12 October 2018

Companion Update

According to Shotgunworld.com it's a Beretta design, thanks reader Sabre22.

Quoted verbatim for my Father In Law's pleasure:

Beretta patented the design for their folding single-barrel shotgun in 1922, and it was available for purchase by 1925. It remained in production for almost 70 years, perhaps as late as 1992. It was not imported to the US all that time, though. It was very successful in Europe, and it has been estimated that Beretta sold aobut 500,000 of them. It was made in all gauges, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 28, 32, 36, .410, and 9mm rimfire. Most of them were very light, but it was also made in a heavier duck hunting configuration, and in trap-shooting models. Recievers were blued, nickel-plated, chrome-plated, case hardened, or gold-plated (on a deluxe engraved model). Most of the examples seen in the US had the opening lever in front of the trigger guard and the safety button in the front of the trigger guard, but some models had the release lever on the right side and some had a top tang safety.

From 1952 until some time in the late 1960's, Berettas were imported to the US by J. L. Galef & Sons, and during this time they were advertised as the Beretta Companion, although they were marked at the factory with the name of "Vittoria" (Italian name of the Roman goddess Victoria, goddess of victory, equivalent to the Greek Nike) along with an "engraving" of the goddess. The name "Companion" must have been copyrighted by Galef, not by Beretta, and when Beretta gave the importation rights to Garcia, Galef got M.A.V.I., another Italian manufacturer, to make a very similar gun and sold it as the Galef Companion. To this day, some people still think the Galef Companion was made by Beretta, but it was not.

Garcia, and later Beretta USA, sold variations of the gun as the FS-1, TR-1 Trap, TR-2 Trap, and Model 412. Importation to the US ended in or about 1988, but most of the guns seen in the US now date from the 1950's through early 70's.

In addition to the Galef Companion, there have been other copies or modified versions of the same basic design by other manufacturers. At least one of them was still available in Europe at least as late as 2006, and may still be available. The last manufacturer I am aware of who offered the same basic design was an Italian company called Effebi. The name Effebi is taken from the letters FEB, the initials of the company's founder - Dr. Franco E. Beretta. How's that for irony! The company was originally called by the founder's full name, but later changed to Effebi. My guess (but only a guess) is that Dr. Franco E. Beretta's distant cousins threatened to sue him for copyright infringement if he did not stop using the family name in connection with firearms.

These guns are very light and therefore have a tendency to kick. I have a 20 gauge that weighs less than 5 pounds and has a steel buttplate, and even with low-brass target ammo it will kick the livin' snot out of you if you are not carefull! Pressing it firmly against my shoulder helps, and I suppose a rubber slip-on recoil pad would help. I would not give one of these guns to a kid or a lady as their first gun unless I used extra-light ammo. I have found mine to be quite pleasant to shoot with Fiocchi Training loads (3/4 oz of shot at moderate velocity). You would be surprised how well that little gun and the Fiocchi Training shells will break sporting clay targets (but only one at a time, alas!)
Under the handguard is the XX stamp for 1964 manufacture.

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