By Dan Kidder
Designed for home defense or law enforcement use, the Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun provides a versatile gun with Beretta reliability for added peace of mind in a defensive encounter.
The 18.5 inch barrel, featuring Steelium Technology, bonds the tri-alloy steel and combines it with cold forging and vacuum distension to make a superior barrel with the ability to fire a wide range of shotgun loads from steel shot to slugs without damaging the barrel or having accuracy suffer.
The fixed choke cylinder keeps uniform conformity without the need to change chokes. The gun patterns very well, given the short barrel, with about a 12-inch spread with #6 target loads at 50 feet and 8 inches with 00 buckshot. The Optima-Bore HP geometry gives the barrel a natural point of aim/point of impact that almost makes the sights unnecessary.
But as sights go, the ghost ring sights provided rapid target acquisition and ease of sighting. They give the shooter a quick sight picture and make it easy to quickly reacquire the sights after each shot.
While this gun is designed as a defensive gun, it absolutely screams three-gun. In fact, Beretta also makes a competition version of this gun.
The B Link gas system is self-cleaning, super reliable, and cycles 36 percent faster than any other semi-automatic shotgun on the market. The exclusive exhaust valve, combined with a cross tube gas piston, allow the 1301 to fire a wide range of loads, making it a super versatile gun.
The 1301 also comes standard with customization options to allow the shooter to adjust the length of pull, drop, and cast, with a series of spacers. A standard Piccatinny rail on top allows the addition of optics or lights without drilling and tapping for a scope mount.
An oversized charging handle, combined with oversized reversible safety and a large intuitive bolt release, make the 1301 a cinch to operate in the cold or with gloves. Aggressive textured checkering on the fore-end and stock make it easy to grip and provide positive control with slippery hands.
I put about 200 rounds through this gun, alternating between target loads and high brass steel shot. I also put several slugs and defensive loads down the barrel.
My first impression is that this gun is a natural pointer and sights are almost not needed for ranges under 50 yards. The gun wants to shoot where you think it should and it destroyed stationary clay pigeons so rapidly that I was having difficulty keeping targets at which to shoot on the range. The B Link gas system is so fast that follow up shots were amazingly quick and smooth. The trigger was amazingly crisp with no creep and a medium weight that, since I didn’t have a trigger gauge, I am guessing was around 4 pounds.
On a gun this nice, it was difficult to find a shortcoming, but the one area where the gun was lacking was in the capacity of the magazine tube. Because Beretta ships guns all over the world, it has a magazine capacity of 4+1 to comply with various nation’s laws and import restrictions. Never fear though, because an after market extension is available to increase that capacity to 7+1. All in all it was a supremely well-made gun with engineering that far surpasses its closest competitor and topped off with more than 500 years of gun making experience behind it. The Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun is like many fine Italian products, but not as high end as a Ferarri. More like a sporty and practical Alfa Romero. Not so nice that you will be afraid of scratching the paint, but something you will want to drive every day.