A shotgun is like a hammer in your toolkit: It’s the essential tool everyone should own. If you could only own one gun for hunting (can you imagine such a world?) a 12- or 20-gauge shotgun should be it. Deer, small game, waterfowl, turkeys, bears, you name it–you can hunt it with a shotgun. If you are starting out you can’t go wrong with a Mossberg 500 or Remington 870 pump. If you’ve been hunting for a few seasons, like I have, and want something a little more refined without costing the same as a good used car, the Beretta A300 Outlander in 12 gauge is a great choice.
Beretta describes the A300 Outlander as:
“Durable, Tough, and Light”
The action is a gas-operated semi-automatic, which means there’s no need to pump it–just load, press the release button and each pull of the trigger will fire a shell until the magazine tube is empty. Though it’s able to hold five 2.75″ or 3″ shells, the tube comes with a plug installed to limit the gun to hold 3 shells (1 in the chamber and 2 in the tube) to comply with Federal waterfowl regulations. The other advantage of a semi-automatic shotgun is that the recoil spring in the stock absorbs much of the recoil of the gun. I can remember learning to shoot a 12-gauge as a kid and wincing every time I pulled the trigger just waiting for the hardwood buttstock on my dad’s old pump gun to pummel my shoulder blade. This will not be your experience with the A300. The recoil spring and a thick rubber pad on the end of the stock actually make this gun enjoyable to shoot. It still has some kick–it is a 12-gauge–but not the knock-you on-your-ass-if-you’re-not-careful type of kick shotguns are usually known for.
Speaking of the stock, the A300 is offered in several different variations including a wood stock, camo synthetic stock, and black synthetic stock. The synthetic shaves some weight off of the gun overall and ensures you will never have to worry about the wood on your favorite shotgun warping or cracking in inclement weather. If you opt for the camo version of the synthetic, the barrel is also cerakoted which makes it virtually rustproof.
Breaking down and cleaning the gun is no more difficult than with a pump gun. It just requires a little bit of practice fitting the bolt back inside the chamber when reassembling.
From the factory, this model comes with a 28″ barrel, which is perfect for hunting waterfowl. A 24″ barrel in blued steel is available from Beretta’s website; I highly recommend this if you will be hunting anything other than waterfowl with the gun. Add about $250 for the second barrel.
The gun also utilizes the Beretta/Benelli Mobilechoke system and comes standard with a Full, Modified, and Improved cylinder choke.
The A300 retails for between $680-$800 depending on which stock and barrel you select. The wood stock and synthetic camo stock go for $800, while the basic synthetic black stock with blued steel barrel combo is $680.
If you’ve been on the fence about getting this shotgun, just do it. Without increasing your budget up to the $1500 range, this is arguably the best shotgun you can buy. I will be loading mine up with 3″ TSS shells and the 24″ blued steel barrel to chase Michigan toms in about two weeks.