Shooting the Beretta SL3 at EJ Churchills

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The Beretta SL3 is the middle ground between hand made and machine made shotguns from the Italian stable. The machine made action is finished by hand including the wood to metal fit and the engraving. While the components are made by machine they are finished and refined by hand. This is as close as you can get to one of their SO model shotguns from the shelf. In the hand this gun feels every bit handmade and the quality is exceptional.

Beretta SL3 sideplate

First impressions

Straight off the rack, you know you’re holding something special. The wood is instantly striking and the checkering is deep contrasting well to the hand engraving. As a Beretta owner myself, the SL3 feels like the gun that I wish mine was. The palm swell suited me perfectly and the mount came up naturally. In the shoulder, the single bead at the end of the tapered rib had a familiar feeling to it. The action has been visually updated and has a stronger bolder look than the SO counterparts. The action has been brought back towards the top leaver leaving more wood to support which has always been a weak point of fine handmade guns. This extra bit of metal also gives more space for engraving and thicker shoulders around the action. This looks thoroughly modern whilst also putting more weight between the hands improving handling.

Beretta SL3 forend

Out on the stands

Trailing this gun at EJ Churchills we had plenty of opportunity to trial the SL3. Having owned Beretta for a long time the SL3 felt natural and familiar. It came into the shoulder very well and the additional weight compared to my own 682 was in all the right places. More weight between the hands made movement and momentum consistent between shots and before long we felt like old friends. The clays broke consistently and confidence grew stand after stand. Shooting the tower at the bottom of the Chruchill’s ground was most reminiscent of what driven game looks like. Shooting clays felt quite simple indeed and felt like the SL3 hardly broke a sweat and took each stand in its stride.

Beretta SL3 walnut stock

Reflection

After going back to the gun room and reluctantly handing it back you’re left with some time to reflect. It was clear that the gun has been built to take game shooting, the engraving the wood and the tapered rib all indicate that standing in a steep valley is where the SL3 belongs. Sprightly when it needs to be and steady when required the gun fits all bases. It wouldn’t be my first choice to take to the pigeon hide, this is more due to the potential to do thousands of pounds of damage remarkably quickly. However, arriving to a game shoot with this in your slip will give you two sensations. Firstly, you’ll know you have the best gun for the job whilst also holding something visually remarkable. You certainly aren’t likely to bump into another SL3 but if you do you’ll both have the satisfaction of knowing you’re in good company.

Beretta SL3 trigger and sideplate

Conclusion

The SL3 sits as the gatekeeper between machine and Hand made guns, taking the best of consistent manufacturing combined with the beauty of hand finishing and engraving. Sitting between the cost of the EELL DT11 and the handmade SO5, the SL3 has been designed to be the perfect game shooting gun without compromise. To the lucky owners who choose one won’t be disappointed. Each corner of the SL3 is remarkable with a seamless wood to metal fit and wonderfully contrast engraving. This may not be the best value gun but certainly won’t let you down while out in the field. To find out more about the Beretta SL3 click Here.

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