Beretta at Bracu
Reviewed by NZ Rod&Rifle Magazine's Technical Editor,
When Beretta New Zealand launch a new product, they do it in style. Their most recent event was the unveiling of the new Black Edition version of their competition shotguns, the 690, 692 and DT11. The venue: Bracu, at the Simunovich Olive Estate.
EACH OF THESE SHOTGUNS IS A NEW VERSION OF EXISTING MODELS. IN ASCENDING ORDER, 690, 692, AND DT11, EACH ONE INCORPORATES AN INCREASING LEVEL OF SOPHISTICATION.
To provide a suitable venue to showcase their products, Beretta New Zealand have established a partnership with the Simunovich Olive Estate. It’s an ideal venue. Located at Bombay, just 45 minutes’ drive south from the Auckland CBD, the olive estate’s 96 hectares of rolling hills and 35,000 mature olive trees provide an ideal environment for a memorable shooting experience with a Mediterranean atmosphere. Two shotgun ranges have been created and targets can be tailored to suit the abilities of different shooters. A third range for rifle shooting was under construction during our visit and will probably have been finished by the time this article is published. Hosted by Beretta New Zealand’s Managing Director, Martyn Coe, a privileged group of retailers and shooters were introduced to Beretta’s new line of competition shotguns while enjoying the full range of the Olive Estate’s splendid facilities. Amongst the guests were two women clay target competitors who have distinguished themselves with their performances here and in overseas competitions: two-times Women’s world DTL champion, Natalie Rooney, and Chloe Tipple who recently won the Gold Medal in Women’s Skeet at the Oceania Games held in Australia. The day began at the estate’s conference and reception venue, The Pavilion, where, after a morning tea, Beretta’s International Marketing Manager, Stefano Quarena, explained the features of each of the three models. Such is the popularity of Beretta shoguns in New Zealand, that Stefano is a frequent visitor to this country.From there, we moved to the first shooting venue, the Lake House overlooking one of the estate’s duck ponds. Targets here were a mix of crossers and incoming clays providing interesting and challenging targets. Shooters who wanted even more demanding targets could move on to a second layout constructed specifically for the more experienced shotgunner. Because we were shooting over water and amidst the sensitive environment of olive groves, non-toxic shot is required. It was my first experience of using a steel shot target load – 26 grams of #7 steel shot enclosed in a photodegradable plastic wad, in this case. The performance of this load was an eye-opener to me. My initial reservations about the effectiveness of steel target loads were quickly overcome when I saw the way in which clay targets were pulverised, even at long distances.
We were encouraged to shoot each of the three new Black Edition models and compare their performance. It was a unique opportunity to put three very different guns through their paces in a practical test. None of us needed second urging to take advantage of the occasion. The guns got a thorough workout. Each of these shotguns is a new version of existing models. In ascending order, 690, 692, and DT11, each one incorporates an increasing level of sophistication. All of them have matt black barrels and black receivers, each with a distinctively different style of decoration. In an innovation for Beretta over/unders, the two top models feature carbon-fibre top ribs. The 690 Black is a competition version of the 690 field gun and is available in Trap and Sporting configurations. Its black receiver has detailing in bright orange which provides a striking contrast on the black finish. This model has Beretta’s Steelium barrels with the standard Optima HP internal profile: over-bored to 18.6mm and with forcing cones extended to 127mm. The buttstock is set up for Beretta’s B-Fast stock balancing system, but no weights are supplied. Next in line, the 692 is a dedicated competition gun available in versions for each discipline. This new black model has gold detailing on the receiver which is actually 1.3mm wider than that of its predecessor, the popular 682. Its barrels are designated Steelium Plus and have even longer forcing cones of 360mm and are also distinguished by having a carbon-fibre top rib. The 690 has an adjustable trigger and a sophisticated stock and barrel balancing system, B-Fast, in which weights supplied can be fitted to the stock bolt and side ribs to fine tune the balance and responsiveness of the gun. It is stocked in 2.5 grade walnut. The top-of-the-line DT11 has an all-black receiver with its curved raised rim- section being highly polished to contrast with the matt of the rest. This creates a refined, distinctive look. To reduce recoil and muzzle flip even further, the Steelium Pro barrels have their forcing cones lengthened to 480mm. The receiver is wider again, being 2.6mm wider than the DT10 it replaced. Carbon fibre is used not only for the top rib, but also in the trigger plate of the detachable trigger group. The DT11 has the B-Fast stock and barrel balancing system and the stock is presented in a superior grade 3 walnut. High-volume shooting throughout the morning proved each of these three models to be a competent performer. They represent three different price points. Of course, the higher the price range, the more sophisticated the guns’ features become which was reflected in a more refined handling. But within its own price range, each model seems to me to represent a high point of value and performance.
FINE DINING AT BRACU COUNTRY RESTAURANT
After a couple of hours of intensive shooting, we finished the day in fine style with a long and leisurely lunch at Bracu, the estate’s justly-famed countrystyle restaurant. If you’re lucky, every once in a while a truly memorable experience comes your way. The combination of fine guns, fine dining, a great location, a great shooting experience, and great company provided just such an experience for me. The Beretta Black Edition launch was a memorable occasion. Auckland shotgunners now have a great new location for a special experience.