Charles Smith-Jones says that you are unlikely to find a more elegant and durable gun for the price of the Beretta 687 Sporting
Beretta has been a prolific firearms manufacturer since the 16th century and although it also produces guns for the military and law-enforcement markets, it is Sporting guns that today account for the greater part of its output.
It is possible to spend a great deal of money on one of its hand-finished guns, although Beretta mass produces more affordable ones of high quality as well. Over the past few decades in particular it has produced many shotguns in an almost bewildering selection of model numbers and names. These have included the renowned Silver, Gold and Diamond Pigeons, names which have been repeated many times against the various numerical models.
The 680 series of over-and-under shotguns is one of the better known. The Model 682 first introduced in the early 1980s soon gave way to the Model 686, with its low profile, improved boxlock action, single selective trigger and selective automatic ejectors. Guns came with a choice of either fixed or multichokes. Stocks were in various grades of walnut and, although receiver finishes differed, the barrels were blued in all cases.
Beretta 687 Sporting
Some models had sideplates fitted to simulate a sidelock action. The Model 687 was much the same as the 686 but had more decorative sideplates along with varying grades of engraving and game-scene motifs. Essentially, all of the 680 series shotguns are built on the same platform with its proven and reliable action, have essentially the same mechanism, and their parts are largely interchangeable. While you can pay a lot more for one of the higher-end versions, in effect the extra cost is for an enhanced cosmetic finish.
The Beretta 687 Sporting model featured is one of the earlier Silver Pigeons from the mid-1990s. In my days teaching future gamekeepers and countryside managers, I would almost inevitably include one among the assortment of shotguns provided for practical sessions on the college clay shooting site. It was one of those guns that fitted a wide variety of body shapes and sizes, and it usually seemed something of a challenge to shoot badly with it.
Despite the far heavier use than a privately owned clay gun might expect to receive, malfunctions were never a problem. It came as no surprise that it was probably the most popular selection among students when their turn to shoot came, and I found myself having to leave it in the armoury at times just to encourage them to use something different.
At first glance, it seems an attractive if unassuming gun, but closer inspection reveals a rather elegant example of modern engineering that is designed to be low profile and natural-pointing. It succeeds in both respects. As a production gun, it cost less to manufacture than others that involved more hand finishing, and this was reflected in the price of a new one. It might be difficult to find many differences in performance compared to something with a far heftier price tag.
Like all 680 series Berettas, the monobloc barrels are hammer forged from chromoly steel. The single trigger is recoil operated and there is a safety-mounted barrel selector in the familiar Beretta style. The walnut stock, although not high grade, is still well-figured and pleasingly chequered, both for looks and secure handling. Engraving of the white metal receiver is a tasteful mixture of scrollwork and game scenes. Considering this is a mass-produced factory gun, the wood to metal finish is excellent.
As a Sporter, the Beretta 687 Sporting would make a great all-rounder for clay shooting and would not feel out of place in the pigeon hide either. A great advantage of Berettas is that most gunsmiths are fully familiar with the marque and spares. Even for older models, spares are seldom a problem to source.
With the usual caveat that any pre-owned Sporter may have had many thousands of cartridges through it, and that regular maintenance and servicing is essential in such a gun, Beretta has a deserved reputation for durable and robust shotguns. It is very difficult to go wrong if deciding on a Beretta product and, despite its age, this particular one will have many years of service ahead of it. Although it is possible to spend more on other Beretta 680 series guns, the fact remains that you are unlikely to find yourself hitting more clays.
Beretta 687 Sporting tech specs
- Configuration Over-and-under
- Action Boxlock
- Choke Fixed or multichoke
- Chamber 2¾–3½in
- Barrel length 26–30in
- Ejector/non-ejector Selective ejector
- Safety catch
- Weight 7lb 8oz (12-bore) 30in barrels)
- Available in calibres 12, 20 and 28-bore
- Cost new N/A
- Cost used From around £600, depending on age and condition. A fine example may be priced considerably higher