Compared: Beretta 486 Parallelo and F.A.I.R. Iside Prestige Tartaruga Gold SxS Shotguns
By Chuck Hawks
Pietro Beretta is Italy's largest manufacturer of Over/Under shotguns and F.A.I.R. (Fabbrica Armi Isodoro Rizzini) is Italy's largest manufacturer of Side-by-Side shotguns. Both manufacturers make every effort to combine the latest design and production methods with the innovation and craftsmanship befitting a fine double gun that can be sold at a reasonable price.
Beretta's 486 Parallelo and the F.A.I.R. Iside Prestige Tartaruga Gold are good examples of the quality and creativity built into modern Italian side-by-side production shotguns. (The full nomenclature of the F.A.I.R. gun is too long for me to use throughout this comparison, so henceforth I will simply refer to it as the "Prestige TG.")
These guns are not inexpensive, but they are attainable by most shooters with a middle class income. They are, for example, about 1/4 the price of an average used car. Of course, you could buy a brand name autoloader for considerably less, but then you'd have to shoot it.
Like most Guns and Shooting Online firearms comparisons, the intent of this article is not to pick a "winner," but to compare and contrast these two guns. It is you, dear reader, that will pick the winner based on your personal needs, preferences and budget. Both guns are worthy of consideration.
Beretta 486 Parallelo Specifications
For a number of years Beretta has neglected the side-by-side shotgun, producing no guns of the type. The 486 Parallelo that is the subject of this review marks Beretta's re-entry into the double gun marketplace. It is a new design, a round body, trigger plate action gun in the Scottish tradition. It was introduced in 2012 in 12 gauge, with 20 gauge being added in 2015.
Beretta USA now offers the Parallelo in 12, 20 and 28 gauges. 12 and 20 gauge guns are available with a straight hand (English) stock and splinter fore end, or a pistol grip stock and beavertail fore end. 28 gauge guns are stocked only in the English style. Pricing is the same, regardless of gauge or stock style.
F.A.I.R. Iside Prestige Tartaruga Gold Specifications
As this is written, F.A.I.R. offers seven models of SxS shotguns. All are in the Iside line, which is named for the Egyptian goddess of fertility, marriage and love, who also protected travelers.
One of these is a hammer gun and the others are hammerless models built on a boxlock action with some important internal modifications, including the use of coil springs. The F.A.I.R. guns are made entirely of steel and walnut, with no aluminum alloy or polymer parts and the Prestige TG is the top of the line F.A.I.R. double gun.
The F.A.I.R. and Beretta guns reviewed by Guns and Shooting Online were 20 gauge field guns with three inch chambers and highly polished, deeply blued, 28 inch barrels built on short, thin, through lumps. Beretta calls their through lump construction "Triblock technology" and F.A.I.R. calls theirs "demiblock," but they are actually through lumps. Both guns have concave English style ribs and interchangeable choke tubes rated for steel shot.
Both came with oil finished, Turkish walnut, straight hand stocks of similar grade with fluted combs, splinter fore ends and walnut butt plates. The butt stocks are attached to the frame by means of a through-bolt, a stronger method than tang screws. The fore ends are attached to the barrels by means of Anson type push button latches.
Mechanical features include inertia single selective triggers (SST) and Southgate (tumbler) type selective ejectors (SE). Their thin wall barrels are secured to the frame by double under-bolts that leave a clean breech face and are opened by means of a top lever and Scott spindle. A top tang safety slider incorporates the barrel selector. They both come with a plastic takedown carrying case, with the Beretta case being somewhat stiffer and better appointed than the F.A.I.R. case.
The F.A.I.R. Prestige TG is available in 12, 16, 20, 28 and .410 bores, built on 12, 20 and 28 gauge frames. The Beretta 486 Parallelo is offered in 12, 20 and 28 gauge.
The Parallelo uses a Scottish style trigger plate action with all moving parts mounted to the trigger plate. Removing the stock reveals the internals for easy cleaning or repair. The hammers are powered by V-springs, said to provide a faster lock time and improved sear angles over earlier Beretta designs.
The Prestige TG has a more conventional box lock action, but with rounded edges and beautifully fitted false side plates. Removing the side plates gives easy access to the internal parts. The hammers are driven by coil springs.
Receiver / Hinge Pin
F.A.I.R. states that the action body is machined from a billet of top grade steel with reduced cross-sections and all unnecessary metal removed. Consequently, it rivals the weight of guns with aluminum alloy receivers, without sacrificing the strength and wear resistance of steel.
There are no visible pins in the F.A.I.R. receiver, except the hinge pin for the barrels; all other pins are concealed behind the head of the stock. The hammer pin is located behind the fences, which results in a stronger action body than a traditional Anson & Deely type boxlock with the hammer pin directly below the knee of the action, already the weakest point in the frame.
