Review: Benelli 828U Shotgun

I’ve always liked the design, looks, handling, and shootability of Benelli shotguns.  My first hunting shotgun was a Benelli.  I’ve busted many clays and brought home a few “in-flight meals” with that shotgun over the years.  I also have gotten a lot of use out of their Ultralight, M2, M3, and Legacy shotguns.  I was surprised, however to find out that Benelli, long known for inertia and gas operated semi auto guns, was going to be producing a break-open shotgun.  This project became known as the 828U.  I did not get to try one at SHOT 2015,  but one of my fellow range members acquired one last summer and I was able to try it out.  Though it is a bit different in feel and operation than more traditional break-open designs, I came away with a positive impression and finally acquired one of my own.

Specs at a Glance:

  • Barrel length as tested: 26″
  • Overall length as tested: 43.25″
  • Weight: 6.5lbs
  • Trigger pull weight (on my example): 5lbs 12oz top barrel, 5lbs bottom barrel
  • 3″ Chambers
  • MSRP: $2499 for anodized receiver, $2999 for engraved receiver (I found my anodized one for significantly less, street price)

Distinguished Design

The Benelli 828U differs from its’ break-open brethren in several ways.  The most notable difference is that   the 828 features a floating steel breech block within its’ aluminum receiver.  The breech block interfaces with recesses and lugs within the receiver and monoblock on closing of the action.  It does absorb the stresses of recoil quite well on its’ own, allowing for a very lightweight receiver shell.  Another advantage of this design is that, if one uses a break open shotgun enough, the action may loosen to some degree.  With the 828U, fixing this issue will be as easy as replacing the breech block.  The 828 also does not cock due to the barrels swinging down of the barrels upon opening of the action.  Pressing the action lever to the right is actually what cocks the gun.

Steel breech block

another view of the breech block

Cocking Lever

The 828’s tangless receiver gives it the unique ability to be the only break-open shotgun that is user adjustable for drop and cast.  There are 2 possible drop plates, 5 possible drop shims, and four cast shims for a total of 40 possible permutations!  No “fittings” needed here.

Rounding out the ergonomic innovations are two zones that aid in recoil mitigation, helpful for long shooting sessions with a rather light gun.  The first is a soft, recoil-absorbing polymer cheekpiece that can be swapped out for better cheek to stock fit. The second, imbedded into the butt of the stock, is Benelli’s “Progressive Comfort” system.  Before any readers remind me to leave politics out of this, let me explain that “Progressive Comfort” refers to the polymer buffers that flex and interlock to soak up recoil, not to the fact that Joe Biden might recommend you purchase this particular sort of gun for shooting through one’s door.

buttstock recoil pad

cheek pad

The fore-end of the 828U doesn’t contain any mechanisms necessary for the function of the shotgun, and is easily removable by depressing a small button at it’s front.  The fore-end and pistol grip feature fish-scale checkering in the satin walnut wood that is pleasant to hold, and permits a secure and comfortable grip.  The shotgun balances directly at the hinge point and is quite easy to carry and shoulder.

very nice checkering

fore-end release button

The trigger module is also removable, making cleaning and servicing a breeze.  Another nice feature is one can have a choice as to automatic activation of the safety upon re-cocking of the strikers.  Don’t like having to click the safety off during frenetic dove hunts or long strings of trap or skeet?  No problem.  Simply remove one spring steel clip that pressures the auto safety lever to deactivate this feature.

removing the trigger module with the provided tool

Trigger module

The carbon-fiber vent rib features a hi-viz red fiber optic front sight.  If one doesn’t care for a rib above the barrel, it is easily removed via a screw.

On the Case

In keeping with the 828U’s overall theme of blending the traditional with the new and innovative, the 828U features possibly my favorite factory case of any shotgun I’ve personally seen.  At first glance from the exterior, it seems to be just another mundane grey plastic case for a broken-down shotgun.  Upon opening, however, it features soft felt plaid lining for the shotgun itself, and a very nice closed compartment for the chokes (The 828U comes with 5 of Benelli’s flush-fit Crio Chokes), choke wrench, oil bottle, shims, trigger module release tool, and the manuals.  The result is a case that, while nice and plush on the inside, can take the abuse of rattling around a truck bed without one feeling bad about scratching wood or damaging fine leather.  The only thing that threw me for a loop the first time I opened it up is that unlike 90% of the cases out there, the case latches hinge on the bottom half of the case.

accessory box

Chokes, shims, plates, oil and tools

At the Range

Though I haven’t had an opportunity to take the 828U hunting as of yet, I put about 300 shells through the gun at my local trap range.  I immediately appreciated the 828U’s light weight and great balance, which made a 200-round string easy to accomplish without tiring.  Initially, however, I had some issues with the ejector for the top barrel.  Shells would extract, but I would have about one failure to eject per box of shells with 4 different kinds of shells.  The 828U’s ejectors are impulse activated, and I was worried that perhaps there was an issue with the top barrel in this respect.  It was a rather cold, snowy spring morning, however, so I thought maybe the oil put on the shotgun at the factory was not up to the task in such cold temperatures.  I used some M-Pro 7 oil on the ejector rod and it fixed the problem immediately.  Shells do eject very positively, and land about 3 yards to the rear.

