Beretta Silver Pigeon Shotgun KABOOM

A reader emailed us this photo of his Beretta Silver Pigeon, which suffered a kaboom a couple of inches forward of the chamber. He wanted to know if anyone readers had been able to persuade Beretta to sort something like this out, apparently they are not being helpful.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Derek

    I don’t know too much about firearms but is it possible that he didn’t check to see if the barrel was clear? I am not ripping on the guy, I’m just saying.

  • looks like classic squib… or a patch that got left in

  • Jon

    Betting that it was an ammo issue. Got a sore shoulder from my could have been dangerous re-loading mistake when I set up the nearly double powder on a skeet load.

  • Ben C

    If you were to inadvertently drop a 20 ga shell in to a 12 ga chamber, the rim of the 20 ga shell makes it to the front of the chamber and then stops. It is possible to load a 12 ga shell behind the now stuck 20 ga shell and touch the whole mess off.

    I’ve been told this makes one heck of a boom, and either the chamber splits or the barrel right in front of the chamber splits as the 20 ga shell ignites in a weaker area of the barrel from the 12 ga shell being fired into the back of it.

  • Joel

    Ah, that gun’s fine, just hammer down that flap of steel and the rib and you’ll have a nice single-shot with some character.

    • noob

      lol! nevah been dun befoah

    • Bob Z Moose

      The shooting equivalent of “walk it off”.

  • Rob

    I cannot see how you could have a failure like that without an obstruction Berretta or the dealer should look at it but if the barrel was blocked then you are on your own and lucky to have walk away unscathed. A friend of mind managed to drop a 20g down a 12g barrel and loaded a 12g on top by mistake he lost part of two fingers!

    Always check your barrels!

  • D

    I’m not an engineer, but that certainly to me says “barrel obstruction”. I’d expect something different from an over-charge.

    Glad the guy didn’t get hurt.

  • Vhyrus

    I am no expert on barrel obstructions but it looks like there are a lot of scrape marks on the inside of the barrel that abruptly stop right at the largest point of the failure. That would indicate something was forced down the barrel to that point before the pressure overpowered the barrel. I am not going to speculate what that something is but that would certainly lend itself to a barrel obstruction theory.

  • Erik

    This is exactly what happens when you put a 20 gauge in the gun and then shoot a 12 gauge after that.

    I’m not surprised Beretta told him to take a hike. They don’t warrant against customer stupidity.

    • Erik

      The Noble stood up pretty well to it, but in the end it was rendered inoperable and was definitely bulged after the first shot. The difference there is that Beretta has pretty tight bores, even with their open chokes compared to that cylinder choke Noble.

      That receiver on that Silver Pigeon looks fine. He should be able to get it operable again with a new barrel set.

  • G

    Using a shotgun shell that is longer than the chamber may be dangerous. When the cartridge is fired the there must be enough room for the wad and the shots to escape thru the opened shotshell.

    So I am wondering if he tried to fire a 3.5″ shell in the 3″ Silver Pigeon chamber.

  • Raoul O’Shaugnessy

    Looks like classic 20-in-a-12.

  • gunslinger

    doesn’t look barrel fatigue. i’d also think a 20-in-12 type scenario. but as it’s been mentioned, if the receiver is ok, then just replace the barrel.

    i’ve never had this happen so i’m unsure how good of an idea that is.

  • RCL

    So, let’s assume, the correct shell was used, maybe there were no 12 gauge shells in the possession of anyone in the hunting party. The gun was new and had only fired a few shells. More or less take operator error out of the scenario as this person would obviously have considered most of the those causes.

    Could there be an issue with a manufacturing process used to make the barrel? Could there be an issue with the metal used to construct the barrel? Could the stamping on the outside of the barrel have caused a stress riser?

    • Matt

      Unlikely. Forward of the chamber. Wouldn’t have ruptured like that without a bore obstruction. Would have been considerably smaller and lengthened. This happened to me on a Baikal with the same kind of rupture. Sister had been shooting a 20 gauge 870 and somehow I grabbed one and stuck it inmy pouch, then loaded and didn’t realize I had already put a 20 down the tube. The Baikal came apart just like this.

  • Davide

    This looks like an obstruction to me.
    Here’s what I know: Beretta makes the best barrels on the market. 100% of their barrels are checked before they leave the factory, per their customer service. The steel used to make Beretta’s barrels is second-to-none, according to many YouTube videos.
    There is a huge scratch at the site of the explosion, which is forward of the chamber.
    If pressure were the issue, the bulge would have occurred immediately south of the chamber, not inches down.
    It looks to me like an obstruction created pressure that eventually became inescapable.
    I’d try to ask Beretta for new barrels, just to see if it flies, but I would not expect them to warrant my mistake. Things happen. It isn’t Beretta’s fault.

  • Steve

    Actually, it was not a reload, it was standard 2 3/4″ factory loaded shell. I had already shot the gun for 3 hours that day. Also, we did not have any 20ga. shells wtih us. The shells were pulled right out of the box.

    • Matt

      Did you call Beretta?

      • Steve

        Beretta looked at the gun and said that it was not their fault. Therefore, they won’t do anything about it. I know that it looks like a 20ga shell was put in the chamber, but we did not have 20ga shells with us. Therefore, that was not the issue. The shot actually went out of the end of the barrell. I hit the pheasant that I was shooting at.

