Gun Review: Weatherby Element Deluxe Shotgun

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With some notably pricey exceptions, Weatherby is known for building affordable to moderately-priced reliable firearms. Their shotgun line’s like Jennifer Lawrence: proficient and attractive yet accessible. Weatherby’s upped their not-incredibly-expensive scattergun game with the $1099 MSRP Element Deluxe semi-auto. It’s a shotgun made for the shooter who likes to spend his days shooting birds — both feathered and clay — while looking good doing it . . .

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The Weatherby Element Deluxe is an elegant blend of traditional styling with a few contemporary notes sprinkled in, like the streamlined trigger guard and triangular cross bolt safety. The finish on the sleek “aircraft” aluminum receiver is polished to a deep gloss. You remember that gorgeous gun your grandfather owned? Like that.

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The Turkish-made Element Deluxe sports what Weatherby calls AA grade walnut. In my experience, those designations can be, well, flexible. Regardless, the Deluxe’s highly polished stock and fore-end are as understatedly handsome as a pair of Lobb shoes. Both parts are sharply checkered and nicely fit to the receiver. If you don’t look at the name on the side, you’d be forgiven for mistaking an Element Deluxe for something more expensive that came from Italy.

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The Element Deluxe ships with a little plastic case containing three Invector-style chokes: improved cylinder, modified and full. Also included: a choke tube wrench, a butt pad spacer to add length of pull and four shims for adjusting the stock’s drop and cast to fit your particular form.

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The Element boasts a vent rib and a fiber optic front sight. The gun’s dual-purpose release button throws the highly polished chrome-plated bolt into battery and lets you unload the magazine without cycling shells through the chamber. The chrome lined barrel comes in your choice of either 26″ or 28″.

The Element line is Weatherby’s first departure from gas-operated semi-auto actions. All three models use a simpler, cleaner, ultra-reliable and surprisingly smooth-cycling inertia action. Once only offered in Benelli guns, like all good things, Benelli’s patent ended about ten years ago.

Why inertia over gas? Fewer moving parts, lighter weight and easier cleaning. Even better, you won’t have to clean it as often; unlike a gas gun, gunk and schmutz are vented out the barrel rather than forced back into the chamber to cycle the gun. A few squirts of Rem Oil or a little CLP is all you’re likely to need to keep your Element Deluxe popping coots and/or clays.

The knock on inertia actions: they don’t soak up as much recoil as gas guns do. Roger that. Shooting the Weatherby Element Deluxe, I could see where popping hundreds of doves all day long in Argentina would be a more bruising experience than firing a comparable gas gun.

Inertia guns can also have trouble cycling lighter loads. I shot two rounds of trap with some cheap target loads as well as the soft-shooting #8 loads I brew myself without a hitch.

While Browning, Franchi and Stoeger also produce inertia action shotguns, the Benelli Montefeltro is the Element’s natural competitor. I’ve only shot the Monte briefly, but I find that the Weatherby does everything the Benelli does and arguably looks better doing it. While leaving $200-$300 in your pocket.

In short, the Weatherby Element Deluxe is a capable field and clays gun with the first-rate look and feel of a more expensive Italian job. It’s a compelling option for shooters who covet a finely finished shotgun from the old country but can’t justify the cost.

Specifications: Weatherby Element Deluxe

Gauge: 12
Barrel length: 26″ (28″ also available)
Chamber: 3″
Capacity: 4+1
Overall length: 48 3/4″ (46 3/4″ with 26″ bbl.)
Length of pull: 14 5/8″
Weight: 6.25 lbs.
MSRP: $1099 (about $900 retail)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Fit and Finish: * * * * *
Gorgeous, glossy receiver and barrel with beautifully checkered figured walnut stock and fore-end. The wood to metal fitment is flawless. I might have gone with a more traditional brass bead rather than the light pipe front sight, but that’s just me.

Reliability: * * * * *
Despite inertia guns’ rep for rejecting lighter loads, no such problem here.

Value: * * * * *
The combination of looks, function, feel and ease of maintenance — especially when compared to its competition — make the Element a hell of a lot of gun for the price.

Customize This: * *
Can you? A little. But with its classic good looks, please don’t.

Overall: * * * * *
Like all inertia guns, the Element Deluxe delivers more felt recoil than a gas gun — the trade-off for lighter weight and less frequent (not to mention easier) cleaning. That aside, the Element Deluxe is excellent value for money — for a gun that will become a family heirloom.

comments

  1. avatar Fred Frendly says:

    Whats all this? A gun review? Can we get back to existential philosophy, politics and keeping up with the Kardashians?

  2. avatar Achmed says:

    It’s nice – but made in Turkey and for a little more money you’d get an Italian gun or that Browning. But nice.

    1. avatar John L. says:

      I had started down the same line of thought, and then realized:

      I don’t really care where in the world it’s made, so long as it meets a few criteria
      – is it made well?
      – does it work as it should?
      – will it stand up to the use I will give it?
      – and last but definitely not least, are parts and repair available if / when necessary?

      If the answers to all are “yea” then why not?

    2. avatar Jerrick says:

      Bingo.

  3. avatar TonyO says:

    Blued aluminum receiver? Something’s not right.

    1. avatar Red In Texas says:

      You would think a gun blog writer would know that…

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Yea, you beat me to the punch.

