Ok, so I kinda did something lame…..I got my wife a shotgun for Valentine’s day last year. Coincidentally, it was a shotgun I’ve wanted for a little while; a 20 gauge Benelli Legacy. It wasn’t actually completely lame, as I do want her to get out shooting skeet with me more often. Her other options in my current stash are a bit heavy for her to hold up and are harder hitting 12 gauges: a Franchi Diamond O/U, a Remington 1100 and a Mossberg 500 pump. I’m not recommending a pump for skeet, but it’s an option if that’s what you like. So I finally got my….sorry, my wife’s Benelli Legacy, and what a beauty it is!
We’ve had the Benelli for almost a year now. My wife’s had it out a few times and I’ve taken it out several times more. I probably have put over 700 rounds through it shooting skeet and 5 stand and another 100 or so hunting quail. It’s definitely time for a review.
First off, the Legacy is a beautiful gun. It boasts a AA-grade walnut stock and a heavily engraved receiver with leaf scrolling and upland bird scenes. The receiver is light-weight alloy with a silver lower and “blued upper” making an attractive contrast. The trigger is crisp and light with gold plating. It has a standard rib with a mid-bead and a fiber optic bead near the muzzle, both of which assist with alignment during mounting. It easy to make sure your mounted right.
Functionally, the gun has been flawless. It even cycles super-light 3/4 ounce loads; the recipe for which you can find here . That’s a plus during long skeet sessions, as the recoil is almost nonexistent. Benelli has been the leader in the inertia drive system, which “powers” their auto loaders. It’s major advantage is it’s simplicity and minimum of moving parts, eliminating heavier fouling which occurs with gas operated auto loaders. You literally remove the forearm knob,slide off the forearm and barrel, and then slide out the upper receiver and bolt. Everything is easy to get to and clean out. There is very minimal gas fouling, and being that the bolt is highly polished, a cloth with a little solvent and a light wipe, get it all cleaned up.
Another plus of the Benelli Legacy is it’s light weight. With the 26 inch barrel, it comes in at 6 pounds flat! That’s not a ton of weight, and makes field use a dream.
So what about the negatives? I can’t really find any. The recoil of the inertia system makes recoil heaver than gas operated guns, but it’s a 20 gauge, so that’s not a negative in my book. This is one of the few guns that I have where I really can’t call something out that’s negative. Price? OK…MSRP is $1799. Yeah, it’s steep, but I got this flawless example through an on-line auction for $1000, with a minimum of use by it’s prior owner.
- Gauge: 20
- Chokes: C, IC, M, IM and F Crio chokes
- Type of Sights: Steal Mid-bead, Fiber optic primary
- Length of Pull: 14-3/8”
- Drop at Comb: 1-1/2”
- Drop at Heel: 2-1/4”
- Weight: 6 pounds
- Barrel Length: 26″
- Overall Length: 47 1/3″
- Magazine Capacity: 4 + 1
- Includes a shim kit for adjustment of drop, and a hard plastic break-down case
In the Field and At the Range
Let’s start at the range, which is where I always “stretch the legs” on my new toys. From day one, I was impressed with how well the Legacy fits and mounts. This will differ from individual to individual given your physical build. The fiber front sight and mid-bead give you immediate feedback on your mount, removing any guesswork. Trigger pull is crisp with no travel. Some folks may not like the light weight of the gun for skeet. Many skeet shooters have heavier over/unders in the 8 plus pound range for skeet which helps some smooth out their swing. For me, it hasn’t really been a factor as I’m used to my lighter Franchi Diamond over/under, which is my primary scatter-gun for skeet. As I had mentioned earlier, running the 3/4 ounce 20 gauge loads for a skeet load keeps my shooting costs down, and virtually eliminates recoil.
Now for the field….which is what this beautiful gun was made for. This 20 gauge legacy is a great field gun for pretty much all of your small game needs. Here’s where the light weight shines, and at 6 pounds, you can haul this gun around all day.The weight also makes for quick mounting, which has helped me get off the first shot (and kill) in my upland bird hunts this year. At the patterning board, my Legacy has a 50/50 split: 50% of shot above the center line and 50% below the center line, which is right for hunting. As far as durability, I haven’t had a single misfire, nor have I incurred any damage to the gun while crawling through brush piles and briers. The finish is proving to be resilient, and I’m proving to be less clumsy than I thought.
The Final Word
I started this writing by saying I’ve wanted a Legacy for a while. Now that I have one, I haven’t been disappointed. It’s everything I hoped it would be and from the range, to the field, it’s a great all-around auto loading 20 gauge. It took me a while to get one given the high price of entry, but once I got my wife on board by demonstrating that she needed a light weight, lighter recoiling gun for skeet than our 12 gauge options, the hunt was on. For my $1000, I have a world class 20 gauge auto loader that will last a lifetime. Would I recommend one, absolutely. This may be my first Benelli, but it certainly will not be my last. I’m seeing a Benelli Ultra Light 28 gauge in my future and, so far, my “crystal ball” hasn’t missed a prediction.