Benelli Ultra Light shotgun review, round 2

Benelli Ultralight 12-gauge shotgun
Truly an all-day gun

About a year ago I posted a review of the Benelli Ultra Light 12-gauge shotgun. I just wanted to give a bit of an update on this thing. The short story is that I still love it, probably more now than last season, for a couple of reasons.

A year ago today, about 30 minutes into my morning hunt I jumped off of a big rock to get down a steep slope to Angus, who’d been locked in point for a while. I landed wrong, and shredded my ankle badly. My post, “Bad Day” details this experience, but doesn’t mention that in order to get back to my truck, about a mile away down horrendous basalt scree and over severely undulating terrain, I had to use my Benelli, fairly new at the time, as a crutch. Not being able to put any weight on my left leg, I held the Ultra Light by the barrel (after remembering to unload it) and used the gel pad on the stock end to stabilize me. Three hours later, I was back at the truck, sick to my stomach for many reasons, one of which was the damage to the gun I was sure I’d done.

But when I looked at the gel pad, it was only slightly scraped. I was also worried about the stress I’d put on it that, surely, Benelli’s engineers couldn’t have intended the gun to absorb. With my down time I checked the tolerances and fittings for any play and couldn’t detect any. I was also sure I’d scraped the walnut pretty badly, but – despite getting separated from my gun during the fall, when it slid about thirty feet below me and came to rest with the barrel pointing right at me – the stock sustained only minor scratches. Conclusion: although she’s a looker, she’s pretty tough, too.

Benelli Ultralight shotgun in action
Rain or shine, the Benelli Ultralight’s a great chukar gun

But appearances aren’t the only things that matter, and I’m happy to say that after putting hundreds of rounds through the gun it hasn’t hiccuped, or even sighed. And, as I mentioned before, I shoot the cheapest loads money can buy. I’ve scraped it a lot more this season than last, mostly because I’m hunting terrain I probably shouldn’t. Despite the steeper slopes and being less fit than last year, the gun’s light weight has continued to prevent me from the sore forearms and shoulder I’d get lugging my heavier 12-gauges up and down all day.

Finally, despite being a perennially poor shot, I’ve gained confidence with this gun I never had with others, and am bagging more birds as a result. Shots I used to pass on because they seemed too far out I’ve been routinely successful making this year. I suppose that can happen with any gun, but my feeling is that because it’s light my arms work better than if they were fatigued from carrying a heavier gun. Or maybe I’m just over-reaching here and still trying to justify spending what was for me a lot of cash on a shotgun. In any case, I’m glad I got it and – if I ever get another gun – would buy another Benelli. It’s the best chukar gun I’ve had, as well as the best grouse, Hun, and pheasant gun.

33 Replies to “Benelli Ultra Light shotgun review, round 2”

  1. That sounds like a very sturdy gun. I don’t know a lot about guns but if I ever decide to buy a pheasant gun I will make sure I look at that one. I hope that your ankle has healed nicely!

  2. From personal experience I have come to learn be nellies are extremely resilient to punishment. My uncle has one and it works like a charm through thick and thin. Glad to see its a company trend

  3. Does your ankle still bother you when you run or bike? I was also wondering whether that hinders your hunting ability at all? Ankles can be nasty and you don’t realize how Important they are until they are injured.

  4. Sounds like you has a very bad time when you shattered you ankle. Good thing you had your benelli shotgun with you, otherwise it could have been a terrible trip to your truck. Also I enjoy shooting birds, it is a very fun sport in my opinion.

  5. I own a ultra light in a 12ga., 26″ barrel. I used it on a late season pheasant hunt. I also used the Kent 2 3/4″, 1 5/8″ #4 load. Late season rooster are jumpy and flush early creating long shooting. The gun swings remarkable fast, I found myself having to slow my swing down and I starting connecting. It was cold and I had a lot of layers, the light gun really helped movement.
    That said, the recoil was a bit much. I wouldn’t be using this gun for late season birds again, in fact the second day I left the Ultra Light in the gun case and went back to my old A5

    1. Thanks for your comment, Lee. I can relate to the recoil with that Kent load, which is why I stick to 7-1/2 for everything and it seems to do just fine. I’m probably switching to all steel loads next season, and would be interested if you have any experience or preference with such a beast!

      1. I have not shot steel, it is quite a bit faster and doesn’t have the down range that lead provides. I have a couple of guys that join us in South Dakota on one of our trips each year. They shoot only steel, because they also hunt in Iowa an area that requires steel. They said if you shoot steel you can’t go back and forth steel to lead. Once you get used to steel they had to stay with it. As far as lead, I have shot low base lead in #6 shot, the recoil is much less and the patterns are good, it just limits your down range some. When I hunt late season rooster, many of the shots are 40+ yards so I need the hotter loads. I also have found copper or nickel plated shot to be much more effective on putting down birds when hit.