      There’s only two things you can do to an aluminum receiver:

      1. Paint it, which I think has been done here.
      2. Anodize it.

      There is no “blueing” that can be done to aluminum. Only steel, iron, damascus and stainless steels (some of them) can be blued. Blueing is just complete oxidation of iron, aka “black rust,” or Fe3O4 as opposed to red rust, which is Fe2O3.

      Three reasons why I don’t like aluminum receivers on a shotgun:

      1. You can’t blue them, so if you’re refinishing or touching up a shotgun, you can’t blue all the metalwork, you have to anodize/paint some of it, blue the barrel/magazine part, which is a pain to get to match.
      2. You can’t engrave an aluminum receiver worth a damn, but you sure can scratch, dent, ding and gouge an aluminum receiver very easily.
      3. Aluminum sucks the heat out of your hands when you’re carrying the shotgun by the center in the late season.

      Pretty much, aluminum stinks as a material for nice guns.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Very valid points. But my Beretta has a steel reciever. And at the end of the day that extra weight adds up as you get older. If I’m going to be stationary I like the Beretta. Moving I take one of the 500 mossbergs I have. They be lighter.

      2. avatar Jjimmyjonga says:

        Are there any shotguns under $1500 that don’t use aluminum receivers? I have done no research on this, but all the beater shotguns I own are al, including mossbergs, rems, and black eagle, and all of which I use to hunt (75 days per year), so I don’t care about scratches (or cleaning) as long as they fire.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Your 870 Remington should have a steel reciever. One of the reasons I chose mossberg over Remington.

        2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          The Ithica 37 is one that stands out in my mind as still boasting of a steel receiver.

        3. avatar MD Matt says:

          I believe the benelli super nova is built on a steel frame. For the price it is the best pump on the market.
          Of course, it uses a plastic housing over the steel frame, but for all that it is a hell of a shotgun.

      3. avatar Indiana Tom says:

        I remember I used to give a friend a load of crap about his Winchester 1300 pump shotgun which had an aluminum receiver and he used the thing as a beater gun; and by golly it held up very well.

      4. avatar Jeff Watson says:

        It’s light, durable & doesn’t rust. Blueing is so delicate a fingerprint will turn to rust. I myself have many fancy blued guns, but let me tell you something, when I’m wading through flooded timber or in a wet duck blind, I’m looking for a durable tool. A reliable hammer that gets the job done. I’m almost 10,000 rounds through this gun and it’s better than either the Beretta A400 (which has gone back for repairs 3 times) or the Benelli SBE (which jams a LOT).

        This is best in class. Period.

    3. Yes. I knew that. Brain wasn’t fully engaged while typing. Mea culpa. Text corrected.

  4. avatar FedUp says:

    “Weatherby is known for building affordable to moderately-priced reliable firearms.”

    Wait, what?
    Weatherby builds firearms?
    I thought they were a reseller, not a manufacturer.

    1. avatar JSJ says:

      AFAIK the guns are made by ATA

    2. avatar Jeff Watson says:

      You thought wrong. Go tour their California factory. Every Mark V is made by hand in the USA.

  5. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    In spite of the anti Muzzie propaganda, the Turks actually can build nice guns. I bought my Daughter an Escort pump 870 type shotgun which is a nice piece of work. I wish Remington would get their act back together concerning their shotguns.

    1. avatar Stinkeye says:

      It’s a hell of a note that the Turks are building better 870s than Remington these days.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        The chinese are building better 870s than Remington.

  6. avatar Nate H. says:

    This looks like a nice shotgun, and the price is just about right, should be around 800-950 street, but my question is, what are the options for adding more shells in the tube? I’d like to do some 3 gun shooting, and everyone who knows the matches knows in order to be competitive, you need a semi auto shotty. I’m not a rich guy, hell I’m not even what I’d call comfortable, but I like shooting competition, it’s my only vice, and I can’t afford a 1500+ dollar shotgun just to do some runnin’ and gunnin’. I mean, I’m alright not shooting 3 gun until I can afford to up my game and start making better money, but I already have a good pistol and a good rifle, the only thing I’m missing is the shotgun part of the equation and an affordable semi auto would round me out and allow me to be competitive.

    TL;DR: can I get a tube extender for this sucker?

    1. avatar Jeff Watson says:

      Did you ever find one? I’ll like to do the same.

  7. avatar Al Bondigas says:

    Try a Mossberg 930 Tactical.

    1. avatar Nate H. says:

      Nice, 600 bones on Bud’s for the Jerry Miculek special in 12 GA with a 9+1 tube. Thanks for the tip, I think I just found my 3 gun shotgun.

    2. avatar Nate H. says:

      Nice, 600 bones, cash price on Bud’s for the 930 Miculek special with a 9+1 tube. Just what I was looking for at a great price. Thanks for the tip, I think I just found my 3 gun shotty.

  8. avatar Keith o says:

    it only took me 50 rounds to discover that this gun is not what it’s cracked up to be. Of the 20 or so 12 gauge shotguns I’ve used this one is the worst. I found it to be very in accurate at 30 and 50 yards. I know it doesn’t have a gas cylinder but it kicks harder than any 12 gauge I’ve used. Don’t be fooled by its good looks. stick with the plan looking black Beretta or anything else for that matter

  9. avatar Alex Mair says:

    i recently purchased a weatherby element and have had nothing but problems . after 100 rounds the gun will not cycle heavy steel loads or bird shot. My local gun dealer sent it back and let me use a used element on the shelf . it also does not cycle properly .

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