Inertia or Gas Drive Semi-Auto Shotgun?

Inertia or Gas


  • Total voters
    44

BeeMaa

AH ambassador
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
6,789
Reaction score
17,767
Location
Alexandria, VA USA
Media
144
Articles
1
Hunting reports
Africa
1
USA/Canada
3
Member of
NRA Life Member, SCI Member
Hunted
Eastern US & RSA
Seems simple right? That's what I thought.

Those of you who know me will recall that I'm a huge fan of the Benelli SBE3 with its inertia drive. What I didn't know is what I was missing by not shooting a gas gun.
It started with the purchase of a used Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus (gas drive) from another AH member. He swore that this shotgun will change my views on inertia vs gas drive. I was psyched to find out for myself.

First impressions of the Beretta were very good. Excellent fit and finish. Adjustable stock with shim plates. Recoil mitigation system in the butt stock. All of these are good, but I have these on my Benelli as well. So what does this gas gun offer over the Benelli?

Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus 30" barrel in the foreground with my SBE3 covered in the slip behind it.
1697403409554.png


One trip to the range will answer this question. Anyone who has a few years of shooting an inertia shotgun will immediately feel the difference when picking up a gas gun. The first thing I noticed is the hand-filling forend that is necessitated by the gas drive hidden beneath. Mount the shotgun and the first shot reveals the recoil impulse is SOOO much different. Also, the weight of the A400 is a little more than the SBE3 so it feels like less recoil…call it softer shooting. It was really quite enjoyable.

Two rounds of wobble trap (19 & 21) to warm up and off to the sporting clays range where I put another 4 boxes of ammo down it. The results were not what I expected. I shot poorly and the blame is on me. If I had taken the time to fit the shotgun properly, I’m sure the results would have been much better. I didn’t…and so paid the price. More on this later.*

That being said, this Beretta A400 shotgun really surprised me. They say the devil is in the details and Beretta paid attention. Good trigger, quick take-down, very few parts, recoil mitigation, adjustable stock, super easy loading, enlarged charging handle and bolt release. Of course this doesn’t apply to every gas shotgun, but they were welcome upgrades that waterfowlers (like me) look for. It’s truly a premium gas operated shotgun.

The one thing that sticks with me about this particular gas operated shotgun is how soft it felt in recoil compared to the inertia drive. It was amazing. Will it tame 3.5” turkey loads better? Probably no more than any other shotgun capable of doing so, but I haven’t gotten there yet. *The reason I’m not fitting this shotgun to me is that it’s for my Pop to use when he comes to town and want to hit the range. I’ll fit it to him and leave it that way. This was simply a test to see if I would like shooting it or not.

In the end, I switched to the SBE3 for a couple clays after missing with the A400…they turned to dust. And it just felt right to me. Maybe after all these years I’m not capable of making the switch because I’m too accustomed to the recoil impulse and slim feel of the forend on an inertia shotgun. For that reason, I’m firmly in the inertia drive camp. Special thank you to @Garrett89 for making it a close call.

I know there are a more than a couple of members out there who have share in the passion for semi-auto shotguns. What do you guys shoot and why?
 
If you didn’t fit the beretta to you and go to the pattern board and make sure it was shooting where you were looking it’s not a fair test. I’ve set up many berettas and benelli’s for people on pattern board that when we started they would miss a target by 2’ at 25 yards until you get the right shims in place. I am a gas man. So much less felt recoil!! I shoot a beretta 391 shooting sporting clays. Got me to master class. A400 extreme for all bird hunting.
 
Last edited:
If you didn’t fit the beretta to you and go to the pattern board and make sure it was shooting where you were looking it’s not a fair test. I’ve set up many berettas and benelli’s for people on pattern board that when we started they would miss a target by 2’ until you get the right shims in place. I am a gas man. So much less felt recoil!! I shoot a beretta 391 shooting sporting clays. Got me to master class. A400 extreme for all bird hunting.
I'll give you that it wasn't fair because I didn't fit it, but it felt very bulk to me. The forend felt like a brick in my hand compared to the inertia gun. Let's face it, the inertia gun forend only needs to be as big as the magazine tube, where the gas gun houses the operating system under it.

It was softer shooting. I'll give you that.
 
I love my Browning A5. The Berretta is a fantastic gun, but I find the gas recoil has a different feel. Maybe I like the feel of the inertia better? Maybe shooting the ridiculously powerful rifles that the peer pressure at AH requires of me has made me a recoil masochist? I dunno, but I love that shotgun. I got my first triple goose kill with it.
 
The original Browing A5 (1902-1998) was recoil operated while the new Browning A5 is inertia drive. I had a 1953 Belgian made Browning A5 16 bore that felt very heavy in recoil. I never got accustomed to that feeling of the whole barrel coming back at me. That shotgun is still being enjoyed by someone else now and I saw him at the range today!

