Reviewing the versatile semiautomatic shotgun offering from Beretta
I am not sure exactly when it happened but it’s possible that I’m getting older. My first clue arrived about five years ago after a successful duck hunt. As I waded out of the marsh I noticed that my 12-gauge, inertia-driven autoloader seemed a bit heavier than the past season. That evening I noticed that my right shoulder was a little sore.
What’s this? Was I turning into one of the “old guys” I used to hunt with, complaining of heavy shotguns and pouring copious amounts of Aspercreme on my aching joints?
After calming my nerves with a cold beverage I realized that I simply wanted a lighter-weight shotgun that produced less recoil. Nothing to panic about and I didn’t need to reach for the analgesic.
After visiting my local gun shop and receiving many jibes from my younger gun clerk “friends” on turning into an “old dude,” I settled on a Beretta A400 Xplor Action autoloader in 20-gauge. It felt good when I shouldered it in the gun shop. Even better, it checked off many of the items on my new shotgun wish list: lightweight, gas-operated, versatile . . . .
Details of the Beretta A400 Xplor Action
Beretta chambers the A400 Xplor Action in 12-, 20-, and 28-gauges with barrel lengths of 26- and 28-inch. The 12- and 20-gauge models will handle both 2¾- and 3-inch shells. They also offer a left hand option in a 12-gauge with a 28-inch barrel.
Shotgun weights can vary, of course, but average weights are as follows (weights based on a 26-inch barrel). The optional Kick Off recoil reduction system adds about a pound to the weights listed below.
- 12 gauge: 6.7 lbs.
- 20 gauge: 5.6 lbs.
- 28 gauge: 5.5 lbs.
New-in-the-box it comes with three Optima-Bore HP choke tubes: cylinder, modified, and full. Honestly, I’m not sure why Beretta sends them from the factory with a cylinder choke tube versus the more versatile improved cylinder.
In-hand, the A400 Xplor Action has the look of a classic autoloader, sporting a shiny blued barrel and a walnut stock. The receiver is finished in a unique bronze color that offers a different visual appeal than standard blued receivers.
Its gas-operated Blink action is fast, reliable, and relatively easy to field strip for regular maintenance. Both my son and I have shot a wide variety of shot shell brands through our A400s and only encountered cycling issues once with some lower quality promotional loads.
Beretta balances the light weight of the shotgun with the recoil-reducing ability of its Kick Off hydraulic shock absorbers inside the stock. It’s offered in both Kick Off and non Kick Off versions depending on the level of recoil reduction sought and one’s budget. Kick Off adds about $100 to the price tag and a pound to the weight.
Function of the Beretta A400 Xplor Action
I like to keep things simple, so my primary requirement for a shotgun whether in the duck blind or uplands is that it works and it works every time—given, of course, some regular care and maintenance. Historically, gas-operated shotguns were reputedly less reliable than their recoil/inertia-operated cousins, but I’ve had little trouble with my A400. On one occasion while shooting clays I had a couple of shells not cycle, but I chalked that up to lower quality shells because it hasn’t happened since using a variety of quality shells from several manufacturers.
One of my other reasons for switching to a gas-operated autoloader was recoil reduction. I feel (no pun intended) the A400 Xplor Action produces no more recoil than other, similar gas-operated shotguns but whether or not the felt recoil is actually less than similar autoloaders is too subjective to determine with normal field use.
Reliability of the Beretta A400 Xplor Action
My son and I have used our A400s in both the duck blind and the uplands as well as on the sporting clays course. Cold temperatures and wet conditions in our pit blind do not seem to hurt its reliability in the least. Dusty conditions in south-central Kansas chasing roosters caused zero problems, with the last shell of the trip cycling just as cleanly as the first one.
As with any other gas-operated shotgun, regular cleaning and maintenance will help keep the A400 running smoothly for years to come. Cleaning and simple maintenance in the field is not too challenging given that the shotgun can be field-stripped without any special tools.
Value of the Beretta A400 Xplor Action
The suggested retail price of the A400 Xplor Action comes in around $1,700 for the Kick Off model and $1,600 for the non-Kick Off model, landing it near the higher end of price points for semi-automatic, gas-operated shotguns with blued/wood attributes. Your local gun shop may even offer lower pricing and/or used ones for less than the MSRP.
In the words of my dear departed grandfather, “You get what you pay for, kid.” I feel my grandfather would agree that, while the A400 Xplor Action does demand a top-end price, the quality and reliability are worth the investment.
When I’m in the market for a shotgun I try to prioritize my purchase by what is most important to me. Following are a few of my highest priorities and my rating on how the A400 Xplor Action lines up on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent and 1 being “uh, no, thank you.”
- Does it work and work nearly every time? 4.5
- Does it feel good out of the box? 4
- Is it easy to disassemble/reassemble and clean/maintain? 4
- Is it versatile enough to use for multiple purposes? 4.5
The bottom line is the Beretta A400 Xplor Action is a quality, gas-operated, autoloader that I have found versatile enough to use for both waterfowl and upland birds. It also makes a darn good sporting clays shotgun, even for a mediocre shot like yours truly!
Brad Stefanoni grew up hunting quail and waterfowl in southeast Kansas, where for the past 20 years he’s been passing on what he learned to his wife and their two sons. His diverse background includes work as a biologist, a science education center director, an outdoor writer and a developer of public/private partnerships. With a degree in wildlife biology, Brad’s current work-in-progress is transforming his family’s 80-acre farm into a living laboratory of upland and wetland habitat. His passions include spending time with his family and black Labrador retriever pursuing waterfowl and upland birds, and fly fishing.