Beretta 1301 Redux

Fully assembled with all the cool kid stuff

A while back, we took our initial look at the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun. The Tactical was an evolution from the 1301 competition, a gun which I needed no introduction. The 1301 represents the pinnacle of semi-auto shotgun technology, and that is coming from a Benelli guy. The 1301 absolutely stole the show when it was introduced in 2012. Beretta, as you may know, builds a couple of shotguns every year. But ironically, they were not well represented in the then exploding sport of 3 Gun. Sure, they were winning silly things like Olympic medals and International Trap World Championships. But the designs just couldn’t hang in places like the Missouri Regional 3 Gun/ Monster Truck rally. And in what I would call an uncharacteristic approach by the Italians, known for exquisite shoes and cars mortals can’t afford, they decided to fix that.

Just the added capacity is game-changing.

There are a lot of details you won’t find on Le’ Internets for how this came about. I remember them from being very active in 3 gun at the time, which also means some of it is fuzzy and unverifiable. But essentially, Beretta wanted to win something besides snooty shooting matches that involved a golf clap and ladies in expensive hats. And European gun culture can come as a shock to us Americans. Some nations such as the Czech Republic have VERY loose ownership and CCW rules for citizens and handguns. Many European nations allow not only ownership of firearms, but sometimes better stuff than we can get with our stupid NFA rules. In short, not every nation on the continent is Cuck Island  England.

Dummy shells to test new set up

So there are things like tactical challenges, hardcore USPSA clubs, and the like. Beretta found a champion shotgun shooter whose name escapes me at the moment and gave him carte blanche to develop a new blaster. As the world’s oldest gunmaker, Beretta has a deep bench of engineering expertise. Finally, after much debate about including leather seats and who’s tailor was better, the 1301 emerged.

Nordic MXT kit, what your 1301 tactical needs

And it really did take the world by storm. It was an out-of-the-box, ready to go 3 Gun competitor. With some incredible advantages. First, the cycle time on the 1301 beats everything. That isn’t a huge issue to most shotgun shooters, but it does matter when you have either targets close together or are in a head-to-head shoot-off. Unlike many shotguns, you cannot outrun the hammer on a 1301. Combined with being incredibly soft shooting, this gun was already on the way to the podium. But it had one more advantage.

On the operating table

A not insignificant factor in 3 gun is how reliable your shotgun is. And when it comes to semi-autos, the answer to most of them has been “not very”. I’m not insulting anyone’s duck gun, but it is true in the sport. Not only do sport shooters run more shells from a semi-auto than anyone else, but do so with a mixed bag of rounds. A Remington 1187 might be very reliable with high brass, for instance. And it might even do well with bird shot if you swap out the gas piston from heavy to light. But almost no shotgun will do both, all the time, without a hiccup.

The devil’s own capacity plug

Prior to the 1301, the most reliable was a Benelli M-2. And that reliability came at a cost. The M-2 is inertia-driven, not gas-operated. Which means it recoils like a train wreck compared to a gas piston gun. I knew the 1301 was destined for great things the moment I saw it cycle, flawlessly, low noise rounds back to back with slugs. Low noise rounds are a very weird shotgun shell. They are slower than Christmas at 980 fps, and notoriously light on recoil. Most semi-autos, including the M-2, will absolutely not eat them. But the 1301 runs them as if nothing changed.

Picatinny side of barrel clamp

Fast forward a couple of years, with the 1301 absolutely dominating sport shooting, and Beretta introduced the Tactical model. Created for LE and home defense, the new Tac model had a lot going for it. The receiver was slightly shortened for a better fit with armor, while also reducing overall length. It had ghost ring sights, as well as a top Picatinny rail for red dots. It had an 18.5 barrel for negotiating tight spaces. And it only had a 5+1 capacity?

Sling swivel side

Yes. Due to idiotic import rules, the 1301 was stuck with a 5+1 capacity to keep it “sporting”. This is less than ideal when American-made tactical shotguns can run the magazine tube all the way to the end of the barrel for 7+1 in capacity. Who was going to step up and fix this situation? The aftermarket, in the form of Nordic Components.

Old school VTAC buttstock adaptor

Nordic Components is famous on the race circuit for all kinds of whiz bang add ons. Seeing the popularity of the 1301 Tactical, and the need for a minor upgrade, they put together an extension kit. Unique for the shorter tactical model, the MXT kit is everything you need. It includes a special +2 flush fitting tube extension, a barrel clamp, Picatinny rail section, and QDA swivel attachment. In short, it adds everything to a tactical shotgun that should have come from the factory.

Ghost ring sights, or top

About a week ago, Beretta announced they were no longer going to be giving Nordic Components a license to print money. They finally figured out that since they have a US manufacturing facility, they could make very similar parts in-house (and legally add them). Which is the “all new” Beretta Enhanced 1301, with an MSRP of $1449. But if you have an earlier model 1301 Tac, not to fear. Nordic still has the kits, and they work amazingly well.

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About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Cosmic May 12, 2022, 9:24 am

    I love my 1301, it eats everything I throw at it, while I’m at the range shooting clays with a holosun green dot on top of it I bust them all, well, almost all.

  • Mike May 9, 2022, 10:28 am

    “not very reliable semi-auto’s”? And you’re a “Benelli guy”? You won’t find a more reliable semi auto shotgun than Benelli’s inertia system. I’ll admit I’m a Benelli guy, I looked at the 1301 and the Benelli M2, the M2 was more expensive, and modifications will likely cost more with the M2. However, Benelli’s fit and finish, and MUCH smoother cycling action made the Beretta seem like it was just not made to the same standards. More money or not, I bought the Benelli M2 and I’m very happy with it. Also, no reliability issues shooting various loads. M2 and 1301 are both good guns, that will provide years of trouble free service. I liked the M2 enough to buy it.

  • Bill May 9, 2022, 9:02 am

    Does it cycle 1.5@ or 1.75” shells?

  • Griz326 May 9, 2022, 7:47 am

    In the first picture, the shadows look like an earthling vs. alien gun fight 🙂

    • Chief May 9, 2022, 9:33 am

      Haha!! They do!!

  • Scott May 9, 2022, 6:49 am

    Do the A400’s (3.5) have the same reliability?

  • Mike giagnacova May 8, 2022, 8:02 pm

    Hey Clay
    Who did the machining on the Henry 45-70 to install the muzzle break. I would like to put one on my gun an thought why reinvent the wheel if you had a name
    Thanks
    Mike

  • Will Drider May 8, 2022, 5:00 pm

    Good read, loved the humor but: it still falls short of the Benelli M3 “Dual Action” Tactical Shotgun. Nine shells if you load it right. Switching between semi and pump is simple thumb movement. Feed tube interrupter for chambering special/alt shells. I can shuch out a bad shell without moving hands and go back to semi or keep shucking in pump action mode. Mine has rifle sights which are more precise with slugs. Did I mention it eats everything (I will not mine is 2 3/4 only so the power factor between high/low is a smaller spread. Its been around since 89 and nothing else comes close.

    • Chief May 9, 2022, 9:35 am

      Thanks for letting everyone know yours is better. Well done, Clownboy.

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