Bettinsoli is an Italian company based in Gardone, Val Trompia. The company is decades old and has remained in the Bettinsoli family the entire time. In the past Bettinsoli has sold private-label guns in the US, but now the company is here under its own aegis, being imported by the Stratman family and sold by Bettinsoli USA.
There are 11 models of shotguns in three categories: field, sporting and competition. The sporting and field models come in four gauges, while the competition guns are in 12 only. Prices start at $1,799 for a basic field gun and go up to $4,799 for the highest-end Grand Prix Deluxe competition gun. Naturally, we picked the Grand Prix Deluxe to review for you. It would be very suitable for sporting clays. The two other less-ornate competition guns Bettinsoli offers are the Grand Prix, at $3,999, and the Omega Sport, at $2,599.
The receivers on the target guns are 16NiCrS4 steel carefully checked by ultrasound and laser measurement. This steel has a good machinability yet endures hardening heat treatment with minimal distortion.
The action’s top tang is integral to the receiver, while the triggerplate and floorplate are a single separate piece. Lockup is typical of most Val Trompia guns in that the monoblock has two large lugs that fit into recesses in the bottom of the receiver. The broad Browning-style locking tongue is at the bottom of the receiver face and engages a cutout in the bottom of the monoblock. The hinges are the usual receiver trunnions engaging bifurcated lump cutouts in the sides of the monoblock. These trunnions are replaceable, if worn. In all it is a basic, simple and proven setup.
The firing mechanism is also simple, consisting of sears suspended from the top strap, with the hammers pivoting on the triggerplate. The coil springs driving the hammers are horizontal and have an interior brace rod. The spring-loaded inertia block pivots on the triggerplate and permits the trigger to operate mechanically, firing each time the trigger is pulled even if there is a bad shell. The gold-colored trigger is not adjustable but did have nice crisp pulls at 5 pounds top and bottom. The safety/barrel selector is Browning style, where the safety has to be pulled back onto “safe” and then slid sideways and pushed forward to select the other barrel. There are no markings to indicate which barrel has been selected, so you will have to remember. The hammers have secondary safety notches to keep the gun from firing in case it is dropped and the sear slips out of the main hammer notch. The hammers are operated by “regulator coil springs with rebound.” The rebound keeps the firing pins from protruding from the breech face after firing so that they don’t drag on the hulls when opening.
The interior machining of the parts is clean, as if the parts came straight off the CNC, but nothing is polished or gives obvious evidence of handwork. The interior of the action is held in place by seven solid round-head pins, not the cheaper split pins so often used.
The exterior of the Grand Prix Deluxe receiver is fully engraved and has sideplates for an added canvas for its lasered fine rose & scroll. This shallow engraving looks nice against the silver background of the sideplates and receiver and gives the gun a step up, as it should for the price.
While Bettinsoli makes most of its own parts, the initial barrel blanks are made by another shop. This is really quite common in the industry. During the barreling process it is interesting to note that Bettinsoli welds on the ribs with a brazing alloy with a silver base. This should be much stronger than the traditional soft solder, but the higher heat it requires must be applied carefully, not to distort barrel alignment.
Make & Model: Bettinsoli Grand Prix Deluxe
Action: Break-action over/under
Finish: Rose & scroll in silver, 100% engraving coverage
Barrel length: 30”
Weight: 8 pounds 4 ounces
Chokes: Five screw-ins extended 3/8”,
3 screw-ins extended 1” and 13⁄4”
Stock: Target pistol grip, rubber buttpad
Accessories: Case, chokes, wrench, manual, 3-year warranty
Price as tested: $4,799
The gun is available with 28" or 30" barrels, and our test gun had the longer tubes. Cosmetically, the bright bluing on the barrels appeared flawless, and all seams were correct. The sides of the monoblock are even engine turned for a snappier look and better oil retention. The barrel has full-length ventilated side ribs. The top rib is low and ventilated, tapering down from 3⁄8" width to 2⁄8" at the muzzle. The front bead is a ½" fluorescent-red inchworm. There is no center bead.
