Benelli Ultra Light 20-Gauge

Buy two, or be prepared to share!
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Mark’s first experience with the Benelli Ultra Light 20 gauge
was a busy day full of wing-shooting action in Argentina.

If you really want to see how well a shotgun can withstand a constant pounding and still keep on performing, Argentina wingshooting will do the trick. Karen and I were in the La Pampa region last year chasing water buffalo and wild boar. Our good luck early in the hunt yielded a few days free for other activities. Herman, our outfitter, suggested we take a little time and enjoy some of the finest wing shooting in the world. Count me in!

He gave us a couple of Benelli 20-gauge shotguns and a case of shells. Surely, we won’t shoot 500 rounds! Well, the doves and pigeons were plentiful to, say the least. It wasn’t long before I was asking for more ammo! Now I understand why so many shotgunners flock to Argentina. Heck, I could probably shoot more doves in a week there than I could in a lifetime here at home.

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Mark’s wife Karen took this big Missouri gobbler on opening morning with the 20-gauge Ultra Light shooting Federal’s 3rd Degree ammo … even though it’s “not a turkey gun!”

Choices

I asked Herman why he chose Benelli shotguns for his clients. “It’s one of the only semi-auto shotguns that can handle high-volume wing shooting for long periods,” he replied. My follow up question, “What do you consider high-volume?” Herman informed me, “If you can stand 1,000 rounds a day, it’s possible here.” You can imagine how many rounds these shotguns go through in just one season — the numbers could be downright staggering compared to wing shooting here in the U.S.

This was my first experience with Benelli’s 20 gauge and I was hooked.

I have a good friend, Ron, who has invited me to go bird hunting here in the states and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity but unfortunately, I didn’t own a good upland shotgun. Most of my scattergun needs revolve around turkey hunting. So I started searching and it didn’t take long to settle on the Benelli Ultra Light. This is truly an ideal semi-automatic shotgun for upland bird hunters.
The shotgun came shipped with a real nice hard case that’s even lockable. Inside were three choke tubes, C, IC and Modified. Benelli cryogenically treats the barrel and tubes with their proprietary “Crio” system of cryogenic treatment. Benelli states this Crio technology provides greater patter consistency. Who am I to argue?

The 20-gauge comes with a 24″ gloss blued barrel with a superlight carbon fiber rib featuring a red bar front sight. A center bead is situated on the rib as well. The featherweight alloy receiver features an anodized finish. The satin walnut stock and forend was most eye-pleasing with a Benelli “Weathercoat” finish.

Another user-friendly feature is the adjustable stock drop and cast. Changing shims with this kit provides a custom fit for the specific needs of any shooter. The 14 ⅜” length of pull fit me perfectly while wearing a lightweight shooting vest. The Ultra Light has a 45.6″ overall length and tips the scales a tad over 5 lbs. Benelli really trimmed the fat off this shotgun. The lighter magazine tube holds two rounds, with a third in the chamber. If I need more than three rounds, I’m wasting ammo. The Ultra Light shoots both 2 ¾” and 3″ shells.

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Benelli’s Ultra Light in 20-gauge offers durability, light weight and adjustability, everything an upland — or turkey — hunt could want. Photo: Benelli. Benelli’s 20-gauge Ultra Light (below) is perfectly suited for those long days of quail hunting when boot leather is the most critical piece of gear!

The Ultra Light is an inertial action so felt recoil is a bit more than
a comparable gas gun, but the tradeoff is a simply crazy level of reliability.

To shave weight, especially in the barrel for easier mounting and
swinging, the Ultra Light uses a carbon fiber rib crowned with
a fiber-optic red bar front sight.

On Foot

The first day in the field, Benelli’s Ultra Light was a pure joy to carry — in fact, it may be an understatement. The dogs were working hard and it wasn’t long before quail flushed and the Benelli swung into action. The lightweight nature of the gun makes for fast handling — another understatement. The gun comes up lightning-fast, points great and it was very easy swinging to and through the birds.

I was using Federal’s 7 ½ field load and the Benelli functioned perfectly. I thought recoil would be an issue due to the light weight. It wasn’t — the integrated inertia driven system helps. No gas injection with this model. The soft recoil pad is welcome and appreciated too. In the spirit of transparency, I did miss a few birds but it certainly wasn’t any fault of the gun.

The Ultra Light is perfectly suited for the long walks associated with upland bird hunting. It is not necessarily intended for duck blinds and goose pits. Benelli is well-established with the hard-core waterfowl crowd and their Super Black Eagle 3 models.

Later in the season, Ron asked me if I wanted to shoot pheasants. What a silly question, of course I did! Changing the improved cylinder choke to modified and switching to Federal’s field load with #6 shot, I was anxious to see how the 20-gauge would perform. I really didn’t know what to expect but it didn’t take long to see the gauge is perfectly capable of filling the game bag with cacklebirds and chukkers. I was well-pleased with the overall performance of the Ultra Light — and didn’t second guess my choice of an upland shotgun.

Then I made the mistake of sharing my overall satisfaction with the Benelli to my wife. Karen immediately took a liking. Since the Ultra Light was much lighter than the 20 gauge she had been packing around previously, I believe the weight issue tipped her over the edge. She informed me it would be going turkey hunting with her.

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Benelli’s 20-gauge Ultra Light is perfectly suited for those long days
of quail hunting when boot leather is the most critical piece of gear!

Just Say “Yes”

I asked her, “Are you on drugs? This is not a turkey gun — it’s designed for upland game, you know, quail, chukker and pheasant?!?” I was wasting my breath. She was intent on taking the Ultra Light turkey hunting. So, with Federal’s 3rd Degree turkey loads, we hit the Missouri woods opening morning.

It was chilly and windy, not the best morning for turkey hunting. We heard two different birds gobble, once. I started calling from our blind with decoys situated 25 yards out in front. It got quiet, except for the wind. I called a couple of more times and shut up. A lone hen came in to inspect the decoy. About 45 minutes later, Karen jabbed her elbow in my ribs and pointed to her left. Not 50 yards away was a big gobbler in full strut. He never made a sound and slipped in silently. What a beautiful sight!

For some reason, he stayed just out of range, strutting frequently but never gobbling. The lone hen didn’t pay any attention to him. It seemed like an eternity but eventually, the big tom slowly strutted his way toward the decoy. When he reached the 30-yard mark, I tapped Karen on the leg, signaling to shoot when the opportunity knocks. As the gobbler meandered a few more steps, he stopped and threw his head up. Karen touched one off and the bird dropped like a sack of bricks.

Now I’ll never be able to keep this Ultra Light from going turkey hunting!

Despite my wife’s emotional attachment to the Ultra Light as her new turkey gun, this ultra-reliable, smooth-cycling 20 gauge is ideally suited for upland game. Benelli has been extremely innovative over the years, providing discriminating shotgunners premium firearms for anything that flies. I’m just thankful turkey season doesn’t coincide with upland game hunting in the fall!

MSRP: $1,669

BenelliUSA.com

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