The rounded action body of the Beretta is about average in size and weight for 20 gauge guns of its type. It is is sculpted with curved lines into which the stock fits perfectly for an organic look. On the inside, the water tables are engine turned (jeweled), a classy touch.
One notable difference in the construction of the two guns is the hinge pin on which the barrels pivot open. The Prestige TG has a replaceable hinge pin, a definite advantage, while the Parallelo's hinge pin is merely machined into the front of the receiver. This design means the hinge pin cannot be replaced should it wear after long or unusually hard use.
Selective single triggers are complicated mechanisms and can be troublesome, prone to balking or doubling. However, the inertia type triggers in both test guns performed flawlessly during our testing. Double triggers are an available option in the Prestige TG, but not the Parallelo.
The trigger of the Prestige TG is attractively gold plated, a deluxe touch. Its pull measured 3-1/2 pounds after some take-up, which I consider a very good shotgun trigger.
The trigger of the Parallelo is coin finished and matches the receiver finish. Its pull measured five pounds, releasing without noticeable take-up. It is clean, but too heavy for a shotgun in this price class.
Incidentally, both trigger guards are gracefully curved and generously sized. They allow easy trigger finger access when wearing winter gloves. The Beretta trigger guard incorporates a long bottom tang, a traditional feature.
Safety / Barrel Selector
These guns have top tang safety sliders typical of double guns. The Parallelo comes with an automatic safety that returns to the "Safe" position when the barrels are opened. I consider this a minor advantage in a field gun, but irritating when the gun is used for clay target shooting. The Prestige TG safety is completely manual; it stays where it is set until the shooter changes it.
Both guns incorporate the barrel selector as a button in the middle of the tang safety that moves laterally (left or right). However, the barrel selectors operate in opposite directions.
The Prestige TG's barrel selector button is moved to the right to fire the right barrel first, or to the left to fire the left barrel first, which made sense to the Guns and Shooting Online staff when we reviewed the gun. It also slides with just the correct amount of tension to be both positive and easy to operate.
When the Parallelo's barrel selector button is moved to the left, it reveals a single red dot (presumable indicating the barrel usually fired first) to its right, and in this position the trigger fires the right barrel first. Move the selector button to the right, revealing two red dots to the left of the selector button, to fire the left barrel first.
The G&S Online staff found this system to be counter-intuitive. In addition, the selector button, although positive in operation, was so difficult to slide as to be an impediment in the field.
In addition to a manual safety, the Beretta has an internal, gravitational drop safety intended to prevent inadvertent discharge if the gun is dropped; if the gun is held upside down the trigger cannot be pulled. Like most double guns, the Prestige TG has nothing equivalent to this Beretta gravitational safety.
The selective ejectors of both guns were properly timed and kicked fired cases several feet behind the gun. Unfired cartridges are merely extracted for easy manual removal.
An unusual feature of the Parallelo allows the shooter to easily switch from automatic ejection of fired cases to plain extraction for manual removal. Reloaders, particularly trap and skeet shooters, should appreciate this feature. The selection is made by removing the fore end and using a small rod tool to move the selector switch, which is located in the fore end iron ahead of the hinge.
Chokes and Patterning
Both guns claim to have extended forcing cones and come with five screw-in choke tubes: Full, Improved Modified, Modified, Improved Cylinder and Skeet/Cylinder. All five of the F.A.I.R. choke tubes are rated for use with steel shot. The Beretta Full and Improved Modified tubes are not recommended for use with steel shot, but the other three tubes are.
Based on our pattern testing, I would rate the Beretta chokes about average for factory choke tubes, which means inferior to most bored chokes. If you are picky about pattern performance, you will probably want to order replacement tubes from the likes of Briley or Carlson.
The F.A.I.R. chokes produced the best patterns we have seen from flush mount factory choke tubes. The shot patterns are rounded with few pellet fliers and evenly distributed, without holes through which a clay pigeon could escape at ranges appropriate for the degree of choke.
F.A.I.R. claims the internal shape of their nickel plated Technichoke tubes has been specially designed to ease the flow of shot, improve penetration and reduce internal friction. During the manufacturing process, Technichoke tubes are subject to several quality controls in compliance with AQL 0.4 standard.
Engraving and Inlays
Both guns are attractively laser engraved with fine line, English type scroll. The receiver coverage is approximately 100% and both guns have some engraving on the top tang, top lever and trigger guard. However, the Beretta also has engraved fences, bottom tang and screw heads (which are properly timed), while the F.A.I.R. gun has game scene and scroll engraved side plates, and a ventilated top tang lever. (The Prestige TG has no visible screw heads or bottom tang to engrave.)
