Beretta A300 Outlander
With its simple style, competitive price and ‘good old’ Beretta mechanics, the new A300 Outlander semi auto looks set to be a best-seller
With its simple style, competitive price and ‘good old’ Beretta mechanics, the new A300 Outlander semi auto looks set to be a best-seller, says Mike...
These are interesting times for gun buffs. I heard about the new Browning 725 over-and-under – a reworking of the famous superposed with a lower receiver that retains a full width hinge pin and classic taper bolting but incorporates a new mechanical trigger design – the other day, then I bumped into the equally interesting new Beretta A300 Outlander semi-auto on a recent visit to GMK of Fareham. The Outlander incorporates features of the old 303 and 391 as well as elements of the A400 (but not its rotating bolt head).
First impressions were excellent. Indeed, my first thought – as this is so much like the old and much loved 303 – was: “about time, they made it again”. The gun is not an exact copy of a 303, though it does handle much like one, and looks rather like a 303 too. There are no unnecessary bells and whistles present. I like plain guns, especially, plain semis-autos. So, the simple aesthetics suited me just fine. I also liked the general style of the gun – clean and streamlined.The test specimen was a 28” barrelled field model with plain black action and wooden stock. The latter was excellent with a full radius but not too big pistol grip, a well proportioned comb, and an elegantly slim fore-end (made possible by a compact gas collar and piston). There is a flat and narrow, sighting ventilated rib. The top surface is not engine turned but plain (possibly sandblasted or similar). It reminded me of some of the wider flat ribs of similar surface finish that one encounters on Victorian pigeon guns. They almost disappear to the eye when you mount the gun. I think this a good quality; there is nothing to distract the eye.The Outlander’s alloy receiver looks compact and has a rounded back like the 303 but is distinguished by dovetails for scope mounts which are clearly intended for the European and US markets. Stripping the gun down, one discovers a breech-block and hinged rat’s-tail much like a 303 or 391. The A400 – the main Beretta semi-auto product now – has dispensed with this feature in favour of a coil spring positioned between the rear of the cocking-sleeve on the mag tube and the receiver.The trigger unit of the test gun is somewhat modified and includes bits of both the 391 and A400 within its mechanism as far as I could ascertain on a quick inspection. The blade shape was small and good, the pull was far better than average for a repeater (light and quite crisp). I also liked the larger than average bar safety. The streamlined black polymer trigger guard was smart – and you wouldn’t notice it wasn’t actually metal. This is a well integrated design aesthetically, mechanically, and ergonomically. A large amount of creative work has evidently gone into the project to create a refined product at a very competitive price. I don’t think I have ever said this, I even liked the designer fore-end nut which cleverly incorporates an attachment point for a sling swivel to its front (there is another sling attachment point on the butt). The 28in barrel is 3in chambered and made from Steelium – Beretta’s new super alloy steel. There is one short Mobil multi-choke supplied (half choke, but it’s a useful constriction). The bore is quite tight at 18.3 – not such as issue in a soft recoiling gas operated semi as it might be in a double (indeed, it may be an advantage in a field gun as a tight bore can be associated with increased penetration) – and bears Fleur-de-Lys proof marks for steel shot. The rib is ventilated as well as narrow as noted. There is a simple metal bead at the muzzles of just the right size. The stock of the Outlander looked and felt good as noted. The grip shape was somewhat improved over the 303/390/391 (yes, I admit the 303 was not perfect!). It is not too square in cross section. Because the gas piston is small (and there is a spring loaded valve in front), Beretta have been able to create the very slim fore-end – one of the best on any semi that I’ve handled. Both butt and fore-end boast simple, elegant, chequering layouts without odd curves or squiggles. The chequering itself, evidently laser cut, was of a good size and with the sensible stock shapes enhanced purchase and controllability. The oil, or apparently oil finished stock, was made from plain but nevertheless attractively coloured and adequately dense wood. There is a plain rubber pad (the usual Beretta type that allows for quick changes in length) and the Beretta shim system for cast and drop was also there. All first class.