Article 7 – 2011
Question: I own a model 56E Beretta shotgun which I use for everything on my rural property. I want to shoot some clays with my children when they get older, but everybody tells me it is too light to shoot clays consistently. It has 28 inch barrels and it does tend to “kick” me a little with recoil. Is there any way to weight this gun up to make it better? I have been told to insert a lead fishing sinker in the stock. Will this help? Would this make it a good shotgun for shooting clay targets?
Ian Williamson, Ascot Vale VIC
Answer: Ian the 28 inch barrel Beretta model 56E was a shotgun that was basically designed for field shooting. It was produced in the 1970’s and was a forerunner to the model 58 and 680 series which were the first of Beretta’s popular mass production competition shotguns. I would think the model 56 weighs marginally over three kilograms which is quite light for any form of competition shotgun. You certainly can weight the stock up with lead and this will no doubt decrease the recoil, but it will also make the barrels feel even lighter than they are already. To balance this out you may then have to add some weight to the barrels to make the gun feel more controllable. This can be easily done by adding a small barrel weight. “Briley” offer a great barrel weight which is basically a thin lead jacket that easily clamps to the underside of the barrel. To balance the gun you must always try to have an equal amount of weight in front of and behind the manufacturers balance point of the gun. Beretta tends to balance their guns at a point just a few millimeters in front of the hinge pin. This balance point is found by simply closing the shotgun and resting it on your index finger.
Once the gun is weighted and balanced again it would be better, but not perfect, for shooting clays. The 28 inch barrel won’t do you too many favours no matter which clay target event you try as the shorter sighting plane offered by these barrels will make accuracy a little harder. If my assumption is correct and it is a field gun equipped with a field stock it will probably have too much “drop” in the height of the stock comb thus making your eyes look too flat along the rib of the barrel. This would be far from ideal for shooting trap targets which are constantly on the rise and a higher comb is far more suitable.
I also would assume that a gun of this vintage is probably still supporting its original manufacturers “fixed” chokes and if it is a field model chokes of improved cylinder ( one quarter) for the bottom barrel and modified (one half) for the top barrel were quite common. Beretta symbolizes this with four stars for one quarter and three stars for half. You will find these marking under the forend stamped on the barrel down near the chamber. Those choke sizes are too tight for skeet and generally considered too open for trap shooting.
If the shotgun is to be used merely to shoot over a portable clay target trap on your farm or the odd round of skeet or sporting clays it is probably a shotgun that is more than adequate and will last long enough for your children to enjoy.