The senior manager of the company, Carlo Ferlito, made no secret of this to an assembled group of Beretta’s European distributors and the shooting press in Cyprus in November: “We have lost a lot of business in the premium grade target gun market to a company whose name begins with P and ends with i” he said.
Mr Ferlito also stressed that Beretta was now a very different company from the autocratic giant of the firearms industry it once was. Beretta is now a company that listens; a shooters committee and several focus groups are all behind the development of the Beretta DT11. “This gun is shooter driven” Mr Ferlito emphasised, “including by three-times Olympic medallist Giovanni Pellielo, who has made a contribution to the DT11’s development and will be shooting the gun next year at the London Olympics”.
The company is not just pinning their hopes for Olympic victory on one man however; other Beretta shooters around the world have the DT11 in their hands and are training hard with it. As Beretta’s home market is Trap shooting dominated, it is the Trap gun that will be available first. In the UK that will be early December; Sporter and Skeet models will follow in February and March.
The DT11 represents Beretta’s third drop-lock trigger gun beginning with the ASE90 and the DT10. While Beretta didn’t start with a clean sheet of paper, the DT11 is undoubtedly its most fully developed purpose-built target gun. With significant innovation in most areas, this reflects Beretta’s commitment to world class clay target shooting and its desire to be the number one manufacturer in the market place.
The ASE (Anson Sovroposto Ejector), the ancestor of the DT11, was originally an artisan built gun developed by Beretta in the 1950’s. While its nomenclature suggests it was a boxlock, it was in fact a trigger plate action and it’s from this gun the drop-lock versions were developed.
The DT11 may be new and radical in some ways, but thankfully it still retains familiar features that make it a Beretta in its most fundamental aspects. The cross bolt top locking system, developed by Beretta’s own firearms genius Tullio Marengoni, is based on the principles he identified as being essential to the strength and security of a shotgun. He then translated this into a design of simplicity and supreme elegance. The trapezoidal shoulders, integral to the barrel monobloc that relieve stress at the breech face, are also still in place.
One of the most significant changes that are immediately apparent when you pick up the DT11 is to the action body which is 3mm wider and 3oz heavier than the DT10. In the Trap model this provides a more stable and balanced feel to the gun, which remains fast handling but more controllable. The DT11 not only feels more balanced, it looks it.
The rather brutish slab-sided appearance of the DT10 is gone. The beaded fences and the panels that over run the bottom plate create handsome bolsters that provide the action body with an appearance that is purposeful, strong and well-proportioned. The nickel based finish with an anti-glare matt surface on the fences and a silver satin gloss on the rest of the action is going to last as long as the gun will.
The Beretta logo on the bottom plate and the DT11 badge at the sides, picked out in blue, works very well. Second-hand Berettas never look tired like some other guns with less durable finishes. The drop-lock trigger mechanism, which will also fit the DT10 really needs no introduction. The geometry of the sear hammer engagement provides class leading pulls that very few other guns come close to. The adjustable trigger blade is now designed for both right- and left- handed shooters.
The DT11 stock configuration compliments the handsome lines of the action with a fairly tight radius grip that encourages a straight back trigger pull. The comb profile offers good support without being too thick and the 10mm recoil pad is made of a soft absorbent material which increases its surface area in the shoulder under recoil.
Much has changed since the British Olympic Trap team all shot Brownings with the same stock dimensions. That this is not the case now is largely due to the Italians, both the gun manufacturers and the custom stock makers in the Brescia area.
To most British clay shooters, certainly at the higher levels of the game, gunfit is the single most important component to accurate shooting. This is reflected in the number of them now regularly making trips to Italy for new stocks, the expertise and the fast service they receive. Certainly the company whose name begins with P and ends in i makes this service an important part of its business and at least in part accounts for its current success.
With the DT11, Beretta are offering the option of an unfinished stock blank, but I would hope it will be supported with a similar service to that which its biggest rival offers. Meanwhile two options at drop of comb and heel are offered with the DT11 Trap gun, 29/34mm 32/42mm. Length of pull is 3.75mm and there is a small amount of right hand cast.
