattern at the transition to the pistol grip and sports a pattern at the flanks and in the area of the top lever with intertwined oak tendrils and acorns and leaves. But this version costs 3,110 euros — 462 euros more than for the version in black.

Benelli 828U: trigger

An easily accessible safety lever with integrated barrel selector sits at the rear of the receiver. In the rearward position, an “S” in front of the lever indicates that the safety is engaged. The barrel selector sits on top of the lever perpendicular to the direction of fire. Here, red and white dots indicate which of the barrels will be fired with the shotgun’s single trigger. Formally speaking: The term “single trigger” is used to refer to a trigger group where multiple firing pins are activated sequentially by only one trigger.

Benelli 828U: stock

Benelli 828U Progressive Comfort System
Benelli 828U: along with the rubber recoil pad shown here to the far right, the recoil is reduced mainly by means of the Progressive Comfort damping system.
Benelli 828U butt plate
Benelli 828U: The soft butt plate has a snake-skin pattern and rests securely in the shoulder

The stock is crafted out of oiled walnut wood. The precisely carved checkering on the contact surfaces of the pistol grip and fore-stock makes for a secure grip even with moist hands. 

A black elastomer insert in the comb of the stock protects the cheek and especially the shooter’s cheek bone. The factory-mounted insert lends the stock a straight rear contour. The elastomer element can be exchanged, as is also the case for the Benelli semi-auto Argo rifle, with a higher insert which is optionally available. 

The butt stock has the Progressive Comfort recoil damping system which Benelli introduced some years ago. Several rows of interlacing plastic fins absorb most of the recoil and even the soft, replaceable rubber butt plate contributes to the gentle shooting behavior of the light shotgun.

It is crucially important when shooting at fast-moving targets that the stock glides instinctively into the shoulder and the eye looks flat over the barrel rib. That only works if the stock fits to the shooter. 

That is why the new Benelli delivers a custom stock right off the shelf. The Italians call this concept “perfect fitting,” achieved by tuning the drop and cast of the stock to the individual shooter with various combinations of shims. 

A total of 40 different configurations are possible, and these are described in detail in a table in the user’s manual. The cast can be adjusted from 3 or 6 mm to the left or right and the drop ranges from 42.5 to 65 mm in 2.5 mm steps. While it sounds easy in theory, in practice it turns out to be a bit more difficult because the entire Progressive Comfort system has to be dismantled from the butt stock in order to change the shims. But since this configuration work and experimenting with the corrections only needs to be done once, it is worth the effort.

The trigger group can be dismantled with a supplied simple tool to make the Benelli 828U easier to clean. The gun should always be in a locked condition for cleaning. The tool consists of a spring ring with a long wire extension and is inserted and pressed into a hole behind the trigger guard to the point where a spring-loaded retaining pin releases the trigger assembly inserted into the receiver.

Benelli 828U: barrel lenghts and muzzle

The customer has the choice between two 828U barrel length variants, 71 cm and 67 cm. The internally hard chromium-plated barrels are, as already mentioned several times, inserted into a monoblock on the receiver side and freely ventilated over almost the entire length. They are joined once more just in front of the muzzles with a soldered wedge-shaped block.

The monoblock also houses the “impulse-activated” ejectors. The impulse of the cartridge expanding in the chamber is used to activate the ejector pins. That means that only cartridges from an actually fired barrel are ejected. The automatic barrel switching of the trigger, on the other hand, uses the recoil impulse. As is known, this can also be simulated by striking against the butt plate. In the case of shotguns with a single trigger without a barrel selector, the triggers can only be uncocked without shooting by using this procedure.

On the next page, we discuss the details of the practice test of the Benelli 828U.

The Benelli 828U in practice 

Since the hunting season for various game birds in Rhineland-Palatinate ends by February 20 at the latest, we were unfortunately not able to test the Benelli 8282 U in hunting operations

Hence, we only had the chance for a few rounds of skeet and trap at the clay pigeon range, all together more than 300 shots. Of course, that was after a mandatory test shot from each barrel at a 1 x 1 meter target at about 20 meters with half-choke and a sporty 24 gram load.  

Both barrels had a good impact point and uniform spread of the shot. The slack of the trigger, nearly without resistance, was already apparent up to a first pressure point after about two millimeters, followed by a slightly scratchy path of one millimeter, until the trigger breaks crisply. The trigger then drops another millimeter after the shot is released, which is no problem when shooting at clay discs. The upper barrel trigger releases at 2,490 g on average and that of the primary lower barrel at about 100 g more.

Benelli 828U ejectors
The Benelli 828U has impulse-activated ejectors. The relevant ejector is only activated when a cartridge is fired from the corresponding barrel and the empty cartridge is thrown out when the shotgun is broken open. Here, only one of the barrels was fired

The gun glides well and fast into the shoulder and can still be corrected when the shouldering is not quite right, which means: The butt plate does not “stick” to the shooter’s vest. 

The shotgun is well-balanced and swings very well. Thanks to the recoil absorber, the light shotgun is also quite shoulder-friendly. 

And not only with 24 g sport cartridges, but also with experimental 12/76 rounds with 52 g of lead payload. Shooters who are accustomed to heavier shotguns will still have to get used to this lightweight. Delicate ladies will be especially happy when they notice that they need not fear any recoil from the Benelli 828U.

Although it delivers impressive performance at a clay pigeon range, Benelli emphasizes that the 828U was primarily conceived for hunting. Given its low weight, it seems predestined for just that purpose. 

When hunting, the shooter has to haul his gun the whole day over the terrain, even if that is not really hard to do in this case. While in some areas people like to be “very British,” casually carrying the broken (opened) shotgun in the bend of the arm or over the shoulder, Benelli might do the average German hunter a real favor if they bequeathed the 828U a couple of removable swivel rings or at least eyelets for hunting grounds.

Benelli 828U: verdict

The Benelli designers working under the guidance of Marco Vignaroli have demonstrated with the Benelli 828U that they are not only able to build semi-automatic shotguns and pistols, but also a genuine over/under shotgun. And the Benelli 828U lives up to the requirements of hunters as well as aspiring clay pigeon shooters.  Priced at 2,648 EUR, the new Benelli is positioned in the middle price segment for over/under shotguns, which is very fair considering what it delivers for the price.

Hunters who are looking for a light and well-balanced shotgun are sure to enjoy the new Benelli.

Benelli 828U: the technical details at a glance

ModelBenelli 828U
Capacity2 cartridges
Total lenght1.160 mm
Barrel lenght710 mm
Trigger weights2.430 g (top barrel)
2.530 g (bottom barrel)
Stock length   
275 mm
Weight2.900 g

Design: Over/under shotgun with tilting block breech and single trigger. Black anodized aluminum receiver with removable trigger assembly. Walnut stock with recoil absorber and rubber butt plate as well as checkering on the fore-stock and pistol grip. Carbon fiber sight rib with fiberglass bead. Interchangeable chokes.

Benelli 828U right side
The Benelli 828U, persuasive in practical testing

Read about why the Benelli 828U was crowned "Shotgun of the Year 2016" here on all4hunters.com

For more information visit the Benelli website

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