Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Beretta A400 Xcel Sporting Shotgun 5 Month Review

Purchased the firearm in early August. 

Fit me right out of the box.  30' barrel.  I didn't purchase the model with the KO recoil reduction pad.

Note: If you have the KO system you can't cut the stock, as the KO system will no longer fit.  If you think your going to have the need to cut the stock down, purchase without the KO. You always have the option of going after market for a recoil reduction system if you shorten the stock, just not the KO system.

Barrel replacement runs in the neighborhood of $750.  Make sure you pick the length that suits your needs. 

Be careful with the forearm when removing or installing. Very light weight.  A lady contacted me after I first posted about my purchase and said her son cracked one.

I shoot skeet, sporting and trap.  Skeet station #8 high with a 30" barrel took a bit of getting use, but after several rounds I don't even think about it.  We usually skip station #7 when working on a problem station and I did just that, shooting the shells on station #8 until I got comfortable.  

Beretta recommends you break in the firearm shooting 1 1/8  loads.  Shot two boxes before I switched to my normal 1oz. loads.

I've had a couple of light loads (various companies).  A light shell (not enough powder) will cycle and feed the second shell into the chamber, but won't set the firing pin. You can hear it when it happens.

I also had a problem with  re-loads that didn't resize properly. I did fix the re-loader that was causing the issue. A pain to remove the shell with oversized brass in the A400 barrel.  The shell won't extract when you pull back on the handle as the extractor is in the way. 
You have to move the bolt back far enough to see and then move the extractor with a small knife blade or whatever you have on hand just to remove the barrel. Then the shell has to be removed from the barrel with a cleaning rod once the barrel has been removed. Anyway, if at a shoot and you need to borrow a shell or two, make sure there factory. The 1100 is more forgiven.

As a long time Remington 1100 shooter I can't get over the simplicity of the firearm compared to the 1100.  Tear down is a breeze. A few dabs of oil when cleaning and your done.  I've been wiping down the barrel/chamber and putting it away when just a one day visit to the range.

The company advertises a couple of thousand rounds between cleaning.  I've gone at least three cases of shells before I removed the bolt. A person at Rochester Brooks recommended to keep a small bottle of oil in your shoot bag. He says if the gun starts hanging up just put a few drops in the chamber and then work the bolt a few times. Solves the problem unit you have time to do a proper cleaning.

I lost a bolt handle in the first month.  I suspect I didn't seat it properly.  I purchased a replacement (2) and haven't had a repeat.  I did note the bolt handle was a pain to remove, but someone on a talk board was recommending too oil the end you insert. The suggestion was right on the money.

I lost a mid bead.  Ordered two (2) replacements.  I secured with blue Loctite.

I replaced the blue end cap with a 3.9 oz. black cap.  I was swinging over targets in trap. My initial solution was to move my hand forward a few inches on the forearm.  The couple ounces of added weight allowed me too no longer have the need to move my hand forward.  A little oil on the threads made for a smooth install.

If you shoot sporting clays I recommend you upgrade the choke wrench to a speed wrench. 

If your new to trap shooting a shell catcher on a semi-auto is a must!

T&S Industries Shell Catcher makes a shell catcher for the A400 or you can use the Birchwood Casey Save-It Shell Catcher.  I choose the T&S.  Either way you can't shoot doubles with a shell catcher installed. You can't use the after market Briley Bolt Handle with the T&S.  I did try a Birchwood on a 1100 and had issues. Either having to re-bend the wire time after time or the adhesive failed.

I'm thinking of installing the Briley A400 bolt release ($65).  That would mean modifying the T&S shell catcher.  Looks feasible, but if I do this it will be in the spring after shooting through the winter and seeing if I change my mind, but leaning heavily in that direction, 

I've heard reports of A400's not cycling light loads (under 1200 fps) but haven't experienced that myself.  Someone was just telling me this past weekend about a friend that was having the problem.  I asked if the gun was broke in with 1 1/8 shells, but he didn't know.  I suggested the owner contact Cole Gunsmithing and see if a solution was available.

So far, I'm a happy camper....

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