SV10 Beretta Perennia Review
This month’s test gun is a 20 bore, 28”, SV10 Beretta Perennia 3 (the 3 designates game scene engraving - a Perennia 1, with scroll, is due shortly). When the model was first launched in 12 bore form it caused quite a stir. Beretta have had a phenomenal success with their 600 series/Silver Pigeon type guns (themselves evolved from the models 55 and 56). Arguably the most successful over and under of all time, the Silver Pigeon is a hard act to follow. Nevertheless, the new gun managed to impress. One friend, another shooting scribe, noted he shot better with the 12 bore Perennia than with any previous Beretta. I was not quite sure about its modernistic styling, but thought it well engineered, and was very pleasantly surprised by its excellent shooting qualities.
Built on the new SV10 ‘chassis’ (which is also the basis of the Prevail clay guns), the Perennia has some intriguing features. A family resemblance with the 600 series remains, but it is a very different gun. There are still classic Beretta conical locking bolts and bites and barrel shoulders of trapezoidal shape, but the Perennia’s shoulders are asymmetrically shaped and larger than those on the 600 (so you can’t swap barrels).
The action may look quite like other Berettas with its proportions and silver, but look a little deeper and the changes become apparent. The body of the action has been reshaped. The engraving is generically familiar but of a new pattern. There are asymmetrically shaped panels on the action walls and asymmetric scalloping to the rear of the action. You might swap a few parts with a 600 style gun – sears, hammers and inertia block for example. But, that’s about it. This no cosmetic exercise – its a completely new gun. Beretta make clear moreover that the SV10 is the basis for a new generation.
Although the 600 series guns are legendarily tough, the SV10 has been re-engineered to make it even stronger. If the 600s had any issue, it was that they might not be quite as lively as other guns. The Perennia designers have put a ot of thought into handling, the profile of the barrels has been changed and the weight changed to improve dynamics (something Browning have also been addressing recently in their updated 525s). The 12 bore version of the Perennia gun comes to face and shoulder well. It feels pointable and steady. The 20 bore version, which is built on a scaled down action, is an absolute delight! Pointable and steady too - notably so for a 20 - yet lively aswell.
The test gun had good stock shapes, and, the wood itself was excellent with pleasing figure and good density. I liked the plain field style forend (so much better than a Schnabel), the grip was fairly open radiused and quite small (typical Beretta, but comfortable) and the comb was well proportioned. The Length of Pull was 14 5/8” – a bit short perhaps. The drop measurements were 1 3/8” at the front of the comb and 2 ¼” at the rear – a little low. Nevertheless, the gun came up well as noted save for the stickyness of the pad on its (optional) Kick-Off gizmo which caused the odd mounting glitch. This was quickly solved, however, with a little black vinyl electrician’s tape on the heel (something always kept in the Yardley pocket).
Don’t get the wrong impression, I thought the stock generally good. It certainly suited me, and I did not notice that it was a little shorter and a smidgen lower than my preference. I might also mention that the stock is attaching to the action in a new way on these SV10 guns. It involves a stock bolt much shorter than the average. The 'Q-stock' system as Beretta calls it uses a torque key inserted through a hinged trap in the grip base for rapid removal. When the stock is off, moreover, one can use the same tool to take out the trigger mechanism.
Well, sometimes I find a gun that really suits. This was one of them. I do not normally opt for 28” barrels in a 20, but these felt fine (though the gun might be even better with 30” tubes). I shot some quite testing long (35-40 yard) clay crossers with our little Perennia, and whacked them all. I had three other guns out on test the day I shot it – all twelves – and this was by far the best (and the most fun) to shoot. It was also interesting in that the Kick-Off anti-recoil device seemed to be more effective on this model than other Berettas I have shot. Bluntly, I have not always liked the Kick-Off, on some guns, it seems to create a bouncing effect at the shoulder, but on this 20 bore it really seemed to do its job. I have put a lot of cartridges through the gun, including by favourite 20 bore fodder – 32 gram Express 5s (which are usually reserved for a 7 pound plus 32” ‘super-twenty’). I can honestly say that I noticed no excess recoil. I took the gun out on a wonderful end of season walk-up with my son and old friend Andy Riva. Shooting near the coast at Walton-on-the-Naze, I accounted for 4 woodcock, two cock pheasant, and a wood pigeon. The Perennia SV10 gets my vote. I would like to try one with 30” barrels now, but I doubt if it could get much better.