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Beretta 390 vs. 391 - felt recoil

4161 Views 15 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Rawhyde
Hello all, I am a new trap/skeet shooter and have a question. Is there a difference between the felt recoil of a Beretta 390 vs. 391. Reason I ask is that I shoot at a range that rents out Berettas and have been using an AL391 Synthetic Urika. I like it a lot, but a bit pricey at $800. So I picked up an AL390 Synthetic at Wal-Mart for $530. Everyone told me the 390 was as good if not better than the 391. Both guns have 28" barrels and same LOP, etc. So they fit about the same. However, the 390 has a hard plastic recoil pad about 1/2" thick, and the 391 Urika has a rubber recoil pad (not a Gel-Tek) about 1" thick. But there seems to be a big difference in the felt recoils. The 391 is fine, the 390 kicks pretty hard. Guy at the range said the 391 has some additional recoil reduction built in, but I am not sure he is right. Is the added recoil of my 390 because of the recoil pad, or are there design differences? Would a Beretta Gel-tek pad or Limbsaver help significantly? Any advice or help would be appreciated.
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Pretty easy question to answer. Beretta seems to weight their 12 ***** guns, sythetic or wooden, to 7.27 lbs.

They probably don't do that with the Wal-Mart gun so it could weigh should be able to tell this on your bathroom scale. If lighter, then more recoil from weight.

If not lighter than it is your recoil pad.

Hey, sounds logical to me.
gunsrfun1 said:
Would a Beretta Gel-tek pad or Limbsaver help significantly? Any advice or help would be appreciated.
I own 3 recoil pads for my 391. The two that came with the gun (fairly firm rubber) and a Gel-Tek that is my pad of choice.

The 'Tek is about the same thickness as the thinner of the two pads that came with the gun, and as such offers the same LOP. The gel features a more concave silhouette that sets up more consistently on the shoulder than the standard pad.

The Gel-Tek is easier on the shoulder, in my opinion. Additionally, I intend, after dove season, to obtain a mercury-filled forend cap, and a stock bolt weight to add about a pound to my field model. This, according to the Great Technoid, ( will decrease felt recoil another 20%.

Thanks for the info on the Gel-tek pad. BTW, which size pad do you use, the "large" or "small," and which thickness pad do you use, the "thin" or the "medium."
The packaging indicates that my pad is a "D61394" which is liscio (smooth) rather than squamato (scaled) and rosso (red) and not blu, giallo, or verde.

No size is indicated.

Get the $40 Gel Pad from Beretta, they offer difference widths for LOP. Excellent product. They do wear out with 'heavy' use. I switched to one on my 391, the difference was a great improvement.
I just installed the Gel-Tek pad on my Berreta White Wing. The installation is simple. The pad comes in 2 sizes a 4 colors with a choice of 2 textures. I believe you would need the smaller of the 2 sizes unless your 391 is a sporting clays model.
Back to 390 vs 391 for a moment: the glossy brochure for the 391 Urika says they put a lot of work into it to reduce felt recoil. Backboring, and dampers etc in the action itself. I'm surprised the store that sold you the 390 didn't make a bigger deal of it. Maybe they wanted to unload the older 390. Maybe they were more into pistols and rifles. Maybe they just don't care! BUT, my 391 sure has a lighter recoil than the other 390's at the trap/skeet range!

-- Q
I'm in the same boat as you, I picked up the 390 form Wal-Mart.
We need the Medium Gel-tek pad no the Large that for the 391's. My problem is I want a Yellow or Red one and I've been checking Beretta's Web site and in the Medium pad all they are always sold out of those two colors! I only found one other site that charges $48.00 buck instead of Bretta's $40.00 and they don't have any either.

What gives??

I also own the basic Beretta 390 and wanted a recoil pad. I got a limbsaver prefit recoil pad from cheaper than for $21.21. It made a world of difference compared to the hard plastic recoil pad. I highly recommend it, it installed in 5 minutes, here is the link: ... 8TXAU22HBF. The color is basic black.

Gel-Tek on Beretta's website, It looks like time pays off. I went back to their site and they had an updated listing of pads. I ordered mine for $40.00 with $8.00 shipping!!

I'm happy but I paid alot for the freeking thing, It better be worth it!!

I have the 390 from Wal-Mart. I won it as a door prize at a tournament. Great little gun. Recoil is very very mild, but I normally shoot an O/U...

This might start a war, but here goes...

I like the 390 much better than the 391.

When you remove the barrel of a 390, you also disassemble the gas relief system (much easier to clean). No annoying little spanner wrenches. Also, the plug is easily removable on the 390.

391's have a rod in the magazine end cap that is a pain to remove, and if you do, you'll destroy a little star washer that you'll have to hunt down and purchase before you reinstall it. (Horrible design on that)

Whichever Beretta autoloader you get, make sure you use anti-seize on the fore-end cap. Oil won't work very well, and grease ain't much better. The end cap is very prone to seize to the threads on the endcap (probably due to steel/aluminum galvanic reaction). If this happens, there'll be some replacement parts needed (about $50 worth).

