Benelli 828U O/U 12 gauge Shotgun
As far as I'm concerned, the 828U is Benelli's first truly big mistake and will be a remarkable sales disaster. It is everything most people do not like about shotguns, all rolled into one gun. It is a severely overpriced and ugly gun. It is a big, obvious advance to the rear, inferior to several enjoyable and successful shotguns available at significantly lower prices.
The Benelli 828U retails for $2499.99 in black anodized aluminum, $2999.99 for the nickel finished version with what has to be the world's worst "engraving" pattern. Only 12 gauge, 26 inch and 28 inch barrel models are offered. According to Benelli, availability will begin in July 2015.
While new for 2015, the Benelli 828U offers nothing over several less costly and far more refined models, not the least of which is the Beretta 686 from Benelli's sister corporation. In addition, you have the Browning 725 Citori, Cynergy and Fabarms models that are all at similar or significantly lower price points. Plus, these guns are available in several popular gauges and configurations.
No matter what you do with the addition of the Progressive Comfort recoil absorbing pad, a cheap plastic "springy stock thing," it can only help so much. A 6.5 pound, fixed breech 12 gauge is going to kick with heavy field loads and there is no way around it.
A gentleman that goes by the handle of CFDoc has documented the weight he added to make his Benelli Ethos comfortable to shoot with target loads. For a one ounce, 1250 fps load he needed his Benelli Ethos to weigh a little over 7.5 pounds. For the 1-1/8 ounce, 1150 fps load, he needed his Ethos to weigh just under 8 pounds. The same rules apply to the 828U, for it weighs about the same as the Ethos and has the same Progressive Comfort plastic springy thing in the stock.
The Ethos and 828U Progressive Comfort pad is hardly that, as it does not work as well as selecting the proper durometer of the pad for the loads you are going to shoot. Unfortunately, it allows really annoying, excessive, face-scraping stock movement even with one ounce loads. The 828U is hopping around violently with soft, one ounce loads, which are lighter than I would hunt with.
Adding weight is problematic, even if you did like the 828U for some incomprehensible reason. How are you going to add weight where it is most needed, the receiver? Adding weight to the forearm makes little sense, for the carbon fiber rib on top of the barrels is ostensibly to shave weight. (It is really there to reduce manufacturing cost. -Editor.) The 828U is a high-recoil gun and physics means that is not going to change.
If weight really is a factor, there are many lightweight guns that are far more comfortable to shoot. For example, a six pound Benelli M2 20 gauge (which I use a lot), or several other 20 gauge gas autos. In addition, there are many slimmer, trimmer, lighter 20 gauge O/Us to consider.
The 828U's recessed safety is like a rifle thumb-safety, the triggers don't remotely compare to a 725 Citori, its alloy receiver gives it a muzzle heavy balance and looks distinctly cheap compared to steel. The stock shims are of very little consolation, for they will not help the basic stock design. For less money than the 828U you can get true adjustable comb O/U models. The 828U's ejectors are anemic; the lower barrel occasionally failed to eject spent hulls on the 828U samples I was shooting.
Benelli's ad boast of increased durability is silly, for in a hunting lifetime no one is likely to wear out a Browning Citori or a Beretta 686. A Beretta Silver Pigeon can currently be had for under $2000, for example as can a Citori 725 Field. Even the 725 Field Feather models are under $2100. Browning has just revamped the Cynergy line and they are even less expensive. These are not only far more desirable guns, they are less money.
By any conventional and reasonable standards, both the 725 Citori and the Silver Pigeons are much better looking guns. Someone at Benelli must have thought the 828U made some sort of sense, but it makes no sense at all to me and I have no idea why anyone would want one. There are many excellent, well-respected, better looking choices available that cost a lot less money.
The 828U baffles me. Some might say I am easily baffled (okay, they might have a point) but the 828U is as close to a manufacturing/marketing crime as I have seen in the last few years. I have no idea why anyone would want one. Why overpay for an alloy O/U that is so obviously cheap to produce and not remotely in the same league with so many other shotguns that are prices significantly lower?
Some might be reading this and wonder if Benelli ran over my dog or something. Of course not, for Benelli's get more favorable assessments from me than not and have for many years. I personally use and appreciate my M2 and my Vinci, and the Vinci is hardly a traditional-looking shotgun.
Some of the shameless bluster let loose by the Benelli marketing department is insulting. Benelli claims a "stronger, lighter, safer, lighter O/U." Also claimed is a "significant increase in reliability." Perhaps this is good news for owners of all those dangerous, unreliable stack-barrels from Benelli's corporate owner, Beretta? The only claim with actual merit is the part where Benelli claims that this shotgun is built on imagination. This must be the explanation.
If Browning could design a gun for Benelli, the 828U is exactly what they would come up with, for it is going to sell a lot of 725s and Cynergys. The Benelli 828U is a major disappointment and an outright embarrassment. Its weak, problematic ejection, vulgar aesthetics, high recoil and annoyingly violent gun movement is topped-off with a nosebleed price. This, despite its low build cost, means that the 828U is a product condemned to please no one.
Copyright 2015 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.