Whether it’s for sporting or competition, Beretta ups their game through unique features such as the Blink gas-powered system, balancing adjustment features, or even their GunPod digital tracking system.  And their A400 model is a great example of all of it.  But there’s just one thing about the standard Beretta A400 I just can’t shake — that bright feather blue receiver.

Thankfully, Beretta has decided to create a matte black edition for more traditionalist gun owners.  And you’ll find out in this Beretta A400 Xcel Sporting Black edition review, it fires like a dream as well.

Beretta A400 XCel Sporting Black 

Final Grade: A+

  • Reliability 100% 100%
  • Accuracy 95% 95%
  • Shootability 100% 100%
  • Value 90% 90%

What is the Beretta A400 XCel Sporting Black?

Now, there’s a bunch of different sporting shotguns out there that claim to have that special something no one else has.  And sometimes…that’s just a load of bull.

But with the A400 Sporting Black, there’s actually some real merit to that claim.  And that comes with their unique weight adjustability system and that Blink gas-powered system that we just love so much.

First, let’s talk about that weight balancing. On the front of the fore-end is a medium weighted balance cap.  Now that’s relatively standard, but with this particular nut you can actually takeaway or put additional weight in to your liking.  This helps you to balance the gun so it’s just right for you.

Next, the Blink action.  This is the same action that I covered in our Beretta 1301 Comp Review, and my opinion still remains the same.  This is still by far my favorite action on a shotgun.  It’s signature split-ring valve system and smaller piston allows the A400 to fire exceptionally fast and keeps the internals substantially cleaner while doing so.

What’s not to love?

A400 Sporting Black Specs

Operating System  Gas System
Guage/Bore 12 Guage
Standard Capacity 3+1
Chamber  3″
Barrel Length 30″

Beretta A400 Xcel Sporting Black Features Review 

1. Kick Off Unit with MicroCore Recoil Padding

Beretta did a great job here minimizing the effects of recoil on your body.  The Kick Off Unit does a great job absorbing the shock while the MicroCore Padding feels good on the shoulder.

2. Insanely-Fast Blink Action

I predict that Beretta’s Blink action is one of the best we’re going to see on a shotgun for a while.

3. Oversized Bolt Handle and Release

The oversized controls may not be appealing to everyone, but there’s no doubt about it.  They are easy operate–especially for those with large or arthritic hands.

4. Extended Optima HP Choke 

The A400 Sporting Black does come standard with an extended Optima HP Choke tube.  This can be unscrewed and fitted though with another option if you’re looking for another shot pattern.

Similar and Related Gun Models

Now, the Beretta A400 XCel Sporting Black doesn’t come in any different colors (just the black…) or other variations. But if you’re looking for to see some of Beretta’s other upgraded Black models, check out the DT-11, 690, and 692.

  1. Beretta DT-11 Black
    Another top-of-the-line (and very expensive) clay target shotgun from Beretta.
  2. Beretta 690 Sporting Black
    The next model to follow the Beretta 680.
  3. Beretta 692 Sporting Black
    An upgraded replacement for the claybustin’ Beretta 682E.

Beretta DT-11 Black Edition

Beretta 690 Sporting Black

Beretta 692 Sporting Black

Beretta A400 XCel Sporting Black Review – Our Take

I was talked into this Sporting Black a400 Beretta by a friend.  I’m no stranger to automatic shotguns, but there is just something cleaner or more pure (perhaps more snobby?) about an over and under shotgun.  Before this shotgun, I took one of two shotguns to the sporting clays, trap, or skeet fields or to the bird hunting field: my favorite shotgun, a Beretta Silver Pigeon II over and under shotgun or a Beretta 390 AL Gold.  I guess you can tell by now that I have a thing for Beretta shotguns.  As you can tell by my Benelli M4 review, I have a few specific gripes about Benelli shotguns.  So, back to being talking into the a400 black… I like my over and under for “sporting shotgun” ventures because of the style of it (it’s nice to not be ejecting shells onto the ground) but MOSTLY because I am a clay breaking machine with my Silver Pigeon and I’m just decent with an automatic.

a400-sporting-black-review-pic

I was told that the a400 sporting black was different so I gave it a try.  The easiest summary of this review I can give is this: I am heading out this morning for a fundraiser sporting clays tournament and I am bringing my Beretta A400 Sporting Black while my over and under sits in the safe.

Honestly, I’m still a bit better with my over and under because it is a bit heavier and has a nicer “swing” to it for target shooting games.  However, on my first trip out with the a400 sporting black I realized what a clay breaking machine it was!

I’m already very willing to have other people try my guns at the range but I was being downright obnoxious insisting that everyone shot my sporting black shotgun because I was so amazed by it.  I don’t think I’ve been more giddy about a new gun than I was about this.  Yeah, it’s embarrassing.

I think my excitement was that I convinced myself that I needed a nice over and under with a fitted stock in order to be successful.  I didn’t think a “do-all” automatic shotgun would be up to the task but I was wrong.  It was more fun to shoot than my over and under and I was having so much fun dusting clays that I started having fun and trying some mild trick shots.  This thing doesn’t miss!

