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A few weeks ago, I asked Benelli for a Super Black Eagle II thinking, “there’s no way they’ll actually loan me one.” But they totally did. Many thanks to Benelli, especially Carter Miler for expediting the shipment so I could have it for the weekend to go dove hunting. And while I’m thanking people, many thanks to Central Texas Gun Works for being so quick (and cheap) with the transfers. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I opened the slim grey case, but seeing a camo SBE II neatly tucked away surely made me happy . . .

Benelli ships the gun broken down in a sturdy plastic case that also has slots for all the chokes – five in total –  the choke tool, and lube. They also includes a very well-written manual in 10 languages and the shim kit necessary to change the drop should the gun not fit you right out of the box. All of this is neatly tucked away in a pretty compact case that’s slim enough to throw in a large duffel.

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The Texas Hill Country was kind enough to bless me with rainy, windy, almost chilly weather for my inaugural dove hunt meaning there weren’t a lot of doves flying, but there was no shortage of mucky weather to subject the SBE II to in the field. I didn’t pack mud in the action or anything, but the SBE II got a little wet and didn’t immediately turn to a bucket of rust so on that front, things are going well.

I found that the SBE II points naturally for me, though I have to take a “light” cheek weld to line up the sights. I’m going to toy around with the shim kit to see if I can make it fit me better. A note on those sights though – I’ve traditionally used shotguns with a single gold or brass bead at the muzzle.

They work okay, but I’m really loving the Benelli sights which use a fiber optic bead at the muzzle, and a steel bead about halfway along the middle of the barrel. You can easily tell when the gun is lined up perfectly as the steel bead completely covers the red fiber optic front sight. It’s a fine way of doing things, and made hitting clays (the only thing flying) much easier.

Overall, I’m pleased so far with the SBE II though there’s a lot more testing and hunting to be done with it. This being my second shotgun review ever, and my first for a hunting shotgun, I’m learning. Since this will be a fairly long term-test, please leave a comment below about specific items you’d like me to address.

At the moment, I want to pay close attention to how the gun patterns with different chokes at 40 yards using a variety of different loads, as well as reliability. But beyond that, I don’t know what wingshooters are looking for so let me know what you need.

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  1. Really nice camo pattern. Looks like you’re in for some fun there. I’d be interested in what you think of the trigger.

  2. For some clay games, a figure 8 hold is preferred over having the beads in a line.

    With the beads stacked like an 8, it raises the POI, allowing a better sight picture of the clay as you are firing.

    • Beads are most of the times irrelevant. Single bead for me is the best and your focus should be down field on your target and not on your bead. How the gun “fits” (drop, cast and LOP) is the most important, so that when you should your gun, the sight plane is level and you can focus on the target and direction of your swing.

        • “Drop” is how much the top line of the buttstock drops at the heel vs. the sight line of the shotgun. On a rifle, drop is computed from the boreline.

          “Cast” is how far the butt of the stock deviates from the centerline of the gun. “Cast off” for a right handed shooter means that the butt of the stock is moved to the right of the centerline of the gun, and “cast on” means that the butt is moved to the left of the centerline. I’ve never seen a gun with “cast on” except for cross-over stocks, which is well beyond the level of interest for more TTAG readers.

          Edit: Cast on is used by left handed shooters – ie, they’d also want 1/4 to 1/2″ of cast on. Cast “on” goes left of centerline, “cast off” goes to the right of centerline.

          Many shooters find that about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of cast off on a shotgun or rifle helps fit a gun to the shooter, especially those with wider, blockier faces.

          There’s a couple of additional measurements on stocks:

          “Toe” – besides cast on/off, the measurement of which is taken at the top line of the stock, you can ask for the bottom of the butt to be rotated outwards. This is called “toe out” and is useful for those shooters with either large pectoral muscles or women with larger cup sizes. Having a toe of a stock gouge you isn’t pleasant, but trying to rectify this situation by putting in too much cast off is also less than useful. For those shooters, there’s toe-out.

          Then there’s “pitch,” which is the angle of the butt of the stock in relation to the boreline. The butt can be angled forwards of backwards, depending on the fit desired.

          There’s a lot of details to fitting a shotgun. Sadly, most American shooters are still shooting guns made to the dimensions of 100 years ago, regardless of the fact that due to better nutrition, Americans are now taller, wider and have longer arms on average than 100 years ago. In the American gun market, customers seem to be obsessed about what the camo pattern printed on the gun is, while not caring a whit about how well the shotgun fits, which will actually have an effect on how well the shooter can hit clays or birds.

