According to Benelli literature, the Cordoba‘s name was “inspired by the high-volume dove shooting found around Cordoba, Argentina.” Regardless of what it’s called, however, the Cordoba represents a very successful attempt to build a “heavy-use” field gun that incorporates features found on dedicated sporting clays gun. Specifically, a tapered, stepped 10mm rib; ported barrel; and extended Crio choke tubes. And, of course, there’s another excellent concession to high-volume shooting — Benelli’s extremely effective ComforTech recoil-absorbing synthetic stock.
Available in 12- or 20-gauge persuasion (with a three-inch chamber), the Cordoba can be had in matte black or Advantage MAX-4 HD. Optional barrel lengths are 28 and 30 inches.
The specimen I’ve shot (rather extensively) is a matte black 12 with a 28-inch barrel. I’ve used it both on the range and on waterfowl. Had dove been part of the equation, I’d have been happy with the 20, but seeing as how I ended up hunting mallards, teal and Canada geese with it in Saskatchewan, the 12 was certainly more appropriate.
At a hair over seven pounds, it’s no more hefty than the 3 ½-inch Super Black Eagle II and is every bit as nimble. Over a period of three days, I shot it from goose pits and coffin blinds. The closest things got to the sort of adrenalized “shoot-shoot-shoot-load “frenzy you’d expect on dove was when we were literally being spun out of our ground blinds while trying to hit low-flying teal coming over a large pond in twos and threes.
Even though it’s tough to consistently get a solid mount in situations like that, the ComforTech stock saved me from a serious pounding from those Federal Black Cloud three-inch No. 6s I was using. Despite the fact that I missed considerably more than I hit, there’s no way I can blame the gun. It’s fast to shoulder, quick to swing and, like every Benelli I’ve ever used, dead-reliable. My black synthetic stock and fore-end features the company’s Grip Tight overcoating, which affords a tacky, non-slip grip in rainy or sweaty conditions.
I was even more impressed with the Cordoba on mallards, even managing a couple of doubles. And when I finally spun out the Modified tube and switched to Full for Canadas, I was grateful for that 28-inch barrel. Pulling the kind of sustained lead you need on high flyers isn’t my strong suit, and I need all the barrel I can get; in fact, I wouldn’t have minded the 30-inch barrel, except it would’ve been a bit unwieldy in a coffin blind. For the geese and mallards, I upped my shot size to No. 4s.
Prior to this hunt, I’d been using a lot of pricey “alternative” waterfowl loads. The Federal Black Cloud stuff represented my first extended experience with steel, and it proved to be an eye-opener. The cutting band around each pellet caused some serious damage, and anyone who is leery about the killing power of steel should check it out.
The Saskatchewan trip proved to be one hell of a hunt, but I couldn’t resist shooting several rounds of skeet when I got back using a grab bag of 2 ¾-inch target loads. Functioning of the Cordoba was again flawless, even with Remington’s STS Managed Recoil ammo.
In all, I was pretty impressed with the Cordoba. It would work well for anything I need a shotgun for. Granted, the Benelli folks probably didn’t envision it as a dedicated waterfowl gun, but it’s tough, reliable and weather resistant enough to be as at home in a duck blind as a dove field. It cycles the light loads and tames the heavy ones. And to me, that’s the bottom line with any autoloader, gas-operated or inertia-driven.