The Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun - An Unusual Review

Usually a firearm review is written by, well the reviewer. Usually by a gun writer for a specific publication or by an individual or shooter who has some experience with a variety of firearms. Well, this review is going to be completely different.

Yes, I will share my personal thoughts and opinions about the Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun, but this unique review is written with input from a group of 48 women. These women are of all ages, sizes, physical abilities, and experience. After all, isn’t a review written so that people who are unfamiliar with a particular firearm can read about it, so they can make a decision on whether it is one they would like to own for themselves? Instead of one individual opinion, what could be better than getting the opinion of many women?

Let me give you the set up. Beretta sponsored a defensive shotgun course at The Well Armed Woman National Leadership Conference held in Phoenix AZ in October. We had over 200 chapter leaders and female instructors from all over the country attend this three-day event. We enlisted Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts to be the lead instructor for the course but only had room for a total of 48 shooters.  A lottery was held and the excited winners traveled deep into the desert to the Cowtown Range north of Phoenix.  Each group of 12 women spent four hours training and shooting the Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun. They shot Federal Low Recoil Buck Shot and Winchester 7 1/2 Birdshot and we were blessed with steel targets donated by The Target Man and paper targets by Omaha Targets.

The Gun 

Specifications

Manufacturer: Beretta
Action Type: BLINK gas-operated, semi-automatic shotgun
Gauge: 12; 3-inch chamber
Capacity: 4+1 rounds
Stock: Black synthetic
Receiver: Anodized aluminum
Barrel length: 18.5 inches
Choke: Fixed cylinder choke
Sights: Ghost ring; Mil-Std 1913 rail for mounting optics
Trigger Pull Weight: 4 pounds, 15 ounces
Length of Pull: 13 inches
Length: 37.8 inches
Weight: 6.35 pounds
Accessories: .5- and 1-inch stock spacers
MSRP: $1,059

I will start with my impressions. I first “met” the 1301 at the Beretta Tactical Summit this past spring. I then received one to do this review. I honestly have to say I thoroughly enjoy shooting this shotgun.  I am small, 5’1”and have very small hands. For me, most of the shotguns I have handled intimidate me and I have a hard time reaching and working the controls, and honestly, they beat me up a little. I now understand what a great shotgun that fits the shooter properly can do. The 1301 is lightweight (6lb, 6oz empty) and easy to maneuver and has surprisingly manageable recoil. It has an oversized bolt handle, bolt release, magazine release and reversible safety. Paired with extreme grip checkering and standard Ghost Ring Sights, make this a very effective shotgun especially when the adrenaline of a life or death fight interferes with fine motor skills. These are significant features for a home defense shotgun for anyone, but especially a woman.  I can’t tell you how many spent shells have hit the ground during my hours on the range with this shotgun, but I always finish feeling like I could keep shooting.  With its BLINK gas operating system which claims to cycle 36% faster than any other shotgun on the market,  I was back on target pulling the trigger extremely quickly.  Needless to say, this is now MY shotgun.

            

         

So let’s get to the thoughts of some of the other women.

Rita

The 1301 is a really fine shotgun. Felt well balanced and operated flawlessly. The sights were actually easy enough for an old gal like me to see. Although, I most likely would put a red dot of some sort on it and add a light. Recoil was manageable if using the techniques we were shown.  (Note: Rita suffers from severe arthritis)

Sue

As a novice shotgun shooter, I felt like the recoil was less than I had anticipated. The techniques shown to us by Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts helped to mitigate that even further. I had shoulder surgery a couple years ago and was concerned I wouldn’t do well with it. I admit I was sore, but no bruising and I think with more practice that would lessen. Reloading the shotgun seemed fairly simple, I just needed to push the shell in a little harder occasionally…but I believe that was operator error. The length of the shotgun felt great and the weight is real nice. I used it for several hours, given some short breaks, without too much fatigue. It was accurate out of the box and felt great in my hands too. All in all, this is a fantastic shotgun and it is a must have for my gun collection! Thank you Beretta and The Well Armed Woman for the opportunity to give it a test ride.

