Benelli has not taken the break-action-shotgun world by storm the way it did with autoloaders when its Super Black Eagle was first imported to the US. But the Italian gunmaker did develop an inventive over/under with the launch of its 828 U—particularly the competition-oriented 828 U Sport. The Sport combines advanced technology—including a lockplate action, a carbon-fiber rib and an adjustable trigger—with superior ballistics. I patterned the 828 U Sport and shot skeet with it as well. Its performance on paper and at the range was nothing short of spectacular. The 828 U Sport may not have the cachet of guns from stalwarts like Krieghoff, Zoli and Beretta, but the fact that Benelli made serious investments in building this dedicated clays gun is clear from the moment you put your hands on it.
Since the 828 U Sport is a clays gun, I took it to the skeet range. Before that, however, I patterned it using a variety of 2¾" and 3" shells with ⅞- to 1¼-ounce payloads. Regardless of choke, patterns at 40 yards from both barrels were even: 50 percent above and below point of aim. That was surprising, since most competition guns are designed to shoot high. But the 828 U shoots where you point it. That’s good for snap shooters like me. I only dropped a few targets on three rounds of skeet. The low profile of the action also allows you to see more of the target, and the weight of the gun makes it swing easy. Light loads produced little recoil, but 1⅛- and 1¼-ounce loads were stout. The Progressive Comfort Stock—with its series of interlocking polymer fingers inside—did little to mitigate felt recoil. But most production 12-gauge O/Us that weigh less than eight pounds aren’t enjoyable to shoot once you step up to heavier payloads. The price (including a hard case and an owner’s manual) is $4,499. For more information, contact Benelli USA, benelliusa.com.
1: Available with 30" or 32" barrels, the gun has a 10mm carbon-fiber rib, which takes some weight out of the 7.8-pound 12-gauge. The barrels are split with no side ribs, which is another way of reducing weight. The gun is chambered for 2¾" or 3" shells although, being that it is a target gun first, most shooters likely will opt for 2¾" ammo. Included are five extended Crio chokes (Benelli freezes its barrels and chokes to -300° F before assembly): Cylinder, Improved Cylinder, Modified, Improved Modified and Full. Each choke is labeled and can also be identified by the number of notches etched in its rim.
2: Benelli uses a single-piece-assembly steel breech block that locks directly to the monoblock and absorbs the stress that the action endures. The 828 U Sport’s receiver is steel, which adds weight but also provides durability. It has a matte blue finish, and the names “Sport” and “828 U” are laser engraved on both sides.
3: The position of the trigger—which is inertia operated and requires the recoil of the first shot to reset for the second shot—can be adjusted up to 6mm with the provided tool. The trigger pulls on our gun averaged 2.3 pounds for the top barrel and 2.1 pounds for the bottom with a little creep. The selective manual safety can be left “off” during competition but is not ideal for hunting. Ejectors engage once the trigger is pulled and the shotshell hull expands.
4: The stock and forend are AA-grade satin walnut. The grips are textured and mimic the look of fish scales as opposed to traditional checkering. Stock dimensions are: 14¾" length of pull, 15/8" drop at comb and 2¼" drop at heel. Measurements are adjustable with the included shim kit (five drop and four cast shims). You can also add up to four 12½-gram weights to the stock by removing the 1" recoil pad to customize gun balance. The forend is removed by pressing a button at the end while squeezing the forend itself.