Among autoloading shotguns, few can claim the near-ubiquitous popularity of Benelli’s inertia-driven system among American sportsmen. Long an everyman staple of the duck blinds and pheasant fields, the guns are well made, durable and low-maintenance; and their popularity has spawned a wide range of models for every shooter, purpose and price point.
But every type of gun must have a “best,” and Benelli has set the bar high with its Magnifico Set of Five, made to celebrate the company’s first 50 years. Blending function and high art, the only set of matched Benellis ever made features a pair each of 12- and 20-gauges and a single 28.
The engraving is by Giovanni Steduto and Valerio Peli from the Italian shop Creative Arts. Each stainless-steel receiver is wrapped in oak leaves on a dark background and highlighted with acorns in gold. The panels on each side feature different scenes—with the guns of each gauge matching—and gold lights the sky on all of them. The 12s have scenes of animated mallards, the 20s feature pheasants flushing before pointing dogs, and the 28 has quail hunting themes.
Stocking was by F.lli Piotti and features fantastic hand-oiled walnut. Fine checkering wraps the full-pistol grips and tails into an arc. The buttplates are buffalo horn.
A leather-covered wooden case by Oscar Maschera houses the entire set, with the guns of each gauge strapped to a leaf in an unfolding triptych. There are also care and cleaning accoutrements for each gauge. Hand stitching and brass hardware accent the case, while fold-away legs support it.
Benelli presented the Magnifico Set of Five at an invitation-only event at this year’s Safari Club International Convention, in Las Vegas. After a brief tour of Beretta Galleries, the set will be returned to Italy, where it will await offers for private sale. Benelli has pledged a $200,000 contribution to SCI from the proceeds. Interested parties can contact Benelli USA General Manager Tom DeBolt at 301-283-6981.