& Harris - Gun
Reviews - Archive - Beretta SO
Beretta SO sidelock is quite an unusual gun. Unusual in the sense
that although they are expensive, and lets face it, the SO is a
premium grade gun even in its most basic form, they are still
probably the most affordable OU sidelock gun on the market.
other gunmakers make sidelock OU's. and those that do only compete
at the higher SO price level, where we are talking about guns in
excess of £20,000.
thing that sets them apart from the normal series of Beretta OU guns
is the sheer amount of hand workmanship that goes into these guns.
has a dedicated shop in which the SO is built and finished.
slightly different materials are used, particularly in the barrel
making side. The barrels are made from Boehler Antinit steel. It has
high tensile and impact strength. It is also flexible and has an
inherent resistance to corrosion. Be aware though you need to keep
an SO clean. They are not chrome lined in the bores and so are not
quite as forgiving as the cheaper series guns.
tubes are cold hammer forged to refine the grain structure of the
steel and still further impart strength as the gun is made.
are made on the monoblock principle as are all Beretta guns. The
ribs are soldered in place and the top rib is hand file cut.
of the soldering of the ribs, the barrels are blacked in the same
way as an English gun with successive coats of solution, rusting,
boiling and polishing to achieve a deep lustre blue.
The action frame is made from high quality alloy steel and machined
by computerised machinery. These main components are then hand
assembled and jointed. This is the only way in which guns of this
quality can be built. And if you pick up any gun of this quality
something of that hand built feel imparted by the gunmaker will come
through to you.
SO is detonated, that is the action fences are carved and shaped to
flow with the lines of the barrels by hand. The parts are then
polished ready for the engraver.
the SO is a very strongly built gun. The action is locked by a cross
bolt at the top of the action frame. This is positioned to bite with
the lugs on the barrel monoblock at the axis height of the top
barrel to minimise stress when the gun is being shot.
lock work is quite simple. On the latest SO which go back about 20
years or so, the locks have been simplified to have just 4 pins on
the right and 3 left, apart from the tumbler pivot. Guns earlier
than this had 4 and 5 pins respectively. As a general rule the more
lock pins a SO has then the older it is.
The locks are essentially the same on either side the difference
comes in that the forward pin on the right lock acts to brake the
mainspring when the gun is fired and make the right lock rebounding.
This is so that the striker can retract a little after firing and
not drag or jam in the primer as the gun is opened.
Trigger pulls are usually very crisp as could be expected on a
can come with either double, single non selective and selective
guns can be made auto safe with the simple addition of a bar between
the top lever cam and the safe. The selector for the single trigger
is the same as for the series guns with a button in the middle of
strikers or firing pins are housed in retaining nipples. These are
very strong, and although I have replaced them, I have yet to see
one broken. Both strikers are spring loaded.
is by rods that are located on each side of the action floor. These
push lifters that in turn work on the hammers. This and also the
ejector work is exactly the same in principle to that used on the
ejectors/extractors themselves are housed within the monoblock of
the barrels, and are directly powered by coils springs and followers
also housed within the monoblock. The ejectors are cocked into
postion by the cocking rods and trip themselves as the gun is
most striking thing about the SO is the level of finish. In
preparation for engraving the metal parts of the gun are polished to
a high standard. With the SO, the internal parts are also polished
to this standard. Both lockwork and action frame, not to mention the
trigger plate. The screws or pins that hold and secure the gun
together are finished, engraved and finely slotted with great
goes without saying that the engraving work will be of the highest
standard. As a nation, Italy has the best engravers in the world.
And some of the best are employed to work on the SO guns depending
on the work required. There are many standard patterns, but also the
guns may be custom engraved, so every one is individual.
woodwork is often highly figured, which adds to the attractiveness
of the particular gun. Stocks and forends are hand fited to SO's to
ensure a high level of wood to metal fit. Then the wood may be oil
finished to bring out the beauty of the figure.
to watch for:
Biggest one is to look at the stock. They can be known to crack.
This depends on the wood and is also more often seen on selective
single triggers. This is because more wood is hollowed out from the
centre to accommodate the mechanism.
it also has a lot to do with how the gun is handled. SO's do not
need to be slammed shut. Just close them gently. The quality of the
jointing will ensure that the gun will close without undue force.
A couple of times I have seen the tail break off the top lever that
cams open the bolt, but this can usually be repaired without
will occasionally break as they are vee type springs, but are easily
Extractors will also sometimes break, but are easy to replace. And
are no more problem than the series guns.
buying and SO you have to look at it as an individual, they are as
different as each team of gunmakers that produced them.
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