The recoil impulse of an inertia drive is unique indeed. After all these years of shooting one, it's what FEELS right to me.
 
I had a Benelli SBE2. The Beretta A400 fit me better so I sold the Benelli to my brother. My brother is a serious waterfowl hunter. However, he does not clean his gun until the end of season and abuses it, mud, bottom of canoes, underwater a few times, etc. It fires every time somehow with 3” loads. I find the A400 lasts 50-75 shells before it starts to have the occasional jam just from shooting. The biggest advantage to Benelli’s design however is the top of receiver comes out with barrel, then bolt easily flips out. This makes cleaning any mud or dirt very easy. Beretta made their design too perfect for a hunting shotgun. The receiver staying intact and pressing on extractor to open keyhole to release little bolt so you can pull main bolt out isn’t ideal for a hunting shotgun. I lost a good part of a morning once over a small pebble I couldn’t get out of A400 because I had no access to get to it. I would have had it out of Benelli in 2 minutes in the blind. I should have kept the Benelli or buy a new one, but I don’t duck hunt nearly enough anymore to justify it.
 
@375Fox - I owned the SBE2 before getting the 3. The improvements made between the two of them is more than just a number. The one I own now has been completely submerged several times, along with grass and dirt in the action...and it still works. Although I do admit to doing a field stripping at the end of each day for a quick cleaning with compressed air, lube everything and blow it out again to make sure there's no excess lubricant. Goes BANG every single time...

This is what I've been seeing the past couple of years for hunting conditions... Rain, mud, grass and leaves. Pretty typical for waterfowl hunting. LOL.
1697409647326.png


I believe your A400 (and mine too) is probably one of the top two or three gas guns available out there right now for waterfowl. Most of the guys I know who have them shoot several hundred 3" shells with no issues before cleaning. What conditions are you hunting in that are taking you out of the game in so few shells?

BTW - I'm sure you could sell the Beretta in short order if you wanted to change back to a SBE. And being on the sidelines when birds are cupping in SUCKS!!! Best of luck with it.
 
@375Fox - I owned the SBE2 before getting the 3. The improvements made between the two of them is more than just a number. The one I own now has been completely submerged several times, along with grass and dirt in the action...and it still works. Although I do admit to doing a field stripping at the end of each day for a quick cleaning with compressed air, lube everything and blow it out again to make sure there's no excess lubricant. Goes BANG every single time...

This is what I've been seeing the past couple of years for hunting conditions... Rain, mud, grass and leaves. Pretty typical for waterfowl hunting. LOL.
View attachment 563793

I believe your A400 (and mine too) is probably one of the top two or three gas guns available out there right now for waterfowl. Most of the guys I know who have them shoot several hundred 3" shells with no issues before cleaning. What conditions are you hunting in that are taking you out of the game in so few shells?

BTW - I'm sure you could sell the Beretta in short order if you wanted to change back to a SBE. And being on the sidelines when birds are cupping in SUCKS!!! Best of luck with it.
I put my A400 through the most use when I lived in Texas hunting between eagle lake and el campo. Generally pretty easy conditions for ducks just drive up to blinds, rain some days. Goose hunting got very muddy. Almost always good shooting opportunities for both though. I rarely shoot more than a box or two at ducks anymore in a year since moving back to PA. I just know it needs cleaned thoroughly before and after use to be ready and it’s good for the little I do now. The conditions my brother hunts in would be similar to what you posted hunting in western PA and SW NY. He does flush it out with starting fluid spray at end of some hunts, but that’s generally it until season ends. It just works for the last 10 years. My A400 needs to be thoroughly clean. What improvements do you see from the 2 to 3? My Dad still has the original SBE and I think it’s equally as reliable as the SBE2.
 
I put my A400 through the most use when I lived in Texas hunting between eagle lake and el campo. Generally pretty easy conditions for ducks just drive up to blinds, rain some days. Goose hunting got very muddy. Almost always good shooting opportunities for both though. I rarely shoot more than a box or two at ducks anymore in a year since moving back to PA. I just know it needs cleaned thoroughly before and after use to be ready and it’s good for the little I do now. The conditions my brother hunts in would be similar to what you posted hunting in western PA and SW NY. He does flush it out with starting fluid spray at end of some hunts, but that’s generally it until season ends. It just works for the last 10 years. My A400 needs to be thoroughly clean. What improvements do you see from the 2 to 3? My Dad still has the original SBE and I think it’s equally as reliable as the SBE2.
The biggest update with the SBE3 is not having the "Benelli click" that would happen to the original SBE & SBE2. Essentially the bolt would come slightly out of battery (from snagging the charging handle on clothing or bumping the stock on the ground) and not fully return. Then the hunter would stand up to shoot...click, no bang. Because the bolt was slightly out of battery. They upgraded the system with a ball bearing design that has eliminated this completely.

