Thursday, February 7, 2013

Time For a Makeover...

But not for me...

A limit of South Dakota pheasants taken earlier this season with my old, tired, in-desperate-need-of-a-freshening 1968-vintage Beretta BL-5 12-gauge.

Funny how certain guns grow on you. I've had this gun for over a decade now, and even with the tacky white-line spacer, the too-short 26-inch barrels, the too-heavy seven-pound weight and the rather plain wood, it's become my favorite gun.

It wasn't always so. When I first traded for it, I thought it was heavy, unbalanced, and handled like a pig. I much preferred my little BL-4 twenty. But then I started hunting with it, and discovered to my dismay that I shot it pretty well. And regardless of aesthetics, a gun you shoot well can't help but grow on you, and this one did.

It's been one of my main bird-hunting guns for the past nine years or so, and, well, it shows. It occasionally doubles with heavy loads (which is as good a reason as any to not shoot unnecessarily heavy loads...) and I suspect dirty innards are probably to blame. It's in serious need of a complete tear-down and cleaning, and it's in even more serious need of a new finish.

So it has become my 2013 project gun. In addition to a tear-down, adjustment, and cleaning, the old Beretta's getting a stock refinish and a new pad. A few years back I picked up an extra set of 28-inch in-the-white barrels for it, because they were uber-cheap, so my plan also includes getting that set of barrels tubed, blued, and fitted to the action. Hopefully I'll have it all finished by next season, so I can keep plugging along with the old girl.

New guns never did interest me much, and they interest me even less as I grow older. Old Berettas like this one aren't worth much, you can pick up BL and S-series Berettas all the time on the auction sites for considerably less than what you'd pay for a new base-model 686 Silver Pigeon, but I think the old guns just have a higher cool factor.

Interestingly enough, when I took the old pad off recently in preparation of stripping the stock, I discovered that someone had installed an Edwards recoil reducer (in September of 1968, according to the date) in the stock. Losing that, and the old solid rubber Pachmayr pad, shaved twelve ounces off the weight of the gun. No wonder it always felt a bit butt-heavy...

It'll be interesting to see how longer barrels and a lighter butt may affect how well I shoot it. Messing with a gun that works for you is not always a good idea, and I'm keeping the recoil reducer and that ugly old Pachmayr pad, just in case...


  1. you might really MISS those twelve ounces, or at least all the mojo stored in that pad.

  2. You know you've heard it and will hear it again, but if it ain't broke...

    The very things that made that gun shoot well for you are probably the same things you're going to change. Scary stuff.

    I've got project guns too, but I wouldn't dare do what you're planning with my go-to shooter!

    Ballsy! Good luck.