There might have been a time when you believed all shotguns were equal, more or less, but then things changed. You either became a seasoned waterfowler or began considering adding duck hunting to your outdoor resume. However it happened—or is about to happen—you’re now aware you need something more than Grandpa’s old 12 gauge. As it turns out, all shotguns aren’t the same, and certain shotguns are vastly superior. Enter the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus, a shotgun that’s proven itself through extraordinary field testing and lengthy use.
Two things you can’t have a successful duck hunt without: a fantastic shotgun and a talented four-legged sidekick. (Photo credit: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)
What’s the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus?
This shotgun is a 12 gauge
, of course, but that’s where its similarities with run-of-the-mill shotguns end. Beretta designed the A400 Xtreme Plus
to offer a bevy of features from the world of competition shotguns while delivering as an all-weather firearm. It’s made with one of three barrel lengths
— 26 inches, 28 inches, and 30 inches — and is a semi-automatic, gas-powered gun. With its 3.5-inch chambering, hunters and shotgun aficionados
can run anything from 2¾-inch shot shells to 3.5-inch magnums, the latter of which are fantastic to reach out and touch birds.
Beretta placed the rotary bolt and return spring on the magazine tube rather than the stock to facilitate cycling. The gun also has a split-ring valve that makes it possible to run the gun with impressive speed at great lengths without cleaning it (more on that later). It is a cleaner-running shotgun than many, if not most, in its class.
You want a reliable, fast shotgun for the moment ducks appear over flyways like this one. And no, there’s no filter on this. (Photo credit: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)
The gun is feature-rich, with details made to cater to hunters. An extended charging handle and bolt release make it easier to operate while wearing heavy gloves, and an enlarged ejection port simplifies loading. There’s also a soft comb to make running the gun more comfortable and a MicroCore recoil pad to mitigate felt recoil. Additional noteworthy features include a reversible safety, so you can shoot it right or left-handed, and if you’d like a totally left-handed gun, they have that, too.
Does it really shoot dirty?
This shotgun launched in 2018. To both test and prove its capabilities, Beretta
decided to organize a Torture Tour. It was a duck-hunting tour and utilized the same handful of shotguns across the country. During the NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas, Beretta branded five A400 Xtreme Plus shotguns before taking them on tour. Then the guns went on a sight-seeing, duck-hunting trip around the country, where they went through mud, water, salt, and more, all without being cleaned.
One leg of the tour took place in Stuttgart, Arkansas, one of the most famous flyways in the country. That’s the hunt I participated in toward the end of the tour. Translation: Our guns were filthy and had seen some hardcore use.
The author on a flooded timber duck hunt with the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus. (Photo credit: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)
In Arkansas, flooded timber was the name of the hunting game. Sometimes that meant trudging through hip-deep water; others it meant taking jon boats out to a special spot. But however we got there, one thing remained true for all our guns. They ran and ran well. As it turned out, Beretta’s promise that the A400 Xtreme Plus would keep going through a rough-and-tumble season was, and is, true.
A look at the Torture Tour guns, salt-crusted, dirty, and running just fine. (Photo credit: Kat
How does the A400 Xtreme Plus shoot?
This shotgun shoots beautifully. Thanks to numerous design features, recoil is negligible, even when you’re using magnum loads
. In fact, it’s a surprisingly flat shooter. What recoil does reach your shoulder moves in a smooth wave, not a jerky kick, which makes it far more pleasant to shoot than many other shotguns.
Loading the gun, even with gloves on, is easier thanks to the size of the ejection port. It’s also worth mentioning there are no sharp edges or ledges to tear your thumbnails on. Unfortunately, this is something that has happened with more than one shotgun. And because of that ejection port and other components, you really can run it fast. When faced with several ducks in range and with enough confidence to drop several in a row, this gun will get it done smoothly.
The shotgun has an enlarged ejection port and extended charging handle, making it easier to load and cycle the gun while wearing gloves. (Photo credit: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)
The gun has an overall weight of under eight pounds and a factory trigger that breaks right at five pounds. With its longest barrel, it’s still easy to shoulder and swing on target. However if you’d like a bit less bulk, you can go for a shorter barrel. If you want a dedicated bird gun, though, go big.
Is this gun accurate? Yes. Personally, I prefer longer barrels, such as the 30-inch, on my waterfowling guns. Even the 26 and 28-inch model barrels had no problems contacting targets.
The Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus is incredibly well-balanced. I rarely say it’s a delight to run a long gun, but this one is simply that well-made. The difference between this shotgun and many other waterfowl models on the market is significant.
It’s also worth mentioning that during the Torture Tour, and after, I haven’t had any failures. Yes, I’m a fan of “keep it lubed, run it dirty,” and this shotgun lets me do it. It even continued cycling after going for a swim in flooded timber water.
Does the A400 Xtreme Plus deliver in the form of ducks? We think so. (Photo credit: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)
Should I get a Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus?
This shotgun is well worth the investment it requires. Even if you don’t hunt, it’s a stellar firearm. Thanks to its varied barrel lengths and numerous finishes, you can get a gun that fits your exact needs. Finishes range from synthetic black to Mossy Oak Bottomland to Realtree Timber, and more. You could use it as a plain black clay gun, run it in Bottomland in flooded fields, or go for Kryptek Wraith if you prefer a cooler look.
This gun even looks good sitting next to matching waders. (Photo credit: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)
MSRP for the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus is around $1700, but you can find it at a lower price point new through dealers or used
. This is one shotgun you have to shoot to believe (preferably at length).
Model: A400 Xtreme Plus
Gauge: 12 gauge
Chamber: 3.5 inch
Action: Semi-automatic, gas-operated
Capacity: 3 +1
Barrel length: 26-inch, 28-inch, or 30-inch (all tested)
Finish options: Synthetic, Mossy Oak Bottomland, Realtree Timber, Max-5, TrueTumber, Kryptek Wraith
Overall length: 49.5 inches with 28-inch barrel
Length of pull: 14.3 inches
Trigger pull: 5.0 pounds, measured
Overall weight: 7.8 pounds
The Beretta logo branded into the stock of the author’s Torture Tour shotgun. (Photo credit: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)