It is in the area of shotgun ballistics that the DT11 is potentially now the most advanced target gun on the market. In clay target shooting, while great emphasis is placed on the importance of gunfit, barrel length and chokes, we are inclined to forget it is shotgun pellets that break targets. The more there are and the better condition they are in when they reach the target, are vital factors in breaking it.
Some years ago the ISSF, the International shooting organisation that administers the Olympic disciplines deemed it appropriate to limit shot loads to a meagre 24grms. I witnessed at first hand the huge efforts of the ammunition industry to compensate for this with faster powders and shorter shot strings: meanwhile the gun manufacturers tinkered.
At last it is Beretta that has properly addressed this issue. The DT11’s bore size is 0.767 in front of the forcing cones and then gradually tapers to 0.725 behind the chokes and it is this dimension that is stamped on the barrels. For this new internal profile, which they describe as providing a unique progressive conicity, Beretta claims the following:
- Reduced muzzle flip
- Less recoil
- Less pellet deformation
- Increased pellet penetration
(The first two factors also provide faster second target acquisition)
The enlargement of a shotgun barrels bore size, or over boring as it is called, to eliminate pellet deformation in the first stages of the shot charge’s journey down the barrel, is not new. With the pellets retaining their spherical shape they provide more even, and harder hitting, patterns.
Of particular interest to those who take their shots at long range, it is easy to see why it could also be advantageous to those using a very small shot load, i.e. every shooter in next year’s Olympic Games. In the past over boring was carried out by custom barrel makers mainly in the USA, and to my knowledge full over boring has never been incorporated into volume production guns.
If Beretta were looking for an edge over their competitors and the DT11’s new internal barrel profile works as well as they say it does, they have succeeded in a very significant area. It should be remembered however that in the past, over boring could have its disadvantages. For example in the case of balling where gas from the explosion of the cartridge would weld some of the shot charge together, both potentially dangerous and ruinous so far as the pattern was concerned. With a very large bore size some loss of muzzle velocity could also be expected. All this it would seem Beretta have overcome, but unfortunately as their technical staff were not present at the DT11’s launch in Cyprus, how this was achieved remains unclear. There was however an opportunity to test some of the claims made on an Olympic Trap range and a Skeet layout in the Cyprus Mountains.
The Trap gun, though innovative so far as its internal bore profile is concerned, is as previously described both handsome and conventional in appearance. With 30” barrels tipping the scales at around 8½ lbs, I picked up an example with the lower comb option.
I missed two targets early on and then only one more. Fast handling and forgiving the added weight to the action body was a noticeable improvement. Most apparent was the lack of recoil on the first shot making the second barrel all the more effective – Beretta is right about that.
As for increased pellet penetration and muzzle velocity, there was no way of judging, but breaks were convincing and some targets dusted. As it was impossible to prise the Sporter gun out of the hands of Beretta’s distributors, I sneaked off for another shot with the Trap gun, this time with the higher comb option and a 1.590 KG barrel weight. My conclusion: a super, super gun and I made a note of the serial number.
There can be little doubt that if this new barrel technology Beretta has developed provides all the benefits they say it does, then it is the most radical improvement in terms of ballistics ever introduced into a volume-production gun. Although they still have yet to explain how they have achieved these advantages without any of the problems associated with similar ideas that have been encountered in the past, there can be no doubting the company’s confidence.
Next year in London, Team Beretta will be showcasing the DT11 under the most intense scrutiny at the pinnacle of clay shooting competition. In the hands of shooters who have been preparing for the four previous years, and some even longer, for the opportunity to win an Olympic medal, their trust will be in their own skill and the Beretta DT11; I look forward to reporting their success.
Model: DT11 Trap
Bore size: 12
Barrel Length: 30” & 32”
Action: Hand detachable trigger plate
Chamber: 2 ¾2
Chokes: ¾ Full
Stock measurements: Full Pistol
Suggested retail: £6,565
UK Distributor: GMK, Telephone 01489 579 999. website: www.gmk.co.uk