Thursday, March 7, 2013

The New (Shotgun) Renaissance

Benelli’s Super Vinci Blends Art and Engineering

There is little doubt that Leonardo da Vinci was one of the most brilliant minds in history, a true polymath, a master of anatomy, engineering, painting, writing and mathematics. Because of this impressive resume, any company that applies the name of Vinci to their product line invites immediate comparison with the lofty inventor and artist.

Benelli’s Super Vinci, like its counterpart the 3-inch-chambered Vinci, certainly defies traditional shotgun styling cues. Sharp, angular lines give the Super Vinci an avant-garde look, with a steeply angled pistol grip, a geometric trigger guard that flows into the receiver, a gradually narrowing finger groove on the fore end, and integrated sling studs.

Brad Fitzpatrick

Unlike most shotguns, which bear a clear distinction between the receiver, fore end, and barrel, the lines of the Super Vinci seem incongruous; the fore end and trigger guard are connected, and the top of the receiver is separated from the bottom of the receiver and the trigger guard. This gun displays unconventional styling cues, and traditionalists are likely to be put off at first by the modern aesthetic. In fact, the Super Vinci makes even the Benelli Super Black II seem slightly pedestrian, and it was once considered the model of edgy shotgun styling. However, the Super Vinci is a classic example of form following function. The gun handles extremely well and points naturally.

I had a chance to test the Super Vinci on Texas waterfowl with Joe Coogan, of Benelli and Tim Brandt, of Federal Premium Ammunition. We were hunting the secluded lakes of Matagorda Island, in the Gulf along the coast of Texas, joined by Chris Martin and his team from Bay Flats Lodge.

Just before shooting light, we had a flock of ducks (pintails, by our guide T.J. Christensen’s best estimate) drop down out of the darkness and settle with a splash at the far end of the decoys. It wasn’t long before the next group came piling into the decoys, a mixed group of gadwall and teal that locked up and fell from the sky into our spread.

 “Get ready,” T.J. said, holding a call on the edge of his mouth and watching until the ducks finally committed and dropped down just above the water.

“Take ‘em!”

I rose up alongside Tim Brandt and outdoor writer Bryce M. Towsley, and we started firing as the ducks neared the decoys. The first Black Cloud shell I fired put a gadwall down (at least I believe it was my shot). Soon afterwards more birds began appearing in large numbers, pouring into the decoys.

“Be ready for them,” T.J. said. He hunkered down in the blind and blew the nasally pintail whistle as a flock of birds appeared out of the blinding light of the rising sun. The birds committed to the decoys and locked up, dropping down out of the sky into our spread. When they were almost to the water T.J. shouted, “Pintails! Now! Take them now!”

I stood up and caught the white flash of a drake pintail wheeling in the sky, his white belly flashing against the blue sky. I shouldered the Super Vinci and pulled the bead ahead of the arching pintail’s bill, pressing the trigger and watching as the drake’s wings folded and he sailed down into the water.

Over the course of the morning I put almost a full box of Black Cloud FS Steel 1 1/4” through the Super Vinci, a potent load that proved excellent for Texas ducks. And, to my great relief, I wasn’t battered by the recoil. And although I can’t personally vouch for the recoil reduction figures put forth by the engineers at Benelli, I can certainly tell you that I’ve never gone through a box of heavy 3” loads with less discomfort.

Would Leonardo give the nod to his new namesake shotgun? I think so. After all, Leonardo was a fan of engineering and artistry, and the Super Vinci has plenty of both.

By Brad Fitzpatrick

No comments:

Post a Comment