Beretta Blog

Choosing a Competition Shotgun

Posted by Mia Anstine

on Jun 9, 2014 10:46:00 AM


How do you go about choosing a new competition shotgun for your 100 pound, 15-year-old daughter?

My husband and I started by asking a trusted colleague for a shotgun recommendation when looking for a new one for our teenage competitor. From there we asked a few more friends for their thoughts. More than one person recommended the Beretta A400 Xcel. We were intrigued by the suggested shotgun and wanted to learn more about it.

We learned that the Xcel is the “cream of the clay shooting crop”. With its brilliant blue finish, it would be the envy of all who lay their eyes on it at the range. That wasn’t enough for us. We needed to know that it would be a reliable gun our daughter. It needed to be one she could handle shooting now and suitable for her to use as she grows.

We began researching the Xcel, because not everyone knows our little gal like we do. After all, how would our friends know this gun could be good for her, right? Well, sometimes you should take your friend’s word, especially about this outstanding firearm. We learned that the Xcel isn’t just a pretty gun with a blue finish.

The A400 Xcel is a 12-gauge competition shotgun that Beretta says, “is faster-cycling, softer-shooting and better balanced than anything else on the market.” Our daughter was shooting a 20-gauge. We wondered how she would adapt to a 12-gauge?

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Well Balanced

We contemplated if this gun would be too long or heavy for a petite shooter. We chatted with Beretta shooter, Diane Sorantino, who mentioned the Xcel is light and well balanced. She also mentioned a Balance Cap System is available in the event things needed to be equalized.

Low Profile Action

Sorantino declared that this shotgun is wonderful because it points right where you want it. Beretta boasts, “The A400 action has sleek lines and a low profile, meaning that the vertical distance between the dominant eye and the supporting hand is reduced to a minimum.” They say the result is “A gun that follows your swing like an extension of your body and eyesight--and many more broken clays.”

All of that was of course great news to us, but how would our daughter handle shooting a 12-gauge all day?


We asked Sorantino how she thought a young shooter would do with the recoil of the Xcel. She mentioned that she moved from the 391, which she loved, to the A400, which she loves even more.  She didn’t think she could get any less recoil than the 391, but was astounded that the A400 has virtually none. She highly recommended it for our daughter. 

Test Drive at the Range

After our friend’s suggestions, Beretta’s reliability and Sorantino’s testimonial, we tested the Xcel at the range. We decided the advice we had heard was as good as gold, or rather, blue. The Xcel shot like a dream. If our daughter didn’t like this gun, we would both put dibs on it later.

Needless to say, we ordered the Beretta A400 Xcel for our 15-year-old daughter, and can you guess what happened next?

Blue is Her Color

Our daughter picked up the Xcel and touted “It’s so light for a 12-gauge”. That was a good start. We took her to the range to shoot and stood back, eagerly anticipating her reaction.

The first clay was launched and quickly turned to dust. Smiles spread on all three of our faces. “WHAH-BAM! She can shoot it!” Another clay was launched, and another and another, all resulting in an orange explosion. The Xcel appeared to be an extension of her small body. It pointed exactly where she looked and there seemed to be no transition time from a 20-gauge to a 12-gauge. The day ended in success because she liked it.

But the story doesn’t end there 


Two days later she went to practice with her team. The coach called her to the line to demonstrate safety, technique and the basics of the day to the other kids. Without even a warm up, he said, “Are you ready?” She said “Yep. PULL!” A clay flew; she shot, and it disintegrated.

The coach grinned, thinking “Lucky.” He directed her to continue with another clay. She busted five in a row and then demonstrated how to show clear before she exited the station. She out-shot everybody that day and one of the other coaches said “I think blue is her color.”

With her new shotgun, she has since increased her average to 92%. We will keep you posted as to how she shoots the Beretta A400 Xcel in the upcoming youth competitions. “GO BLUE!”

The Beretta A400 Xcel is available in 12-gauge and 28, 30 and 32 inch barrel lengths. Visit Beretta for retail locations and pricing information.

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Topics: Clay Shooting, Competitive Shooting


Written by Mia Anstine

Mia Anstine is an outfitter, guide, hunter, mentor, firearms and archery instructor. Among other publications, she is a staff writer for Beretta USA, Western Whitetail Magazine and guest at several other publications. As a public speaker she teaches and inspires others to get involved in outdoor activities. She takes pride in guiding ladies and children for their first hunts. She’s hunted red stag, bull tahr, elk, mule deer, black bear, turkey, game birds, waterfowl, predators, varmints, hogs, carp and has more on her bucket list. To learn more about Mia, visit her website at

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