Beretta X400 Unico
The search for my first semi auto sits alongside the story of Jason and Argonauts as one of the great odysseys of human history, I searched high and low for a Browning Maxus, in a form that I liked. Eventually I just gave up and looked at a Beretta semi. What follows is a brief overview of my take on the X400.
From what I can divine, the X400 comes in Clay and 'Hunter' versions, the clay version has a garish blue receiver, and IIRC has a bolt release the size of a saucepan. I saw one of these at the shop but something of that colour would clash with my eyes so ignored it. The Game version however is a subdued green-grey, not at all unattractive. I picked this up and the general feel of the gun endeared it to me instantly. So I bought it. All in all a neat little package, not cheap though at £1500 for a bottom of the range gun, a breech flag and 500 32g shells at 2018 prices. So what did I get for my money?
The gun came in a plastic moulded case with two, yes two handles. There is a bottle of Beretta oil supplied, which is a nice touch. You get two spare chokes, 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 are included, gone are the days when a gun would come with 5 or 6 chokes. You get a shim set, a manual, the guarantee, and a nice metal rod which seems to have no purpose at all.
From the front to the back:
White front bead, no mid bead. narrow cross filed rib, barrel blueing very good indeed. Multi choked with Beretta's Optimachoke HP system. Needless to say these chokes aren't compatible with any of Beretta's other choke 'systems'. Fore end comes off by removing the usual screw on end cap.
Fore end is very lightly built with plastic furniture.
Under the fore end are the usual working parts. There is the action sleeve which reciprocates on the mag tube, attached to that are two steel rods, and to those rods is attached the bolt assembly. The bolt locks into the barrel via a series of lugs at the bolt face which rotate into recesses machined in the barrel extension. This seems like a very strong lock up to me. The recoil spring is co axial with and within the action sleeve, so that means there is no recoil spring in the stock, and it is easier to get lube onto the recoil spring as and when needed. The trigger plate, which is fixed by a single pin, is the now common black plastic. Come on lads, for this price you could have used alloy, and made it a bit classier. No doubt the high tech modern polymer that is used resists insect attack and nearby thermo nuclear detonations, but I'd much prefer a bit of metal here. The safety is situated at the front end of the trigger guard
The receiver is all alloy and is finished with a very attractive shade of grey green. The shaping of the woodwork is a compromise between traditional and futuristic, It is close enough to traditional for me, I don't like futuristic. I cant think the shaping would put anyone off though. The bolt release is a small metal button with a black gloss finish.
The fore end woodwork is very thin and light, when it is off the gun it feels like it could break very easily. I would have loved something a little more meatier, maybe something looking like the trap type fore ends found on over and unders. Maybe the light weight is to compensate for moving the recoil spring from the back to the front of the gun.
The stock as it came from the shop was a little short for me (but then every semi I have ever shouldered seems to be short for me), when lengthened and mounted properly it fits OK .. though It wouldn't do for the comb to be any lower.
Lastly a further comment on the wood - the timber is plain but enhanced by something called Xtra Grain. This is some sort of stain or marking that makes the wood look like some exotic tropical hardwood, I thought I might try and sand it back to bare wood, but as I wasn’t sure how Xtra grain is applied, I decided to leave well enough alone, albeit I have given it several coats of oil. I have read reports of Xtra grain washing off… we’ll see, and if it does it wont necessarily be a bad thing.
Another last point on the wood. The exhaust from the gas piston vents through a series of vents in the fore end’s plastic housing (its fore end?). The internal face of the wooden fore end near the front also gets coated in a carbon deposit The first time I noticed this, I cleaned off as much as I could and then gave the inner faces of the fore end a coat of polyurethane varnish. The poly helps protect the wood from any stray gun oil, and it will help it to resist the carbon.
This was the first semi auto I had ever owned or shot, I was looking for a gun which would be soft shooting, so here are my impressions
It kicked like a mule the first time I shot it.
The reciprocating bolt and all the mechanical antics, all happening few inches from your face is a bit distracting at first, but one soon gets used to it.
Shooting at night can be spectacular with gouts of flame occasionally emanating from the action.
So, hugely disappointed after the first outing, because of 1. above. However Beretta say that the gun should be run in with some 32g shells, but helpfully they don’t say how many. I shot a slab (250) of 32g through it, and then maybe 350-400 28g. I then tried some 28g in the chamber and 21g in the magazine, the 21g shells were ejected OK, so I shot a round of Sport Trap with with just 21g - all went well, the gun didn’t miss a beat. I know, I know, semis need heavy loads to work properly, but this one shot Eley 21g fine. Maybe I got a Friday afternoon special or something, and maybe it should have gone back to Beretta to be sorted, but I just carried on using 21g and it worked.
Once the gun loosened up, and the springs started to get a bit springier, it started shooting much softer. The mix of a ‘run in’ gun and lighter shells mean it doesn’t have much of a kick at all. I was really pleased with the way the gun developed and surprised that the gun seems to have ‘run in’ with a mix of only 650 heavier shells
Overall impression.. a light gun compared to many others. shoots well, the wood is nothing special, ultimately I swapped this for something else, but that is not to say the X400 is not a good gun, it is, it really is...