The temperatures are prohibitive already at the beginning, long before dawn, and yet after months of inactivity the dogs always seem happy and well disposed to leave. Their inexhaustible passion, like ours, is ready to make us live unique moments every day, like the one that is about to start. The welcome is one of the finest at the hunting house in Rivergaro where Carlo Cazzaniga, the manager of the Montefeltro Tour Operator hunting estate, shows us the rooms in which the hunters spend together their relaxing hours before and after the hunt. The trophies, the paintings that decorate the walls, the carpets, up to the view that can be admired from every side and from every window speak of hunting, nature and adventure. There could be no better premise for leaving and going to field test three semi-automatic shotguns that the Benelli staff brought here so that we can evaluate and appreciate their technology directly on the hunting grounds and then in shooting sessions at the clay shooting range in Fano. The models we are talking about are new or very recent, such as the 20-gauge Mygra – one of the latest additions – the 20-gauge Beccaccia Supreme, completing the range of woodcock semiautomatics that already includes a 12-gauge version, and the 12-gauge Colombo semiautomatic, recently introduced but already popular with hunters who love wood pigeon hunting and other hunting types.
Benelli Mygra semi-automatic in 20 gauge
The 20 ga Mygra semi-automatic was designed for hunting small migratory birds, as its name and the engravings depicting thrushes and larks on the side of the special "Nature Brown" anodized receiver clearly show. The operating system is the classic Benelli inertia-driven system, but the 2¾”- 70 mm chamber is an exclusive choice that recovers the tradition and wants to ensure maximum performance from small- and medium-load ammo designed for small migratory birds.
The available barrel lengths of 25.5”/65 cm and 27.5”/70 cm allow versatility both in stalking and in walked-up hunting, as usually happens with thrushes and migratory birds during the autumn season. Increasing the versatility of the Mygra, the two interchangeable “long shot” and “wide shot” chokes are respectively suitable for shots at long and medium ranges. The long shot optimizes the performance of the one-star choke, while the wide shot is an intermediate 3-star choke. The weight of the semi-automatic is standard, around 2.9 kg.
In the field test, after the first shots the Mygra immediately proved to be a gun with which it is easy for the hunter to engage the target in movement and fire follow-up shots. These aspects are fundamental in the hunting of small migratory birds such as the thrush, whose rapidity of flight is well known. Hunting from platforms or in the field is different, as the time and space needed to aim at the game increases, and even in that case this semi-automatic proves to be stable, provided that the cartridges of intermediate weights for which the 70 mm chamber is designed are used. On some occasions during the test, we wanted in fact to exaggerate by using slugs and exasperated loads, and while remaining accurate, the gun muzzle climbed a bit in follow-up shots. These specialized shotguns are designed around the cartridge that they have to shoot, so that's right. The confirmation of the practicality in clay shooting came during the sporting course, where the Mygra proved to be consistent and up to the situation.
Benelli Beccaccia Supreme semi-automatic in 20 gauge
After the first Beccaccia semi-automatic shotgun, followed by the Beccaccia Supreme, Benelli's innovation continues and today the 20 gauge Beccaccia Supreme comes, which differs aesthetically from its predecessor in the different receiver embellishments, wood, checkering, the fore-end design, the cap and the recoil pads. The receiver is in Ergal 55 light alloy, black anodized and decorated with an engraving dedicated to the woodcock, a bird that is also featured in the special red insert on the pistol grip cap. Obviously, the Benelli mechanics, based on the inertia-driven system, remain the same. The walnut wood with Wood-Fx treatment has laser-enriched nuances and, thanks to the treatments it has undergone, it is more stable and less sensitive to variations in humidity. It is finished with a matt varnish and features a 1.5 mm fine pitch checkering. The new design of the fore-end helps to manage muzzle flip even better and to return to the aiming point more quickly. The Beccaccia Supreme 20 is offered with a 24”/61 cm barrel fitted with interchangeable carbon fiber rib and red fiber optical sights.
The Beccaccia Supreme 20 with a 3”/76 mm magnum chamber is a shotgun designed for woodcock hunting, but which is obviously suitable for walked-up hunting with pointing dogs. That's why Benelli offers the possibility of fitting optional chokes in addition to the classic ones supplied. The barrels of the Woodcock Supreme 20 feature three 7-cm Criochoke interchangeable chokes from ***, **** and ***** plus the Ampliator; a choke that provides broader, yet more densely packed shot patterns and allows instinctive shots at short range even using cartridges with cups. This choke is internal but has a 2 cm long external section that brings the overall length to 9 cm with a longer rifled section. The polyurethane recoil pads of the Beccaccia Supreme have an internal structure featuring micro air chambers. They are lighter than traditional recoil pads, guarantee a superior recoil absorption, reduced deformation during firing and a smoother backlash relief.
Both in the field and when shooting, the characteristics immediately noticeable in this semi-automatic are the quick swinging and the immediate acquisition of the target in instinctive shooting. In conclusion, the 20 gauge Beccaccia Supreme is ideal for hunting in the woods and in general for hunting with dogs where shooting ranges are never excessive and lightness is the added value for guns and ammo that can be carried for days on end. In addition to the pleasant and fast swinging, the ballistic performance of the Benelli barrels should be stressed. In this shotgun, with a length of only 61 cm, they have shown a safe effect on partridges and neat clay breaking even beyond 25 meters.
Benelli Colombo semi-automatic in 12 gauge
Designed with specific characteristics for those who love wood pigeon hunting, the Benelli Colombo semi-automatic is actually a shotgun that can be used for various types of hunting, including from platforms. The matte finish of the receiver and barrel, the long and wide shot chokes undoubtedly meet the needs of those who hunt wood pigeons in the various situations and environments during the hunting season, but there is nothing to prevent you from appreciating the ballistic performance of this shotgun even in walked-up hunts. Its weight of about 3 kg makes it stable when shooting and safe in follow-up shots. The operating system is the Benelli inertia-driven system. The Progressive Comfort system hidden in the buttstock increases accuracy and stability reducing the negative effects of recoil and muzzle flip. When hunting wood pigeons, it is common to use medium or heavy loads, so the relative weight of the gun is necessary to reduce unwanted movements, muzzle flip and perceived recoil. Available with 65 and 70 cm barrels, the Benelli Colombo is the shotgun of choice for those who hunt wood pigeons both in the field and from platforms, alternating different types of shooting, sometimes quick and immediate, sometimes at long range and necessarily aimed.
During our test, we were able to appreciate the effectiveness and accuracy of this semi-automatic shotgun with follow-up shots on a pair of partridges during the hunt and then on numerous clay pigeons on the sporting course and from the shooting trap where the ranges and directions of the clay targets changed rapidly, but the result was consistent. In conclusion, the Colombo is a semi-automatic shotgun to be recommended to those who want a rugged gun, with a pleasing appearance, and who do not obsessively care about the weight of the gun in favor of its remarkable ballistic performance when shooting even at variable distances with medium and heavy loads.
For more information on the Mygra, Beccaccia Supreme and Colombo semi-automatics please visit the Benelli website.