Beretta A3901 Shotguns

By Randy Wakeman

Beretta Statesman
The current Beretta 3901 Statesman. Illustration courtesy of Beretta USA Corp.

As supplied, the A390 was a competent gas operated semi-auto. It differed from the previous Beretta models by adding a secondary gas bleed and featured a shim adjustable stock that could be tweaked for cast on and cast off, as opposed to the stock drop-only shims available for the A303 and the Browning-marketed B-80. Rather than this being a reminiscence about an out of production gun, it appears that the A390 is back to stay as the Beretta 3901 American series, which is made in the USA.

Good to start with, these Berettas come to life with an Allen Timney trigger job. Rich Cole (Cole Gunsmithing, has offered a set of secondary gas bleed springs of varying strength that makes this gun easily tunable to your favorite load with minimum recoil and maximum reliability. From 1 ounce to heavy turkey loads, with just a quick change of the spring you control how fast the secondary gas vents open.

The lack of "O" rings in Beretta gas guns has always been a relief, and they will run a long time as long as you do a good job cleaning the action after extended shooting sessions. Depending on your application, cleaner powders seem to help any gas gun run through cases of shells without a hiccup, and the 3901 is no exception.

The 3901 American series comes in 12 or 20 gauge with 26" or 28" barrels and three model/finish variations. There is the "Statesman" model with bluing and walnut and, in the continuing race to offer really ugly guns, you can have fake wood film over the traditional canoe paddle Beretta wood (called X-tra Wood, meaning "extra plastic") in a model called the "Ambassador." Then there is the dull-looking synthetic/matte "Citizen" model that reminds me of the "Wally World 390."

The basic specifications for the 12 gauge, 28", 3901 American Statesman are as follows:

  • Cat. code - J390S18
  • Choke - MC3
  • Chamber - 3"
  • Rib - 1/4 x 1/4
  • Weight - 7.19 pounds
  • 2006 MSRP - $898

I'm glad it's back. The Statesman has the most appeal to me, but whatever your personal choice, with a few little Rich Cole adjustments you'll have a gas gun that will last you a long time.

Note: A full length review of the Beretta A390/3901 shotguns can be found on the Product Review Page.

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Copyright 2006, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.