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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 sometimes 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.

35 COMMENTS

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

    • 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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

        • Best shotgun I have ever fired. The haters will hate and some of the knit picking may be legitimate but the truth comes in actually using this shotgun. Weatherby hit a home run. Buy it and you will agree. It exceeds all expectations and drops everything that crosses its path.

    • Nope it is polished chrome BUT Acadmey, Bass Pro and even local Mom n Pop stores don’t have the Delux. All they have is the plastic waterfowler etc. Wood for me but can’t find one.

  2. “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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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 .

  7. I bought a new 20 gage Weatherby Element and it would not cycle with 7/8 oz skeet loads @1210 FPS. Thinking it just needed broke in I shot a box of 3″ mags 1 1/4 oz and 2 boxes of hunting loads 1 oz loads. They all worked fine without a hiccup. Then went back to the light skeet loads. Still would not cycle them. Frustrated I called Weatherby customer service. They told me the this gun requires a minimum of 1300 FPS ammo. I asked where does it say that. He looked on the web site, catalogue & owners manual. No where does it tell you about using ammo with 1300 FPS. This was for the 20 Gage. I don’t know about the 12 gage. He did tell me this gun is made in Turkey. The model 18i is made in Italy and has no such load requirement. I asked if there was a factory fix like a lighter spring or bolt. He said there was no factory fix.

  8. BOB, thanks for that info. I’m now officially out of the market for an Element Delux 20 ga.
    Thanks, Thanks, Thanks!!!! I’ll stick with my Browning Sweet 16. for this coming South Texas Dove Hunts. Got 2 of them, one is ancient and one is New in the box (never shot yet.) Birds started piling in on me by the thousands 7/17/20 BUT season doesn’t open till first week end in September.

    • JDN, You are welcome. I since found on Weatherby’s site under “Frequently Asked Questions” a statement about the Element’s requirement of 1,300 FPS. Who would normally look there???

  9. I have both the SA-08 and the Element. Both 12 gauge, 26”. The Element feels maybe 5% “stiffer” on recoil with 1oz, 1180fps, #8 Federal Top Guns than the SA-08. Both have that beautiful, glossy wood and polished receiver.

    The Element has a green light pipe, the SA-08 has a mid bead and gold front bead, otherwise you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart unless they are disassembled for cleaning.

    Never had a FTE in this load in the Element. Randy Wakeman used the same load in testing the synthetic, camo Element in his video, no issues, 9’ ejection throw.

    Weird, but the SA-08 will FTE 1 round out of every 25 or 50 shells using the Light Load gas piston. The SA-08 does get very grungy after a week of Skeet, like all my gas guns. I think the Top Gun (and Challenger) shells have a bit more unburned powder than Nitro 27, Rio or Fiocchi shells.

    2 months of 3-4 times a week, 2 or 3 Skeet games, I think I wiped down the breech once, and three times sprayed some RemOil on the bolt. Never mopped the barrel. It just runs flawlessly. No Benelli click, no Benelli thumb, very easy to feed the mag tube.

    I had stayed away from inertia guns over the concern for recoil compared to a gas gun.

    That really isn’t the case with 2.75” target loads.

    The SA-08 is now my guest/new shooter gun. The Element goes with me every time to the field.

    ATA builds very nice guns for Weatherby; I’ll testify to the Orion, SA-08 and Element, I use and recommend them all, but the Element is the one I carry to the field weekly.

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