Generally speaking, if anyone in the shooting community mentions a semi-automatic it is always a Benelli. They have stood the test of time in terms of reliability and robustness, and I have many gamekeeper friends who have used these guns for years as a true working tool. They’ve put their gun through its paces daily and have never encountered any problems.

First impressions

My experience of shooting semi-automatic shotguns is very limited because I’ve always been an over-and-under kind of guy. As some of you might already know, I’m an avid crow and pigeon shooter, so this Benelli Montefeltro may well open my eyes as to what I’ve been missing.

The gun is presented in a fairly generic plastic case, with a selection of flush chokes and some plastic shims that are very important if you want to shoot the gun to its full potential.

I am a left-handed shooter and this particular model I’m going to be using is a right-handed gun. This isn’t a problem because aforementioned plastic shims alter the cast and drop. They sit between the receiver and stock to alter the fitting dimensions. I did the grown-up thing and read the manual to find out which shim I needed and fitted it to see the barrel picture I deemed correct. Good gun fit is very important if you want to shoot consistently well and the shim kit will help me achieve this. That being said, I believe Benelli do offer true left-handed model with the extraction port on the opposite side to this one, which would have been the ideal gun for me.

My initial thoughts were: it is going to handle incredibly quick compared with what I am used to. The gun weighs 6lb 11oz, which is nearly 2lb lighter than I am used to, which concerned me. But as soon as I did the classic ‘mount and swing’ that we all immediately do when picking up any new gun, I knew I could shoot it. That normally means good news for me, bad news for crows and pigeons!

The composite stock and forend feel really nice, with a slim pistol grip and a forend that sits nicely on the hand. It is solid and not rattly like some composite models on the market, which gives reassurance that the gun is going to live a long life.

So with that all said, the gun fit set and my preferred choice of a ½ choke tightened into the barrel, it’s time to have a play!

First time out

Before going out for a full day in the field I like to test a gun just to make sure I’ve got the setup correct and simply get a feel for it. I would hate to be out for a day in the field and have a bad experience because I’ve set the gun up wrong. It would be a very painful journey home knowing I should have just checked the gun first.

So a quick session on the clays was needed just to know the gun is shooting exactly where I want it to. With the Montefeltro loaded I shot at a couple of hanging crow targets and they turned to balls of soot. That was a great confidence booster because it was clear that the gun was shooting exactly right. I repeated this multiple times and I had the same outcome. The beauty of this Benelli is that if the gun hadn’t been shooting exactly where I wanted it to, a quick browse of the manual and a change of the shim would have corrected the issue.

I was shooting a 28g load and the gun was smooth on recoil. That essential for me as I have an old back and shoulder injury that I have to be careful with. Another thing to mention is that the gun is steel proofed.

On to a crosser to see how the gun handles. It was a fast and flat right to left crosser, which I missed then hit. The gun handled very quickly in my hands, which I had predicted but didn’t account for. I loaded the gun again – which is so cool when you haven’t loaded an auto for a while. The next pair I hit and finished the box of cartridges with only a couple of misses. I was happy to take the gun into the field. It is such a smooth-shooting and fast-moving gun, it should be perfect for hide shooting. I just needed to adapt my way of shooting, which I’m confident I will be able to do in the field.

With 83 birds in the bag on its first outing, the Benelli certainly delivered

In the field

So I was in the hide, three cartridges loaded into the Montefeltro, optimistic that three crows would enter the pattern and wouldn’t leave. However, I wasn’t that lucky.

As soon as we got ourselves comfy in the hide, a small group of jackdaws decoyed well into the pattern and I took a left and a right. A good start, but I wasn’t completely happy with my gun control. It was very fast in the hands compared with what I am used to and I missed the next four birds. But once I got used to the fast-handling qualities of the Montefeltro, the birds started dropping again and we were on our way.

I was using a six shot 30g fibre load and I found the Montefeltro to be incredibly soft on recoil. I was always led to believe that the inertia powered semi-automatics had quite a bit of recoil. This was absolutely not the case! The ½ choke I used gave a dense pattern to dispatch the birds perfectly out to 50yd.

As for the mechanical performance of the Montefeltro, it performed faultlessly as to be expected. The cartridges ejected a good 2m from the hide, which was reassuring, and I didn’t have a single malfunction. The trigger pulls were crisp and not too light, which is just how I prefer a shotgun trigger to perform. My only personal dislike is the pistol grip, which is built to suit someone with larger hands. I did struggle to reach the trigger with my stumpy fingers!

We ended our afternoon session with a mixed bag of 83 corvids and pigeons. I really enjoyed shooting the Montefeltro and it did make me question why I don’t have a semi- auto for hide shooting.

Due to the horrible rainy weather we encountered on the day, I felt the need to give the gun a clean right away. That task was accomplished very easily compared with some autos I have had to clean in the past.


The Benelli Montefeltro is a very fast- handling gun due to its light weight, but surprisingly the recoil is not exaggerated by this and is incredibly smooth. It lived up to its reputation of being very reliable as I didn’t have a single mechanical issue. The casting shims are a massive bonus as the gun can be altered to achieve the exact gun fit for the shooter. Assembly and disassembly was very simple and cleaning was just as easy. The pistol grip would better suit shooters with larger hands.

So if you are a shooter who requires a reliable, steel-proofed, lightweight and smooth-recoiling semi-automatic, I would highly recommend the Benelli Montefeltro.

If you want to see this gun in action on our day in the hide shooting corvids and pigeons, be sure to watch out for the video that will be uploaded soon on my Fieldsports with Speed YouTube channel.

Pigeon 2
Lightweight and ultra-reliable, the Montefeltro was certainly a hit with Steve!

Tech specs    

Make: Benelli
Model: Montefeltro
Calibre: 12 gauge
Mechanism: Semi-automatic
Orientation: Right handed (can be altered to left handed)
Barrel Length: 30"
Stock Length: 14 ½"
Weight: 6lb 11oz
Chamber: 3"
Chokes: Multi
Steel proofed: Yes
Importer: GMK, 01489 579999
Price: From £1195