The magazine of choice for the dedicated shooting enthusiast
The 31" barrels on this Beretta’s DT11 Sport set it apart from the rest, making it ideal for the competitive shot or for high-bird shooting.
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This month’s test gun is an upmarket Beretta DT11 Sport 31" imported by GMK of Fareham. It’s intended as a premium clay-breaking machine, but might be used for high birds, or even wildfowling with its 3" (76mm) chambers and steel-friendly proof. It’s a big beast, weighing in at 8lb 9oz, but this is typical of dedicated clay guns now. The featured gun, moreover, is one of three recent 31" models: a 694, the DT11 Sport as tested and a black action 31" model. Although the action mechanics are distinctly different, the first two mentioned – 694 and DT11 Sport – look quite similar with silver actions and blue detail striping.
The styling here is business-like and there is an echo of the old silver-actioned 682s aesthetically. Mechanically, the DT11 is a development of the DT10 and the old (and excellent) ASE, a gun which I would be buying now were I a gun collector; much hand work went into its production. We’ve looked at DT11s in these pages before, but what makes this test especially interesting are the 31" barrels as noted, a length that is surprisingly rare. Some Continental trap guns used to come in at 79cm/31½"
(and some Berettas had 75cm/29½" barrels).
Barrel length is very personal. Most top clay performers opt for 32" or, occasionally, even longer. The length is also popular with high bird specialists who may push 34 and 36g loads of lead through them and are now no doubt working on steel equivalents. Personally, I favoured 32" when competing. I found the longer barrels more pointable and more precise. They seemed to change the perception of lead too (seemingly requiring a little less than shorter barrels). I also preferred the sight picture they created, especially with a taper rib. The rib on the test gun is a 10-8mm parallel design; my ideal pattern would be just a little narrower at the muzzle but this one is still fine.
Most DT11s employ a sophisticated form of taper boring with a long forcing cone, but the 31" test gun has a parallel bore throughout and shorter, more traditional cones. This should work well with increasingly prevalent fibre-wad cartridges. The Beretta taper system is worth mentioning, nevertheless, as it has been seen in most DT11s to date. It combines an element of back-boring with a taper for most of the barrel length leading to a much shorter parallel section before the choke area.
Multi-choked sporter and fixed choke trap gun models differ slightly. The sporter barrels (but not the test gun) typically reduce to a bore diameter of 18.6mm before they lead into the chokes; the trap guns go down to 18.4mm before reaching their three-quarters and full chokes. The chokes on the DT11 are of the Optima HP extended pattern and five are supplied with the gun in a transparent box with a simple but efficient Beretta 'Universal' choke key. I have found Optima HP chokes to be exceptionally good. I like the clear marking and colour coding.
Let’s now move onto the stock and fore-end. The butt is made from walnut that shows some reasonable figure. The grip is quite large and has a palm swell. It is comfortable and finely chequered. My only criticism was the position of the palm swell itself, which tended to push the hand just a little too far forward in my case.
The fore-end was good – hand-filling with finger grooves to the top. My preference would be slightly narrower without the grooves (and Beretta do offer one listed as 'rounded' as well as a schnabel type). The comb profile was generous, with some taper, but not too thick. Overall, I thought the stock well-conceived and, as noted, especially comfortable. The B-Fast balancing system allows balance to be adjusted to preference too.
The DT11 has a forged action machined by CNC. It is an evolution of the earlier ASE and, essentially similar, the DT10 – the immediate predecessor of the DT11 (although it is 3mm wider overall in action width). As with all those guns mentioned, there is a detachable trigger mechanism with hammers powered by V springs.
The hammers themselves, tumblers as gunsmiths call them, are reminiscent of the SO sidelock guns, the V springs which drive them allow for fine adjustment of the trigger pulls (usually set at about 3lb to 3½lb). The single trigger mechanism is inertia/recoil operated with the usual bob-weight system.
The gun has normal Beretta trunnion hinging too with replaceable stud pins at the knuckle, but instead of conical bolts to the rear, there are small projections either side of the top chamber, engaging with slots cut in the top of the action face and cross-bolt locking.
The DT11, like its predecessors (and most Beretta shotguns) has short shoulders to the rear of the monobloc too which dovetail into recesses in the top rear of the action wall. The 'Steelium' alloy steel barrels themselves are made by a combination of deep drilling and hammer forging.
I am always especially interested in shooting guns when I have tried other versions. The DT11 was an excellent performer in earlier tests. I found it quite heavy (but serious clay busters want weight). The test DT11 is not overweight for purpose at 8lb 9oz. It promotes steadiness, and the gun balances on the knuckle, as adjusted at the factory (over 30", I don’t favour a hinge pin balance).
The gun’s shooting qualities impressed. I didn’t miss anything (honestly), and my companion actually expressed some frustration thinking my shooting with Half and Three-quarter chokes fitted looked a bit too effortless (actually I was working pretty hard!). The stock shapes were good with a full but tapered comb and a big, comfortable grip as noted. I didn’t need to move the adjustable comb.
The DT11 31 was forgiving and moved well. The only negative was a tiny bit of movement in the fore-end on firing. But, by any standard, this is a first-class modern competition gun. It might make an occasional high bird or duck gun too. The bottom line is rising, but for those who can’t stretch to it, the 694 is worth consideration too.
Model: DT11 Sport 31"
Chamber: 3" (76mm)
Choke: Optima HP Extended 5 supplied (there’s a fixed-choke trap model too)
Proof: fleurs-de-lys steel
Barrels: 31" (30 and 32" options available)
Rib: flat, tapered 10-8mm
Weight: 8lb 9oz
RRP: From £9,100
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