Good, Beretta, best

The ejection system is similar to the SV10 but without the detachable stock

The ejection system is similar to the SV10 but without the detachable stock - Credit: Mike Yardley

Beretta scores another home run with its new 692, a gun set to replace the 682

The grip has a good shape with a comfortable comb

The grip has a good shape with a comfortable comb - Credit: Mike Yardley

I’ve lost count of the number of Berettas I’ve tested over the years. I would guess more than anyone else on the planet, but I could be wrong!

Barrels are Steelium Plus and chokes are extended, colour-coded Optima HPs

Barrels are Steelium Plus and chokes are extended, colour-coded Optima HPs - Credit: Mike Yardley

I am always interested in the guns that this great firm produces. I might like some more than others, but the consistency of their production is remarkable. They make 40,000+ over-and-unders each year across a very wide price range, yet they are all well made and unwaveringly reliable. Of course, some are better than others, in my opinion. I especially like the basic Silver Pigeon and think them great value, though I also have a fondness for the EELL (I own a 28-bore). It’s no secret that Beretta autos do it for me too, though I only wish they would reintroduce the simple ‘ol 303 with 32” barrels. Another favourite of mine is the 682. I liked the old, chunky silver-actioned gun, and I like the Gold E as well, which has a slightly different character and Optima boring (as even a Silver Pigeon 1 has these days).

The adjustable trigger has a good shape

The adjustable trigger has a good shape - Credit: Mike Yardley

Our test gun this month is the replacement for the 682, the 692. You won’t be able to buy one when you read this, but they will only be a month or two away. I went to see the new gun when it was launched with a lot of razzmatazz in Seville, and when Beretta does something, it’s never by halves!

The Beretta 692

The Beretta 692 - Credit: Archant

There was food and drink aplenty, Olympic champ Vincent Hancock was on hand to endorse the new gun – I spent some time in discussion with him on issues of technique and noted his complete belief in visual contact shooting – and I even had a chance to get into a bull ring with a small but feisty bullock [the video of which can be found on Sporting Shooter’s Facebook page!]. All things considered it was an interesting trip, not least because of this exciting new gun.

The first thing to be said is that it is neither a 600 series (Silver Pigeon) nor SV10 (Prevail and Perennia) type gun. It is a new design with some very interesting features. It is designed to replace the 682 eventually – and that is a hard act to follow. The new 692 has an action reminiscent of both the 600 series and the SV10s in some respects. Before considering the technical, I might also note that it is very smart, with a matt finish, polished edges and hinge pin caps. The styling is close to my own ideal. The edges of the action side panels are very neatly cut and I like the way the fences have been carved, and there are simple scallops to the rear. This is not an especially costly competition gun (projected at about £2,500) but it is extremely elegant.

The new gun has conical bolts which are familiar and asymmetric, enlarged barrel shoulders similar to an SV10 (but 692 barrels do not fit previous models). Hinge pins are wider than in a 600 series gun. The ejection system is similar to the SV10 but without detachable stock or trigger mechanism. The action itself is a little wider too, to concentrate weight between the hands – it is 41mm wider than the 682 but about 1mm thinner than the new hefty but good DT11. There is an adjustable trigger with a good-shaped blade. The top lever is interesting, as the very ergonomic thumbpiece is polymer, making it 50/50 steel and high-tech plastic.

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It all gets very interesting when you look at the barrels. These are made of a chrome moly steel that Beretta calls Steelium Plus. They are monobloc, steel Fleur de Lys proofed and chambered for 3” (76mm) cartridges – not that one is likely to be putting them through a competition gun unless it is going to double up on the marshes. The barrel profile has been refined (and feels good), and I really liked the sighting rib which is tapered (10-8mm), vented and finished with a white bead. Joining ribs, which only extend back just past the front of the fore-end, are vented too. This is common as a weight-saving measure. The gun weighs in at a perfect 7lbs 10oz, with a barrel weight of 1450g for its 30” tubes.

The barrels have undergone considerable development. They aren’t quite as radical as the DT11, with a near full-length taper, but as well as the new profile, they are a little wider than average (18.6 in the Sporter as tested, 18.4 in the Trap gun). They have a long 380mm conical section in front of the main chamber, compared to 65mm in the 600 series. The taper bore of the DT11 with 760mm (30”) barrels is 480mm. The 692 is equipped with Optima HP extended and colour-coded chokes.

On to the stock: the grip has a good shape and radius with a slight palm swell. There is a bit more cast than many Berettas. A comfortable comb shape is well complemented by a rounded fore-end. Dimensions were 372mm (14¾”) for length, drop was 35mm and 55mm. A 38-60 drop, right or left handed, is also available. Wood quality was good – though a little more oil might have been applied – and the chequering was neat and laid out in traditional panels. It is available with a fixed or adjustable stock. Balance is adjustable by means of ‘B-Fast’ weights and there is a high-tech ultra-lightweight Microcore recoil pad notable for its recoil-absorbing qualities.

Shooting impressions:

Berettas often feel similar to shoot. I preferred the handling of this new gun to the 682, which is in itself a bit compliment. There is a nice feeling of weight between the hands. Recoil control was good. Pointability and controllability: A1. It broke all but my last target of a tricky pair. Well priced, well styled and excellent to shoot. Another winner from Gardonne.

Tech specs:

- Make: Beretta

- Model: 692

- Bore: 12

- Chamber: 3”

- Rib: 10-8

- Special features: semi taper bore

- Weight: 7lbs 10oz

- RRP: £2,500 approx.