I clean about 7 or 8 guns on a monthly basis for some of the folks at my club. There are 390's, 391's, and Browning Golds in my little group. Most have ~500-1000 rounds between cleanings. I'm not a gunsmith, but I'm a tinkerer and an engineer. I see all three guns regularly and under high usage conditions.

Here are my opinions on the guns in a nutshell...

390, 391, and Gold have VERY tame recoil and shoot well. All are equal to me on this point.

Gas pistons are a real pain to disassemble and clean on a Gold. (If you decide to disasssemble one, a Eisenhower silver dollar makes a good tool, but exercise caution. The internal spring is STIFF, and you must have patience and good hand/wrist strength to reassemble.) Gas piston cleaner won't clean the piston even in an ultrasonic machine in 3 hours. Neither will Shooter's Choice, ammonia, nor kerosene. Let it soak in gas piston cleaner for a few hours, then disassemble and clean with shooters choice and a bronze brush. ADVANTAGE Beretta 390.

Gas relief valve is tough to disassemble and clean on a 391. Wrenches are finnicky to use. Beretta took something good from the 390 and made it complicated for the 391.

Plug is a pure pain to deal with on a 391. The 390 and Gold are much simpler to deal with.

Beretta's are more annoying to remove and clean the bolt return spring. The cap on its tube is also the stud that attaches the stock. Use two nuts jammed together to remove and replace. The threads must be clean and dry and coated with Loctite 242 (the kind that is NOT permanent) before reassembly. The Browning has a plastic spring retainer that pops right out once you remove a pin.

Maybe this is more detail than you wanted, but you can't go wrong with either for the way they shoot. The 390 is easier to maintain than the 391.

Whatever you get, KEEP IT CLEAN!

Good luck and break a hundred!

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Rawhyde said:
This might start a war, but here goes...
Not a war, but just a few points based on personal experience. I enjoyed your post and welcome the opportunity to comment on something that brings on a, dare I say it, passionate stirring of the heart?

As pointed out in other threads, (no pun intended) the forend cap seizure issue is a problem that can occur. My friend experienced the problem, but he doesn't own a factory hard case and keeps the gun assembled, plus he would rather sit through an Oprah marathon than clean his 391. When I cleaned it for him, the cap came off with normal effort, even though it hadn't been removed for awhile. My own 391 has been shot 3200 times and is always disassembled for storage, kept clean and lubed with Breakfree CLP, and I've never experienced a seizure.

The limiter rod, aka plug, is a bad design, no question. One can remove the star retaining washer and reuse it if it is removed with care. I switched my 2 shell limiter with the one shell limiter supplied with the gun (for me the 3rd shot while hunting became problematic) and reused the retaining washer. Another poster on the forum pointed out that the rod doesn't need a washer since it is kept in place by the forend cap. This is probably the best solution for the rare individual that needs to change the magazine capacity of a 391 on a frequent basis.

I would like to conclude by stating, keep it clean, shoot it wet, and break it down to find true happiness with your 391.

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Rawhyde - Since you appear to have done this, I have two questions on the 391 regarding the recoil spring assembly. (Haven't bought a 391 yet, but am considering it).
1) When you have removed everything and are re-assembling, how tight do you tighten the "valve nut" and "valve counter-nut" (as the manual calls them)? Do you basically just hand-tighten, or is there some type of "detent" ot "stop" at which you cannot tighten any more? Wouldn't want to strip anything.
2) What do they mean when they say "Make sure the valve is assembled with the outside recess turned to contain the first coil of the spring"? (Maybe this is more clear when you are actually holding the parts rather than reading it.) Thanks.
I've taken the valve assembly apart on 391s at least 3 times, so I'll attempt an answer to the question.

The "valve nut" is tight when it can no longer be turned...simple enough. The device is a fine-threaded tube that takes a bunch of revolutions to tighten. Initially, you can turn the thing by hand, but as the pressure on the valve spring increases resistance to turning the nut, one of the supplied wrenches is necessary to complete the replacement of the nut. The "counter nut" is then screwed on the end of the threaded tube until it stops, and snugged up with the wrench. I don't believe a lot of torque is required here.

What do they mean when they say "Make sure the valve is assembled with the outside recess turned to contain the first coil of the spring"?

The part in question is a washer like gizmo that is somewhat cone-shaped and is place over the threaded tube, then the spring is next and the washer should have its closed, flat side against the gas cylinder, and its open end, which the spring fits into, toward the end of the threaded tube.

I hope this helps.

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Soreshoulder hit the nail on the head!

Here's how I reattached the gas relief valve.

Before I disassembled the valve assembly, I looked at the threaded rod and counted how many threads were protruding from the front, and made sure that I reassembled it the same way. I get the two nuts jammed together with good firm pressure, but I don't use anything to generate more leverage than the supplied Beretta spanner wrenches.

As to the second part of your question, it's pretty obvoius as to how the parts are oriented once you actually try it. Just make sure to look everything over carefully as you take it apart.

Break a hundred!


PS Anyone else here hate the time change? Gets dark at 6 PM..can't slip out of work any earlier than 4:30 so I'm now limited to shooting the course (Sporting Clays) on the weekends. I guess I'll have to settle for a quickie on the 5-Stand for my after work weekday shooting 'til spring...
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