  • george

    Why ask Beretta to fix it? I would talk to the ammo manufacturer first, because that’s what likely caused this problem. Operator error would be my first guess, then defective ammo, and least likely would be a problem with the gun.

    • Steve

      The shell that came out of the gun looked normal. I returned the shell and the rest of the box to Federal. They checked the shells, said it was not their fault and sent me a $20 check.

  • Gaston

    That barrel was obstructed. No question. The scrap marks are proof-positive.

  • Matt

    I’m sorry Steve, but I have to side with Beretta here. The bore failure pictured here is something that I have only seen with 20 under a 12 or a bore obstruction.

    • Steve

      I understand. It was not a 20 under a 12. How would I have gotten a bore obstruction if I have been using the gun that morning? Could it have been an obstruction from the last load that was shot?

      • Matt

        If not a 20/12, the second most common thing would be a stuck wad. Which would cause a vast over pressure at the point where the wad got stuck.

  • John McPherson

    I just have to go with the majority, a 20/12 load. Could have been a 20 that got into a box of 12 and when loaded just not noticed. I do not see how the barrel could have been at fault. Sorry, just buy a new barrel and have the whole gun checked out by a good smith.

  • Geoff Ross

    Depending on the ammo used, it could have been a separation of the base wad in the previous shell that wedged just past the forcing cone thus causing the blockage.

    Some ammo, particularly cheaper shells and shells from europe have a separate base wad in the bottom of the shell that can come loose and cause problems like this.

    Many years ago a shooting buddy had a brand new Marocchi O/U that blew up in his hands on his first shot of the day. Marocchi replaced the gun with the next higher grade of gun no questions asked.

    I had a brand new K80 that had a choke tube rupture, called Krieghoff and they asked me to send the barrels in to them which I did. A week later I received the barrels back with a new choke tube and a letter apologizing for the delay as they needed to reblue a scratch and they only blue on fridays! Been shooting the gun for 15 years with no problems.

    That is why I will be a loyal Krieghoff customer for life.

  • Nicks87

    Yeah deffinately not a manufacturers defect. Beretta shotguns are some high quality stuff. More likely an obstruction in the barrel.

    Not to sound like an @$$ but how hard is it to look down the barrels of a break-action shot-gun before loading?

    No need to place blame. just take it as a lesson learned and move on.

    • Geoff Ross

      After my friend’s mishap I began to blow out the barrels and check for obstructions after every shot. Became part of my preparation for each shot. One of the reasons I prefer O/U’s.

  • Wanlace

    Everyone points to a 20/12 mixup, but the shooter insists there were no 20s on the range/field that day, and they were using factory ammo.

    One way to resolve this conundrum is the possibility of a mixed box of shells. You would think this couldn’t happen with factory ammo, but I remember once getting a 9mm cartridge mixed in with a box of .40 S&W. It was Federal factory ammo, no sign of it being tampered with. In that case it was obvious as it sat in the box and I culled it out, but loading shotshells out of a box in a shooting vest pocket, you could easily miss the difference in shells.

    Or maybe someone who was a noob or somewhat malicious decided to throw a 20 gauge in with your box.

    • Geoff Ross

      20 Ga shells are usually yellow in color to prevent just what is discussed here. If there had been a 20 ga shell there would have been some debris from the hull.

      • MacBeth51

        Color isn’t a good guide. I have at least 100 12 ga. hulls that are yellow,

  • Bore obstruction, most like a basewad.

  • Bob Z Moose

    I’ve never seen a 20/12 mix up nor an obsrructed barrel reptrure, but I have one question: if it was a 20/12 mix up, wouldn’t there be some remains of the 20 gauge shell? I would figure something would be left behind. It’s not like the shooter could keep hunting (the timing of this post and the alfalfa field in the background makes me think that he was hunting doves). Why not check around for the remnants of the barrel/shell. Either way, I’m pretty sure this was shooter error.

    • dan

      That isn’t alfalfa those are sun flowers

  • Steve

    I am betting that a 20 gauge shell got mixed into a box of 12 gauge shells, probably not at the manufacturer, but rather at the store. Happened to me last weekend. I was hunting a 12 gauge and was using a fresh box of ammunition. Bird flew up, I pulled the trigger and no bang. Broken open my Beretta and there in the bottom barrel was a 16 gauge. It slipped too far forward to fire. Now before anybody says anything, I don’t own a 16 gauge and the guy I was shooting with was also using a 12 and also doesn’t own a 16 gauge. Looking at the shell, it was a Remington, just like the 12 gauges I was shooting. Same color, just a different gauge. Scary stuff. From now on, I am checking every shell prior to putting it into my jacket.

  • Sigoynermollen

    I guess chances are very remote that this can be blamed Beretta…..What about home-loaded shells and/or with wrong type or quantity of powder – or an obstruction inside the barrell…..? Scary anyway !

  • Jesse

    Actually seen a paper hull new factory loaded at a state trap shoot bust the ejector in a browning. Not sure how but it sounded like three shells going off at once. Took a few minutes to get it broke down was lucky that was all the damage done. Best bet is just buy a new barrel set and never use that type shell again.

  • lawdocjoe

    Well it’s nice to see so much wild speculation on the 20/12 mixup, but the folks at the MD factory were notoriously bad for customer service some years ago. Hopefully this has changed.