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 Post subject: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:09 am 
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I would like any opinions on the Beretta 303 shotgun. I have a chance to buy one in like new condition for $575 dollars. Is that a good price and how does it compare to the 390?


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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:28 am 
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there what the 391 used to be in its day. 303 i think maybe easier to clean too.
i had a trap model a couple of years ago, very nice gun!
as far as price that depends on what model it is, like is it a field gun, set up for skeet or trap?
go to the Beretta forum section, alot more info there..

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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:09 pm 
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That's a good price for any of the 303's unless it's beat up. They are very nice shotguns. EG


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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:24 pm 
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I passed on a like new 12 gauge field model for $650 earlier this year, but I would have paid $600 if the seller would have budged.


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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:54 pm 
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Many Beretta semi-auto users reckon the 303 is the best auto Beretta made and that includes me. It is extremely reliable and easy to clean without the gas regulation systems fitted from the 390 onwards.It feels better in the hands than modern 391 sporters.
I have used Beretta autos for 25 years and owned a 303 in the 80's.I acquired a virtually unused one a few months ago and don't use anything else for clay shooting.
Most will cycle 1oz loads without modification.
My advice is go for it.

Vic.

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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:21 pm 
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The 303 is the best semi auto ever made! Of course I have that opinion probably because I own one.:wink:

tigmaned is right. It was Beretta's top of the line auto in its day. It's better made than the 390. That price for a like new edition is a good price in my book.

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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:15 pm 
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I agree with rastoff, in my opinion the A303 is the best of the Beretta semi autos. I have a 303 trap that I bought as new in 1992 or 93 and it's one of my favorites. Very reliable, easy to clean, very soft recoil.


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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:30 pm 
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The Beretta 303 is a nice gun, but the Beretta 390 will do everything the 303 will do and MORE. The 303 has no way to compensate for varying load intensity. Whether you feed it an extra light target load or a 2 3/4" magnum hunting load, the 303 has no ability to compensate for the difference in gas volume and therefore will have wide variations in bolt speed depending on the load used. This not only can lead to unreliable operation with loads of varying intensity, but also to unnecessary wear and tear on the gun when shooting heavy loads.

OTOH, the 390 has the gas valve to compensate for anything from the light 2 3/4" target loads to the heavy 3" MAGNUM loads. This not only gives much greater versatility, but increases reliability with loads of varying strength and helps reduce wear and tear on the gun by venting out the excess gasses that are not needed to cycle the bolt.

So, is the 303 a good gun? Yes. Is it as good as the 390? Not in my opinion. YMMV.

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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:40 pm 
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I must amend my last post. I made a mistake in model number. When I said the 303 was made better than the 390 I was thinking of the 3901. The 390 was Beretta's top of the line gun when it was made, but it is no longer available.

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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 10:48 pm 
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Ulysses wrote:
The Beretta 303 is a nice gun, but the Beretta 390 will do everything the 303 will do and MORE. The 303 has no way to compensate for varying load intensity. Whether you feed it an extra light target load or a 2 3/4" magnum hunting load, the 303 has no ability to compensate for the difference in gas volume and therefore will have wide variations in bolt speed depending on the load used. This not only can lead to unreliable operation with loads of varying intensity, but also to unnecessary wear and tear on the gun when shooting heavy loads.

OTOH, the 390 has the gas valve to compensate for anything from the light 2 3/4" target loads to the heavy 3" MAGNUM loads. This not only gives much greater versatility, but increases reliability with loads of varying strength and helps reduce wear and tear on the gun by venting out the excess gasses that are not needed to cycle the bolt.

So, is the 303 a good gun? Yes. Is it as good as the 390? Not in my opinion. YMMV.


Yes, my mileage has varied-- a lot. There is no wondrous "greater versatility" with the 390, the 390 is no more reliable, and 303's don't have a problem with "wear and tear." As far as " 3 in. heavy MAGNUM" loads, there are no 7/8 oz. 3 in. loads that I know of.

The 390 hardly magically compensates as much as you might think. To the contrary, from the factory they eject invariably excessively hard. The good news is that it is easily addressed with a Rich Cole Spring kit. All you have to do is compare the ejection distance from a target load, a 1200 fps 1-1/8 oz. load and follow it up with a 1-7/8 oz. 3 inch shell. It is obvious that whatever compensating is going on isn't remotely complete.

If there is an indestructable gas gun, the 303 is close. I've never broken a link on a 303 or a B-80-- and that is with a countless amount of guns. The only part that's ever snapped was the cheap charging handle on one high-mileage, very high mileage B-80-- Browning sent me half a dozen but another one has yet to snap. If you keep a fresh mainspring in them, they run forever-- or at least as close to forever as I'll ever see.

