Drennan Kenderdine takes the brand-new 687 Silver Pigeon III Sporting out for a spin in Clay Shooter magazine's UK-exclusive first look at Beretta’s most recent creation

If there’s one company in the shotgun world that gets people’s heads up like a prairie dog, it’s Beretta, and even more so when it’s the launch of a new Beretta shotgun. 

The newest gun to be launched onto the worldwide stage by the Italian giant is the Silver Pigeon 687 grade III Sporting. It’s a roundhouse to the ivory railings (a kick in the teeth!) for Beretta’s competitors, as it’s a rather neat piece of kit. 

credit: Archant

When the team at GMK (Beretta’s UK importer) got in touch and asked if Clay Shooter would like to be not only the first to test this new creation in the UK, but also the first to feature it in the UK exclusively, I pondered on it for about the same amount of time as I do when the Band of Brothers asks if I’d like to go for a pint or two. So, within a 100th of a second, it was a thumbs up from me – send it over so we can see what the geniuses from Breccia have come up with this time! 

The 687 has been around since I was too young to vote, and it was a much sought-after gun back then, as it is now. I even owned one and eventually sold it to a mate of mine after he practically begged me to part with it. I’ve regretted it ever since. However, that was a Field edition, and this is the Sporting version, and they’re as different as Vegemite and Marmite! 

credit: Archant

First impressions 
Dealing with GMK is like dealing with Ferrari; they ask you what your preferences are, rather than sending what just happens to be languishing on the shelf. So, I asked for a 32”, with a non-adjustable stock (note that there is an adjustable version, too). 

After eagerly awaiting its arrival, the 687 turned up in the typical, virtually indestructible plastic blue case, with five Optima Choke HPs, a choke key and a host of paper paraphernalia (I’m a typical bloke and haven’t read a word of it, but I’m no stranger to Beretta products, and it will be all about how to take care of your gun, along with a bomb-proof guarantee and some other poetry). 

The double ventilated barrels are the biggest giveaway in terms of the differences between the Sporting and Field editions. There’s also a brace of Optima multi-chokes extending from the front of the super slick barrels, and the centre ventilated ribs allow for the addition of Beretta’s barrel weight system if you want or need them – this is something you can’t do on the Field variant. 

There’s also a rather neat scene of UK game birds around the action and a reasonable piece of timber with a gentle palm swell. It’s a rather simple yet charming gun. 

credit: Archant

More importantly... 
Most guns of today come front-end heavy, and I pretty much prayed that this one would be the same, which it was. With 160g of ballast added in the stock, this gun went from having the nose-diving capabilities of a kingfisher to something very different, and absolutely wonderful. The balance altered its behaviour more efficiently than Judge Judy when she decides to straighten someone out in her courtroom! The barrels now glided along very nicely for my personal preferences. Typically for Beretta, the action is machined to tolerances that would make any engineer’s micrometer read “Bang on Mate!” and, when closed, the fit is impeccable. It features a single selective trigger ejector. 

The 687 Sporting isn’t really a full clay thrasher, and neither is it a true field gun – it is a combination of the two, making it a ‘hybrid’. We see more of these kinds of guns these days. To be honest, I think it’s a great idea if you’re both a clay and a game shooter and don’t want, or can’t afford, a dedicated gun for each.

The fact that this has 3” chambers and chrome-lined barrels makes it ideal for those who will also use it in the field. It’s certainly a smart move in future-proofing for the upcoming changes regarding steel shot, and the larger length cartridges this requires. 

credit: Archant

What’s it like to shoot? 
Running this around the Sporting layout at Oakedge, and squeezing everything it had to offer on a simulated day down in Dorset, this thing performed amazingly with beautiful handling. In Dorset, the 697 Sporting coupled with the new Power Blue fibre was beginning to seriously annoy my neighbours, because the combination delivered exactly what I asked of it... which was death to everything!  

The single set trigger (characteristic of a field gun) can be altered by GMK or one of their approved gunsmiths and changed for an adjustable one, which for me is something I would have done, but the choice is down to the individual shooter.

I have only one criticism of this gun, and it’s the chequering. Chequering has two functions: first and foremost, it allows the shooter to grip the gun, which this does, and secondly, it looks appealing and fits the characteristics of the gun, which I’m not convinced it does here. Maybe it’s just me, but the radical shaping of it leaves me to ponder if Beretta have let a modern art student loose on their fabulous 687 Sporting.

That aside, this is a wonderfully put together gun that has more to offer than even Beretta says it does. With a few tweaks here and there (which need to be done on any gun to fit a shooter properly), this 687 Sporting, priced around the £2.4k mark, is right on the money. I became rather attached to it and I’ve made a space in one of my cabinets for when I add this to my collection. 
All in all, a great gun for virtually everyone and anyone! 

credit: Archant

Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon III Sporting
Gauge: 12 
Chamber: 3” 
Barrel length: 28”, 30” or 32” 
Top/side ribs: Ventilated 
Trigger: Single, selective 
Safety: Manual  
Weight: 3.55kg 
Pad: Micro Core 
Packing: Case supplied 
Chokes: Five HP chokes supplied 
RRP: £2,415 (adjustable stock option: £2,745) 
Website: gmk.co.uk 
Tel: 01489 579 999