Beretta AL391

Your author was keen to get himself a semi auto when shoulder pain started to manifest itself. Thus began the long, long road to getting a Browning Maxus. The road was so long I never got to the end of it! Couldn't find one for love nor money, and one day in desperation shouldered a Beretta A400 Xplor. It was light, and just came up like a dream. Kept it for a year or so, nil complaints, other than it was a bit light, and I tend towards heavier guns. Then I met with a lady shooter who complained about the weight of her 391, I tried it, and she tried the Xplor, and now she owns the Xplor and I own the 391.

 

This is an end to end review of Beretta's AL391 Teknys Stonecoat. Odd name though, but very similar to the Browning B425 Linseed. 

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Nice snap of a 391 auto, albeit with those sling swivel things so beloved of foreigners, and eschewed by subjects of Her Gracious  Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Starting at the front and moving backwards:

 

This one came with a set of Rhino extended ported chokes. The barrel is fully 29ins long, nicely blued and the stamping thereon says that the barrel is Optima bored. The extended choke adds another inch to the barrel length. There is a white front bead, and a hole where the mid bead used to be. The rib is a bit bizarre, it seems to be mechanically fixed to the barrel somehow, but with a bit of play, and when you grab the barrel, you can feel the rib move and think it is about to come off in your hand.. but it never has. Maybe this rib fixing has something to to with an allowance for barrel heating and expansion, either that or it is cheaper to manufacture. Apparently this gun comes with a range of barrel lengths up to 32ins. If that is true it rather suggests one could stand in Dover and break clays in Calais with a cylinder choke. .

The timber fore end as with many semis, feels light weight, and a little fragile. But it has metal rather than plastic furniture, and there is some sort of crosswise strengthener bonded into the inner face at the rear. There is no sense of fragility when it is mounted on the gun. The gun's wood is real wood, there is none of that printed grain nonsense, and whilst it doesn't look breathtaking, it certainly isn't plain. It's had several coats of oil which have sunk in OK, so I guess the original finish was oil.

 

The fore end covers the usual piston and action sleeve. The sleeve is made of blackened steel and the action rod is a heavy metal bar, with a serious weld connecting it to the sleeve. Look under an Xplor's fore end and you will see a plastic sleeve with the action rod (IIRC) rivetted on. The 391 scores big marks here for heft and  build quality. The fore end is fixed to the magazine tube by the usual screw on end cap. Sadly the cap is a complex affair that needs regular maintenance and lubrication. If it's moving parts (yes the cap, has a spring, a piston and various locking washers and bushes) bind up with dirt or worse rust, then continued use can detach the barrel cylinder from under the barrel, which is very sad. That said once you know that the cap needs maintenance, it is a simple job to keep it in good condition. I took mine apart and polished some of the parts so they move a bit more easily against each other, There is a great article on Shotgunworld in the colonies that talks about this (and where I learnt the need for maintaining the cap).

 

The receiver is an alloy unit with a nice mid/dark grey finish. There isn't any of that daft engraving of birds and fish etc, but just a few sweeping curved lines and the Beretta Trident logo, all very tasteful and subdued, which is odd considering that this is an Italian gun.

 

The trigger housing is blacked alloy and not the now more common polymer plastic. The safety is an innocuous little button nicely hidden in the trigger housing. I'm sure it works OK,

 

The bolt, charging handle and shell lifter are finished in a sort of polished gunmetal colour and look really flash. The bolt locks to the barrel by a raised flap that locates in a cut out in the barrel extension. The stock wood as indicated, is fair tending towards good, there is a rubber butt pad that to my eye looks lumpy and inelegant, but has the joyous advantage that it can be removed with out screwdrivers, there is a sort of catch that can be slid downwards to release the pad. The gun comes with the usual set of shims that allow a little tailoring with respect to drop and cast. 

 

This gun has a Beretta Trident logo on a blue sticker type thing that extends from the back of the receiver down onto the wood of the stock. I'm not a fan, I've thought of removing it, but as I don't know what damage I might do I've left it in situ. Stripping down and cleaning is easy enough, there are no dramas to be had here, well no more than any other auto loader I guess, but you'll spend longer cleaning this than you will your over and under.

 

Shooting it.

 

Ultra reliable, used to run all day on 24g ammo, nice and heavy, balances at a point between the back of the fore end and the front of the ejection opening. Recoil well controllable, a delight to shoot. I remember a day at Grimsthorpe in incessant pouring rain, the gun was soaked through, there was water inside the receiver, and it never.. missed.. a.. beat. I don't know how long the gun would go without cleaning cos I clean it after every outing.

 

As I didn't know its history, early on I decided to change the recoil spring which is situated in the stock. A £10 credit card payment got me an OEM spring from an internet trader in the UK. Off came the butt pad and I found that the stock had the expected hole through it for the recoil spring tube, but also another void, which in this case was housing a heavy shiny cylinder – the obvious cause of the guns weight, balance and I assume low recoil. I imagine the tube is one of those Mercury filled recoil reducers, I dont know cos I put it back and thought no more of it. I assume it is not standard with the gun cos I don't remember it being mentioned in the manual. EDIT, just checked this out with some of the cousins, and it appears that this is a factory standard for the Teknys, it is some sort of spring loaded recoil reducer, weighing in at 8oz.END EDIT. The new recoil spring means that the gun needs a diet of 28g shells. 

 

Overall a quality gun, there aren't any negatives that cannot be managed or fixed, and in any case those minor points are outweighed by the lists of positives, If I had to sum it up in one word, I would say 'Classy'. If you get a chance of a nice clean example, you wont be disappointed.

 

And you thought this site worshipped only at the altar of Browning.