The idea of "versatility" is overblown, it is best left for the more decisionally challenged. Truth be known, an 1-1/4 oz. payload choked properly is more than adequate for any hunting application in North America, including large geese and turkey. So is 1-1/8 oz., for that matter.

There is of course a very easy way to use a 303 for 3 inch loads that does address gas flow better than the spring and gills of the 390-- just swap a barrel. A 3 in. Black Cloud steel shell is still 1-1/4 oz.; the payload change that is often presumed isn't that dramatic at all.

This is no particular condemnation of the 390; I still own and shoot them. Beretta doesn't care if you buy a Gold or Silver Mallard they no longer make or an A303 they no longer make. The self-compensating gas action and the "self-cleaning" gas action are closely related-- neither one exists.

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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 12:06 am 
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For whatever its worth. I bought a new Browning Gold Fusion 12 ga a couple years ago. Broke it in with a few boxes of 1 1/8 oz loads as recommended. Clean when I feel like it. Never shot with anyone shooting a Beretta 303, but I have shot with those shooting Remington 11xx's and Beretta 39x's. Neither of these guns have been as reliable as the Gold except for a Winchester SX3. Haven't shot any heavy magnum loads, but it cycles 7/8 oz rounds to 1 1/8 oz loads and never misses beat. It did fail to completely eject one of my 7/8 oz reloads that had lost 1/3 of its shot - the piece of junk (ha-ha). I wanted a Beretta going in but seemed like when I threw one the ramp was always at an angle. Not so with the Browning. Very happy with the Gold.


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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 10:50 pm 
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Randy,

I have been reading your advise on some other threads about lightly used Beretta 303's and have been looking on gunbroker for the last several weeks to maybe pick one up. Seems like the same 5 or 6 guns for sale, nobody ever bidding on them, $595-$600 range. You do warn about buying a 303 that is worn out. I guess there is no good way to tell if it is lightly used on gunbroker? Where did you get all of your used 303s that you have collected?


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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 11:33 pm 
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They're out there. Like several excellent guns (Super-X Model 1) there is little collector interest. Even though the buzz is often for a $1000 - $1400 new autoloader, for half that you can get a 303 (or B-80) that for many purposes is just as good, or even better depending on what you're looking for.

A heavily shot alloy receiver 303 or B-80 will often have some port erosion. It is normal wear, not typically affecting function, but the anodizing will be knocked off and there will be light erosion. Steel based hulls quicken the process. If it was used for hunting, you see the normal light handling marks and carry wear. Most hunting guns wear from the outside in, so mechanically there still may well be a lifetime of shooting left in them.

Still, like most guns, lightly used correlates to condition of bluing, anodizing, and wood. Wearing one out isn't likely. Eventually, you can wear out a trigger group but even that isn't hard to replace. There are a couple of guys that have claim to have had to replace 303 trigger groups at the 300,000 - 350,000 round point.

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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:25 am 
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I bought an A303 in like new condition for $600 when my over under broke. It is a great gun. I shoot trap and sporting clays with it and just took down two pigs in Texas using rifled slugs. The sellers on gun broker are pretty accurate when describing condition and like new or barely used is all you need to get a nice one. I have been thinkig about picking up a 20 ga because I really like my 12.


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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 4:52 am 
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Right now there are a few 303s in Gunbroker.com. Again, it is the best value in a semiauto. Period. Get good aftermarket recoil springs and change them judiciously.....the 303 has no buffer and a steady diet of Walmart cheap hunting ammo for clays practice may lead to a broken link or bolt leg.....

Remember, it is not unusual to overlook replacing the recoil spring in a gas semiauto....I know, I have broken links in 303s, 390s and Super X-1s....and I change recoil springs quite a bit....then again, I shoot a lot more than the average person.......

If you buy one, do not over tighten the forend nut.........if you do, the metal piece at the end of the fore arm eventually comes loose......


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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:47 am 
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Bangalore wrote:
Right now there are a few 303s in Gunbroker.com. Again, it is the best value in a semiauto. Period.
I share your enthusiasm for older (out of production) Beretta semiautomatics, but I do not agree that the 303 is the best value. The Beretta models that preceeded the 303 are just as good, but sell for less because they don't seem to be as well known. There are several good AL-2's currently available on gunbroker, and 302's show up there fairly regularly. Mechanically, they are virtually identical to a 303: the only significant differences are that the 302 has the magazine cutoff on the right side of the receiver, and the AL-2 and other models that preceeded the 302 have no carrier catch plunger so you have to press the bolt release button to load the second shell. Personally, I think the AL-2 is the best-looking model in the whole 30x series.

