By Jeff the Griz
When my daughter got involved in clay shooting, I felt the itch to join in. It had been close to 20 years since I last shot clay birds.
After sitting on the sidelines and watching the kids shoot for several weeks, I couldn’t wait for family day at the Sportsman’s Club. Father’s day was coming soon and I hadn’t added a new firearm to the safe in a while. It was time for this dad to pick out his own Father’s Day gift.
I had already been through the decision-making process choosing the Browning Silver Field for her. I already knew I wanted something in 20 gauge. Ammo is cheaper by the case and I had been buying a lot of 20 gauge already. I also knew that I wanted to have something nice to use for a long time and for multiple purposes. I’m not getting any younger and figured a 20 gauge would work well for me into my 80’s.
I wasn’t worried about recoil in a 20 gauge so I focused on known reliability. Inertia driven guns are the talk of the internet among hunters and Benelli has been in the reliable inertia shotgun business a long time. Per the Benelli website, since 1967.
So I went with the Montefeltro with a 26″ barrel. This is the least expensive semi-auto shotgun produced by Benelli. I chose the Montefeltro because this is the same model that Argentine dove hunters are given as loaners where they often see thousands of rounds cycled through the gun in a week.
After getting the Montefeltro home from the store, I was excited to clean it and get it ready for trap and skeet. But I quickly became frustrated.
The fit of the charging handle was so tight I could not for the life of me free it from the bolt group. Off to Google I went for some assistance. The shotgun forums suggested using a shoestring to pry it out. I didn’t have any extra shoe strings but I did have some short sections of paracord, and that worked well.
After pulling the charging handle out and sliding the bolt out of the gun…I instantly dropped the bolt. This is the best machined, most polished firearm component I’ve ever held in my hands and it slipped right out of them onto the carpet. I knew this was a quality firearm as I finished the cleaning and assembly.
The Montefeltro has a lightweight aluminum receiver. It’s intended to be a hunting gun, which brought to mind a phrase we sometimes hear; carried far and shot little. This gun would absolutely be a winner if you’re walking miles of upland grassland looking for game birds.
The Monte has a deep blue finish on its cryogenically treated barrel with a matching blue anodized finish on the receiver. The contrasting beautiful satin walnut stocks are a perfect contrast (the gun is also available with synthetic furniture). Benelli did a classy job engraving their name and logo into the forend.
On close examination you can spot the polymer trigger guard. Subjectively I find this sticks out like a GLOCK at a 1911 convention. But even with the trigger guard this gun is a looker, enough that I would definitely have reservations about taking it into waterfowl territory.
Family day was two weeks after I purchased the Montefeltro, and that felt like an eternity. When I finally uncased the firearm and stepped to the firing line I felt like it had been in my hands many times before.
The 14 3/8-inch length of pull works well for my long arms. My first pull of the trigger resulted in a miss, then a hit, again a hit and then another. The misses came sporadically.
My first rotation of 25 shots on the Trap field left me feeling great. An impressive final score of 19 that first round, but only a 16 on the next.
I truly forgot how much fun moving targets were to shoot. Since that day in June I’ve shot five-stand, trap, and sporting clays with the Montefeltro. I also try to spend as much time at the local park with a Champion Workhorse clay thrower as possible. If anyone is reading this and hasn’t tried sporting clays, it’s like golf, but better because guns.
Currently I have over 1,000 rounds through the Benelli, primarily Remington Gun Club #7.5. I have also shot Rio, Remington and Federal #7.5 or #8 game loads. All of these have been 2 3/4″ shells.
While maybe not a great variety of rounds, the Montefeltro has been 100% reliable. If you read my review of the Browning you saw that I mentioned I have a touch of OCD when it comes to cleaning guns.
This shotgun, though, has been very kind to me. I have let the Montefeltro go 550 shells between cleaning and the filth just wasn’t there.One patch wiped clean the receiver, bolt carrier and the trigger group.
The inertia system is said to run cleaner and it’s true. By comparison, the gas Browning leaves more residue on the cleaning rags after 50 rounds than the Monte does with over 500 rounds.
The Montefeltro comes with a nice wrench and three of Benelli’s Crio system choke tubes; improved cylinder, full and modified.
The models sold prior to my Monte included plastic shims to adjust the stock for drop and cast, but Benelli now lists them separately on their website. Since I purchased ghe shotgun the only thing I have added is a Carlson’s extended skeet choke.
Using a patterning board, I discovered this gun throws a 60/40 pattern (60% of the pellets above point of aim, 40% below.) While I typically would prefer a 50/50 pattern, I’ve trained myself to hold a little low with close in pigeons. Lesson: be sure to pattern each shotgun so you know its natural point of aim.
This photo session included another TTAG reader and his daughter. Both shooters were able to point and shoot the Benelli well, but the shorter armed shooters tended to reach for my daughter’s Browning when given the choice.
While all my time with the Benelli Montefeltro has been at shotgun ranges, I hope to take a gobbler this spring and have plans to head south to Ohio for a September dove hunt. I’m confident this Benelli can handle both and I can’t wait to give it a try.
Specifications: Benelli Montefeltro Shotgun
Gauge: 20 (12 gauge available)
Model Number: 10865
Chamber: 2¾ and 3 inch
Barrel length: 26 inch ventilated rib (24 inch available)
Sights: Fiber optic front, mid bead
Chokes: Benelli Crio choke tubes (IC, M and F)
Weight: 5.6 lbs
Length of Pull: 14 3/8″
MSRP: $1,129 (high $900s retail)
Ratings (Out of five stars):
Appearance and Style: * * * *
That plastic trigger guard keeps this gun from being 4.5 stars. It may not have engraving or gold inlay, but that classic walnut and blued steel look is pretty enough that I worry about keeping it looking as good as it does.
Ergonomics: * * * * *
I have long arms and that long length of pull feels very comfortable to me, shorter shooters don’t like it as much but can still manage.
Reliability: * * * * *
100% with over 1,000 light target loads.
Accuracy: * * * * *
It is easy to point, chokes work as they should, 60/40 pattern isn’t unusual on a hunting shotgun.
Customization: * * *
Perfectly average. Choke tubes, furniture, magazine cap weights, colored control pieces and aftermarket metal trigger guards. The receiver is not drilled and tapped for a rail or optic.
Value: * * * * 1/2
I’m not rich but would gladly purchase this shotgun again if given the choice. This is an attractive, well-built machine. The high(ish) price tag may have some potential buyers shying away.
Overall: * * * * 1/2
I really want to give this the full shotgun five stars, but shorter armed shooters and those on a budget may want to avoid the Montefeltro. I plan to keep and use this shotgun for an extended length of time and may even consider adding a second Benelli with synthetic stocks for those aquatic places.
All images courtesy the author.