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 cop’s 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.
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 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’s 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The shotgun in this review was provided by Beretta to me with the specific intent that I review it. No promises were made or solicited for a positive review of the gun. Beretta did not pay me for this article, nor did the company request any links to their site.
I have no financial interest in Beretta or any other firearms-related manufacturing company.
I previously reviewed this gun for Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement. Although this review contains additional information, the conclusions and other observations are the same in both articles.
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