An overview of this unusual shotgun from the iconic Italian gunmaker
The grouse season was well underway when I cut open the box in front of me. Just a few weeks before, I had closeted a 28-gauge side-by-side after a bad run of shooting and found myself back with my go-to Savage Fox 20-gauge shotgun. Inside the box was a round-action Beretta Parallelo side-by-side in 28-gauge; I was wary at the thought of swapping back down from my trusted 20-gauge.
“Just have some fun with it,” the Director of Development for Beretta USA had said to me, trying to temper my hesitations. After a couple rounds of skeet, I was feeling pretty good about it despite the rather long length-of-pull for my size.
Beretta needs very little introduction in the world of wingshooting, but I would not say that their side-by-sides enjoy the same popularity as their iconic over/unders. Maybe it’s the single triggers? I do have a tough time getting over that. In fact, Beretta only offers two models of side-by-side shotguns in the United States (the other being the commissioned 490 Serpentina) because the over/under market dwarfs the side-by-side market. And let’s face it, Beretta really has that O/U market cornered.
Beretta is one of the oldest gunmakers in the world. They started barrel production somewhere around 1500 and the first official commercial sale receipt dates to 1526, taking the “show me the receipts” catch-phrase to a new level. Their ability to build barrels has had a bit of time to develop, if I might say, and their mono-bloc barrels are considered some of the best in the world. This is evidence of the modern manufacturing that Beretta has embraced, as the demi-bloc was once king. One of the unique aspects of the 486 Parellelo shotgun is the “Triblock” barrels that hide any visible weld marks while maintaining superior barrel performance.
Specifications of the Beretta 486 Parellelo
We caught up with Alberto De Carli of Beretta Product Management – Premium & PB Selection Guns in Italy. He noted that the Beretta 486 Parellelo was first introduced to the market in 2012 and is currently offered in three gauges: 28, 20, and 12-gauge, all with an MSRP of $5799. All three gauges are available with a straight stock and splinter forend, but they also offer a pistol grip and beavertail combination in both the 20- and 12-gauge.
The action is a traditional Anson and Deeley boxlock, first patented by Westley Richards & Co. in 1875. De Carli described it as “a standard Anson boxlock trigger group made in a way that it’s very easy to disassemble from the receiver.” It is a design that has stood the test of time. Barrels come in 26″ and 28″ lengths for the 12 and 20-gauge, with interchangeable chokes and capable of handling steel shot. The 28-gauge only comes in 28″ barrels with the interchangeable chokes; lastly, for those more traditional folks, the 12-gauge is also available with fixed chokes in 26″, 28″, and 30″ barrels. All barrels are chambered for 3-inch shells except for the 28-gauge, which comes in 2¾ inch.
Candidly, I will say that one of the biggest disappointments of this gun is that you cannot order custom dimensions for the stock. The Beretta 486 comes with the standard measurement of 37/59 with a length-of-pull of 370mm (14½ inches), cast off. The safety can be either manual or automatic with a single selective trigger.
On the wood grade, De Carli said, “The stock is decent grade–2.5 grade according to our internal quality rate up to 5–with matched wood-pad.”
The gun weighs just about 7 pounds.
The Beretta 486 EL
Coming in the same family is the Beretta 486 EL, which is only available in a 20-gauge. You must appreciate that fact, as most gun companies usually stick to 12-gauge offerings when limiting the selection. The distinct difference with this model is the sideplates added to the Anson and Deeley round action. The model 486 Parallelo EL Tartarugato is a case-hardened version, and I must say that the aesthetics are next-level. The MSRP on both models is $10,300.
The Beretta 486 by Marc Newson
It makes sense that the first version of this shotgun I held was the Marc Newson edition. The round action is a perfect nod to this famous industry designer’s reputation for avoiding sharp edges in his work. The minimalist design of the opening lever against what must be one of the most elaborate, yet clean, engravings will stop anyone in their tracks. It also features an edgeless receiver, again holding to Newson’s reputation in design.
While it may not be immediately obvious, the Asian-inspired design featuring two dragons elegantly twisted around either side is a nod to the country of origin for the iconic pheasant.
Because of the nature of this exclusive design, the MSRP comes in at $25,500 for those deep into the more expensive side of collecting shotguns.
