This past waterfowl season I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to chase ducks and geese from the Prairie Pothole Region to the gulf coast, and several other locations in the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways, folding over 260 ducks and geese, 173 of those on camera. While it went down in my personal record books as a number I may never reach again in a single season, I know that with my Beretta A400 Xtreme as my tool of the trade, I’ve got the best opportunity to try and meet or beat that in years to come!
When I was gearing up for the early goose and teal seasons for 2011, I decided it was time to upgrade from a pump to an auto-loader. I’m pretty easy to please, but there were a few features I wouldn’t budge on. First of all I wanted a versatile gun, that shot all three shell sizes: 2 ¾”, 3” and 3 ½”. Secondly, I wanted a reputable and established gun manufacturer. I wanted a shotgun that would not only last me for years, but last for years with the significant use it’d get. I spent 100 days in the blind this past season, and plan to spend close to that every year, not to mention the clay and skeet shoots to stay sharp. That said, I only had a couple manufacturers I was debating between, and I went with Beretta. “500 Years. One Passion.” I knew I could trust them when not only my favorite hobby, but my livelihood was on the line.
The “next big thing” when I started shopping was the A400 Xtreme Unico. I started reading up on it and loved every feature. It was truly a gun built for the waterfowler, and I was sold. I could write a short novel describing all of the features, and how they worked in the field, but for your convenience, I’ll sum up my favorites quickly.
First off, the Optima Bore HP was designed to work perfectly with HP steel shot. There’s a plus, a gun made for waterfowl loads, rather than designed for lead, but merely capable of slinging steel. With the Steelium barrel, featuring deep drilling, cold hammering and vacuum extension, there’s no doubt to Beretta’s claim of “the world’s best barrels.” The A400 Xtreme also comes from the factory with a lengthened forcing cone, something I’d paid extra for on my last shotgun, after I received it. I had a souped up pump that I loved, but the A400 came out of the box patterning just as good with a modified choke as my deeply invested previous shotgun did.
Next we get into the guts, the technological mechanics. There’s two features I’ll highlight here, first, you’re probably curious what “Unico” is, if you didn’t already know. Beretta’s Unico technology basically sums up as all-load top performance. Not only will it fire all three standard shell sizes, but it’ll handle a huge range of shells from 24 to 64 grams. The only other autoloader I own, doesn’t like target loads. It’ll only spit out the expensive stuff. Haven’t had a single foul up with my A400, no matter how light or how heavy of a load I fire through her. That second feature is the cornerstone that truly allows the A400 to tout “Unico:” Beretta calls it “Blink,” a gas-operated system with a rotating bolt head and new feeding system that translates into unmatched performance and head turning speed.
Had Beretta stopped there with the bells and whistles, that would have been more than adequate, but they decided to ice that cake as well. Another favorite feature is the “Kick-Off.” With three hydraulic dampeners, the recoil reduction, reduced muzzle raise and lessened mechanical stress is unmatched. I can honestly say I can barely, if at all, tell the difference in kick between a 2 ¾” shell and 3 ½”. If you picked up an A400 Xtreme off the rack at your local gun shop, you’d think that she’d kick like mule as light as she is. But that’s not the case. The A400 shoulders well, and can be adjusted to fit a good range of length of pull.
So what was the “wow factor” here? It’s too tough to narrow that down because Beretta truly has the complete package for the waterfowler. Now don’t think the A400 Xtreme is a single season gun, I’ll be out there this spring with my full choke, chasing gobblers. If you want dependability, comfort and extraordinary performance, pick up a Beretta A400 Xtreme Unico, and take out some “can’t wait until waterfowl season” aggression on clay pigeons until the season rolls back around. For more information on Beretta’s A400 Xtreme Unico, visit Beretta USA