Benelli semi-autos have a great reputation for reliability, style and sound engineering. The latest model is the Vinci, a modernistic, modular gun that the firm (now owned by Beretta) have introduced as the last word in live quarry repeater design. First impressions are good. The gun looks stylish and trim. Indeed, it only weighs seven pounds, so, it is lighter than many modern semis (though Benelli are generally lighter than the opposition because of their inertia operating system which of itself reduces overall gun weight).
This Benelli Vinci is genuinely novel. Not only does it look different, it has all sorts of really intriguing features. First, as noted above, it is modular. The three basic assembles are the barrel/upper receiver/bolt; the stock; and, the forend, mag tube and trigger mechanism. This is something really unusual. The gun does not disassemble in the usual way. To strip it into its major components, you first remove the unique forend – by depressing a catch at the front of the forend and twisting what looks like a large nut. The moulded forend includes the trigger unit and magazine (detachable in the test gun but to be modified to comply with UK law by the time you read this) and forms the lower receiver too. It’s weird but rather wonderful.
The stock is cleverly attached by an interrupted thread to the back of the action. It may be removed once the forend and its allied bits are off simply by twisting. It’s no ordinary stock either. It incorporates the ComforTech anti recoil system and has a rubberised coating for better grip. Benelli introduced ComforTech a little while ago, but here, you get it and a stock that can be easily removed (or swapped) AND one which is easily adapted to fit you by means of shims which alter cast and drop, a moulded recoil pad which simply plugs in and out of the butt and an interchangeable soft comb. Last, but not least, there are a dozen or so soft polymer chevrons set into the moulded stock to diminish the recoil wave. Gun nut paradise!
O.K. let’s consider the action. The Benelli Vinci has only three primary parts: the main bolt body, a rotating bolt head, and a, short, stiff spring which connects them. The lugs on the bolt head lock steel-to-steel into the gun’s barrel. There are no bleeds for gas forwards of the chamber. The inertia system does not need them. As a result, gas, smoke and burnt powder are confined to the barrel on firing, rather than being directed back into the gun’s mechanism (as they often are in a gas operated gun and why I try to avoid cleaning mine as much as possible!). The reduced mass of the working parts means fast cycling as well.
The simplicity and light weight of the design offers handling benefits too. Because there are no springs, action bars or gas collar/ piston under the forend, there is, critically, less weight forward as well as well as less weight in the middle and rear of the gun. Hence light overall weight and fast handling.
How does the inertia drive work? That’s the really intriguing bit. The bolt head remains locked into the barrel as the mass of the bolt body hurtles forward on firing. This compresses the connecting spring, and when it gets to maximum tension, the rotary bolt unlocks and all the reciprocating parts move back together. The fired case is ejected, another cartridge engaged and the working parts moves forward back into battery energised and chambering a new cartridge. What brings them forward? A spring within the receiver and not one in the stock as is the more usual arrangement on self loading shotguns (gas or inertia).
The unusual spec continues. The hammer forged 3” chambered barrel of the Vinci – which is permanently screwed into the upper receiver – is cryogenically frozen during manufacture. This sub 300F process changes the surface properties of the steel along with its internal molecular structure. Benelli make big claims for this noting that the grain becomes more even and the internal surface slicker (reducing friction between the barrel wall and the wad and shot). This makes fouling less likely. The chokes are cryogenically treated too, and have an internal profile with more gradual tapering than the usual which, with the other features, tends to tighten patterns according to the advertising literature. The bore is a normal 18.4mm, however (and might usefully be enlarged).
Finally, the barrel is perfectly in line with the receiver and its operating parts. This increases efficiency. This is what Benelli say: “The Benelli Vinci’s In-Line Inertia Driven® system cycles shells faster than ever. But, to take advantage of this speed, it was necessary to reduce recoil and minimize muzzle climb. To accomplish this Benelli developed the ComfortTech™ Plus system, which decreases muzle climb by 14- to 42-percent and quickens recovery time to let you get back on target 40- to 68-percent faster than the competition. Without adding weight, ComforTech™ Plus also allows the Vinci to retain superior balance when shouldering and firing the gun.”
Does this stand up? To a degree. I liked the way the Benelli Vinci shoots, and, I have had the chance, luckily, to put a large number of shells through it at both the West London Shooting Grounds and at Andy Castle’s West London Gun Club (which is just down the track from the former establishment). The gun is lightening quick with 28” barrel as tested (30” tubes are coming soon). It is a natural to shoot too, steady thanks to the excellent purchase offered by its ergonomic shapes and rubberised finish – and points and swings exceptionally well. But, it is not a light-recoiling gun. In a live quarry weapon, this is not as important as a clay busting machine. I still rate the Vinci highly, it could be ideal for pigeon shooting, or, if you want to carry a gun on the marsh. Its modular system is more than a gimmick and offers real versatility as well as way of confusing your friends: “bet you can’t take this apart...”.
Chamber: 3” (70mm)
Barrel: 28” (26 and 30” options soon to be available)
Chokes: Crio multi
Rib: 7mm stepped
RRP.: Green £1706 Black £1,538