It has been almost exactly one year since I announced that I was signing on with Breda USA and would be running a B12i shotgun for the 2017 season. Now that I’ve had over 8000 rounds through my B12i, and put it through dozens of dirty dump buckets all while testing every type of ammo I could get my hands on to put through it; I finally feel like I can speak more authoritatively about Breda and their products. So I made a video all about it on my YouTube channel. No matter how you look at it though, my relationship with my B12i is getting serious. Breda and I will continue our relationship in 2018.
My talk about my B12i is more than pillow talk. We’re in love and I don’t care who knows it! Let’s be candid here; any brand ambassador or sponsored shooter can learn lists of features and benefits of a product line and rattle them off like a walking catalogue. That isn’t me though. That’s not how I operate, and I don’t take such purchased testimonials at face value. I was a lover and user of Heckler & Koch products before they approached me and asked me to be part of their shooting team. It was a natural fit and nothing was forced. But I didn’t become an HK fanboy over night. I had to experience the difference.
A similar process had to happen with me and Breda on a personal level before I could really feel comfortable, honest, and authoritative about the gun and the company. Like I said when I started this journey, everything seemed promising, but I just didn’t know. In fact, now that enough time has passed I feel comfortable saying that I always had one of my tried and true Benelli M2s as a backup in case I ran into any complications with the B12i.
The thing is, nothing ever happened. 8000+ rounds and no malfunctions (with a shotgun of all things) surprised me. I haven’t shot a Benelli M2 in over a year as a consequence. They’re nice guns, I just don’t have any use for my M2s anymore.
Isn’t that really the foundation of any good relationship? Between boyfriend and girlfriend, man and wife, or a shooter and his / her gun…
Società Italiana Ernesto Breda (or Breda for short) have been making firearms for over 90 years. In fact, for a long time they were a major conglomerate manufacturer that made a little bit of everything; from locomotive engines to cannons used on battleships.
Not too long after World War II the huge conglomerate was nationalized, and broken up into smaller divisions. The part that I care about though, the armament division remained private and independently operated, Breda Meccanica Bresciano. They first made their mark manufacturing machine guns for the Italian army for the first and second World Wars. However, what they’ve best become known for is their innovative and high quality approach to the semi-automatic shotgun.
A few of the innovation landmarks credited to Breda include:
With the similarities in the inertia driven action, and other close Italian relationships, Breda shotguns share a lot of similarities with Benelli shotguns. For me as a 3-gunner that likes to trick out and personalize my shotgun, this is advantageous because all of the existing aftermarket accessories made for the Benelli M2, also work with my Breda B12i. All of the barrels are drilled from a bar of special try alloy steel
Quality is a difficult thing to pinpoint with an exact number or metric, but you know it when you see it… or in my case, I know quality when I feel it. Quality is an experience that just grows over time. So after a year of running hard with the B12i, I can say that I’ve never run a nicer semi-automatic shotgun, and frankly I don’t know if one exists. The fit and finish of the final product is nearly flawless, and tolerances all around are just tight. Like most shotguns that can be taken down without tools, one has just come to expect a little wiggle room and “play” between the receiver and the forearm. Not so with this thing. But the details go deeper than that.
The barrel is not a shotgun barrel. It is more of a smoothbore rifle barrel. Breda slow drills their barrels out of rods that are made out of their proprietary tri-alloy steel. This is the same steel they used to make machine gun barrels for the Italian army. It takes about an hour to make one single barrel.
After it has been drilled, the barrel stays on the same machine and the outside profile is milled into shape. This means the thickness and shape of each barrel is exactly the same all the way around each individual barrel, and that each barrel made is exactly the same every time. This also means that unlike hammer-forged shotgun barrels made by other companies, the steel on Breda barrels has never been stressed and remains pliable. For a 3-gunner, this means:
The rib is hand-wired in the factory by one master craftsman that knows the exact tensions to get on each barrel. If a rib is wired too loosely, the rib will fall off. If it is wired too tight, it warps. After the hand-crafted attachment is done, the barrel is put into a machine that makes certain each rib is perfectly uniform and straight before it is hard soldered into place. From there the rib is checkered for a point of impact and set aside to be paired with a receiver.
This is what makes Breda who they are. The fusion of old-world hand craftsmanship, and exacting modern manufacturing standards.
There is so much to love about the B12i shotgun out of the box that it is hard to list them all. The 3-gun readiness with all of the large competition style controls. The over-sized quad-loadable port. It is everything anyone needs to get started in (what I consider) the greatest shooting sport around, all you need to add is an extension tube and a training schedule.
But that’s the thing. This gun is about so much more than 3-gun.
One thing is for sure. I’ve watched this gun slowly take over in the 3-gun world quickly. Not only are shooters such as myself and Derek Giddings from the HK Shooting Team running these amazing shotguns, but top 3-gun contenders with have joined Team Breda or are just buying them because they want this gun.
Watch my Breda B12i product overview on YouTube and let me know in the comments of the video if you have any questions.