        I don’t know if this helps, I have to say I feel for you chasing those birds that run up hill and fly down hill. I lived in Northern Nevada for about 15 years (around Elko) they have a lot of chukar in the hills around there. Actually on my first hunt years ago, I did the same thing you commented on regarding spraining you ankle. I got about 2 miles from the car way up on top of the range and sprained my ankle it was so steep I had to slide down on by the seat of my pants. It was a long painful trip back to the car. Out of frustration I lost interest in the Chuckar and made trips from Nevada to South Dakota and Kansas for pheasant. Chukar are difficult to hunt period…


        Lee K

  6. Just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your (2) reviews on your Benelli Ultra-light, which I came across while doing an internet search, since I’m considering buying one as well. 2 years ago, I made the leap away from my nice O/U’s and bought a synthetic, 20 ga. Benelli M2. It has been an impressive gun to say the least, and I’m pretty sold on auto-loaders now for most of my upland hunting (primarily sharpies, huns, chukar and roosters).

    Once I got over caring so much about the aesthetics of a gun, and acknowledged that my first and foremost concern is with performance, it was a no-brainer. The Inertia action, just as you stated, has never once balked at any round I’ve put through it. And no longer do I need to worry about the gun getting wet, muddy, scraping on rocks, etc, which are all daily realities where I typically hunt. While I still very much appreciate a pretty gun, at the end of the day I’m more concerned with getting birds in the bag in often challenging conditions, with a gun I can easily carry all day. And the Benelli just gets it done, over and over. An Ultralight may very well be my next gun…

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. I’ve been a MFOF fan for a while now. I love my Ultra Light, and it’s getting more beat up every time I go out. It’s getting to a weird point where I almost want to fall so I can add another “character scratch” to the stock. Now that Benelli’s come out with an absurdly light 20-gauge, I’m wondering if that wouldn’t have been a better tool for my terrain. Yesterday, though, when the chukar seemed to act like elk by winding me a mile away and busting, I felt the 12g was a better bet…

  7. Hi Bob. I picked up a Benelli Ultralight last season and am planning on hunting with it more this year. I was wondering where you got your sling swivel kit for your gun? Thanks!

      1. Thanks Bob Also thanks for your review on this gun. The more that I shoot it the better that I like it.

  8. Me, too. I love that gun. But I also just learned I’m cross-dominant (left-eye dominant, shoot right), which both makes me feel better for missing so many easy shots and even more idiotic for not realizing this sooner!

    1. I shoot left handed as I am left eye dominant. Still miss my fair share though (if there is such a thing as a fair share of misses). It’s tough to be a left handed shooter in a right handed world.

      1. Interesting. I hear you. My hunting buddy “The Kid” (12 years old) is a lefty and is going with a Franchi Affinity compact and getting the safety switched over so he can shoot lefty. I made sure that he was left-eye dominant before-hand so he wouldn’t end up like me.

  9. I shot pump shotguns left handed as a kid and had to deal with a right handed safety. I thought about getting this BUL changed to a left handed safety, but am worried that I will end up walking around with the safety off half of the time since I am so used to the right handed ones. Those Franchis are pretty nice guns for the money.

  10. the link you gave to Midway for the sling attachment is for a montefeltro. Please confirm you found that end cap interchangeable with your ultra light?

  11. Great review! What do you still use for most of your hunting? I know you mentioned #7.5 for chukar. Do you use the same for Huns, grouse and pheasants? Hard to imagine going smaller than #6 for pheasants

  12. Just bought the Benelli 20 gauge “Way Light” hoping for less recoil for my wife and daughters. I think it kicks as much as my 12 gauge. Have you ever had a gun barrel ported or herd reviews on how it works to lessen the kick? Love everything about your chukar culture site.

    1. Hey Ken, you and your family will love that gun. I debated on whether to get the Ultra Light or the Montefeltro 20 gauge for my wife, and opted for the Montefeltro since it was only a couple ounces heavier but holds two more shells (it’s still lighter than my 12 gauge Ultra Light). She loves it. Fantastic guns. I’ve never had any guns worked on or modified; someone commented (on my first Ultra Light review, I think) about a modification that would allow that gun to hold 5 shells, but I didn’t like the thought of messing with it. As far as reducing kick, I’d go for lighter loads or lower speeds in the shells instead of working on the guns, and maybe having a coach do a proper gun fit.

Chirp away

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