Description: Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun- The Beretta 1301 Tactical is a new gas operated semi-automatic shotgun designed for law-enforcement, personal defense and competition.
Engineered to be ultra-reliable fast cycling, and easy to use, it has all the features that a modern tactical shotgun should offer.
Features include an oversized charging handle, oversized reversible safety button, picatinny rail and aggressive checkering on the fore-end and stock. The Beretta 1301 Tactical features a tough, protected ghost-ring site system with an interchangeable front sight. A screw in choke system allows for maximum flexibility based on use and needs. An OptimaBore, HP Improved Cylinder (flush configuration) is included with this shotgun.
The Beretta 1301 Tactical is a Super-Fast Shooter. The integrated BLINK gas operating system allows the 1301 Tactical to cycle 36% faster than any other shotgun on the market making this shotgun ideal for 3-gun/multi-gun competition. When shooting the 1301 Tactical, you will simply and objectively have an edge over your competitors.
Review: Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
With a company history spanning nearly 500 years—the longest of any extant gunmaker—Beretta has dabbled in practically every class of firearm. While the company also produces carbines (like the ARX100) and handguns (including the M9), to me, its shotgun line remains the hallmark. From handcrafted over-unders to über-reliable semi-automatics, Beretta arguably builds shotguns as well or better than anyone in the business. That is why I was so intrigued by its re-entrance into the home-defense shotgun realm with the Beretta 1301 Tactical in 2014—a noticeably compact, lightning-quick, 12-gauge semi-auto.
“We decided the time was right to jump back into the market,” says John Tamburino, tactical product manager for Beretta USA. “Tactical shotguns are making a bit of a comeback, especially in law enforcement, and we saw an opportunity to take advantage. As 3-gun came along, we introduced the 1301 Competition [in 2013], and the 1301 Tactical is a big brother to that with ghost-ring sights and other accessories.” Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
Power Under the Hood
Upon opening the box, I was struck by the Beretta 1301 Tactical’s diminutive footprint. Sporting an 18.5-inch barrel and a highly compact, standard-shape stock, length-of-pull is only 13 inches and overall length is just 37.8 inches. That’s about as compact as a non-NFA shotgun gets. For perspective, the 1301 Tactical is nearly 2 inches shorter than the original, standard AR-15’s overall length. As I’ve discussed in my shotgun column, such dimensions offer key advantages, including: ease of maneuverability within the home, lower likelihood of an adversary grabbing the barrel and avoidance of telegraphing one’s location from behind cover.
“That’s one of the biggest selling features of the 1301 Tactical,” says Tamburino. “We had law enforcement in mind with the length-of-pull. If you’re wearing gear or a vest, you want that maneuverability and it offers a very compact design for building entry.”
It also shaves the gun’s weight to a mere 6.35 pounds, well beyond a pound lighter than the aforementioned AR-15. Thus, the Beretta 1301 Tactical is as lively in the hands as any shotgun I’ve tested, reaching target with blazing speed. Handling characteristics are further improved by aggressive checkering on the fore-end and semi-pistol grip. I found it functional, despite forgetting my shooting gloves on a sweat-inducing July afternoon.
Rounding out the handling considerations on the Beretta 1301 Tactical is an ergonomic groove running along both sides of the fore-end. It affords solid purchase and feels appropriately positioned for the off-hand fingers. Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
However, you don’t need a physics degree to see the disadvantage to a firearm of such svelte dimensions: recoil. The impulse is reduced by the gun’s gas-operation, rather slim recoil pad (likely chosen to avoid increasing length-of-pull) and back-bored barrel. In my estimation, you can slap as many recoil reducers on a shotgun of this weight as you want, but it’s still going to kick—and the 1301 does so with noticeable strength. Yet, given my tastes in home-defense shotguns, I’ll compromise on recoil for a more-compact firearm every time. If it bothers you, I suggest one of the many fine aftermarket recoil pads, such as those from Limbsaver, Pachmayr or Kick-Eez.
Adjusting fit can also assist with recoil management, and the Beretta 1301 Tactical is nicely equipped to do so. A stainless steel plate within the stock and corresponding techno-polymer fiberglass spacer may be used to apply cast-on (for a left-handed shooter) and adjust drop to 55 or 60 millimeters. Further drop and length-of-pull may be added with the 1-inch and .5-inch spacers provided.
Gas it Up
Now, onto the fun stuff. The heart of the Beretta 1301 Tactical is Beretta’s BLINK gas system. Already found on Beretta’s field and clays guns—notably the A400 line—the design ranks among the industry’s most reliable, in my opinion. There are only so many semi-automatic systems to which I’m willing to trust my life, and Beretta’s is one of them. In fact, under stress I suspect I’m more likely to short-stroke a pump-action than experience a malfunction with a BLINK-equipped Beretta.