 

Ann

Being a first time shotgun shooter can be very nerve racking.  However after the first shot with the Beretta 1301, the recoil wasn't too bad and it wasn't something that would knock you on your butt.  Being a woman and in an emergency type situation this gun would definitely be my go to gun, especially if I were home alone. 

Loading for me was a little awkward, but I attribute that to me being a first time shooter. I felt more comfortable towards the end of the 4 hours then in the beginning.  The slide release was super easy for me to use. It was so smooth I would have a hard time thinking it would ever jam on me, or anyone using it. The recoil was minimal and definitely a gun I would buy! In fact I'm already saving for it and plan to have one before the year ends. 

Nancy

It was such a wonderful experience!  I really liked the 1301. I felt it was very accurate and not too heavy. I do wish they could make an adjustment or improvement on the bottomloader. Yes, I was the one who got my acrylic nail stuck in the gun. Many thanks and apologies to Steve for dismantling it and freeing me!! I really liked the fact that it seemed to fit women well and the recoil was not bad!  I would definitely use this for self-defense at home.

Damasa

I loved the Berretta 1301 and found it to be lighter than other tactical shotguns. It is also extremely accurate and the ghost ring sights were really a value added feature that enhanced target acquisition. The picatinny rail was a nice additional feature as well. The large bolt release button and design of the charging handle makes it user friendly. I had never thought about a shotgun for home defense but after using this one it makes sense.

Brenda

I really liked the 1301.  Shotguns are difficult when you're 5 feet nothing but it fit me very well and the oversize controls were very user friendly.  I would seriously consider buying one.

Allison

I loved the ease of use of this shotgun. As advertised, it was very easy for a woman to handle and combined with the push/pull technique, I was able to get off a lot of rounds without any shoulder pain. My only previous shotgun experience was with lovely wooden/steel over/under youth sized shotgun, which was way heavier and harder to handle due to its length. If I were going to buy a shotgun, it would be more like the Beretta. I asked Steve if they would laugh at me if I showed up at a skeet shoot with a tactical shotgun. He said “let them laugh go with the Beretta!”

Kyle

Great size, balance, and weight for women shooters, but appears to fit a wide range of body sizes from large male instructor to smaller women.  Shorter more practical tactical barrel made me consider shotgun for home defense seriously for the first time.  Best of all, better fit resulted in better 12-gauge recoil management capability.

Semi-auto speed vs pump action reliability may still be a concern as some of the guns had a few glitches out of the box, but putting a lot more rounds through this model and practicing handling malfunctions would inspire additional confidence in taking the,1301 semi-auto shotgun route for home defense.  

Kathy

I loved the 1301. I had been practicing with a Remington1100 and found the Beretta to be much easier to handle with it being lighter. It took no time at all to be able to load and shoot quickly, and think it would be great for home defense. Even though I think I won the prize for the worst bruise on my shoulder, I still loved the class and would do it all over again. I would definitely consider purchasing the 1301!

Judy

I really liked this shotgun; keep in mind that I am new to shotguns having just learned trap shooting in the past few months.   The gun is light, due to the polymer stock, much more so than my wooden stock 20 gauge.  I did find that during the stance evaluation I could not hold it in position for more than a few minutes due to the weight; however, in actual practice the weight did not bother me at all.  I did not have an issue with the recoil much to my surprise and did not have a "shotgun bite" mainly due to following the instruction to "stretch" the gun; this is what I believe was the key to handling recoil.

I have fairly small hands and did not have any problems with the placing of the controls and performing all of the manipulations.  I am also left handed and since I have had to adapt to right handed instruments all of my life, I found this no different than anything else and was able to use all of the controls easily and quickly.  This is a very easy gun to use. 

The gun is definitely accurate, I am not the best shot in the world but I was able to knock my metal target down twice and the pattern on my paper target was perfect. Overall, I would recommend this shotgun for the female shooter for home defense.  It's on my gun wish list.

Ann

I don’t have a lot of shotgun experience to draw from and really held back on learning because of the weight and recoil of a shotgun.  After this class that is #1 on my Christmas list.  The Beretta 1301 was light and fun.  It was easy to load and controlswere simple and easy to use.  The safety is located for ease of use and can be set or turned off with several different manipulations for any user. Hand strength or physical handicaps are not a factor.  The charging handle is easy to control and the shots loaded quickly and simply under pressure, which is important for home defense. With the short barrel, and its light weight makes it a good choice for any user.  It cycled quickly allowing multiple shots within seconds, important for home defense.

