A few months ago, I did a two part review on the Beretta 1301 Tactical semi-auto 12 gauge. This is an excellent shotgun for home defense, but as I explained in the second part of my review, it’s got one little flaw that turns a lot of people off.
The problem has to do with the bolt release latch. There’s a video in part two of the review that demonstrates the issue pretty clearly, but here’s the basic gist; The bolt release button on the side of the receiver has two functions. When the bolt is locked to the rear on an empty gun, the bolt release closes the bolt when loading a round into the chamber. The bolt release can also be used to unload the magazine tube. Simply move the shell carrier up and out of the way, and press the bolt release to eject the shells from the tube. The problem occurs when the bolt release is pressed on a loaded shotgun without first moving the carrier out of the way. In that case, two shells are ejected from the mag tube and both try to occupy the space on top of the shell carrier where there is only room for one. Once that happens, the round in the chamber can still be fired, but after that, the gun is effectively locked up. It will not cycle and can’t be unloaded until the malfunction has been cleared manually.
It’s fairly easy for the bolt release latch to be pressed at the wrong time and create a jam by a user who is not intimately familiar with the 1301’s controls, or who may forget while operating the gun under stress. I’ve seen this happen to folks at the range with my 1301 while they’re trying to load it before I’ve had the chance to fully explain the correct loading procedure. It’s also possible, though unlikely, for the bolt release to be accidentally pressed if the shotgun were to bump against a hard surface such as a door frame or a tree.
The Beretta is not the only shotgun that functions this way. The Mossberg 930 does this as well, and possibly other semi-auto shotguns, though I haven’t had the chance to verify that. Nevertheless, a lot of people consider this to be a serious design flaw and a complete deal breaker. Fortunately, at least for the Beretta 1301, there are now a couple of aftermarket solutions available that completely fix this problem.
The first is a replacement bolt latch from Aridus Industries. This latch goes in place of the factory latch and also comes with a little shroud that covers part of the latch. What that does is prevent you from pressing the rear portion of the latch, because that is what causes the shell dump issue. You can still press the front part of the latch to release the bolt when you need to. But with the shroud in place, it is almost impossible to induce the multiple-rounds-on-the-carrier problem by accident. The aluminum latch and shroud from Aridus Industries retails for $60 and it’s available at aridusindustries.com.
And if that’s too steep for you and you want a cheaper way to fix the gun, there is another option. The Aridus shroud is actually based on another design that came from Tom Jones of the Tau Development Group. This shroud is polymer instead of aluminum, and it fits around the factory bolt latch, which is also polymer. It’s not quite as pretty, but it works the same as the Aridus shroud — it prevents you from pressing this part of the button accidentally and jamming up the gun. There are actually two versions of this shroud. This is the low profile version, and I can actually squeeze my finger in here and press the button there if I really want to. There’s another one that’s a full coverage shroud that completely covers the button — there’s just a little hole there in the back and that makes it almost impossible for you to induce that malfunction. These shrouds are $15 each, or $25 for both of them, available at taudevgroup.com/1301.
If you’ve been on the fence about the 1301, with these aftermarket shrouds available I am a lot more confident about recommending this shotgun, so I think you should go for it.