“We stayed with what’s tried and true to us,” explains Tamburino. “The BLINK system offers reliability and really fast cycling—up to four shells in under a second.” Beretta says the 1301 Tactical’s cycling rate is 36-percent faster than any shotgun on the market—a difficult claim for a gunwriter to test—but I will say the 1301 certainly shot as fast as I could pull the trigger.
For my initial reliability test, I put a 75-round torture test through the Beretta 1301 Tactical ranging from 2 3⁄4-inch, 7⁄8-ounce low brass to high-brass buckshot, with no malfunctions observed. I declined to punish myself with harder-hitting 3-inch shells, but its chamber is so-equipped, and I’m certain they’ll cycle as well. Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the cross-tube gas piston’s design is what Beretta calls its “self-cleaning” capability. The piston’s elastic seal is texturized, affording it the ability to scrape gunpowder residue from the gas cylinder during travel. Following my test, inspection of the piston area revealed noticeably little fouling. Beretta hasn’t eliminated the need for regular shotgun maintenance, but this system may forgive an occasional lack of discipline—always a good thing in regard to a shotgun kept for defensive use.
The BLINK System incorporates an innovative bolt assembly as well. The rotating bolt head features two locking lugs, which secure it tightly to the chamber for a strong lock-up. “The locking design found on AR-15s come to mind when you see it,” Tamburino notes. “It provides a little more accuracy to the gun, as does the cold-hammer-forged barrel.” Beretta’s unique shotgun barrel-manufacturing process—combined with the use of “Steelium,” a proprietary tri-alloy steel—also results in one of the strongest on the market. So, how did it perform?
On the Track
Testing was conducted at a distance of 15 yards. I began with a 1 1⁄8 ounce, No. 7 1⁄2 Remington Gun Club Target load—admittedly a stretch for the Beretta 1301 Tactical’s fixed cylinder choke at such range. As expected, all five shots completely obscured my 10-inch target, but I was impressed by the patterns’ uniformity.
I then tested two of my favorite buckshot loads: Federal Premium Personal Defense and Hornady Critical Defense. Results were nothing shy of outstanding. I shot 10 rounds of the Hornady load, which consistently placed its eight 00-buckshot pellets just under 4 inches of one another. One pattern was an impressive 3 inches. Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
The Federal test proved remarkably similar, perhaps owing to the two loads’ comparable wad designs. Despite having one more buckshot pellet than the Hornady shells, the Federal load averaged 4 inches; the largest pattern was 4.5 inches and the tightest was 3. Each option, paired with the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun, packs a tight, fight-stopping punch at indoor distances.
To get on target, I opted to use the Beretta 1301 Tactical’s standard ghost-ring sight. It’s a subjective matter, but I consider a ghost ring an ideal setup because it offers speedy target acquisition and the necessary precision for longer-range buckshot targets or the use of slugs. The removable front sight is flanked by wings to protect it from damage, while the rear aperture—winged as well—is fully adjustable for windage and elevation. Both buckshot loads tested initially printed high and right; a quick adjustment with a dime got me zeroed in. As noted, the 1301 is highly adjustable, but I found the line of sight to be ideal out of the box. Fitting off-the-rack shotguns to the average shooter’s dimensions is, in my experience, one of Beretta’s strong suits.
Just forward of the rear aperture is a seven-slot Mil-Std 1913 rail for attaching an optic. I’d like to see an additional rail on the fore-end for easy attachment of a weaponlight or vertical foregrip, but there are other ways to secure accessories.
In terms of loading and operating the Beretta 1301 Tactical’s controls, this shotgun is as smooth as any I’ve tested. The loading port is wide and polished, allowing shells to slide into the magazine with ease. There are several ways to unload the gun, but the fastest route is less-than-obvious: Simply lift the shell carrier and press the back-half of the bolt-release button—a shell practically flies out of the magazine tube and into your hand.
Alternatively, shells can be released onto the carrier via the bolt-release button or carrier-stop button (located behind the carrier) and cycled out of the chamber with a tug on the bolt handle. Lastly there’s always the old-fashioned method of depressing the blade-like magazine-release button at the entrance to the tube. I cannot recall a shotgun that can be unloaded in so many ways.
Standard magazine capacity is 4+1 shells, but two-round extensions are available. Beretta ships shotguns with the magazine plug in place. I strongly urge you to remove it on any shotgun meant for home defense. Unscrew the fore-end cap, depress a notch within a small slot on the side of the magazine tube and the entire assembly slides free. Remove the plug and replace the spring.
