First Look: Beretta A400 Unico Autoloading Shotgun

By Randy Wakeman

Beretta A400
Randy shooting the Beretta A400.

The Beretta A400 Unico was announced in October of 2009 with some half-hearted fanfare augmented by plastic dinosaur feet. It has a green receiver billed as a “cosmetic alternative,” the usual bluster about fast-cycling and was pronounced “Designed For Shooting.” Designed for shooting in a shotgun is a pretty good idea, but not exactly a new concept!

It is also presented as “all new” with “Steelium” that is supposed to be better than steel, has a new X-Tra Grain technology stock with oil finish, that culminates in a shotgun that is a “green technological beast.” Apparently Beretta didn't get their last several screw-choke attempts quite right either, so we have a new one: the “Optima Choke High Performance.” This is the type of cluttered, clumsy propaganda that struck me as having all the excitement of a Domino's pizza, the old, cardboard version. Here are Beretta's basic, published specs.

    ·         Action Type: Semi-automatic featuring Beretta Blink gas system

    ·         Gauge: 12

    ·         Chamber: 3-½”        

    ·         Barrel:   26”, 28” or 30” Optima-Bore HP featuring new Steelium technology

    ·         Sight: Ventilated rib with metal bead

    ·         Safety: Reversible safety button designed for better grip

    ·         Stock: New X-Tra Grain pistol-grip stock with oil finishing; new fore-end, features checkering with the Beretta logo; available with Kick-Off Cubed (enhanced recoil-reduction configuration)

    ·         Length of Pull: 14-½” with new ¾” Micro-Core pad (14-1/4” with Kick-Off)

    ·         Weight: 6 lbs. 6 ozs. (28" barrel)

A great deal of this struck me as “ho-hum,” yet another rendition of the gas gun with little steak. This changed when I spent some time shooting with a pair of 28 inch Unicos at the 2010 SHOT show in Las Vegas, one with the Kick-off cubed pad and one without. The Beretta Unico is extremely well-balanced, slim, and responsive. I didn't go through the normal testing protocol, as this was just a test drive of two shotguns. However, I did come away with distinct impressions.

The Unico (sans Kick-Off) is supremely well-balanced and easy to shoulder. It was so well balanced that I asked the folks at Beretta if they were sure it had a 28 inch barrel, as it seemed much faster. It did. Recoil was mild with the 1-1/8 oz. Federal loads I was shooting and the gun is light, very close to the stated 6 lbs. 6 oz., though my guess would have been right at 6-1/2 pounds. I though the trigger on both guns was extremely crisp compared to many semi's and function was flawless.

In spite of its light weight, the A400 was smooth swinging with no sign of whipiness, having no tendency to stop the swing. The action iself appears to be a variation of the Franchi-inspired Xtrema 2 and Beretta has done an excellent job making this 3-1/2 in. chambered gun's receiver conform to standard receiver envelope dimensions. The Kick-Off version adds a little weight in the wrong place, so I didn't care for it. It does its job, but with 1-1/8 oz. loads it made little difference. With turkey loads or other high-intensity loads it would be of more benefit.

Despite the techno-babble, the Unico has clean lines and has a subdued (unpolished) look, with a matte metal finish and dull stock. On the other hand, it may well be the best hunting shotgun Beretta has ever released; it certainly has that potential. Those looking for walnut and a bit more eye candy might do well to consider the Urika 2 Gold, but for the field the handling and shouldering of the Unico sets it above most autoloaders.

I guess the folks at Beretta could tell by the smile on my face how much I truly enjoyed shooting the Unico. I should have a 28 inch barreled non-Kick-off model here soon that I can put through its paces. It is a bit of a sleeper, not what I expected, but far better. Maybe I should have expected the unexpected after all? There will be a thorough review of the A400 Unico on the Product Reviews page in the near future.

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Copyright 2010, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.