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For the Love of Competition Semi Auto Shotguns

3-Gun Ready: Beretta 1301 Competition Shotgun Review

by Payton Miller   |  November 21st, 2013   |   2

To most guys of a certain age, any pump or autoloading shotgun not designed for skeet, trap, waterfowl, upland birds or deer was pretty much classed as a “riot gun.” Particularly if it was “plug optional.” Then, a decade or three ago, the term “tactical shotgun” came into vogue.

Now, with the popularity of 3-Gun or Practical competition, the basic platform — a handy, (relatively) short-barrel, high-capacity pump or auto has morphed into what can best be described as a game gun. Not “game” as in the classic sense of an elegantly understated British side-by-side, but something resembling what a Civil War-era press agent — in describing the Spencer Carbine — referred to as a “horizontal shot tower.” In other words, a delivery system for quickly putting as much birdshot, buckshot or slugs downrange to allow you to smack stuff down faster than the other guys.

Now we have the Beretta 1301 Competition. And make no mistake about it, in terms of dealing with plates or steel silhouette targets — or even aerial ones — this competition/tactical smoothbore might be the optimum tool for the job. It’s fast indeed, featuring a rotating bolt and revamped — and simplified — gas operation comprising the Blink system (which premiered on the A400 a couple of years back). Beretta claims that you can fire four shots in a second with it (I came kinda close to that but didn’t have a timer to verify).

The specimen we got in featured a 21-inch barrel with a full-length extended magazine tube. A 24-inch-barrel version is available for those who prefer, but if we had our druthers, we’d stick with the shorter one.

The most noticeable aspects of the 1301 are the oversize controls — bolt handle, bolt release and crossbolt safety button (reversible for lefties). The bolt release consists of a large, serrated tab right below the ejection port. It’s very quick to access from under the receiver with your support hand (assuming you’re right-handed). One caveat: If you’re carrying the gun with the bolt locked back, do not grasp the receiver over the top. You may get a nasty surprise if an errant finger trips that oversize release (yes, I did discover that the hard way).

The “oversize theme” of the 1301 is continued in the large ejection and loading ports. In competition, reloading speed is as important as “hitting the target” speed. And anything that helps out there, and saves your thumb from abuse in the process, is a good thing, as anyone who has ever been on a dove hunt in Argentina can tell you.

The synthetic stock is short, but has an adjustable length of pull (13 to 141/2 inches). The texturing is more than aggressive enough for a nonslip grip. The 1301 does not come with ghost-ring or open, rifle-type sights, just a large, red, fiber optic front and a midbead on a wide, sporting-type rib. The receiver is drilled and tapped for a rail mount, as some 3-Gun guys may want to modify the gun for Unlimited and put an Aimpoint Micro or something similar on it.

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