In mid-March I was part of a group of gun writers who traveled to Argentina to really put the new gun to the test - on the zillions of doves that plague the farming area around the city of Cordoba. The new gun name, Vinci, comes of course from that master of so many trades, Leonardo de Vinci.
Looking at the notes I made after the first day of shooting in Argentina I see that we shot 20,000 shotshells out of the various Vinci semis we had down there - and with nary a misstep. What a place to test a new shotgun model, huh? The total shell bill for our few days of shooting involved banging away 87,950 times - so we missed 88,000 rounds by a mere two boxes - again - with no significant malfunctions at all.
But what is it that makes the Vinci new and different? For starters the gun is made in three essential pieces, which is different from any shotgun you have seen in the past. The fore-end and the bottom of the receiver (the latter contains the trigger group) are all one piece. Like some of the other Benelli autoloaders, the top of the receiver is a part of the barrel. The stock is a new ComforTech Plus made of a special synthetic.
But there's more. The butt stock attaches to the rear of the receiver top with a mere 90 degree twist. Yes, there's no trough-the-stock bolt - and no spring inside that stock. The fore-end/bottom of the receiver with the trigger group attaches to the rest of the gun via turning the fore-end front screw. For removal there's a button to press on the bottom of the fore-end. So putting the three pieces of the Vinci together literally takes only a few seconds, and that includes putting the stock on. Disassembly requires an equally short amount of time.
A major advantage of all this is that there are very few working/moving parts. The spring inside most semi-auto butt stocks (that most of us never see) is a place where rust and crud build up to eventually slow or stop the speed of the semi-auto action. There are no metal or rubber rings on the magazine tube. Everything that "moves" in this shotgun is "in line." By that I mean in line with the center of the barrel bore.
Weight is concentrated between the hands that hold the gun. The fore-end is new and unique. Actually, the shape of the fore-end is one of my favorite features of the Vinci. That's because there's a finger groove that is slanted. (Check the photo below.)
You can slide your hand backward and forward along the fore-end and still feel totally comfortable. Hold the hand back toward the receiver and the belly of the fore-end is wider - but here what I'm calling the finger grooves are low on the fore-end. Such a fore-end hand position is ideal for a significant swinging radius. Put the hand out toward the far end of the fore-end and the "belly" of the fore-end is narrower - but what I'm calling the finger grooves are much higher because of how the finger grooves slant upward.
Such a hand position is more ideal for "pointing out" a bird or target such as a straightaway or very slightly quartering clay or feathered bird. Slide your hand anywhere along this unique fore-end and the feeling is of real comfort.
The ComforTech Plus butt stock is also equipped with the Vinci's QuadraFit customizing system - which allows easy adjustment of comb, cast and comb height and length of pull - and no tools are required because the stock goes to the receiver with a simple twist and resultant steel-to-steel lock up. Spacers that fit between the butt stock and the receiver are included - to change drop and cast dimensions. As options the Vinci owner can purchase accessories to change comb heights and recoil pads. The comb pad on this ComforTech stock is made of a soft gel material that feels great on the face.
No one in our group suffered any facial abrasion at all - despite the firing of all those shotshells. This gel comb pad is interchangeable with those of differing heights. The recoil pad material is also made of a special gel that helps suck up demon recoil. If you are aware of the original ComforTech stock you know there were 11 recoil absorbing chevrons built into the stock - starting at the pistol grip and angling back to the top of that butt stock. The ComforTech Plus stock has an additional 12th chevron built in - which is both wider and taller (see photo below).
Every one of the writers commented about how they were surprised at this gun's minimal recoil. I know I fired 32 gram, 28 gram and 24 gram loads out of the gun over three days, and I could never tell which load I was firing for recoil felt the same. Reduced recoil is very important with the Vinci - for it's a 12 gauge that reportedly weighs only 6.9 pounds.
The Vinci utilizes the tried-and-true Benelli Inertia Driven System. With short bolt movement and the straight-line feature - this system is known for its reliability. We did not have any ultra-light 12 gauge loads to test in South America, but I'm hoping the gun will function reliably with 24 and 28 gram loads at velocities as low as 1150 feet per second. I have a test Vinci coming, so I will let you know if the gun works with such ultra light loads.
The back of the trigger guard did bang my index finger with recoil. Most of the writers did not experience this, but a few others did as well. There's a significant re-curve to the ComforTech Plus grip. The dual-purpose release lever on the right side of the receiver can be pressed either way to close the rotary bolt.
For the first year the Vinci is offered only in 12 gauge (all the writers were figuratively screaming for a 20 and a 28 gauge Vinci) - and with 26 or 28-inch barrel lengths. The receiver on these guns is 8.5-inches, so that adds considerably to overall length. If you shoot a 28-inch gas semi - a 26-inch Vinci is going to have a similar sight plane. The gun is offered in black synthetic - or in camo to everything - metal and composite stock - in either Realtree APG or Realtree Max-4. The Vinci will be priced below the Super Black Eagle and above the M2. It should be at your dealers soon as Benelli claimed they had guns to ship even before the March 31 formal announcement.
Nick Sisley has been a full-time freelance outdoor writer since 1969. He writes a regular shotgun column in Wildfowl magazine, Sporting Clays magazine, the Skeet Shooting Review and others. He's authored eight books and penned thousands and thousands of magazine articles. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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