One of Beretta’s goals when developing the 694 Sporting over/under was to “make a standard gun for people who aren’t standard.” With attention to even the tiniest details in the 694, this new competition shotgun improves upon previous models—while retaining popular components, like Steelium Plus barrels.
With a bevy of standard features and attractive design, not to mention the company’s famed 500-year pedigree, the opportunity to test this shotgun was one I couldn’t pass up.
Beretta designed the 694 in collaboration with Beretta Team shooters. The company says, “Our professional network is essential for new product development. Co-development is the most efficient way of having a wining product/platform.” The intention was to build a gun “for clay shooters, by clay shooters.”
I especially liked the receiver, which has classy design elements.
An ambitious approach to the 694’s design didn’t diminish anything. Rather, it inspired the folks at Beretta to create a masterpiece. Not only is this gun a work of art that will undoubtedly find a place in the famed Beretta Museum in Italy, the 694 is also a technological marvel. You can tell that competitive clay shooters helped design the 694 with the improved ergonomics and mechanical improvements. While shooting it for the first time at a sporting clays event, several shooters (including myself) commented on how both right- and left-handed shooters could manipulate the break-action and swing with confidence.
Since there’s less metal in the fore-end, not as much heat will make it to the shooter’s hand—which will certainly help during long shooting excursions.
Thanks to channel cuts on both sides of the top of the stock there is a wider field of view, to the tune of an extra 5 degrees. The stock is available with drops of 35/50 mm and 35/55 mm. As an option, Beretta’s B-Fast adjustable heel (included with the 35/55 stock) will help competitive shooters find the perfect fit. The length-of-pull is 375 mm with 18 mm MicroCore recoil pad and a centrally-positioned trigger. Additionally, the trigger is adjustable for precise LOP fitting, and extensions are also offered.
Beretta says the field of vision has widened from previous models, to the tune of about 5 degrees. This will help shooters with those low targets, and the wide comb and blade make it easy for the gun to rest in the proper place on the shooter’s face.
The next thing I noticed is the steel receiver. It’s all the little things to improve function that make the 694 really shine as a high-end competition shotgun. For example, the opening lever has a lower profile, which along with the anti-glare finish makes the steel less obtrusive in your sight picture. I learned firsthand how helpful this can be while busting clays on a bright, sunny day. What’s more is the receiver looks downright elegant, sporting what Beretta has deemed “technical engraving.” This gun is attention grabbing in a good way. The bottom of the action is my favorite part, with the prominently displayed 694 logo and the three unmistakable Beretta arrows.
The ejectors have powerful springs behind the ejector slide and under the stop pads. They have serious “oomph” to them.
It’s fore-end has an adjustable auget (iron catch) button that is smaller than previous models. Not only does the smaller button reduce the surface area that may get overheated during intense sporting clays sessions, but it also minimizes movement of the fore-end over the lifetime of the gun. In addition, the pistol grip has aggressive checkering (1.5 pitch) that allows for a mighty grip. While shooting the 694, my hands would naturally place themselves in the ideal position, as if it was just meant to be.
Although already balanced when it leaves the factory, Beretta says that weights can be purchased separately to personalize the balance of the 694. The barrels can accommodate 5-, 10- and 15-gram weights, and the B-Fast stocks can handle 20- and 40-gram ones. This simple system is clean and effective. Pictured here is Dana Farrell, editor of "Clay Shooting USA" magazine.
The Steelium Plus barrels have an elongated forcing cone that runs about half the length of the barrel. The length improves ballistics by keeping deformation of the shot column to a minimum as it travels down the barrel. Patterns are kept more uniform, and perceived muzzle jump is decreased. The barrels are assembled as a monoblock and sport internal chrome plating.
Steelium is Beretta’s trade name for its unique tri-alloy steel barrel manufacturing process, which they say provides the best possible barrels for ideal superior ballistic performance. Deep drilling, cold-hammer forging and vacuum distension provide the mechanical characteristics necessary. The 694's top rib is ventilated (10x8) with a white front sight. There’s also a ventilated side rib. Five color-coded Optima chokes are included.
This over/under is a head turner for sure. Although it’s in the premium category for this type of competition shotgun, Beretta has competitively priced the 694 Sporting at $4,500. Two barrel lengths are available at 30- and 32-inches, also with or without the adjustable B-Fast stock. Included are an ABS plastic case, 5-piece Optima high-performance choke set, stock wrench, alternative 23 mm MicroCore recoil pad and of course—the all-important Beretta stickers. Be on the lookout for a more in-depth review of the 694 Sporting in a future issue of the digital magazine. In the meantime, you can learn more at Beretta.com.