The Round Action History
One thing I appreciate about Beretta is the cultural hub that they truly are. They are not shy about this round-action design being a tribute to the John Dickson & Son round-action shotgun. Sitting in the bustling city of Edinburgh, the John Dickson & Son brand was founded in 1838 and introduced this iconic design in 1880. These Scottish-built shotguns were recently featured in the Spring 2021 Issue of Project Upland Magazine in an article titled “The Scottish Gunmaker” by Gregg Elliot. These early versions fetch well over ten times the MSRP of the Beretta 486 Parellelo, as John Dickson & Son sits among the most elite, fine gunmakers in the world.
The Used Market
The used market for the Beretta 486 is very limited (in other words, non-existent) and while I found remnants online of a sale as low as $3700, I could not truly confirm it and I think it’s fair to say that will not happen again. One version with a 30” barrel was being sold for $5200 on Guns International and, from the copy that accompanied it, it seemed like the dealer got stiffed by a buyer and was looking to get the money back. The true value of this gun–and the standard MSRP–is that it’s a true round-action shotgun built by a very reputable brand.
The Beretta 486 in the Field
The weather finally broke after a couple days of off-and-on rain. I had been carrying a beater gun that I was less concerned about getting wet in case my cleaning job was subpar. I had been saving one particular hunt to try the Beretta 486, which was going to require about five miles of walking to hit various pocket covers woven between mature timber, conifer stands, and beaver ponds.
Past my single trigger complaint, I felt as if the trigger guard was a far reach from the grip compared to other factory spec guns that I own. But I wear a size small in gloves and, for the sake of standardization, it is fair to say that others may not encounter the same issue.
My dog had wandered further out than I like him to go as we entered a corner that usually held birds. I looked at my GPS and listened intently to the faint chime of the bell off in the distance. It was slow, sporadic, and then stopped. I put a boost in my step and trekked up the incline, coming to a wall of young cover. From the GPS, it looked like he was on the other side of an old logging trail that I knew lay 30 yards through the cover so without hesitation, I broke my way through and hoped to make the opening in time.
I stumbled into the opening, closed the action of the gun, and let the noise settle around me. A small chime of bell came from across the trail to the right. It ceased again. I took one step and a flush broke the silence as a ruffed grouse made his way right for the top of the mature timber canopy that stood not 10 yards from the other side of the trail.
I pulled the gun up and thought the distance was pretty far as the bird banked hard to my left. I let the steel shot fly anyway. The bird crumpled, and his momentum and altitude carried him even further away. As I did my best to mark where he fell below my line of sight, I began to cut through to the mature opening where a small brook would mark the direction where he went down.
Grim, my Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, had an extra get-up in him as he frantically ran back and forth at the excitement of the shot and “hunt dead” command. Then his nose shot up and his body language changed–he had caught scent. After some trial and error, he moved around until he finally got a good scent cone in the wind and soon I saw his whole butt waving back and forth at the mercy of his overly-excited tail, with a mouthful of the gray phase grouse.
Depending on the price market I am in, I would certainly consider owning a Beretta 486 despite the single trigger. The round action is truly what catches my eyes and options in that design are very limited. I trust Beretta’s craftsmanship and have no doubt that a gun of this caliber would stand the test of time. While I would not feel a need for sideplates, I am a sucker for case-hardened steel and I think the beauty of the 486 EL Tartarugato would be my first choice and still a reasonable price in the round-action category.
A.J. DeRosa founded Project Upland in 2014 as an excuse to go hunting more often (and it worked). A New England native, he grew up hunting and has spent over 30 years in pursuit of big and small game species across three continents. He started collecting guns on his 18th birthday and eventually found his passion for side-by-side shotguns, inspiring him to travel the world to meet the people and places from which they come. Looking to turn his passion into inspiration for others, AJ was first published in 2004 and went on to write his first book The Urban Deer Complex in 2014. He soon discovered a love for filmmaking, particularly the challenge of capturing ruffed grouse with a camera, which led to the award-winning Project Upland film series. AJ's love for all things wild has caused him to advocate on the federal and state levels to promote and expand conservation policy, habitat funding, and upland game bird awareness. He currently serves as the Strafford County New Hampshire Fish & Game Commissioner in order to give back to his community and to further the mission of the agency. When those hunting excuses are in play, you can find him wandering behind his Wirehaired Pointing Griffon in the mountains of New England and anywhere else the birds take them.