        • Dyspeptic –

          Have you seriously considered compiling all these nuggets of insight and wisdom?

          I would likely pay for such a tome.

        • I would totally buy “The Dyspeptic Gunsmith’s Tome”.

          Also, what about ambidextrous shooters? Is it possible to make a stock that can be fitted to both shoulders (adjustable maybe?)? Preferably at once.

        • An ambidextrous stock would be one with no cast, perfectly straight. This Benelli can be set up for leftie or rightie, but it’s not a quick change thing for sharing at the range.

  3. IMHO, the Champion EasyHit 3.0mm Diameter Shotgun Sight (or 2.5 if you want better accuracy) work best.

    If your head it too high because you are trying to peek above a shot, you will see more than one dot and you know you are high, when lined up, you see a single Green or Red dot whichever you have chosen. If you shoot with both eyes open and you have double barrel image (it happens to some with a very strong dominate eye), again, you can see the bright green dot and when it is aligned and can learn to ignore the ghost barrel.

    Otherwise, that is a very nice gun. Don’t forget to pattern test whatever choke or ammo you are going to use and stick to that combo before you go out for the actually birds. If steel shot is required, it will pattern different than lead.

    Anyway, have fun, once you are hooked you will be hooked forever!

  4. Camo guns are weird to me. I’m not a hunter, but it seems like last thing you want to be difficult to find in the woods is your gun.

    When I go backpacking, my go-to knife is a fixed blade Mora with blaze orange handle. Don’t want to be mucking about looking for a tool when you need it.

    • Turkey hunters might actually need a camo gun.

      Every other type of upland game hunter is just fooling themselves by buying a camo gun.

  5. Shoot it a ton, shoot heavy and light loads, and have a blast. The 3 1/2″ mags are memorable, but hurt a whole lot less in a semi auto.

  6. Recommendations:

    1. Stress test the cycling action. If it recommends 1200 fps 1 1/8 oz loads, find light 1 oz or 7/8 oz loads and see if it will cylce the extreme.
    2. Evaluate felt recoil with different loads. 1 oz., 1 1/8 oz., 1 3/8, up to heavy 3″ and 3 1/2″ loads.
    3. Don’t clean it and see how long it will shoot before a FTF. (My guess is it won’t, inertia action is most reliable outside of the A5)
    4. Test point of aim at 40 yards. Should be dead on, and pattern percentages at 40 yards with high quality shells, 3 shot averages with each tube should be w/in acceptable %’s.
    5. Evaluate the gun balance (balance point/barrel heavy nuetral) and swing
    6. measure trigger pull
    7. Evaluate sight plane (low/high rib, bead visibility)
    8. Evaluate safety location and ease of intuitiveness to take off safe when bringing gun to shoulder (as would happen in a hunting situation)

  7. Compresses the spring in the way it was meant to be compressed. It’s a duck/turkey gun, that just happens to work as a dove gun. Light loads have a tendency not to eject properly at first. I did it with my M2s (SBE’s little brother), and was able to shoot 7/8oz loads with no problems.

    • Care to elaborate?

      In Nick Leghorn’s first look at Silencerco’s shotgun supperssor he said –

      “SilencerCo will be coming out with a full line of silencer ready chokes for the most popular systems in the near future, but only a handful of models are supported at the moment. The plan is to have a kit available for purchase that includes the full range of chokes (cylinder to full) for your gun ready to attach to the silencer for mounting.”

  8. Inertia driven actions can also fail to cycle light loads with a light weight shooter (such as youths), i.e. not enough mass behind the stock to allow the action to unlock and cycle. I find them harsher than a gas gun or the A5 (my personal favorite) for a day at the range, but not so much in the dove field.

    Nice gun, go have fun!

  9. Wood,

    I’m with you. I left the Benelli/inertia action behind when the Maxus came out. To me, the Maxus is my favorite, soft shooting, good weight and balance and fits well. However, I agree, the A5 will always have a special place in my heart as a waterfowler. My Grandpas 1947 A5 still makes a trip or two to the duck blind and goose out each year, and still kills birds.

  10. As LJM said, testing the functionality of the shotgun from the lightest loads you can find (probably 7/8 oz.) to the heaviest to insure it cycles all types smoothly and ejects them with authority.

    His comments on point of aim are also very good.

    A couple other things to consider would be your opinion on how easy it is to load/unload the shotgun & what your thoughts on assembly/dis-assembly are.

    Does anyone know when Benelli went from a piston system to the Inertia system? I thought they only used that on their Vinci/Super Vinci models?


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