My favorite model is the AL-2. I have found that once you learn the technique, it is no trouble at all to press the bolt release button to load the second shell (yes, it is a nuisance without that technique!)

I have 2 1/2 AL-2's (soon to be 3), and they have become my favorite gun for competitive sporting clays. I have bought 2 that were in like-new condition for $400 each, which is $150-200 less than what you would pay for a comparable 303. I put 32" MC 303 trap barrels on both of the ones I am using now - the barrels cost more than the guns if you have to buy at market price - I got a steal in a trade for one of them :wink:

BTW, I know where there is a like-new 303 with a 32" mobilchoke barrel and wood so gorgeous it is pornographic, for sale. If my friend passes on it, I might let you guys know where it is. :wink: The price is $1100.

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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 8:10 am 
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OK Seamus,

I'll bite what is the definition of "pornographic wood" on a shotgun??
Your definition better be good if you expect one of us to think about buying an out of production shotgun for $1100!!

Good luck,

Bull


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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:29 am 
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Right now, higher grade wood sets are for sale for $900, $1200, and $1500 from Cole Gunsmithing for 390's to give you an idea. For those that appreciate higher-end wood, five hundred dollars doesn't go as far as you might think. There are all kinds of examples of this elsewhere, as in a Citori Gran Lightning. The sole difference between a Gran Lightning and a run of the mill Lightning is the wood. Beretta has never been bashful about charging for the EE's LL's on their upscale models and a good chunk of it is the wood.

As for "value," Invector choked B-80's and Mobil-choked Beretta's offer more versatility than fixed choked models. Even then, a fixed choke isn't that much drama-- off to Mike Orlen and it can be a Tru-choked barrel with minimal cost, a barrel that throws just as good of patterns, and likely weighs slightly less than a factory screw-choked barrel as well. Personally, I wouldn't let the price of a couple of cases of shells get in the way of getting the gun that you want. I paid well over a thousand dollars each for my 390 Gold Mallards and that was quite a few years ago; in today's dollars that would be a lot more.

As for the mag cut-off, 303s had them both ways, right side of the receiver or on the forearm. B-80's never had them that I know of, in 12 or 20 gauge. Though I've shot earlier Beretta's, I've owned dozens of B-80's and 303's but never an AL-2 and so forth so I'll defer to Seamus on those. The "Magnum Mainspring" you might have head about for the 303's was always just an AL-2 spring. For hunting, you might like the slightly larger trigger guard of the 303 versus earlier models but that's a personal call.

There is a trend in autoloaders to cheapen them up. A 303 has a metal triggerguard, a grip cap, and a walnut stock sans "grain-enhancing." Look at many autoloaders today, including the Urika 2 and A400. No grip cap, plastic trigger guards, and more complicated gas systems (I guess the forearm nut is part of the system). For all the talk of 7 lb. 12 gauge autoloaders, that's about what alloy B-80's and 303's have been all the while. For even less recoil, a perpetual fascination, a steel B-80 is substantially heavier . . . and softer shooting.

There are often parts issues and "updates" with older autoloaders. Updated bolt buffers, updated triggers, or parts that are either hard to find or very pricey if you do find them. Or, perhaps, the potential for "quirks" like the shell carriers and the like. Or, questions such as is my gun a "magnum receiver" or not, can I get a shell catcher that fits, and so it goes.

Perhaps that's the best thing about a 303 or a B-80. They are all "magnum" receivers, the world seems to make Invector or Mobil chokes, you don't have to think about updating a bolt buffer, consider what rib you have, what stage of trigger, or be a master gunsmith to take one apart. A T & S hull catcher fits all the 12 gauges. No O rings or goofy forearm nuts, no spanner wrenches required. The beauty of a 303 or a B-80 isn't completely found in what they are . . . it is also appreciated in what they are not.

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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:35 am 
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Bull Nutria wrote:
OK Seamus,

I'll bite what is the definition of "pornographic wood" on a shotgun??

Image

BTW, that is an early 303 with the magazine cutoff on the right side of the receiver, like the 302. Later 303's often had a cutoff on the bottom of the forearm, but that was optional and some had no cutoff (my preference). I have a 303 with both types of cutoff - go figure! :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:51 am 
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Image

This is the twenty gauge I picked up just last week. Again, cut-off is on the right side of the receiver. They are out there.

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