There was a wide variety of age groups, physical differences and abilities in our group and I didn’t see anyone having a problem using the Beretta even for the length of time we did and in the heat.   I really liked it and it was a fun gun to use.  Fun is important to me because we don’t like to train with things that aren’t fun and easy to use. 

Amanda

I am not a "shotgun gal".  I own 2, but never shoot them.  They are big, bulky, and heavy and bruise the heck out of my shoulder within 3 or 4 shots.  I was nervous about the class and a bit intimidated due to previous shotgun experiences.  The nerves and intimidation quickly went away once I had the 1301 in my hands.  It FELT great.  The size was PERFECT in length and stock width.  It was lightweight, easy to hold and maneuver.   The operations are simple and easily accessible, even for my small hands.  Controlling the safety took a few adjustments to find the easiest way to re-engage.  The stock was rough like sand paper, I felt like I needed gloves if we we're going to shoot any more than we already had.  

The recoil is manageable and proper stance and hold, make it controllable and hardly noticeable. It was very accurate and easy to load (although I need to practice more to avoid getting a finger stuck or not pushing the shell in far enough).   Having gel or acrylic nails requires a bit of finesse and speed in loading more than one.  I personally prefer a magazine, but feel with practice and patience it would no longer be an issue

Overall, the 1301 was great!  I found it an ideal option for home defense, for both men and especially for Women.  I would like a smoother stock, as the gritty texture was a bit rough for me. Most surprisingly for me, was that it did not leave any visible bruising on my shoulder.  I was "sore" the next day, but that's due to me NOT the firearm. 

Christa

Well, likes on the 1301...I texted my husband when we were on a break and said "please order this for me, I am in love".

Colleen

I really like how it felt in my hands. It had a nice weight to it. My favorite thing about it was definitely the sights. My dislike would be how far up you had to shove the shells to get them to stick. I did like the way everything was set up on it, from the over sized safety to the checkered grip and charging handle. I think it would be great for home defense because of the smaller barrel. I was impressed with the amount of abuse these guns could handle. I found it to be very accurate and dependable. Because of how fast it could fire I would love to have it for competition. Overall, a 4.5 out of 5. Fantastic Shotgun!

Suzanne

I LOVED Beretta's Tactical 1301 Shotgun! I normally shoot a Beretta 20 gauge AL391 Urika II Youth/Ladies shotgun, which has the same controls, so it was an easy transition. I was able to load, shoulder and shoot the gun quickly and accurately. The 1301 fit me perfectly and wasn't too heavy. I have no complaints about the gun - in fact, it's at the top of my wish list now!

Steve Fisher's training was excellent. I especially liked his tip about "stretching" the gun as I shot in order to keep the gun level and reduce the recoil. I was a little nervous about how sore my shoulder might be after shooting a 12 gauge since I am used to my 20 gauge, but I was not any more sore.

Another thing I liked about Steve's clinic was the discussion we had about using the Beretta Tactical 1301 as a home defense gun. And I really liked getting to shoot buckshot. I had never shot buckshot before and I now see how that could stop a threat more effectively than bullets out of a pistol. This convinced me to use my shotgun for home defense over my trusty revolver.

 

Ok, so I think you get the idea. The Berretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun is a great shotgun for any shooter and coupled with great instruction like we had with Steve Fisher is a combination that can’t be beat.  These women of different ages, physicality and shooting experience thoroughly enjoyed shooting this shotgun and found it manageable and comfortable to shoot and many have a new view on using a shotgun for home defense.  

Finding the right shotgun can be a challenge for many women. Size and fit are so important along with the ability to overcome and control the power of the recoil. There aren’t too many options out there that truly can be effectively handled and operated comfortably by both a petite woman with small hands as well as a larger, stronger male.  For me, the Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun provides me with not only the confidence to effectively handle, train and defend myself and my home with a shotgun,  it has given me back the joy of shotgunning!

Here is another great review by Tom McHale on GunsAmerica

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