Oh, my gawd, Becky, look at that gauge!

Regardless of some thoughts, the 12ga shotgun still has a definite place in a thinking person’s armory. A shotgun can fill several roles decently if one understands the characteristics of different types of ammunition and how to best use them.


For many years, there was little, if any, question about the reliability of traditional pump action shotguns, especially when compared to what many perceived as “finicky” semi-auto offerings. Psst, some of those semi-autos were active in the 1920s and 30s. Browning’s Auto-5 (A5) dates to 1898; I have one that was used in the Bush Wars of the 1960s and 70s; Remington’s Model 11 hit the market in 1905.

One anticipated product at this year’s SHOT was Berettas’ new A300 Ultima Patrol. It is a 12-gauge, semi-auto shotgun targeted to the end user who wants the advantages of a shotgun in their pro-active or reactive role. And it is made here in the United States.

The A300 with some of the loads I’ve been shooting through it.

I had the opportunity to handle the shotgun in the Beretta booth. Alas, mounting it while wearing a sport coat was a little difficult. Fortunately, the crew at Beretta got one out to Gunsite, where I could evaluate it. Aimpoint got involved in the project as well. They talked me out of the Duty RDS I wanted to work with and sent me their excellent Acro P-2 sight. Caveat – I worked for Aimpoint USA in the late 00s and have been using Acros since 2019.

Initial Observations

Unboxing the shotgun, I saw a black and grey offering similar to the 1301s I like, though not identical.

The stock gives the user a 13” length of pull, comparable to all my shotguns – 12 5/8” to 13”.


Below the ejection port is a dual-purpose lever. Pushing it inwards releases the bolt, allowing it to go forward and chamber a shell. Pull it outward, and once the shell carrier is pushed upward, you can unload it. Beretta has improved the lever’s design from the early 1301s that benefitted from after-market brackets.

Just below the bolt handle is the bolt release – which aids in unloading the magazine tube tool.

The rear sight is made of two molded polymer pieces resembling a common ghost ring design. Two Torx heads attach the base to the receiver, and the protected aperture sight is attached to the base in the same manner.

The forearm has generated discussion. It is generously and aggressively textured from about 3:30 around the underside to 8:30. M-Lok slots are molded into the front of the forearm at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. Each has a short opening with a longer one behind it. The material around those openings is noticeably thicker than some after-market offerings. These allow the user to mount a light at 3 or 9 (or higher, depending on the mount’s design); a QD sling mount could also be attached to those.

Aimpoint’s excellent Acro-P2 on a B&T mount, atop the receiver rail with the rear sight.

I look forward to getting a sling mount attached to the gun at 6 o’clock – in line with the 6 o’clock opening on the stock.

After looking at the receiver and everything connected to it, I shifted my attention to the downrange end of the gun. Unlike the early 1301s, the A300 Ultima Patrol comes with a molded two-shell extension with several rear to front lines that will aid in gripping it during any eventual disassembly. Additionally, it is a single-piece extension rather than the most common after-market version that consists of three parts; a couple of failure points have been removed.

The combined barrel & mag tube clamp as well as the front sight assembly.

Beretta has included a magazine tube clamp that doubles as a sling attachment point. Both sides of the clamp will accept a QD sling attachment.

Now, the front sight assembly. The sight is a red fiber optic rod with three slots to protect and secure it. The mount itself initially appears to be a single piece. However, there is a screw at the front. Removing that screw should allow you to remove the portion holding the red fiber optic from the base.

Great idea shipping it with the Velcro strip!

Beretta ships the A300Ultima Patrol with a strip of loop tape (soft Velcro-like material) the user can affix to the receiver for attaching extra ammunition.

Vang Comp’s DSAC (sewn by The Wilderness) holding six rounds of Hornady Black 12 ga VersaTite ammunition.

While the base of the Acro P2 will not fit the receiver rail, it easily fits onto a mount from Brugger & Thomet. That was used to attach the optic to the receiver rail.



While I have never been accused of being a fast shotgun shooter, I’m not too slow. Fortunately, with semi-autos, it is more about managing recoil and keeping the sights on target. I am happy with a gun if it cycles just ahead of the speed at which I can mentally process changes in the environment and the event.

A dry run – strictly for the photo – in one of Gunsite’s indoor simulators.

One of the early discussion points I had seen about the A300 was that it was a lot slower cycling than the 1301 line. I checked on this early in my first range session with the A300. I gave it two runs through with each shotgun, from the low ready on a gum drop-shaped steel target at 10 yards.

Shooting the A300Ultima Patrol using Winchester reduced recoil 12ga 00Buck, my times were:
#1 .40, .85, 1.22, 1.60
#2 .52, .92, 1.31, 1.69,

With the 1301 also using Winchester reduced recoil 12ga 00Buck, I shot:
#1 .29, .80, 1.17, 1.51
#2 .47, .87, 1.30, 1.73

There’s no doubt that others could do this faster. I am quite happy with the speed at which the A300Ultima Patrol cycles for me.

More in Part 2!