My favorite parts of the a400 sporting black shotgun are:

  • carbon fiber vent rib (it just looks cool)
  • Beretta chokes (they’re the best of any brand in my opinion)
  • super fast (and soft) action
  • Beretta chokes – seriously they can’t be beat (more on them below)

My least favorite part is the fatal flaw design of the shell release button that I go into in detail in the Beretta 1301 Comp review.  The good news is that it is not near as much of an issue on this shotgun because of how this shotgun is used.

shooting-performance-of-beretta-a400-xcel-sporting-black

All-in-all, this is CLEARLY my new favorite sporting shotgun (whether clay target shooting or bird hunting).  I just returned from the Czech Republic where we shot over 1,000 pheasant in 1 day (yes, really).  I used a CZ over and under that was a great shotgun shooting Sellier & Bellot’s new paper shotgun shells (my new favorite shells).  The CZ shotgun worked great but more than once I wish I had my a400 sporting black!

Beretta A400 XCel Sporting Black Review: Pros and Cons 

Great balance

Clay breaking machine

Black (better than sporty blue)

A bit pricey (but worth every penny)

Same fatal flaw on Shell-Release Button as Beretta 1301 Comp

Report card

Reliability Super reliable. Best auto-shotgun we’ve shot.

A+

Accuracy Clay-breaking machine!!!

A+

Shootability Hands-down, the best and most enjoyable shotgun action!

A+

Value My new go-to sporting shotgun (but a bit pricey as a premium shotgun)

A

Final Grade: A+

Our Top Upgrade Parts & Accessories for the Beretta A400 Sporting Black

The Beretta A400 XCel Sporting Black is a beast of a shotgun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it even better. Check out these upgrades that’ll turn your Sporting Black into something even further.

Best Heavy Balance Cap:  6.3 Ounces Heavy Anodized Silver Balance CapWhile this cap will take away from the all-black finish, this would be a great weight if you prefer a heavier front-end.

Best Choketubes:  Briley’s Optima HP ChoketubesIf you’re finding that the standard choke tube just isn’t doing it for you, I’d recommend this full set by Briley’s.

Best Target Load: Winchester AA Light Target Load 1 1/8 ozIf you’re gonna shoot skeet, you’re gonna need some quality target loads.

6.3 oz Heavy Anodized Silver Balance Cap

Briley's Optima HP Choketubes

Winchester AA Light Target Load 1 1/8 oz

Beretta A400 XCel Sporting Black Buyer’s Guide & Resources

If you’re searching for some extra resources on this behemoth of a shotgun, look no further! We’ve got a great unboxing for you along with an explanation of just exactly what choke tubes are and which are best for you. And for the tech-savvy, be sure to check out our section on Beretta’s GunPod2!

Unboxing and Breakdown of the Beretta A400 Sporting Black

The Beretta A400 Black edition definitely comes with some sweet new features and improvements to the original A400 straight out of the box.  And what a nice box it is.

Check out The Gun Show’s Jon perform a full unboxing and breakdown of the Beretta A400 Xcel Sporting Black.

 

 

History of the Beretta A400 XCel Sporting Black Edition

Wanting to build on to the success of their other Black Edition competition-winning shotguns–such as the DT-11, 690, and 692–Beretta took similar technologies over to the A400.

Besides get rid of that goofy blue receiver, Beretta made some serious adjustments other than paint this thing black. The Sporting Black edition has a 10mm wide carbon fiber rib that runs the length of the barrel. This is the same stuff that they build Formula1 race cars out of! This makes the gun super-light and swingable–allowing you to make target acquisition faster and easier. Not to mention the oversized controls to help you shoot even faster.

I can’t say this enough…The Beretta A400 XCel Sporting Black Edition is a clay-killing monster and a champion in the making.

Beretta Choke Tubesshotgun-choke-differences

A choke is the amount of restriction on the end of a shotgun barrel.  A “cylinder” choke is effectively a straight tube whereas a “Full” choke restricts the shot pellets more as the leave the barrel resulting in a tighter pattern of the pellets as they fly through the air. And you’d want to use each for different occasions.

Cheap chokes don’t work as well as nice chokes – really, you get wha you pay for here and I don’t think that there are better chokes available than the Beretta factory chokes (it’s one of the reasons that I love their shotguns so much!

They’re pricey, but soooo worth it.  If you know what you’re looking for, here are the best deals we’ve found on Beretta Optima and Beretta Mobile chokes.  If you are not sure what you need, stay tuned for our guide to shotgun chokes!

Beretta’s GunPod2 System

We can’t end this review without talking about Beretta’s new GunPod 2 system.  The GunPod 2 is really neat for those looking to track their hunting and shot stats in real-time.

gun-pod-2-a400-sporting-black-review

The full system is made of three distinct parts:

1. The Onboard Shot Counter
This is mounted within the stock pistol of the shotgun and talks to your smartphone whenever a shot is fired.  No need to turn this on.

2. The Smartphone App
This is the central brain of the system.  Whenever a shot is registered from the Shot Counter, the app will give you many pieces of info including when and where the shot took place.  The app can be used to track a huge number of things and store all your private records.

3. The GunPod Server
This allows you to access all that sweet info from you app straight from your desktop or laptop.

Now, there’s going to be a few of you out there that feel that this is just taking tech too far.  But if you’re one of those who’s digitally savvy, you may want to check this out.  And you can do with the fully-compatible Beretta A400 Sporting Black.