Michael Yardley tests an up-market Beretta 687 EELL enhanced with their new scroll engraving. (This review is revised slightly converting metric to a U.S. standard and removing certain sections for ease of reading.)
The shotguns of Beretta are no strangers to these pages, indeed, they are familiar to all of us in the shooting world because the giant of Gardonne makes so many! Not only is it the oldest gun maker in the world – the precise date of establishment seems subject to periodic revision, but for the sake of argument we will say they have been making Berettas for some 500 years and the industrial concern of Beretta has been in business for well over a century. But, they produce no less than 150,000 shotguns each year, 50,000 or so of them over and under guns like our test gun.
The test gun, however, is not typical of the massive Beretta output in all respects. Although based on the phenomenally successful 60 series action, it is an upmarket, side-plated EELL model with an MSRP near the $7995.00 (or $9695.00 for the combo model)* mark and it features a new style of scroll engraving. EELL guns – usually game scene engraved – have always been favored and this one should prove no exception.
This is a smart, well-finished gun and it comes up well with a good balance just forward of the hinge pins. It does not feel heavy but it does feel steady and pointable. The oiled stock finish is pleasing and practical, the fixed chokes are my preference in most Beretta doubles as they help to reduce barrel weight, as does the narrow, ventilated rib, which it might also be added presents a good picture to the eye.
Our EELL hits the scales at just over 7 pounds and does not feel heavy. This is a near perfect weight for a modern 30”, 12 gauge game gun (and something just under 7 pounds would be my ideal for a 20 gauge). It feels stable and comfortable when mounted. The stock comb has some taper and the grip is comfortable and well rounded.
The 30” barrels are nicely put together on the test gun. Wood to metal fit, blacking, and the matte oil-like stock finish are all well executed, maintaining the high Beretta standard. My only gun making comment is that there were a couple of small flaws in the well figured wood of the stock which just might become an issue – but one in all probability that might easily be rectified.
I have a bit of prejudice in favor of Berettas generally, because they are such consistently made guns, EELLs and old Beretta semi-autos in particular. Both, in their way, offer a lot of bang for the buck.
I know a number of extremely well-heeled game shots who choose EELLs for their shooting, though they might use guns costing ten times more (which is not to say that EELLs are cheap). They choose the EELL because they can depend on them.
EELLs not only carry side plates but they also involve significantly more hand work and better wood than the average Silver Pigeon ‘boxlock’ (to be precise Beretta guns are not boxlocks – where the springs and tumblers are incorporated within the box of the action body – but trigger plate guns where springs etc. are carried on a plate that locates into the action body and, effectively, becomes the bottom tang of the action as well). I think in the case of the EELL, the side plates make it a significantly better gun, not just decoratively, but because a little more weight is placed between the hands – creating a subtle but noticeable difference in handling.
The stock shapes of the EELL were sensible as were the measurements. As noted, I liked the tapered comb – a subtly better shape than one gets on the standard gun – and I found the grip comfortable. With regard to dimensions, the test gun’s length of pull was 14 5/8” with an 1/8” extra at heel and 3/8” at toe – standard measurements that few will quibble with (though an 1/8” or a 1/4” more wood might have increased options for the longer armed (though the gun is fitted with an interchangeable rubber pad of medium thickness). Drop was 1 3/8” at comb and 2 ¼” at heel – pretty good, though my preference would have been for 2 1/8” at heel as the ‘shelf’ measurement. The oil finish on the stock was what most of us would want, the timber color was good (not too light), and the chequering was competent.
I shot the gun at the Braintree shooting ground and found it to be a well sorted piece of kit built to a good specification. At around 7 pounds, with 30” 1400 gram barrels – what more could one ask for?