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.
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.