The Prestige TG's "triple depth" engraving does seem to be cut deeper than the Parallelo's. Laser engraving leaves a tiny, rounded ridge on the sides of each cut, a by product of the laser metal melting process. This is not intrusive, but it can be felt on the Beretta, while the F.A.I.R. gun's receiver was polished to remove all traces of such ridges. Rocky Hays (our staff gunmaker and a member of the Engraver's Guild) and I agreed that the F.A.I.R. engraving was better executed than the Beretta engraving.
The "gold" in the F.A.I.R. gun's name refers to gold game bird inlays in the bottom of the frame and on both side plates. These are well done and nicely detailed. They contrast dramatically with the color case hardened frame.
The Parallelo is supplied with a bright silver coin finish, which shows the gun's engraving to maximum benefit. The Prestige TG's attractive color case hardened frame makes its engraving appear more subdued, but shows off the gun's gold inlays to maximum advantage. (F.A.I.R. offers a Prestige model with a coin finish sans gold inlays, for those who prefer this look, as well as coin finish and color case hardened box lock guns without side plates.)
It is worth mentioning that the Prestige TG's finish is produced by real case (surface) hardening of the receiver. It is not faux chemical color, or the result of simply heating the steel with a blowtorch.
Stock Finish and Checkering
Both guns are supplied with oil finished Turkish walnut stocks of similar grade. The finish of both stocks is adequate, although those who prefer a glossy finish will want to rub on a couple more coats of stock oil.
They also come with fine line, three panel, laser cut checkering. The checkering patterns are generous. However, the Prestige TG's very fine, skip line checkering pattern includes a single border and a drop point on the grip sides. This is the fanciest and best laser checkering any of us on the G&S Online staff can remember seeing.
An oval metal medallion for the owner's initials is inletted into the underside of the Prestige TG stock. This feature is absent from the Parallelo.
Butt Plates and Recoil Pads
These guns are supplied with walnut butt plates, which look classy, but do nothing to ameliorate recoil. Those who shoot a lot of rounds will probably want to fit a recoil pad. Either gun can benefit from having a gunsmith fit a deluxe recoil pad, such as a Pachmayr Decelerator, for whatever length of pull and pitch angle the shooter wants.
However, Beretta offers a unique option for their Parallelo and other Beretta field guns. They sell pre-fitted MicroCore FIELD recoil pads, already shaped and ready to mount. Just remove the wooden butt plate and screw on the recoil pad. These pads come in several thicknesses, the thinnest of which is 0.39 inch thick and should not significantly increase the gun's length of pull.
The length of pull of both guns is 14-1/2 inches. However, the Beretta has more drop at comb and heel, with less pitch down than the Prestige TG. Both have a little cast off to make shouldering and alignment easier for right handed shooters.
Of the three Guns and Shooting Online staff members who shot both guns on the skeet field, Jim Fleck felt the Prestige TG fit him best, while Rocky Hays and I felt the Parallelo fit us better. Your results will probably vary, which is why it is so important to make sure any shotgun fits you properly before buying. No matter how nice a gun is, if it does not fit properly you will never be able to shoot it as well as you should.
Weight, Balance and Handling
The Parallelo test gun weighed 6.456 pounds. The Prestige TG weighed 6.170 pounds. Both have walnut stocks with commendably slim, straight hand grips.
Most of the weight difference is probably due to the Prestige TG's extremely narrow receiver, from which all unnecessary steel is removed. The gun measures only 1.888 inches wide at the breech, where the barrels meet the fences. The Parallelo measures 2.05 inches across its fences. The Parallelo frame is about average size for a 20 gauge double gun, while the Prestige TG 20 gauge frame is about the size of most manufacturer's 28 gauge frames.
The Parallelo balances right on its hinge pin, while the Prestige TG balances about 5/8 inch in front of its hinge pin. This difference in balance makes the Beretta feel slightly faster to point, while the F.A.I.R. gun feels slightly steadier to swing. Either one makes mounting and swinging a repeater feel like a club by comparison.
Both guns have rounded frames that are very comfortable in the hand. The Prestige TG's very narrow frame and slighter lighter weight, however, make it a little bit nicer to carry in the field.
The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) is only an indication of the maximum amount the gun might cost. It is useful mainly for comparison purposes. Retailers determine the actual selling price and most sell their guns at a discount. The 2018 MSRP of the Beretta Parallelo is $5350, while the 2018 MSRP of the F.A.I.R. Prestige Gold is $3060. Price is one area where the F.A.I.R. gun has a distinct advantage.
I want to reiterate that these two guns are both winners among moderately priced double guns. They are clearly superior in design, quality, construction, features and finish to economy SxS guns. Choose carefully and you will have no regrets.
Note: Full, individual reviews of the Beretta Parallelo and F.A.I.R. Iside Prestige Tartaruga Gold shotguns can be found on the Product Reviews index page. I suggest you read both of these reviews to supplement this comparison.
Copyright 2018 by chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.