Beretta 301,302,303 and then 390,391,3901??

Discussion in 'Shooting - Reloading Forum' started by Sunklands, Nov 24, 2021.

  1. Sunklands

    Sunklands Elite Refuge Member

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    I’m not to familiar with the older Beretta’s so, explain to me the differences between 301,302 and 303. Explain to me the differences in 390, 391 and 3901. Beretta, with they’re numbering and lettering system has got me scratching my head. I don’t give a flip about the new stuff, A300, A350, A400.......
     
  2. Ravenanme

    Ravenanme Elite Refuge Member

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    From the AL 2's being really nice guns , to the A400's in the same gauge , shooting the same shells , the only difference is their price tag !
    I'm not sure if any one in-between was any better ? Though Steel shot ability , changed a lot !
     
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  3. stoneyhu717

    stoneyhu717 Senior Refuge Member

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    Ok this is gonna be a long one to answer. There isn’t much difference between the A301 to A303 models. The A301 came with either a 2 3/4” receiver, or a 3” magnum receiver. It had a square bolt release button and fixed choke barrels. The A301 magnum doesn’t cycle any loads lighter than the faster 1 1/8oz rounds. The A302 and A303 are very similar with the 302 having a magazine cutoff switch (though some early 303s had them too). The other differences between the 302 and 303 are mainly color of the furniture and the 303 had a wider forearm. Both have screw in chokes, and if the shooter wanted to swap to 3” loads, he/she would have to swap the barrel to one for a 3” barrel. Most of the parts are interchangeable from the AL2 to the A303. I don’t believe the operating rod is interchangeable though.

    The 390/3901 is the next generation. The operating system is very similar to the A303, but Beretta added a valve and spring to the back of the gas block to regulate the difference in pressure from 2 3/4” light loads to 3” waterfowl loads. No additional barrel is needed to change from 2 3/4” loads to magnum loads. This is also around the time waterfowl hunters started using steel shot. The 3901 is the less expensive Walmart version of the 390. Several of the parts on the 390 are interchangeable with the 303 as well. The 390/3901 takes Mobil chokes, as do the 302/303.

    The 391 is the last to be produced on your list. The 3” models have a very similar gas system to the 390/3901 except the spring/valve assembly on the back of the gas block is all put together in one unit (just like the current A300 line with the main difference being the gas piston). The 3.5” 391 line (also known as the Xtrema and Xtrema 2) have a different gas system than the 3” models, much like the current A350 and A400 models. The return spring is located around the mag tube and two action bars connected to the bolt assembly all come out together when disassembled. The main difference in the 391 Xtrema gas system and the current A400 gas system is the piston. The 391 Xtrema line also takes Optima Plus chokes. The newer A350/A400 takes Optima HP chokes.

    There are more differences in the models, but those are the main points. I’m sure I left some things out, but I hope that helps with the confusion. I personally like that there are so many parts on Berettas that are interchangeable with the older models. Even when one of their autoloaders are discontinued, parts are still availability for them.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
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  4. GulfCoast

    GulfCoast Moderate Moderator Moderator

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    Since Beretta made the B80 for Browning as sort of a "humpy 303," a lot of B80 parts will interchange with the 303.
     
  5. stoneyhu717

    stoneyhu717 Senior Refuge Member

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    Pretty much all of them will
     
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  6. Sunklands

    Sunklands Elite Refuge Member

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    And Beretta made the 390, which also had a squared receiver.
     
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  7. 07AMF

    07AMF Senior Refuge Member

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    Stoney covered everything. I will add that my 303 Magnum has been going strong since 1987. The only thing I’ve done is change the springs and keep it clean.
     
  8. stoneyhu717

    stoneyhu717 Senior Refuge Member

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    Fabulous shotgun! I’m trying to save up to buy a mint condition 20 gauge 303 with a skeet barrel for my gf
     
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  9. Billy Bob

    Billy Bob Elite Refuge Member

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    The 3901 was the best bargain Beretta ever offered. Çheap, tough ànd as reliable as anything. I beat mine to death and it kept taking it. I would still be shooting it if it wasn't for my eye problems. Beretta needs to forget about new designs and bring back the guns on the list
     
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  10. stoneyhu717

    stoneyhu717 Senior Refuge Member

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    The 3901 is tough as nails and reliable. Honestly though, the new offerings are not a whole lot different internally. The only real difference is the piston and the improved gas valve assembly.
     
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