Benelli 828U–The Future of the Over-Under Shotgun

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The new Benelli 828U over and under shotgun.

The new Benelli 828U over and under shotgun.

Check out the 828U at Benelli: http://www.benelliusa.com/828u-shotgun

Buy one on GunsAmerica: /Benelli + 828U

When a new gun comes my way for a look, the very first thing I want to understand is what’s different about it. After all, if there’s nothing different, better, or at least less expensive, then what’s the point?

In the case of the Benelli 828U over and under shotgun, I think the “what’s different” question is answered by new design approaches to a very old type of gun. Over and under shotguns have been around for quite some time and have changed relatively little over the decades. Cosmetically, the Benelli 828U looks like a slightly more space age take on the classic double, but the under the hood features are what stand out as the unique elements of this shotgun.

Benelli 828U-26

Benelli 828U-27

The Interesting Features

Let’s walk through some of the features that I think add some uniqueness to the Benelli 828U.

One of the first things you’ll notice is that the rib is made of carbon fiber. You’ll see that telltale fiber pattern on both sides while the top is a non-glare matte black finish. The rib is not a structural part, so why not make it as light as possible? The rib is also easily removable by loosening a small screw just behind the front sight. The standard rib is low, but you can easily swap that out if you like. Up front on the rib, you’ll find a short and small diameter red fiber optic tube. It’s visible, but subtle, and won’t distract your eye too much from the target you’re tracking. There is no center bead, but I imagine with the removable rib design, either Benelli or someone else might offer that configuration at some point.

Note the carbon fiber rib to shave a little weight.

Note the carbon fiber rib to shave a little weight.

The opening lever is deliberately offset to be closer to your thumb.

The opening lever is deliberately offset to be closer to your thumb.

The opening lever also takes a slightly non-traditional approach. Most over and unders start off with a nicely centered opening lever that moves to the side to open the action. Benelli has apparently decided to favor ergonomics over tradition, so the lever is placed to the far left of the receiver when the barrels are in the closed position. That makes a lot of sense as the lever is much closer to your thumb and therefore much easier to operate. You’ll also notice that it’s curved, again to follow a more natural thumb movement. Who said that lever has to be straight and centered?

Rather than the traditional inset release lever, the fore-end stock is removed with a button on the leading edge of the stock that pushes in towards the receiver. I have to assume this design tweak was done to keep the fore-end stock nice and clean, with checkering all around. There’s nothing to get in the way of your support hand.

The fore-end stock is removed by a push button that's out of the way of your support hand.

The fore-end stock is removed by a push button that’s out of the way of your support hand.

Note the floating steel locking plate in contrast the aluminum receiver.

Note the floating steel locking plate in contrast the aluminum receiver.

When you separate the barrels from the receiver, you’ll notice that the aluminum receiver has a steel locking insert. This allows steel to steel interface between the barrels and receiver, but the use of lighter aluminum on the parts that don’t take that much abuse, like the receiver body itself. It’s another weight-saving idea that intends to maintain durability.

Benelli 828U-23

The barrel selector and safety is fairly traditional and intuitive to operate. The single control has an insert that moves side to side to select top or bottom barrel first operation. The visual indicators are brainless (that’s good!) and show a red dot for the barrel that will fire first and a white dot for the second. It’s really simple to understand. The safety pushes forward to go into fire mode. When it’s pulled back, you’ll see an engraved “S” to indicate the shotgun safety is engaged. As a field gun, you’ll also find that the safety engages every time you close the action, so develop your shooting routine habits accordingly.

The extractors and ejectors operate as you would expect. If a shell has been fired, opening the action will launch it several feet backward. Unfired shells are just lifted out of the barrel so you can leave it be to top off the fired barrel or unload completely.

The ejectors launch spent shells vigorously.

The ejectors launch spent shells vigorously.

Unfired shells are gently lifted out so you can remove or leave in place before closing the action again.

Unfired shells are gently lifted out so you can remove or leave in place before closing the action again.

The trigger group is kind of nifty. It’s a modular unit that is self-contained and easily removable provided you carefully follow the instructions. First, remove the barrels. Then, you’ll need to make sure the opening lever is closed (to the left) by pushing a small pin that protrudes into the receiver area. Using the included pin tool, press it into the small hole behind the trigger guard and rotate the trigger group assembly out, rear first. Assembly is the opposite, just be sure that the opening lever is closed and the strikers are cocked before rocking the trigger back in. Oh, I measured the trigger weight and found the lower barrel to be a hair less than four pounds while the upper barrel was right at five pounds.

The 828U comes with five choke tubes and a wrench.

The 828U comes with five choke tubes and a wrench.

Trigger group removal is easy provided you follow the instructions carefully.

Trigger group removal is easy provided you follow the instructions carefully.

Choke tubes? You get five in the box: Cylinder, Improved Cylinder, Modified, Improved Modified, and Full. The included choke tubes are flush with the muzzle.

An Interesting Approach to Recoil

The Benelli 828U is a light 12 gauge, weighing in at about 6.5 pounds for the 26-inch barrel gun and 6.6 pounds for the 28-inch barrel gun. Physics is physics, so generally speaking, the lighter the gun, the more you’re going to feel the thump when you pull the trigger. To make the 828U pleasurable to shoot given its low mass, Benelli has implemented a neat recoil system that is almost completely contained within the stock. While mercury inserts and such aren’t new things, the most common approach to taming the recoil beast is the addition of a squishy and shock absorbing recoil pad.

Most of the Progressive Comfort recoil system is inside of the stock.

Most of the Progressive Comfort recoil system is inside of the stock.

The removable comb piece has a bit of cushion to make life easier on your cheek bone.

The removable comb piece has a bit of cushion to make life easier on your cheek bone.

The 828U has a comfortable recoil pad, but that’s not where the most recoil management work is done. Instead, the Progressive Comfort System inside of the wood butt stock is where the recoil dampening parts live. There are three sets of flexible buffers that compress with increasing force. Lighter loads generate enough recoil to cause the stage one buffers to compress and dampen the action. Heavier loads compress the stage one buffers and more rigid stage two buffers, and so on until 3-inch shells compress all three stages. The idea is a system that offers recoil reduction with a variety of load strengths.

In The Box

The box itself is pretty darn nice. It’s a plastic hard case with four latches. Inside of the handle area are two padlock holes so technically, this case is TSA legal for travel. As the box says “Benelli” on it in prominent red letters, I would use a dingier looking travel case to fly. No need to tempt our TSA folks and risk “losing” your very nice shotgun, right?

I love the included hard case, especially the padded tartan interior.

I love the included hard case, especially the padded tartan interior.

The interior hard plastic box is great for keeping dirty stuff like gun oil from ruining the rest of the case.

The interior hard plastic box is great for keeping dirty stuff like gun oil from ruining the rest of the case.

The interior is lined with a traditional green, blue, red and yellow tartan pattern. That surprised me, as I see a “Scottish” look, but I do like it, and the tartan fabric is well padded underneath. The case is customized with plastic support pieces to store the barrel and stock assemblies in their respective places. You’ll also find a large plastic box inside which holds three extra choke tubes, a bottle of Benelli gun oil, and the drop and cast shim parts.

The plastic box inside of the hard case includes extra choke tubes, gun oil, choke wrench, shims and documentation.

The plastic box inside of the hard case includes extra choke tubes, gun oil, choke wrench, shims, and documentation.

Custom Fit, Out of the Box

Shotguns actually do have sights, and you do “aim” a shotgun. The front sight is, of course, the bead or fiber-optic tube. The rear sight is your dominant eyeball. When I say you actually do “aim” a shotgun, I mean it literally. Yes, your eyes are focused on the target, and not the “sights” but since your rear sight is actually your eye, this action is in fact just like aiming anything else, only different.

Benelli 828U-6

The included shims and plates will get you 40 different fit combinations.

The checkering pattern on the grip and fore-end stock resembles scales - another non-traditional approach.

The checkering pattern on the grip and fore-end stock resembles scales – another non-traditional approach.

If shotguns weren’t aimed, then it wouldn’t make any difference at all how your face, and dominant eyeball, interact with the shotgun stock. But it does. In fact, the consistent “fit” of a shotgun to your face is the most important success factor to hitting moving targets. Since your eye is the rear sight, it absolutely, positively, has to be mounted on the gun in the exact same place every time you bring it to shoulder. Since shotguns like the Benell 828U are mass produced, and all of us are different shapes, there has to be a reasonable way to adjust the stock to make sure it fits each shotgun owner perfectly.

One way is to hire expensive English guys to use steam and bending tools to wrestle the stock of your gun into the perfect shape so it lines up properly with your eye. The easier and far less expensive way is to use shims to make adjustments to drop and cast. Drop is just what it sounds like. It’s the vertical measurement of the comb of the butt relative to the barrel. Cast is more of a “windage” or left / right adjustment. The net effect of drop and cast adjustments on a shotgun is that the stock will angle up or down, and side to side, relative to the receiver, based on your physical size and shape. Of course, it’s up to the shooter to mount the shotgun exactly the same way every single time. That’s part of the skill element and one of the reasons why few ever hit all the birds or clay targets.

Benelli solves the drop and cast adjustment problem with a series of five drop and four cast shims that fit between the stock and receiver. By inserting these in various combinations, you can get 40 different adjustments to the stock fit. By all means, take advantage and spend the time fitting this gun to yourself. I like to close my eyes, then mount the gun normally. Once mounted, open your eyes and check alignment with the barrel. Ideally, assuming your dominant eye is on the same side as you mount the shotgun, you should be looking down the top of the barrel without actually seeing the top surface. If you see the matte top surface of the rib, your eye is too high relative to the bore and you’ll need to adjust accordingly, and vice versa. A similar test will show you any required cast adjustment. If you have to tilt your head sideways to line up, then you’re working too hard and can take advantage of the cast shims.

The fiber optic front sight is small - not at all overpowering like some.

The fiber optic front sight is small – not at all overpowering like some.

The rib is removable, so you can replace it with one of different style or height.

The rib is removable so you can replace it with one of different style or height.

The 828U also uses Benelli’s QuadraFit system to allow for length of pull and comb height adjustments. While the drop shims address the downward angle of the stock, the QuadraFit comb is removable and replaceable. You will have to order a comb of different height separately. The comb only appears to be permanent as there are no visible screw holes – you remove it via an angled screw accessible from inside the rear of the stock.

Out of the box, this gun has a 14 3/8-inch length of pull, 2 1/8-inch drop at heel and 1 1/2-inch drop at comb.

Shooting the 828U

By necessity, we’re going to have to get into a bit of personal opinion here, as shooting performance of a shotgun is largely related to subjective feel. To me, this is a great field gun. By field, I don’t in any way mean “lesser.” I mean that quite literally. It’s designed to be really, really light to carry on activities like upland hunts, and it is. Physics being physics, you’re going to pay a recoil price for light weight, and you do with the Benelli 828U. I shot a number of #7 1/2 and #8 shot loads, all in 2 3/4-inch shells. Shot weight ranged from 7/8-ounces to 1 1/8-ounces so the dram equivalents ranged from 2 3/4 to 3 1/4. You can definitely feel the recoil. The Progressive Comfort system definitely makes a difference, but you’ll still know you fired this gun. The replaceable comb is also a big help. At first touch, it feels like it’s made of firm plastic, but when you push on it, it acts more like a firm rubber material. It definitely makes a difference in comfort on your cheek bone.

I tested this gun with a number of Federal and Winchester loads ranging from 7/8 ounce to 1 1/8 ounces.

I tested this gun with a number of Federal and Winchester loads ranging from 7/8 ounce to 1 1/8 ounces.

The safety and barrel selector switch is fairly standard.

The safety and barrel selector switch is fairly standard.

I tested the 28-inch barrel model, and it mounts beautifully. The recoil pad portion of the Progressive Comfort system has a well-rounded top, so the gun doesn’t get caught up on clothing when bringing it to shoulder. Swing was effortless and smooth, as I would have expected from a gun like this. The balance point is pretty much right on the hinge on the bottom of the receiver.

This is a gun with which I would love to hunt. Carrying and pulling the trigger 10 or 20 times a day would be a joy. Shooting in a 200 target trap competition, maybe not so much, but that’s not the 828U’s primary purpose.

You can order the Benelli 828U with either an engraved nickel receiver or the black anodized version shown here. Both receiver treatments are available with 26 or 28-inch barrels. The nickel gun retails for $2,999 while the black anodized retails for $2,499.

Check out the 828U at Benelli: http://www.benelliusa.com/828u-shotgun

Buy one on GunsAmerica: /Benelli + 828U

 

{ 24 comments… add one }
  • Lisa J. July 31, 2017, 9:50 am

    First off I want to compliment the writer of this gun evaluation. Nice job!! I wish all writers covered the bases as well as you did here. With that said I’m a clay and trap shooter and do 100 rounds a day when I shoot. I have handled this gun and its fit to me was spot on out of the box. Benelli put a lot of thought into this gun to make it perfect with the adjustable stock, easily removable trigger group and all the other nice features. But as I had feared and your evaluation pointed out the light weight pays a price. Also I’m kind of old school and the resetting safety would require a change in my habits and I actually don’t like that feature. I’m sorry to say I won’t be buying this 828U but I would recommend anyone looking for a nice field gun to take a look at it as you will fall in love with it.

    • eric a August 2, 2017, 10:08 am

      I have been shooting the 828U for about 1 year. 4 rounds of skeet is no problem. Very light but the recoil system works well enough to counteract the lightness of the gun. I installed extended skeet chokes and use the included flush chokes when I have hunted pheasant and duck.
      As far as the auto safety…took me one minute to fix that…first I removed the trigger assembly (15 seconds), 30 seconds to look at it and remove a wire bale, 10 seconds to replace the trigger assembly, the rest of the time to break the gun to test. So simple. Safety can still be used manually.

  • bobby January 7, 2016, 9:20 am

    I think the price tag has the ( i cant afford it haters) hatin!!! If you can afford it its just another BENELLI in the safe.

  • Me December 14, 2015, 11:01 pm

    The author of this piece needs to go read Chuck Hawks review of this over priced disaster.

  • scott December 14, 2015, 8:27 pm

    Just recieved a 20 superposed for the same cost of a 828.Would consider the 828 if or when the 20 is made. One could only hope that the benelli would still be worth the 3 g s after years of use like my superposed still is!

  • scott December 14, 2015, 8:23 pm

    Just recieved a 20 superposed for the same cost of a 828.Would consider the 828 if or when the 20 is made. One could only hope that the benelli would still be worth the 3 g s after years of use like my superposed still is!

  • Robert Houston December 14, 2015, 10:45 am

    Nice gun but a bit light for my taste. Probably best shot in heavy clothing or only a box or two at the most. There appears to be no way to lengthen the length of pull(LOP) and most stock guns are around 14.5″. And to the author, shotguns of this type don’t have sights, they have beads and they are not aimed they are pointed. Rifles and handguns are aimed and usually at a stationary target. When you aim a gun you line up the sights and focus on the front sight and the target is in the background unless you use a scope, of course. A shotgun of this type does not have sights, it has beads and in this case, only a front one. And a fiber optic sight is a bead that glows. The middle bead is used to make sure the gun is mounted correctly. You focus your eyes on the target and if the gun fits you correctly, which means that it is looking at what you’re looking at, it will automatically move with you and point at the target. If you aim your gun, you’ll look at the gun and shoot behind the moving target. And you’ll do it every time. Sort of like looking at an object and pointing your index finger at it. If you aim your finger at a moving target, you’ll look at your finger to aim it and you’ll always be behind the target.

    • Lisa J. July 31, 2017, 9:53 am

      Well said and good points.

  • Larry Strayhorn November 18, 2015, 10:29 am

    I received one of these as a gift on my recent pheasant hunt in SD. I normally shoot a Browning Citori 525 combo. I opted to carry the Benelli over 3 days of hunting and countless miles of walking. I shot it quite a bit warming up on the clays and then proceed to shoot my limit on 3 consecutive days. This gun is light and very easy to carry in the field. I loved it so much on the first day I kept my Citori in the case for the remainder of the trip and only shot my new Benelli. I was shooting 2 3/4 #4 loads. I did not even notice the extra kick due to highness over my Citori. I highly recommend this gun to anyone hunting upland and walking all day.

    • George Tarzwell June 28, 2016, 4:21 pm

      Beautiful gun hope to go to North Dakota pheasant hunting this year but so far have only been shooting trap staying in the 20s on trapshooting at a range.

  • Clays Shooter October 6, 2015, 12:40 pm

    I suppose appearances are very important in a target gun and maybe as much in a field model. Personally I prefer function and fit. When competing regularly practice can equal hundreds of rounds per day. Tourements could require multiple 50 & 100 round walk through games, and specialty rounds, five stand and FITASC rounds. Shoot offs for tie breakers, and off to rabbit or crazy eight fun games.
    20 rounds per day won’t cut it. Hunting loads are far more punishing for upland with 4’s and 6’s, and I doubt waterfowl ears would want their $3000.00 pretty in the boat or blind.
    Though I was interested in this shotgun, your review has convinced me i don’t need or want one of this type.

    • Tom McHale October 6, 2015, 9:01 pm

      Just to be clear, this is NOT intended to be a competition gun, which I thought I clearly stated in the article. Will it stand up to hundreds of rounds per day? Sure. It’s a Benelli. Is it a super lightweight gun? Absolutely, and by design. That’s why it has weight saving features like the carbon fiber rail, aluminum receiver with steel lock plate, etc. It’s 6.6 pounds. A competition over and under of any brand is up near 8.5 pounds, or 2 full pounds heavier because the shooter needs to survive the day of hundreds of rounds punishing the shoulder.

      Would I shoot game loads through this gun? Absolutely. In my opinion, this is intended to be an upland gun that is light so you can easily carry it in the field all day. But as we all know, the penalty of light is more felt recoil. It’s one or the other.

  • Doug October 5, 2015, 10:13 pm

    All of these weight saving measures and it’s still almost a pound heavier than a Franchi Instinct SL with 26″ barrels and .6lbs. heavier at 28″.

  • Gil Frank October 5, 2015, 10:10 pm

    Looks nice but with the opening lever in the shape it is rules out lefty shooters. Very awkward…

  • George Hubbard October 5, 2015, 3:02 pm

    What guages are available?

    • Tom October 5, 2015, 10:46 pm

      Right now, 12 gauge only. I haven’t heard when others might be available. I think this design would be great in 20 and 28 though.

      • Roy October 6, 2015, 8:15 am

        .28 over/under??? There is my justification (Benelli, are you listening???). Now, I just need a larger safe.

        • Tom McHale October 6, 2015, 8:56 pm

          You and me both man!!!

        • Pierce October 10, 2015, 8:11 am

          So they only make a 12…… I have three 12’s …..K80, R3200, and a Diamond Grade 101(My Field Gun)….All with full length Briley tubes in 20, 28, .410

  • Paul E. Stafford October 5, 2015, 10:27 am

    I want to try one; reads good.

  • Ed Shannon October 2, 2015, 11:54 pm

    WOW! It that an ugly gun.

    • Roy October 6, 2015, 8:13 am

      Not in the slightest. I think it is beautiful. But what the hey, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I am a HUGE fan of the Benelli line-up. I own a SBE2, a Montefeltro Silver, and a R1 (which I also think has good lines). Now, if I can just figure out some justification (and find room in my safe) for one of these.

      • Tom McHale October 6, 2015, 8:56 pm

        I’m with you on that, I think it’s a beautiful gun too. The lines on the receiver, while hard to show in photos, are really elegant. Non-traditional? Yes. Ugly? Not in my book, but that’s totally a personal opinion.

      • Bobby October 9, 2015, 11:22 pm

        I agree, ill take one. I have a Performance shop SS 20gauge and the M4 12 gauge. This 828u is next to my collection.

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