I owned the SBE2 and had the click happen to me on a couple of occasions. Never at a good time. I've tried several times to induce this failure with the newest version, including slowly riding the bolt forward...nope, always goes bang.

Better loading port and loading gate prevents any issues of grabbing the thumb while loading that happened with the SBE2.

I had a Comfortech version of the SBE2 and the newer version has a larger cheek pad. Makes it nice for those heavy 3.5" turkey loads. And they say the Comfortech system is better now although I can't feel a real difference.

SBE2
1697413143398.png


SBE3
1697413184647.png


The overall shape is slimmer than the 2. Thinner at the wrist and forend, but it still has a nice palm swell with excellent texturing. Redesigned the magazine cap so it's super easy to take off now. Much better than the 2.

Safety, cartridge drop lever, charging handle and bolt release are all bigger and easier to work with gloved hands.

Having owned both, I'll say that the only thing that feels the same between the two guns is the recoil impulse. Other than that, it's night and day.

EDIT - They also take the same chokes so all the $ I spent on aftermarket chokes was kept and moved over to the new one. Big bonus there.
 
Last edited:
I shoot everything with a ten pound 1961 Browning A5 magnum ... and I shoot it well.
20220922_141145.jpg

20221026_155404.jpg

The A5 was introduced in 1903, the world's first auto shotgun. It utilizes the long recoil system: barrel retracts during cycling to eject shells. If it is adjusted properly, the A5's recoil is every bit as "soft" as gas guns of the same weight (e.g. Remington 1100). The difference is the "double-shuffle" of bolt AND barrel jumping forward in the shooter's hands during cycling vs just the bolt for inertia or gas guns. Follow up shots with the old A5 are probably not as "fast" as gas guns but fast shooting is vastly overrated.

A couple of years ago I had a mishap at the range when a primer inexplicably blew up in my shotgun (only the primer - powder never detonated). I borrowed a Benelli auto to finish the rabbit station on our clays course. I cleaned the station without a miss. "Wow, Pat. You should buy that gun. Chris has it up for sale." No thanks. The recoil, compared to my A5, knocked my head off. I was shooting in shirts sleeves and it hurt! And just 1 oz trap loads too. Can't imagine how much unfun it would be firing 3" goose loads.
 
Browning introduced what is called a "magazine cut off" on the original A5. It is a lever on the left side of the receiver that, when pulled back, will allow unloading of the shell in the chamber without loading one from the magazine. The thought being that if one wanted to switch the load in the chamber from duck to goose, they could flip this switch and do so. Not a bad idea in theory.

My friend has one of these on his Browning Maxus and he complains non-stop about getting it caught on brush or clothing and not noticing until he shoots...but only one shot because the lever is pulled back. It drives him nuts. I don't believe there is an aftermarket kit to eliminate it. This issue has him considering other options.

Currently only the Browning Maxus II is featuring this. Not even the new A5 has it. Kinda funny.
 
I have a new A5 with wood stock and forearm and a SBE2 in camo. I enjoy them both for different purposes. My A5 is my upland gun - for carrying long days and multiple quick shots on covey rises and flushing pheasant/chukar. SBE for the waterfowl blind. Not just because of the stock and camo - I feel the SBE patterns the non-toxic shot better and swings just a bit slower. The auto-5 is a faster gun in my hand and also goes to the trap and sporting clay range. Hard to describe why but just feels better.
 
All of you you could move on to a grown up gun in an OU or SxS. ;)

My primary waterfowl gun is a Connecticut Shotgun SxS 3" 12 bore with interchangeable chokes and 32" tubes. Over the last two decades, It has accounted for truck loads of geese and ducks in Saskatchewan, the Eastern Seaboard, and South Louisiana. I use it in all weathers - salt or freshwater marsh (just take care of it). It is steel shot capable, but that stuff will never go through the barrels of one of my guns. With heavy shot and the IM / F chokes in place it is decisive on anything inside sixty yards.
Waterfowl Gun


Saskatchewan Specks. Note on the left, my son uses a SxS as well.
Hunting Specklebelly Geese In Saskatchewan


When I know I will be with a bunch of the plastic stock and particularly the 3 1/2 inch magnum lads, I often use my Lindner hammer 10 bore. It is not a modern 10 bore chambering. Rather, with the 1 1/4 ounces of soft shot for which it is proofed, it too is a hammer on geese or ducks.
double5.jpg

None of this is to say that a SxS, OU, or hammer gun is necessarily superior to a plastic Italian or Nipponese clickenclunker. But nothing has a faster second shot and I have found very little use for a third. I would argue that they are absolutely just as good - and a far more elegant shooting solution. :cool:
 
Browning introduced what is called a "magazine cut off" on the original A5. It is a lever on the left side of the receiver that, when pulled back, will allow unloading of the shell in the chamber without loading one from the magazine. The thought being that if one wanted to switch the load in the chamber from duck to goose, they could flip this switch and do so. Not a bad idea in theory.

