Benelli’s Ultra Light 28 Gauge

Wingshooting with a Fine Bird Gun

To really experience the wilderness of Utah’s San Rafael County you have to get off the beaten path. From the road the landscape looks rather barren, a parched sagebrush sea, the vast high plains desert of the American West. But first impressions can be deceiving, and only those that step away from the blacktopped surface of Route 15 really get to experience the subtle beauty of Utah’s vast desert wilderness.

 

The author testing the Ultra Light at Castle Valley’s clays range. The Crio extended-length choke tube system provides more uniform patterns, which translates to more birds and better scores.

The flat plains are periodically interrupted by abrupt canyons with walls of red and grey and tan from millions of years of compressing sediment. Even the deepest of these canyons was carved by water, which seems strange in the desert. In the shadows of the sagebrush small flowers climb up from the desert soil, blooming yellow and blue and red just above the rocky earth.

Utah’s high plains deserts may look like they wouldn’t be game-rich country, but that too is an illusion. The pinon-covered hillsides are home to large herds of elk and mule deer, and the central part of the state has a very large population of mountain lions. The desert landscape seems like an odd place to bring your fly rod, but some of the finest trout fishing in the West can be found in the year-round streams that run down from the mountains. And, improbable as it might seem, the area is home to a wide variety of game birds.

Among the rocky hills and rolling plains of San Rafael County lies Castle Valley Outdoors, a cattle ranching operation that has branched out and become an Orvis endorsed wingshooting lodge. A portion of Castle Valley Outdoors’ 12,000 acres lies in low valleys, where year-round moisture draws gamebirds in and supports a healthy population of introduced chukar and pheasant, which flush fast and fly hard and present a challenge to any wingshooter.

I traveled to Castle Valley to test Benelli’sUltra Light 28 gauge. I’d chosen to test the Ultra Light on this particular fall hunt because Western bird hunters have a very different definition of “long day in the field” than us Midwesterners. Having hunted chukar in the hills of Idaho on multiple occasions I knew that a long day usually included a lot of vertical hunting, some of it on steep, rocky slopes. It’s fun hunting to be sure, as long as you don’t mind dealing with burning lungs and aching quads.

 

AN ULTRA LIGHT FIELD GUN

The Castle Valley hunt required plenty of walking, but most of it was in flat meadows. At under five pounds the Benelli was a breeze to carry, one of the few guns that doesn’t fatigue you even after a lot of walking, shooting, and, yes, even a bit of climbing. The Ultra Light is the latest in Benelli’s line of upland guns, which includes the classic Montefeltro, a gun that has proven to be reliable and that has become a favorite of competitive shooters and upland hunters. And, just like the Montefeltro, the Ultra Light incorporates Benelli’sIntertia Driven System. The Inertia Driven System has gained favor among many shooters because it is less complex and more reliable than previous generations of gas-operated semiautos.

Tech Specs:

Benelli Ultra Light semiautomatic 28 Gauge, 26” barrel

Weight: 4.9 lbs

Overall Length: 47.5”

Magazine Capacity: 2+1

Receiver: black alloy

Barrel: Blued steel, carbon fiber rib

Sights: Gold bead mid-rib, red fiber optic front bead

MSRP: $1,799

Contact: Benelli USA

www.benelliusa.com

 A Comparison of Shotgun Weights

 

Model                                                  Barrel  Weight

Benelli Ultra Light 28 ga                    26”      4.90 lbs

Remington 870 Wingmaster 28ga      25”      6 .00 lbs

Benelli Super Vinci 12ga                    26”      6.90 lbs

Browning BPS 28ga                           26”      7.00 lbs

Benelli M2 American 12ga                 26”      7.10 lbs

Remington 11-87 Walnut 20ga           26”      7.25 lbs

 

Story by Brad Fitzpatrick& Photos by Benjamin Gettinger

 

 

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