The Beretta 1301 Tactical’s trigger broke cleanly, but did have a discernible degree of take-up. The trigger guard is enlarged compared to prior Berettas—easing operation with gloved hands—and contains the enlarged safety button. Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
Additional controls, including the bolt handle, reversible safety and bolt-release button are textured and generously oversize. This is one of the most pleasing aspects of the 1301 Tactical—anyone with a modicum of shotgun experience will find the controls operate intuitively from the moment the gun is acquired. There’s just no need to hunt for them, which is crucial when speed is a priority and motor skills are affected by stress. In the same vein, the bolt handle is further improved by an outwardly expanding, cone-shaped design. Unlike many oversize handles, which are merely an enlarged, cylindrical shape, the 1301’s unit helps ensure the finger remains snug.
Simply stated, the Beretta 1301 Tactical is a well thought-out setup with out-of-the-box features often relegated to aftermarket purchase. Particularly in its price range, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more home-defense-ready semi-automatic shotgun.
Manufacturer: Beretta; (800) 929-2901
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
Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun Review: A True Combat Shotgun
A visible symbol of the American lawman from the frontier days to modern times, the shotgun has been a reliable tool responsible for saving many a cops life. Although the AR-15 has made a run at supplanting the highly effective scattergun in patrol cars around the country, the shotgun remains a staple of modern law enforcement. Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
Likewise, the shotgun remains a very popular tool for defending one’s family at home. Whether it is an armed gang member kicking your door in or a rabid animal approaching your livestock, the scattergun is as useful to the armed citizen as it is the local constabulary.
The Beretta 1301 Tactical is a modern evolution of the venerable police long gun. Equipped with modern features, the 1301 is every bit as reliable as the mainstay gun of times past. It can throw a 1 ounce slug at supersonic speeds or send out a devastating pattern of buckshot to stop even the most violent attacker.
I was fortunate enough to have one of these shotguns for a period of time and give it a workout on the range.
Built for Combat
Few things have an impact, both psychologically and physically, like the payload delivered by a 12-gauge shotgun. No one has ever questioned the effectiveness of a one ounce slug or nine 00 buck pellets on a violent criminal. While the proper application of each can be debated, its terminal effects on the human body are devastating.
This Beretta gun is chambered for the popular 12 gauge, and it will handle both 2.75 and 3 shells. The tubular magazine holds four shells. A quick note for those not familiar with shotguns: Beretta delivers the gun with a 2 round block installed. Remove that first to be able to fully load the magazine.
Beretta uses large controls on the 1301 Tactical including an oversized bolt handle and bolt release. Additionally, the shotgun has an oversized cross-bolt safety. The safety is reversible for left handed shooters. Oversized controls increase the ability of a police officer to use them under stress.
During body alarm response, a person can lose a significant amount of fine motor control. Manipulating small safeties and levers can be very difficult at these times. Oversized controls increase the ability of a police officer to use them under stress.
Sights on Target
Fast sight acquisition is important when lives are on the line. In my opinion, Beretta uses one of the best sighting solutions for the shotgun with a ghost ring rear sight and blade front sight. I have found that this arrangement of sights is very fast to use and extremely accurate.
While a simple bead front sight is useable, it has been my experience that officers perform much better with a ghost ring sighting system. The rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation. Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
Beretta uses a photoluminescent dot on the front sight. This dot appears off-white until exposed to a light source. The dot absorbs light and then glows for a short period of time.
In general, I like the use of photoluminescent paints to enhance plain sights. However, I found the paint used on the 1301 Tactical did not glow for very long after being charged with a handheld light. The front sight can be quickly replaced if you want a blade with a self-powered tritium insert.
A Picatinny rail is located on top of the receiver for the addition of a red-dot or other optic. The sighting options on this Beretta shotgun are truly unlimited.
Keep in mind that this shotgun was designed with the needs of law enforcement in mind. To best meet those needs, Beretta equipped the 1301 with a short stock. The synthetic stock has a 13 length of pull, making it more compact than some alternative shotguns.
A short stock allows for easier storage and retrieval from an already cramped patrol car. Additionally, most law enforcement officers are wearing some combination of soft and hard body armor that can make a shotgun with a longer stock unwieldy doubly so for small statured officers.
But these same features work well for the armed citizen as well. A shorter overall package allows for easier maneuvering around your home or when retrieving it from your truck.
Also, I’ve found it easier for a taller person to shoot a gun with a shorter length of pull than a short person trying to use a shotgun with a long LOP. For households like mine where more than one person might need to use the 1301, going a little shorter on the stock allows more people to use the gun effectively.
The stock is arranged in a traditional design with aggressive checkering on the grip and forend. The checkering does an excellent job of reducing hand slippage during recoil. A thin, rubber recoil pad is affixed to the end of the stock.
Italian Quality & Craftsmanship
As with all of Beretta firearms, the 1301 is a quality build.