The interior of the barrel is chrome lined, which is common now. That will resist damage from steel shot as well as rust. It should make it a little easier to clean too. What isn’t common is that the chambers are 3½" long, just in case you want to shoot bazooka shells at those rabbits and teal. The forcing cones are about 1¼" long, a bit more than usual. This provides a smooth transition from chamber to bore. Both bores measured .725", a touch snugger than the nominal 12-gauge .729". No trendy overbore here.
As with most competition guns today, the barrels are fitted with screw chokes, but Bettinsoli ups the ante. You get the usual five chokes and nice metal wrench. These chokes are listed as Cylinder (.001"), Improved Cylinder (.002"), Modified (.014"), Improved Modified (.024") and Full (.037"). That Improved Cylinder measures almost Cylinder, while the Modified is about Light Modified; but the others are OK. The stainless-steel chokes are 3¼" long, with 3⁄8" of that in front of the muzzle and knurled for easy hand removal. That’s just as well, because the chokes take an interminable 15 complete turns to remove or insert. The ends of the chokes are properly notched to indicate constriction.
But it doesn’t end there. Our gun also came with three black-finished steel chokes of extended length. The one listed as Skeet had .002" constriction (Skeet is usually about .005") and extended from the barrel a full inch. The one listed as Modified had a close-to-nominal .017" constriction but extended a whopping 1¾" from the muzzle. The Full had a proper .037" constriction and the same 1¾" extension. The long extensions on the Modified and Full also incorporated 2" parallels after the choke constrictions. This is exceptional. Obviously, chokes this long add weight to the front of the gun. Whereas the short stainless chokes weighed a little more than an ounce each, the long Full and Modified were more than 2 ounces. While that doesn’t seem like much, adding 2 ounces at the muzzle definitely will affect the way the gun feels when swinging. A little more weight in the tighter chokes might smooth out the longer shots. Since the gun comes with both, you will be able to experiment and find out which you prefer.
The stock and forend are made of matching modestly figured walnut. As is typical with Italian guns, the finish didn’t quite fill the wood pores. The forend is in the classic target configuration with a reduced beavertail, which nicely fills the hand.
The buttstock has an adjustable cheekpiece. In its lowest position it measured 1½" drop at comb and 23⁄8" drop at heel. The length of pull was 153⁄16". This may be a little long for some shooters, but the ¾" black rubber pad can be replaced with one that is .4" thick and is included in the kit. The stock had the usual 4° of pitch. The full target pistol grip had a right-hand palm swell. The stock had zero cast, but the cheekpiece could be adjusted for cast as well as additional height. The checkering appeared to be mechanically cut in a tight-lines-per-inch and basic pattern.
The Grand Prix Deluxe sporter comes in a practical black PVC takedown case that might even withstand baggage-handler abuse. In addition to the gun, the case contained a box with three of the five 3¼" chokes and a nice metal choke wrench. The three longer chokes were separate. There was also a wrench for the adjustable comb. The multilingual manual is extremely basic but does mention that steel shot should be avoided when using Full choke. The warranty is for three years.
Shooting the gun at sporting clays brought no surprises. The gun was mechanically correct. Hulls ejected as a pair for six feet. The mechanical trigger reset properly with all factory target shells but had the good sense to disapprove of my grotty 7⁄8-oz handloads. With its 30" barrels, the gun balanced about 1" in front of the hinge pin and had a slightly high moment of inertia due to the weight forward. Many people prefer this in a target gun. The 8-pound 4-ounce weight was just about right for a 12-gauge clays gun and kept recoil to a normal level.
The weight-forward balance was most helpful on longer shots but wasn’t so excessive that it hindered short, fast crossers. On the short, fast shots I found myself starting the muzzle a little farther out than I would with a lighter, more-neutral gun, but it’s really what you get used to.
The Bettinsoli Grand Prix Deluxe has lots of competition in its less-than-$5,000 price range. There is the Beretta 694, Caesar Guerini Impact, Browning ProSport and Blaser F16 among others. But the Bettinsoli is an attractive gun, and it was a good shooter. It is nice to have the choice.
For more information, contact Bettinsoli USA, bettinsoliusa.com.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF BETTINSOLI USA