Shells are easy to hand extract due to the cut out at the top of the barrel

Some shotguns take me a while to get proficient with, as their swing, shouldering, and pointing take some getting used to.  I was lucky that, out of the box, the 828U fit me quite well.  I was busting clays consistently in no time using the improved modified and modified chokes.  The trigger pull was quite nice and crisp for a shotgun and never felt like a hinderance.  Likewise, the safety was very easy to deactivate when I was ready to shoot and clicked positively in and out of position.  I’ve found “tang mounted” (though the 828U doesn’t have a tang) safeties on other break open shotguns in the same price range to be either too loose and wobbly, or rather stubborn to use.   The barrel selector also was of top quality and functionality.

Safety and barrel selector

I appreciated the recoil mitigation measures in such a light shotgun.  With no action to move or gases to redirect, some manually operated shotguns can have rather high recoil.  With the 828U, however, my cheek never felt like it was getting smacked, and there was no bruise on my shoulder after 200 rounds straight.  That was even with some heavier hunting loads mixed in.

Having used Crio chokes for over 15 years, patterning revealed what I already assumed.  Though pellet density with Benelli’s Crio chokes is somewhat less in the bottom half of the outer ring, there are no blank spots or inconsistencies.  If I missed a clay, it was my own damn fault, not the fault of the chokes.

Overall Impression:

The 828U is an excellent break-open shotgun that melds the traditional with the new and innovative.  It features unique functions, excellent ergonomics, light weight, and customizable fit and function by the end user.  The 828U is an excellent shotgun and I look forward to hunting and busting clays with it in the future.    If you do decide that this is the O/U shotgun for you, you won’t be disappointed.

Pros:

  • Light weight
  • Loaded with features that usually come in much more expensive over/unders
  • Great trigger module
  • Well balanced
  • Excellent case
  • Excellent recoil mitigation
  • User customizable for fit

Cons:

  • More expensive than entry level O/U shotguns from Browning, CZ, and Beretta


Rusty S.

Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. He is fortunate enough to have access to class 3 weaponry as well.


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  • gusto

    This is the way I hope beretta and others go

    a properly fitted shotgun for trap/skeet and hunting is almost a necesity IMO

  • Tassiebush

    This sounds great. Fantastic to have so much scope for adjustments designed into it. I presume there are probably longer barrel options. It’s great to see the way innovation just continues with sporting arms.

    • Rusty S.

      Yes, 28″ Barrels are available.

  • Noishkel

    You’d have to be the biggest damn fool on the planet to drop that kind of coin on a break action shotgun. It’s a completely outdated design that only gets traction because of archaic bird hunting laws and people who are too damn stupid to realize that they’re being screwed.

    $2.5K for a set of glorified pipes with springs on the ass end. Completely ridiculous.

    • Rusty S.

      Things that are “outdated” can still be fun and enjoyable. By your same reasoning, camping, hunting, fishing, archery, cycling, and even driving a car are frivolous wastes of income on outdated technology. Keep in mind that there are entire sectors of the shooting sports pretty much dedicated to break action shotguns. I enjoy an afternoon busting clays with friends as much as I enjoy action shooting sports with semi autos or burning through ammo with full autos. There are many different ways of enjoying shooting sports, and the beauty of the market today is that if you don’t like this particular type of firearm, there are plenty of others to choose from.

    • JeremyR

      Not sure if it’s a troll or someone who has no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to O/Us…. BUT, opinions are like A-holes… every one has one and they all stink.

    • Tassiebush

      I disagree. Cost is a matter of situation and perspective. There’s no shame in not being able to afford such a thing and no foolishness in buying it if it’s within your budget. Practically speaking there are plenty of niches where this type of gun is the best fit by far due to superior handling and patterning. Firepower is a consideration but it is not the paramount one. Shotguns and their patterns are range specific. The great thing about an under and over is if you set the bottom barrel to fire first and set up the chokes open in close and tighter further out you’ve got a nice straight push without muzzle rise on the first shot on the clay or critter which is easier to recover from then as it heads further out you can have another go with the upper barrel with the tighter choke which by then is the right choke for the shot that presents itself. To sacrifice optimal handling and patterning to get a few extra shots you won’t probably get a chance to fire would be much more “ridiculous” from my perspective. It might be different if I wanted a fighting gun or if all my shots were at the same range but I can’t think of a better tool for the job on clays or stuff that you put to flight.

      • Ken

        Excellent explanation that’s more than likely lost on Noishkel as he obviously has no idea what he’s writing about.

      • Nashvone

        Buying a $10,000 Krieghoff shotgun might seem foolish to some but I sure would like to have one of those works of art.

    • MissileMech

      $2K-$3K is a steal for a quality trap/skeet gun. A Benelli too? Sold.

    • iksnilol

      -quoth the tacticooler

    • jonp

      Yes, spending $2-$3,000 on a firearm that will only be used on a range is ridiculous.

      • RocketScientist

        Oh, I guess I missed the report that 12-ga shotguns can no longer be used for hunting. That sucks, where I live is basiaclly the perfect hunting gun for every type of game that lives here. Oh well, was nice while it lasted.

        • jonp

          Really, you use a $3,000 gun in a duck blind?

          • RocketScientist

            Well I don’t really hunt ducks, so no, I wouldn’t. But a dove or quail field? Sure. A nice oak forest going after bushy-tails? You bet. Tree stand for whitetails? Why not. A swamp full of hogs? Hells yeah. pine scrub for turkey? Definitely. I’ve got guns in my collections that are 110 years old and fought through two wars and they still shoot just fine. I’m pretty sure a well-built shotgun can handle some field use.

  • valorius

    A thing of beauty.