Made in Italy, these shotguns have a pedigree of fine craftsmanship that is nearly 500 years old. With the practical experience of supplying weapons to the militaries of the world, these Beretta guns have both style and function covered. Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
The heart of this shotgun is the Blink gas-operated system. According to Beretta, the Blink system offers 36% faster cycling than other types of semi-automatic shotguns. This means follow-up shots can be amazingly fast.
The 18.5 barrel is cold hammer forged and made of Steelium. Steelium is a proprietary tri-metal alloy made of nickel, chromium and molybdenum. Beretta claims the Steelium barrel is exceptionally durable and perfectly suited for hard duty use.
The first thing that struck me when I held the 1301 Tactical was how light it felt. At 6.7 pounds, it is roughly a pound lighter than some competitors pump and semi-auto shotguns. This gun points fast and is a breeze to move around corners and other obstacles. It is one of the better-balanced tactical shotguns that I’ve had the pleasure of shooting.
Long term care of the shotgun is just as important as how well it functions brand new. Patrol officers take their guns into all weather conditions including rain and snow. Depending on the assignment, the shotgun may also be exposed to salt water or even the dangerous chemical environment of a meth lab. Being able to break down the gun for a good cleaning is highly important.
Field stripping the 1301 Tactical is easy and requires no tools. Since this shotgun does not have any chokes, you do not even need a choke wrench. Beretta is careful to note that no oils or solvents should be used on the gas piston system of the gun during routine cleaning. Should a heavy amount of carbon build up on the piston system, a solvent can be used. However, the piston system should be completely dry prior to reassembly. Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
On the Range
An old gun maxim suggests that the true value of a gun can only be measured on the range. So, to gauge the value of the 1301 Tactical, time spent shooting was both necessary and pleasurable.
Before hitting the range, one of my concerns about the 1301 Tactical was the amount of felt recoil. The gun is so light and agile, that I was worried that the recoil might be a bit abusive.
While regular shotgun shooters are not likely to be bothered by a little more recoil, minimally trained police officers likely would be. Far too many agencies provide less training with the shotgun than they do with other firearms. So, officers that aren’t shooters in their off time are less likely to pull out a heavy recoiling gun when the situation dictates its use.
I’m pleased to say that the recoil from this Beretta shotgun was no greater than any of the pump action shotguns I was equipped with in my law enforcement career. I ran a variety of slug and buckshot loads through the Beretta and none of them seemed any harsher than the shotguns in my personal safe.
Sometimes reliability is an issue with a semi-automatic shotgun. Not so with the Beretta. I ran a variety of loads including both full- and reduced-power slug and buckshot through the gun with only one hiccup. The third round fired a reduced-recoil slug from Federal failed to eject completely. The next 247 rounds fired without a single problem.
Early stoppages are possible with any gun during the break-in process. The fact that more than 200 rounds followed without a single problem tells me that this was an isolated incident and not a problem with the gun. Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
The ghost ring sights worked exceptionally well. The ring is wide enough to allow the eye to quickly focus on the front post. Although the sights are adjustable, they arrived spot-on.
As expected, the controls were very easy to reach and work. The oversized safety and charging handle performed admirably, and were much nicer than what I’ve experienced on a number of other shotguns.
I am right-handed, but I ran the 1301 Tactical from both shoulders to see if there would be any obvious problems for left-handed shooters. I found none. In fact, I found that although the controls were ostensibly set up for right-handed shooters, I could actually run the gun faster from my left shoulder.
One of the very nice features of this gun is the trigger pull. The pull is smooth and light with a clean break. Any shotgun would be well served with this trigger pull, but for a service shotgun, it is exceptionally nice. The trigger itself is chrome-plated and black with a silky smooth surface that allows the finger to get a good feel of it.
At 25 yards, the buckshot patterns and slug groups were significantly smaller than any qualification course would require. At 50 yards, the slug groupings opened up some, but were still well within a chest sized area. Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
With a moderate amount of practice, patrol officers should be able to hit man-sized targets in the 50-100 yard range with slugs. For agencies where patrol rifles are not an option, the Beretta will be able to extend the effectiveness for a police officer beyond typical handgun ranges.
In an age when departments are moving or have already moved to the patrol rifle, some might wonder if the shotgun will continue to have a place in law enforcement armories. I firmly believe it has a place, and it will continue to serve for many decades to come. When departments are being scrutinized for perceived militarization, the traditional lines of a shotgun can be more palatable to the public while still providing devastating effectiveness.
Beretta has a real winner with the 1301 Tactical. This shotgun is a solid performer and appears to offer exceptional performance for patrol and tactical duties. As it ships, it is ready to hit the street. Upgrading to a 1x optic like the Trijicon MRO is easy, as is routine maintenance.
Without any hesitation, I recommend this shotgun for any department and individual officers looking to upgrade their shotguns. Anyone looking for a top quality home defense scattergun should take a look at these as well. Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun