Benelli Ethos: Custom-Grade 12 Gauge at an Affordable Price. Full Review.

The Benelli Ethos gives shooters Benelli quality and refined features, and all at a reasonable price point.

The Benelli Ethos gives shooters Benelli quality and refined features, and all at a reasonable price point.

To learn more, visit http://www.benelliusa.com/.

To purchase a Benelli Ethos on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=benelli%20ethos

I can always tell how nice a gun is by the way the staff at my FFL, Chesapeake Gun & Pawn, react when I walk in the door to pick it up. This time, I didn’t even need to go to the store to know. When one of the girls called me to inform me it was ready for pick up, she was already gushing about how beautiful the gun was and jokingly suggesting she wasn’t going to let me have it so she and the rest of the staff could take it out for a round of clays. That gun was the new Benelli Ethos.

I got more of the same when I showed up at the store. When I told the young lady behind the counter I was there to pick up the Ethos under my name, Heather Cole, another associate at the store, immediately responded about how struck she was by the shotgun’s finish and styling.

The Benelli Ethos is offered with the option of an anodized receiver that brings the MSRP to $1,999.

The Benelli Ethos is offered with the option of an anodized receiver that brings the MSRP to $1,999. Image courtesy Benelli.

The Ethos is also offered with a nickel-plated and engraved receiver, bringing the MSRP to $2,199.

The Ethos is also offered with a nickel-plated and engraved receiver, bringing the MSRP to $2,199. Image courtesy Benelli.

“I would love to take that one out to the range,” the avid shooter said. “It’s just gorgeous. I bet it handles great.” I promised when I got done with reviewing it for this article, I would bring the shotgun back and allow her and anyone else there interested to shoot it. Oh, and Heather, it does handle as great as it looks.

For anyone who appreciates performance, for anyone who appreciates beauty, for anyone who appreciates quality, for anyone who appreciates value, Benelli has done what many companies have attempted but just couldn’t quite achieve—they ‘ve figured out how to bring truly high-end features to a firearm the average man or woman can afford. And that my friend, is no small feat.

Ethos barrels feature the Crio System that freezes the barrels to -300° F to relieve the stresses from hammer forging.

Ethos barrels and chokes feature the Crio System that freezes them to -300° F to relieve the stresses from hammer forging and increase pattern density. Image courtesy Benelli.

SPECS

  • Chambering: 12 ga., 3-inch
  • Barrel: 28 inches
  • OA Length: 49½ inches
  • Weight: 6½ pounds
  • Stock: AA-grade engraved satin walnut
  • Sights: Red bar fiber-optic front, metal bead mid-sight
  • Action: Semi-auto
  • Finish: Engraved nickel-plated receiver, cryogenically treated blued barrel
  • Capacity: 4+1
  • MSRP: $2,199 ($1,999 with anodized receiver)

Art Meets Function

Ethos means “the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, community as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations.” And when Benelli introduced the Ethos, they definitely captured in it the boldest culmination of their many years of refined gun design and technological advancements. This shotgun is the sum total of today’s top firearms engineering aspirations.

The Benelli Ethos employs the company's Inertia Driven System of operation that provides shooters with a clean-running and ultra-reliable action.

The Benelli Ethos employs the company’s Inertia Driven System of operation that provides shooters with a clean-running and ultra-reliable action. Image courtesy Benelli.

Let’s start with the action, which mimics the simplicity and smooth-operation of the company’s redefining Vinci and utilizes Benelli’s long-proven Inertia Driven System. Again, simplicity in design as well as function are key to the Inertia Driven System, which is made up of only three key parts: The bolt body, the inertia spring and a rotating bolt head. Fewer parts usually equals less mass, which also translates into a quicker return to battery for a lightning-fast operating system. It doesn’t require heavy, tight springs common to recoil-operated systems, nor a need to cycle gas, smoke and burnt powder back into the gun for cycling like gas-operated systems do. The result is a cleaner-shooting, rapid-cycling shotgun no matter how many shots are fired.

The recoil-operated system of the Ethos does not feature heavy and tight springs, making for an easy to cycle action.

The recoil-operated system of the Ethos does not feature heavy and tight springs, making for an easy to cycle action.

The system offers additional benefits as well. With no heavy springs, gas cylinder or action-bar linkage needed beneath the forend, the shotgun is lighter than a typical 12 gauge, tipping the scales at a mere 6½ pounds, and balances like a custom clays gun to boot. The forend is also slimmer than what is common to most 12-gauge-sized shotguns for a more comfortable fit and surer grip in the hand. Think nimble 20-gauge weight and handling able to deliver a 12-gauge-sized payload and downrange patterning, and you get the gist of it.

It is also capable of cycling some of the lightest field loads and hardest hitting magnum loads without switching a thing. In running more than 100 rounds through the action and barrel, I didn’t have a single shot hang-up or hesitate.

Every aspect of the Ethos is designed to improve performance. Barrels and choke tubes are treated with Benelli’s patented Crio System, a method for cryogenically freezing barrels at -300 degrees Fahrenheit during the manufacturing phase. Freezing relieves stresses placed on the steel that can be caused during the hammer-forging process. The result creates a smoother, more uniform surface for reduced friction on shot and wads traveling down the barrel. Like the barrel, shot patterns are more uniform as they leave the muzzle for a more even spread across the target and often translates into tighter patterns as well depending on the choke used. The Ethos comes with five choke tubes—cylinder, improved cylinder, modified, improved modified and full.

The controls of the shotgun are simple and straightforward. Note the dramatically shaped trigger guard.

The controls of the shotgun are simple and straightforward. Note the dramatically shaped trigger guard. Image courtesy Benelli.

The Ethos sports an anti-seize mag cap, knurled for easy gripping and outfitted with a special integral bushing to prevent it from binding.

The Ethos sports an anti-seize mag cap, knurled for easy gripping and outfitted with a special integral bushing to prevent it from binding. Image courtesy Benelli.

The gun assembles securely using an anti-seize mag cap, knurled for easy gripping and outfitted with a special integral bushing to prevent it from binding. It screws easily onto a single threaded rod instead of needing to be screwed onto a tube like most shotguns. Disassembling the gun is easy by simply unscrewing the cap and sliding it and the narrow forend free of the receiver. The barrel then slides right out. Again, there are no gaskets, seals, springs or anything else you need to worry about falling free when you separate the barrel from the receiver.

The oversized trigger guard protects a gold colored trigger and provides ample room for shooting with gloves. The long angled front side of the guard slopes gently toward the cartridge drop lever where shells are fed into the magazine for easy reloading, even when keeping your eyes on targets out in the field.

The Ethos stock features the Progressive Comfort recoil reduction system. It employs interlocking rubberized buffers of varying elasticity inside the stock.

The Ethos stock features the Progressive Comfort recoil reduction system. It employs interlocking rubberized buffers of varying elasticity inside the stock.

A lighter gun, while nice for swinging on target and toting in the field, can also translate into a bigger punch on the shoulder end of recoil generated by firing heavy 12-gauge shells (and for some shooters, any 12-gauge shell). Weight tends to dampen vibration as there is more mass for it to travel through. But Benelli engineers considered that and have come up with what feels like a game-changing solution. In addition to a soft, rubberized comb that mitigates vibrations traveling up through the stock to the cheek, the rear of the Ethos stock features the Progressive Comfort recoil reduction system. The system employs interlocking rubberized buffers of varying elasticity inside the rear of the wood. When a shot is fired and the recoil travels toward the shoulder, depending on the load fired, the vibration is radically dampened. During test firing at targets, I don’t actually recall noticing any recoil, even when firing hard-thumping Winchester Blind Side waterfowl loads while wearing just a t-shirt. Maybe I was too caught up on how simply beautiful the gun performed and looked.

Functional Art

Coming into the shooting game as a hunter first, the firearm, to me, has always been more of a means to an end…a highly effective tool used to help me achieve my goal. But if it works well and looks nice doing the job, all the better. And this gun looks nice; real nice. In fact, it’s reminiscent of a fine custom-made or configured shotgun, something the folks in Benelli’s Performance Shop know a thing or two about.

The Ethos features an interchangeable fiber optic sight system with three colors (red, green and yellow). It requires no tools to switch.

The Ethos features an interchangeable fiber optic sight system with three colors (red, green and yellow). It requires no tools to switch.

My test gun, like all Ethos variants, came with a beautifully satin finished AA-grade walnut stock and forend. AA-grade woods are high quality woods, typically with 50 percent of figure. Figure is the amount of grain design consistent throughout the surface of the wood. The wood was smooth, almost silky, to the touch and boasted textured checkering at the pistol grip and along the bottom of the forend, which also had a contoured rib running lengthwise for improved grip.

The barrel with its raised vent rib was luxuriously blued for a flawless shiny black finish and served as a sharp accent to the nickel-plated receiver, complete with a refined engraved surface and mirror-finished bolt. The recoil pads integrated into the stock are black and pair nicely with the attractive grain in the walnut.

Looking at the fit of the various components of the shotgun, there were no gaps between the stock and the receiver nor loose play in the forend when attached to the receiver and barrel. The barrel locks firmly into the receiver with zero space between the abutted steel and again, not even the slightest hint of wiggle, which can occur in the sometimes imperfect joining of a barrel made to be removed from its receiver for cleaning or packing into a hard gun case. It was truly the most beautiful shotgun I’ve fired since shooting sister company Beretta’s DT11 upon its introduction four years ago.

The Ethos comes with five choke tubes—cylinder, improved cylinder, modified, improved modified and full.

The Ethos comes with five choke tubes total—cylinder, improved cylinder, modified, improved modified and full.

I guess I’ve always been a sucker for beautiful things … even when I can’t afford them. Of course, unlike the over/under DT11, which retails for upward of $11,000, the Ethos, despite its custom-grade construction and features, at $2,199. Don’t mind foregoing the nickel-plated receiver for an anodized one? Then you can slip in at right under the $2K mark for a cool $1,999. When you figure a Vinci or Super Black Eagle II will set you back around $1,500 to $1,600, a gun of this quality and Benelli’s impeccable pedigree for just a few hundred dollars more is phenomenal value.

The Ethos is available in seven variations. The 12-gauge nickel-plated receiver with a 28-inch or 26-inch barrel, a 12-gauge anodized receiver with the same barrel lengths (all 12-gauge models are chambered to accommodate 3-inch and 2¾-inch shells), a 20-gauge model with nickel-plated or anodized receivers and the option of 28-inch or 26-inch barrels and new for this year, an incredibly nimble (and light at 5.3 pounds) 28-gauge model with an engraved nickel-plated receiver and 26-inch barrel.

At the Farm

I grew up hunting with shotguns, though at the time it was mostly for small game—rabbits and squirrels—and whitetail deer and the occasional duck. That soon grew to include turkeys. In all of these environments where thick woods and southeastern cutovers dominate, briars and devil’s walking sticks are a constant threat to a shotgun’s finish; especially the stock. Quite often, I hunted with good, but still somewhat worn shotguns. An extra scratch simply gave them character.

The author found the Ethos to be easy to operate and a pleasure to shoot.

The author found the Ethos to be easy to operate and a pleasure to shoot.

The Ethos has enough character and while I have no doubt it would perform admirably in thick cover hunting situations, there is no way I would carry this thing anywhere near a tangle of briars. That would just be disrespectful. Where this gun is designed to flourish is on the clays course, the skeet or trap range and the open or crop-filled fields where pheasants, quail or even dove are apt to fly by. Give it a shot on some ducks and geese too, but whether journeying by boat or simply setting up in a cold, muddy blind, take a good soft-sided (and padded) case to protect that finish.

I tried shots through several of the different choke tubes before settling on an improved modified to provide an apples-to-apples comparison of various loads to see how they patterned. I went with a 25-yard range, which seemed like a good average range for many shots I’ve encountered with feathered game over the years.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 11.40.02 AM
Benelli Ethos Test Loads

To test the Ethos, I fired 12-gauge, 2¾-inch Winchester Super Speed Game Loads with 7/8 ounces of No. 7½ shot, Federal Premium Target Loads (12-gauge, 2¾-inch as well) filled with 1 ounce of No. 7½ shot and, to try the opposite end of the recoil and shot size spectrum, Winchester Blind Side waterfowl loads. The 3-inch hulls were packed with 1 3/8 ounces of hexahedron BB-sized shot. See the chart below for results:

The author found that the 12-gauge Ethos was light enough recoiling that young shooters could use it.

The author found that the 12-gauge Ethos was light enough recoiling that young shooters could use it.

With the Ethos, Benelli has built a shotgun that combines the best of Old World craftsmanship with a lengthy list of modern innovations and technology, a combination we would typically suggest was reserved for the wealthier shooters, hunters and collectors among us. However, with a price point hovering right at the $2,000-mark, it’s a gun that remains within the very real grasp of even the most working-class sportsman’s paycheck, even if it might take two or three of those checks to make the gun a part of his collection. Take a look. I am sure you will be as impressed with it as I am.

 

 

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • walt August 6, 2017, 9:16 pm

    after reading all the comments about the Benelli Ethos…have decided not to buy it …going with SBE II 12 gauge , 28″…it takes a lick’n and keeps on tick’n in all sorts of weather …thanks for all the helpful info

  • Bob Brannon August 11, 2016, 4:01 pm

    For me, it’s just another overpriced shotgun in the market. Nice to look at, but to pricey for the adverage man to carry to the field.
    There comes a time that you as a manufacture need to step back and ask what the public really would like to have in a NEW
    Shotgun! The price points needs to be driven by customer demands, not market driven price points. I enjoy seeing
    what the market will show each year, but I will continue to use my 12 bore 1100, & 20 sore 101.At the speed the industries is moving, you and your brother companies will price yourself out of business and that’s SAD. Having said all of this, it’s a nice GUN., but not worth the MONEY for the person in the Target Marget you want to reach. Try again with a lower price.

    SEMPER Fi,
    Bob Brannon

  • jim mayer August 9, 2016, 11:41 am

    Test a real Bargain the Legacy Escort Right & left hand under $800.00. My left hand20 gauge shoots all lt. & heavey loads..With wood stock a great looking gun next to my DT10 in safe looks quality!!!. Try it out.

  • Raleigh Thomas August 9, 2016, 9:44 am

    I’ve handled the 12 ga. version in the gun shops, and it is a beautiful gun, with cutting edge features ( new bolt locking cam, Inflex recoil system, composite rib, Inertia bolt reliability ) in a lightweight wand of a package. And gorgeous wood to top it off. The silver version goes for about $1900 locally. I would have to save for a long while to ‘afford’ it ….. To go shoot doves a half dozen times a year, and sporting clays another half dozen trips. No way I’d drag it into the swamps for ducks, squirrels, rabbit and deer for the rest of the year. A Super Black Eagle II at $1600 would come first, if I wanted a badazz ‘treat’ gun. I have 3 Rem. 870’s to wear out to actually ‘need’ another shotgun. I WOULD certainly accept an Ethos as a gift though! ( The silver version, 12 ga. with 26″ bbl…. thanks!)

    • Raleigh Thomas August 9, 2016, 10:03 am

      By the way, I thought it was a very good, detailed article. It IS a very sweet shotgun, no doubts at all. If you were going to have just one, it is a lot of gun for the money.

  • Bryan D August 8, 2016, 11:37 pm

    AFFORDABLE? Come on MAN!!! Exactly how much money did Benelli pay you to say, “Affordable?” I agree to each his own, I have my vices(firearms are one of them.) But to call that shotgun affordable is absurd! Beautiful shotgun, great article, but inaccurate title

  • Gigi August 8, 2016, 5:49 pm

    I looked at the photo of the woman holding the shot gun and I first thought, wow look at those arms and then I noticed her hand position on the trigger. Not For me. Detailed review and article. Thx

  • DB Cooper August 8, 2016, 5:17 pm

    It’s easy to find cheaper, and as you live with the gun, you’ll understand WHY it’s cheaper. Not as well made, not ergonomically designed well, not easily modified, etc. Is someone going to buy the nickel plated receiver model and go sit in a duck blind while it’s raining? No. That’s why they make composite guns. But sporting clays, skeet, 5 stand, sometimes it’s nice to have a very functional gun that shoots well and doesn’t look like you just pulled it out of the woodshed. I’d never criticize anyone for the gun they’re shooting if they shoot it well, God bless ’em.

    Not all guns fit everyone well, Benelli fit me like they were custom made for me. I own 2 semi’s, a pump and the O/U. If you have the extra money, buy one if it fits you well, you’ll never regret it. If you can’t tell the difference between a Benelli and a Mossberg, by all means – buy the Mossberg.

  • Scott S August 8, 2016, 12:40 pm

    Love the look of the Ethos. I’m a big Benelli fan with two left handed autos. My dream gun would be a left handed Ethos in 20 ga.

  • DOC August 8, 2016, 12:30 pm

    The Benelli 12 ga. is a beautiful gun to see but it kicks like a mule unless you use 7/8 oz. ,low impact shells. It has had to be modified with porting and weights on the forend to make it usable. This at a cost over the original price. It is very light and is good for bird shooting but hard on the shoulder for clay target competion.

  • Torrey Loomis August 8, 2016, 12:18 pm

    That was a thorough and well written review. Thank you Doug.

  • John Hanna August 8, 2016, 12:11 pm

    Why not simply get a CZ —- 1/4 of the price and will out shoot that Benelli out of the box.

  • Charlie Porter August 8, 2016, 11:54 am

    You call 2000 bucks affordable? Not for most duck and dove hunters.Winchester,Remington,Mossberg, Savage come to mind for the real Red Neck hunters in my area.These guys are real hunters.Rugged is what they want. Pretty just don’t count. Take a look at the number of these shotguns that have been sold. Pretty belongs over the fire place.The real hunt guns are in the pick up truck,ready to go.

  • Rick Kime August 8, 2016, 9:58 am

    Everyone has a good point about value and certainly know how they can best use their individual incomes but Benelli makes great Shotguns and with the quality of craftsmanship both functional and beauty. Sure you can get by with a more affordable Shotgun (some are good and some are not ) but if you ever want to treat yourself, spend the money, you won’t regret it. I have 13 Shotguns that I use for different things but I have a Benelli Montefeltro in a 20 ga that I use for rabbit hunting and I couldn’t be happier. Remember you get what you pay for. Period !!!

  • Trainman August 8, 2016, 8:44 am

    Well I guess you might consider me to be one of the privileged few because I saved up and bought one.
    However, I managed to only paid $1450 out the door for the silver version.
    Yes,,, it’s a impressive looking gun but it definitely has problems.
    First off for a weapon in this price range , I don’t understand why Benelli doesn’t provide extended chokes.
    For sporting purposes like Trap and Skeet, the gun is way too light and has a tendency to over swing.
    The weight also causes it to recoil rather sharply. It actually kicks more than my wife’s very soft shooting Benelli Super Sport.
    The abundant checkering looks great but after shooting a few rounds of Trap I found the skin around my thumb and on my palm, was worn thin almost to the point of bleeding from holding the pistol grip. The checkering is way to abrasive and in the wrong places.
    As a nice light field gun with the occasional shot taken, it’s probably great, but as a sporting gun it leaves much to be desired.
    But, I do have to admit that it’s a very easy to clean weapon.
    So, mine has pretty much just been sitting in the back of the gun safe for over a year now because I have other more desirable weapons to choose from. (Hint,,, Winchester SX-3 is a really great auto loader.)
    Now,,, I know why I was able to get it for such a low price.

  • Gary August 8, 2016, 8:44 am

    I own guns in this price range, some that cost much more in fact. However after trying this gun at the range I shoot at, I was far from impressed.
    I found it uncomfortable as well as more than a little unruly, in my hands anyway.
    All guns are not built for all people. I have Berettas and Brownings, as well as a couple other higher end Italian guns that shoot beautifully and feel much better to handle than this gun was, TO ME anyway.
    I do agree with others here that the “average hunter/shooter” out there would not find $2000 to be considered an affordable shotgun. (That was also the consensus at the range as well. But again, most of these people shoot Rem 1100’s, or 870s, with a A5 Browning tossed in here and there. ALL great reliable shotguns in my book.)
    I am NOT saying it is not worth the price, IF you enjoy shooting it. I am sure it probably is. But then that was NOT the title of the article, was it?

  • Talbot Barrow August 8, 2016, 8:08 am

    I concur with most of the other posts. “Affordable Price”???!! Who ARE these people??? The title of the article made me think “hey, maybe I can afford this one”…wrong. I guess I’m still a Remington and Mossberg guy…with a gently used Citori I bought in the 80’s for $400 that I couldn’t afford to buy now thrown into the mix.

    • Irish-7 August 8, 2016, 12:10 pm

      I concur, Remington (870 in .20 GA) and Mossberg (930 SPX & Maverick 88 in .12 GA + 510 in .20 GA) work well with my family! We also have a Rossi Circuit Judge in .410 gauge. I cannot imagine a situation or scenario where we would ever need more than those shotguns.

  • gholf August 8, 2016, 8:02 am

    When did $2200 become “affordable” for the “working-class sportsman”? I must be way bottom-lower class because $600 is about all I can afford for a meat-getter. Maybe the new “working-class” hunts for pleasure not sustenance? Heck, my truck cost less than this shotgun!

    • mike ostrowski August 10, 2016, 12:40 am

      same class of sportsman that’s got a 100,000 dollars for a truck and bassboat he uses once a month

  • Craig August 8, 2016, 7:42 am

    Oh for Gawd’s sake…quit whining.
    –“It’s too big…it hurt my finger”, my son gave it to me (huh? What a lovely gift).
    –“I can afford a $90 shotgun…it’s good enough for me!” Well, good for you for living within your means…but the comment about “more privileged” is an unnecessary snark. It’s not privilege, it’s people working hard and making good decisions that allow them to choose to buy an Ethos. People make choices on what to spend their money: clothes, cars, beer, boat, motorcycle, kids, TVs etc. etc. etc…for some, it’s nice guns.

    • DB Cooper August 8, 2016, 5:21 pm

      Well said Craig. People work hard and they can spend their money as they choose. Many people have vices, my only one just happens to be nice guns ….

  • Steve B August 8, 2016, 7:18 am

    I concur with draino…… Affordable???…. maybe, if you make over $200,000. A year. I unfortunately could never justify spending that kind of money on what amounts to a beautiful toy.

  • Bruce Koerner August 8, 2016, 5:07 am

    Well , My Son bought Me an Ethos for Christmas and I found it to be the most Uncomfortable Gun I have ever had in My hands! Icouldn’t reach the trigger without cocking My hand in a manner that when I fired it , It slamed My other finger with the trigger guard . As You can see , that young lady in the pictire is fighting to get to the trigger herself ! Also , Bennilli didn’t want to do anything about it . They pretty much said ‘”Oh Well” . If You have a small < better make sure You don't have to contort Yourself to be able to shoot this shotgun !

  • DRAINO August 4, 2016, 1:32 pm

    AFFORDABLE???!!!!!! Nice gun, but that’s NOT affordable for most of us common folk. Remember we are still living in the “Obama Economy”…..with annual incomes down, record unemployment(It never gets reported accurately), the worst economy on record, record welfare numbers and massive underemployed numbers. Get it closer to $1000……and that’s still on the high end…..sorry, it’s true. It is a beautiful gun. But us working class Joes can’t shell out 2 months+(or better) paycheck for a shotgun when there are better values out there.

    • Martin B August 4, 2016, 5:33 pm

      I concur completely. I have a Mossberg Maverick 88 income, but I don’t feel undergunned. A little personal effort (in this case operating the slide) overcomes the high prices others who are more privileged can afford. And I can change out for an 18.5″ barrel for double duty around the house. Now that’s a real bargain.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend