It has been around 20 years since Beretta previously introduced its black action guns and barrels. Indeed, the 682 Supersport and Black Onyx were among the last models that I can remember. The latest Beretta models in over-and-under - the Beretta 690, 692 and DT11 - are now all offered in a black action and barrel combination with many innovative improvements to each type.
Beretta Australia’s ‘Back in black’ Black Edition launch was held at the Motorcycle Grand Prix track on Phillip Island, Victoria, in November and it was an event to remember. Around 60 dealers from all across Australia gathered along with others from the shooting media and members of the local Westernport Field and Game branch, who set up the clay targets ground over which everyone had the opportunity to try the new shotguns.
Assembly at the racetrack began early, with Beretta’s international sales director Stefano Quarena available in the upper room suites for the briefing along with Beretta Australia marketing executive Lorenzo Scribani Rossi. Promotional polo neck shirts and hats had been prepared for all in attendance and the morning was set for an information download with the new models. This presentation lasted for around an hour with all of the latest innovations explained in detail to the audience, allowing time for questions and answers to be discussed.
It was not clear during the presentation why Beretta had actually returned to black action guns after an absence of so many years but the guns certainly looked very smart. You could only assume that the launch of black guns was simply as a result of market research into consumer demands.
The base model Beretta 690 shotgun in black was impressive with its matte black action and barrels. The Bruniton finish on the action and barrels is similar to a black Teflon coating, in simple terms. It is designed to avoid unnecessary reflections, which will certainly be seen as a bonus for hunters in the field. Bruniton, unlike blueing, can be ‘touched up’ without having to strip the whole gun back to its bare metal, as would be required with a blued action and barrels. Touch-up kits are available from a variety of sources, should the need arise.
The Steelium barrels with their internal bore treatment of 70mm forcing cones were also great for reduced recoil and highly effective patterning characteristics, as found during the shooting of the gun. Handling the Beretta 690 during the practice shooting over a small ground established at the GP track enabled those attending to evaluate the difference between the three models featured during the launch. I found the Beretta 690 Sporting to be quite a lively gun with excellent results from patterns while shooting the practice targets. This practice aspect using these latest models was an absolute treat for me, but was no doubt even better for the dealers. Those selling the guns were actually able to use them and ascertain the respective attributes for themselves before attempting to sell them to the shooting public. Great idea, Beretta Australia!
The next model, the Beretta 692, was quite a deal more upgraded than the 690. Still with the black action and matte black barrels, the 692 had the addition of a carbon fibre top rib and balancing weights that were available to be attached to the barrels for perfect balance. The carbon fibre rib displaced more than 100g of barrel weight, thereby providing lighter barrels for those shooters who like to use them. The addition of the barrel weights in 10g increments then allows for shooters preferring a heavier barrel set to achieve whatever weight they desired to the maximum of around 100g (five weights to be located each side of the barrels, beneath the cover of the fore-end). Also featuring the Steelium Plus barrels with forcing cones out to 365mm, the Black 692 in Sporting was a treat to shoot, as target after target was destroyed.
Those shooting had the privilege of being supervised by Beretta Australia-sponsored shooters, with Russell and Lauryn Mark, and dual Olympian Adam Vella available for coaching. The practical side of the whole launch was an amazing success for all who attended.
Finally came the flagship of the launch, the Beretta DT11 Black. This shotgun was really ‘tricked-up’ with a composite graphite rib, the barrel balancing weight system, a carbon fibre triggerguard and the Steelium Pro barrels featuring their 465mm forcing cones. Yes, the flagship was great to use and the targets on offer were absolutely smashed by those who were accurate. There were a few tricky targets travelling close and fast, but most dealers were well versed and, with the DT11 Black on board, under great supervision from accomplished shooters, a great day was enjoyed by all on the range.
The smiles on the faces of all those who attended was certainly a testament to not only the value of the day, but additionally the excitement and opportunity of those to shoot this excellent range of products. The launch also saw a generous reduction in the price of the new ‘Black’ models.
Lunch in a track dining room provided ample interaction with dealers and the Beretta representatives with many questions asked about the new models, accessories and modifications that might be introduced once production was established. The Trap shooters were keen for high ribs, as I was with the Sporter models and, of course, the use of premium wood with the new Black Edition caused a great deal of interest, especially with the reduced price structure.
After lunch, most attendees signed up for a ‘go-kart’ challenge as a pleasant complement to the day’s activity. There were three visits to the track by the two groups and the competiveness was as fierce with the go-karts as it was with clay target shooting. The ladies were just as committed as the men too and by the end of the day, local shooter John Paterson, who is also a loyal Beretta shooter, won the go-kart challenge to earn the ‘hot-lap’ in the 300km-per-hour V8 Audi supercar. While the car ‘only’ topped the speedo at 268km per hour, the hot-lap was quite exhilarating.
Speaking with Beretta’s international sales director, Stefano indicated that it was the most impressive launch yet on his global trip promoting the new Beretta Black Edition shotguns as he went. Congratulations must go to all at Beretta and the Westernport Field and Game, with a special thanks to the racetrack management and officials for undertaking the day. It was certainly a great occasion to remember and I look forward to testing the new Beretta Black Edition guns in the future.