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    Classic Upland Guns

    Mario Beschi .410 Bore

    Photo/ Stanley W. Trzoniec
    Photo/ Stanley W. Trzoniec
    We pulled into the makeshift parking lot followed by a new invitee. This convert always offers woodcock finds with demanding shot opportunities and an occasional grouse shot when fired in the direction of the flush.

    A close working, good pointing woodcock dog, as well as hunting and shooting skills, are required if a harvest is expected. The following are also required: the tools of the trade, the right gun, choke and shot size.

    Today I will be shooting my A. Joseph Defourny 20-bore, side-by-side choked cylinder and improved cylinder, 2¾-inch shells, both no. 9 and 7½ shot. Clyde, my everyday hunting companion and good friend, will be shooting his similarly gauged, choked and loaded Beretta 687 over-under.

    As Clyde and I lowered the tailgate to retrieve the guns, ammo and dogs, Gary joined us carrying his gun case and shell bag.

    “What are you shooting today, Gary?” I asked.

    As he opened the gun case, he responded, “My Beschi side-by-side .410.”

    As Gary assembled the stock and receiver, barrels and forend, the small-bore shotgun that was beautifully proportioned to the scale caught my eye.

    The Mario Beschi shop was located in the Valley of Gardone, Val Trompia, home to many fine Italian gun-makers such as Beretta.

    Buyers of Italian smoothbore shotguns know the Beschi name because of their quality shotguns in boxlocks and sidelocks, over-under and side-by-side; some of his shotguns reached the five-figure price range. This gun won’t reach those prices, but the small-bore gun built to scale reflects Beschi’s understanding of the importance of proper proportions and balance that must be maintained throughout the bore size and total weight in small-gauge guns.

    Gary handed me the 5-pound, 12-ounce gun, and I quickly mounted it and pointed it at a scar on a tree 20 feet up from the ground. “Nice. A little short on the length of pull for me. I am impressed,” I commented.

    I passed the gun to Clyde, who said, “Interesting piece. You must like an additional challenge hunting these quirky little game birds with so little shot.”

    Gary responded, “It is not as bad as everybody thinks.

     “I will be using 3-inch shells, eleven-sixteenths ounces of shot at 1,135 feet-per-second in no. 9 and 7½. Yes, I concede some pellet quantity compared to your 20-bore, but as you know, shot pattern and inertia at point of impact are what’s important. The patterns look great at 15, 20 and 25 yards. And we all know that a woodcock is an easy game bird to down with a pellet or two. The rest is up to the man behind the gun.”

    The day’s hunt went well, and Gary proved to be a good hunter and wing shot, getting his woodcock harvest limit of three with five shot opportunities.

    This little beauty has a flat machine-matted, vent rib; barrels are choked cylinder and improved cylinder, 143⁄8 inches L.O.P. from the gold-plated single nonselect inertia trigger to a molded, fine-checkered butt plate that displays a hunter dangling a dead game bird over an excited bird dog.

    The standard grain, walnut-varnished stock has a checkered semi-pistol grip, and the checkered semi-beaver tail forend is released by the Anson push rod.

    The scalloped boxlock receiver has a nice tiger stripe case color and displays rolled engraved circular Florentine designs on the sides, bottom and fences.

    The Purdey sliding bolt locking system is activated by the top lever, causing the break-open of the 275⁄8-inch ejector barrels. This 1980s gun has retained 100% of its barrel blue and has only a few fine, field-use scratches on the stock. Its overall excellent condition makes this .410 bore a great find at $1,800 to $2,500. I have seen them listed at more than $3,500.


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