My friend has one of these on his Browning Maxus and he complains non-stop about getting it caught on brush or clothing and not noticing until he shoots...but only one shot because the lever is pulled back. It drives him nuts. I don't believe there is an aftermarket kit to eliminate it. This issue has him considering other options.

Currently only the Browning Maxus II is featuring this. Not even the new A5 has it. Kinda funny.
The magazine cut-off lever on the old version A5 fits very tight to the receiver and almost requires a tire iron to flip it into cut-off position. No way is that lever being switched accidentally! I'm sure it can account for thousands of broken fingernails. The sweetest feature of the old A5 is its autoload function. With the chamber open, all I have to do is push a round into the magazine and it is loaded into the chamber automatically. Both the Benelli and Beretta require dropping a shell through the ejection port and reaching around to push the button and manually release the bolt.
 
Last edited:
All of you you could move on to a grown up gun in an OU or SxS. ;)
Well I have an italian made O/U in 12 bore I bought new in the early 80's and a tiny 28 gauge O/U i picked up a few years back I thought my grandsons could learn on. But since the thread was about inertia or gas I left those out.
 
1697418615019.png

@Red Leg - Who's that forward thinking guy on the right side of the picture? Looks like he'd have something productive to offer this thread on the gas gun side of things. ;)

BTW - Well done on all those "ribeye of the sky".
 
All of you you could move on to a grown up gun in an OU or SxS. ;)

My primary waterfowl gun is a Connecticut Shotgun SxS 3" 12 bore with interchangeable chokes and 32" tubes. Over the last two decades, It has accounted for truck loads of geese and ducks in Saskatchewan, the Eastern Seaboard, and South Louisiana. I use it in all weathers - salt or freshwater marsh (just take care of it). It is steel shot capable, but that stuff will never go through the barrels of one of my guns. With heavy shot and the IM / F chokes in place it is decisive on anything inside sixty yards.
Waterfowl Gun


Saskatchewan Specks. Note on the left, my son uses a SxS as well.
Hunting Specklebelly Geese In Saskatchewan


When I know I will be with a bunch of the plastic stock and particularly the 3 1/2 inch magnum lads, I often use my Lindner hammer 10 bore. It is not a modern 10 bore chambering. Rather, with the 1 1/4 ounces of soft shot for which it is proofed, it too is a hammer on geese or ducks.
View attachment 563809
None of this is to say that a SxS, OU, or hammer gun is necessarily superior to a plastic Italian or Nipponese clickenclunker. But nothing has a faster second shot and I have found very little use for a third. I would argue that they are absolutely just as good - and a far more elegant shooting solution. :cool:
I have a Citori 12 gauge. Can't shoot it nearly as well as the old A5. I will occasionally shoot trap with it. But I can shoot trap fairly well with any gun. Skeet and clays are shot low gun and require the ugly A5's perfect fit.

I hunt HARD. I'm not ruining some fancy gun crawling around in rain soaked cattails or subzero snow storms.
20230928_132023.jpg

20221118_164720.jpg
 
Last edited:
Not to hijack Beema's thread... But since we are talking about shotguns.....

Has anyone tried one of these??
 

Attachments

  • Screenshot 2023-10-16 at 7.54.55 AM.png
    Screenshot 2023-10-16 at 7.54.55 AM.png
    1.4 MB · Views: 52
  • Screenshot 2023-10-16 at 7.54.58 AM.png
    Screenshot 2023-10-16 at 7.54.58 AM.png
    1.8 MB · Views: 54
  • Screenshot 2023-10-16 at 7.55.00 AM.png
    Screenshot 2023-10-16 at 7.55.00 AM.png
    1.3 MB · Views: 49

Forum statistics

Threads
55,110
Messages
1,170,751
Members
95,779
Latest member
sjones42347
 

 

 

Latest profile posts

A.A. wrote on Msprenger!'s profile.
Are you still looking for a 375 H&H?
NRA Life, ASSRA Life, GGCA Life
Sable @ the lodge this morning

Buffalo encounter this morning!

here with available dates for 2024/25

1-13 September 2024
14-31 October 2024
1-7 November 2024
18-24 November 2024

March 2025 is wide open!
12-17 April 2025
24-28 May 2025
15-21 June 2025
7-12 July 2025
22-28 July 2025
13-31 August 2025
15-30 September 2025

October and November 2025 is wide open!
 
Top