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Comparing two very different types of semi-automatic shotguns built by the same manufacturer, Beretta in this case, means to analyze and explain in detail the technical spec of both, in order to help the reader to have an all round and accurate picture of each gun’s differences, features and quality.
We can start the comparison with the analysis of each gun’s common elements and features, and then highlighting technical differences. Technological evolution helps the hunter with firearms that are more and more easier to use and flexible, on the other hand, this same advance also heralds new trends.
Today’s comparison features the Beretta A400 Xplor and A400 Xtreme series, starting with the former. The Beretta A400 Xplor range, which includes the A400 Xplor Unico, A400 Xplor Action and A400 Xplor Light, offers three solutions to fulfill different hunting requirements.
A400 Xplor Unico. It is no coincidence that Beretta chose this name since this semiauto has somewhat been a breakthrough in the hunting auto loading shotgun market, giving the hunter the freedom to choose shotshells loadings ranging from 24 to 64 grams. What is achieved is an excellent ballistic performance, featured by a very specialist smoothbore.
The A400 Xplor range has been developed using Beretta’s versatile self-cleaning gas system. One of the strengths of the new A400 Xplor is in fact Beretta’s exclusive patented exhaust valve, which optimizes the use of a vast range of ammunition loads. Thanks to the rotating bolt head, this system allows for an improvement of the already low felt recoil, and further reduces muzzle flip guiding the gun’s recoil more in line with the shooter's shoulder. Moreover, the A400 Xplor range employs the Kick-Off and Kick-Off 3 recoil reduction technologies: the result is a considerable reduction of the perceived recoil of the gun during firing, and a greater stability and self-control especially in follow-up shots.
The Kick-Off technology is the only recoil reduction system used in hunting firearms that adopts two hydraulic shock absorbers that are very similar to those used in automotive suspensions, compared to the competition’s systems based on the controlled deformation of composite materials such as rubber or polyurethane inserts in the stock’s polymer. The Kick Off-3 is a third hydraulic damper which acts specifically on the 2nd recoil peak, which happens during the rearward impact of the bolt against the receiver. Both of these two systems work together to minimize stress of the mechanical parts, with resulting increase in the longevity of the firearm.
Common to all three models in the Xplor ranges is the Micro-Core, an innovative open cell polymer foam based buttstock recoil pad, which is softer, lighter and smooth. The Micro-Core is released instantly, increasing bearing surface on the shoulder, helping to distribute evenly the firearm’s recoil, improving safety and accuracy . Another element common to all three models is the technology with which the Beretta barrels are manufactured, using a tri-alloy steel which is deep drilled, cold hammered and then vacuum distended. This manufacturing process confer impart a high degree of resistance to the barrel’s steel, allowing for spectacular ballistic performance.
Last but not least, the use of the Optima-Bore HP system, that allows the shooter to maintain a perfect and uniform shot pattern with every ammo load and in all types of hunting, also thanks to the use of Optima-Choke HP choke tubes.
The Beretta A400 Xplor 20 gauge semiautomatic shotgun seen at IWA 2013
Let’s now take a look at the A400 Xtreme range, which can be considered an actual evolution of the already excellent A400 Xplor range.
Available in three versions, Black Synthetic, Camo Max4 Camo and Optifade, the A400 Xtreme is the definition of comfort, power and reliability state of the art in a hunting smoothbore autoloader. Ideal for any type of hunting, the A400 Xtreme shoots any 12-gauge load, from 24 to 64 grams. The Xtreme provides maximum ruggedness and corrosion resistance, and at the same time ensures the best shooting comfort thanks to the use of the new Mega Kick Off.
The choice of the “Xtreme” name is not casual. Unlike the Kick-Off system mounted on the Xplor models, the Mega Kick-Off is a system that uses a hydraulic shock absorber that suppresses slippage between buttstock and the shooter’s cheek, resulting in a radical reduction of muzzle flip. The result is a dramatic improvement in aim recovery and follow-up shots.
Another feature that differentiate the Xtreme from the A400 Xplor range is the Aqua Technology: All internal parts are treated using rust protective coatings. The bolt, feed chute and trigger are treated with an anti-reflective coating, the aluminum alloy receiver is hard coated anodized, while the bore is chrome and the barrel is blued. Barrel and receiver are sealed with a special immersion treatment that protects the gun from corrosion in any weather condition. Beretta has tested this technology by exposing the barrel in highly corrosive salt spray for 150 hours without any kind of damage. Aqua Technology significantly increases the longevity of the firearm even in the harshest of hunting conditions.
We can find the Blink system, the Micro-Core recoil pad, and the Steelium steel, all used by the A400 Xplor, also in the Xtreme, a tribute to the high degree of reliability that these technologies deliver to both scattergun ranges.
One last element of distinction from the Xplor range is the B-Lok, a closure cap adopted by the Xtreme which allows a perfect closure in a fraction of a second, simply by turning the cap by only 60°.
Basically what sets apart the Xplor and Xtreme ranges are several technological solutions and improvements, in one or in both versions of the A400 autoloader, with which Beretta intends to satisfy the many needs of the modern hunter. However, the soul of both guns is the same and is called Beretta.