Every year manufacturers introduce products deemed “new” that are really just a different twist to an existing product. Examples include when a gun manufacturer introduces an existing model rifle chambered for a different caliber or a clothing maker unveils their best-selling hunting jacket in a new camo pattern. The same is done for calls—same design, different materials—as well as for optics (“We have a 10x model now.”) and on and on. It is a rare moment when something truly “new” is unveiled.
When Italian gunmaker Benelli promised to deliver “a shotgun like you’ve never seen before” at this year’s SHOT Show, the shooting and hunting industry’s largest trade show of the year in January, some industry insiders scoffed.
“If they had something new, they’d show it off now,” some said. Instead, Benelli revealed only the Vinci’s gun case under lock, key and watchful glare of security guards at SHOT along with releasing a promotional commercial that mimicked a coming action blockbuster’s movie trailer complete with high-speed chases, explosions and hints of espionage.
The company knew production wasn’t ready to release the gun to market, so rather than tip their hand at what they had created, they opted to build some suspense and hype around the new shotgun.
“We did something that you rarely see in this industry,” Benelli Marketing Director Stephen McKelvain only half-jokingly said before an audience of outdoor writers during a recent turkey hunt. “We set the date for when we would take the Vinci to market and we actually made it available on that date.
Indeed, pre-release interest from dealers and consumers was so high that on the gun’s release March 31, there was so much traffic on the company Web site, it temporarily overloaded the servers and caused the site to crash. Benelli’s SHOT Show gamble had worked. More importantly, after being one of the first to hunt with the Vinci on that Florida turkey hunt, I can say that the Vinci would appear to live up to all the hype. This truly is a shotgun unlike any other.
Vinci’s Unique Design
The gun is named for the great Italian Renaissance artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci, who once said, “Simplicity is the highest form of sophistication.” Benelli has taken their shared Italian heritage with Da Vinci and sought to create a high performing gun built on a platform that is efficient, reliable and simple.
Most notable is the modular design of the Vinci, which makes it a snap to assemble and reassemble for cleaning, maintenance, storage and transportation. The gun consists of three basic components or modules as the company likes to call them. They are the QuadraFit buttstock module, the barrel/receiver module and the trigger group/forearm module. Simply depress the V-Grip Button on the underside of the forearm and rotate the end cap a quarter turn. This allows the trigger group/forearm module to drop clear of the rest of the firearm. Then, gripping the buttstock, rotate the barrel/receiver module a quarter turn to the right and it easily slips free.
The modular ease with which the gun comes apart and is designed lends itself to a host of accessorizing including the easy installment of future stock options such as pistol grip or thumbhole stocks, future forearm configurations and even switching out the barrel/receiver assembly for one such as a slug barrel.
Next Step for Inertia Driven Action
Benelli introduced the inertia driven action way back in 1967 followed by the rotating bolt head 16 years later. Today, the Vinci takes that entire system to its next evolutionary step with the company’s In-Line Inertia Driven action. Unlike most semi-autos, which require a return spring where the stock attaches to the receiver in order to power the action forward during shot cycling, the In-Line system is completely self-contained inside the 8.5-inch upper receiver.
It incorporates fewer parts, which translates into fewer parts to wear down, creating an action that should produce less friction and smoother cycling. Because there are no springs or rods where the stock and receiver connect, not only is switching out buttstocks simpler, but the wrist of the stock can be set at a steeper angle for greater grip and comfort to the shooter. The design also reportedly delivers 72 percent less felt recoil than it’s closest competitor. Indeed, on the range patterning the guns using Federal’s Mag-Shok Heavyweight Turkey Loads the difference through the first several shots was noticeable.
The one-piece receiver and barrel design improves strength and alignment of the two components for more efficient operation as well. If there’s a drawback, it might be the cost owners encounter when seeking to purchase new barrels for the Vinci. Because the receiver and barrel are one, that is the part that ATF regards as the firearm and which contains the serial numbers. If the receiver/barrel module is sold as a unit and must include the action as well, expect to pay what you might for a cheaper shotgun. However, if you’re a wingshooter or shotgunner who truly appreciates the performance you can expect from this gun, it won’t matter, because the cost will likely more than be worth the service you get from the Vinci.
Right now, the light 6.9-pound Vinci is only available in a 3-inch model. It comes in Realtree APG HD or Advantage Max-4 HD patterns for $1,479 or a black synthetic finish for $1,379. But don’t expect Benelli to sit back and celebrate their creation. Company officials fully comprehend what they’ve built and know that it lends itself to a bevy of customization. Expect to see 3.5-inch and 20-guage models in the future, along with a host of stock, forearms and barrels. For more details on the Vinci, check out benelli.com.