One type of firearm that I rarely write about, let alone review, is the good old scattergun. It’s not because I don’t like them. It’s not because I don’t think they are useful. The truth is that it is a platform that I know enough about to know that there is a whole lot more to it than simply racking a shell, pointing, and pulling the trigger, but not enough to speak about them or use them as competently as I would like to. That’s changing though. At least, in the context of defensive shotgun use, which is an application that I’ve become more interested in as my journey as a firearms instructor continues. As such, I thought it would behoove me to pick up a shotgun that is well suited for defensive applications to learn on and attend classes with. After many hours of research and several conversations with other firearms instructors I landed on LTT 1301 Tactical Shotgun which is a Beretta 1301 Gen 3 Tactical Shotgun that’s received the full treatment from Langdon Tactical Technologies.
From what I gathered, it seemed to me like the Beretta 1301 was the second most popular option for a semiautomatic defensive or duty shotgun next to the Benelli M2 which has dominated the market for those applications for quite some time. Those who had experience with both platforms more often than not described the recoil from the 1301 to be more pleasant and easier to manage when compared to the M2. Given both of the contenders were proven for the applications, I opted for the 1301 based on the descriptions provided by those who had experience with both. After hearing about the common modifications that are done to the 1301 and learning that Langdon Tactical’s treatment makes those modifications along with a trigger job, it seemed to me like the LTT 1301 was a safer and slightly more economical bet than attempting to perform those modifications myself. Sure, doing the modifications myself would have been a great learning experience, but I was more interested in the turn key solution so I could focus on the application of the shotgun instead of modifying it. Besides, the latter will take place later down the road.
The retail price tag on the LTT 1301 at the time of writing is between $1,639 and $2,139 depending on the selected options which include a few different colors, three different optic mounts, and an optional side saddle. The configurations I’ve seen on the street are typically around the $1,900 range configured in black with either a mount for an RMR or a mount for an Aimpoint Micro and the side saddle and are inline with the direct pricing from Langdon Tactical. For that amount, one can expect to receive:
- A soft nylon Bulldog carrying case (which has been replaced by a Condition 1 hard case in August 2023),
- a LTT sticker,
- a LTT quality control card,
- a Beretta warranty card,
- a Beretta warranty pamphlet,
- a Beretta paper manual request card,
- four spacers for the MagPul stock,
- a choke key,
- an improved cylinder (IC) OptimaBore Choke HP,
- a choke key,
- the original Picatinny rail with mounting screws,
- the original ghost ring rear sight with mounting screws,
- and the LTT 1301 shotgun.
For the most part, the shotgun is range ready out of the box. The exception to that is the optic one wants to install on the selected optic mount (if it was selected) and any additional accessories a person deems necessary. In my case, that was a 6.5 MOA RMR Type 2 red dot sight and a custom “Double Wide” sling from NOLA Nobody Designs.
Starting from the business end of the LTT 1301 we have the muzzle of the 18.7″ cold hammer-forged back-bored barrel which is outfitted with an OptimaBore HP cylinder (CL) choke. The barrel is adorned with a protected interchangeable white dot front sight. Seems to me like a high visibility fiber optic or a tritium front sight would have been a better choice for a “tactical” shotgun at this price point, but at least that is something that can be easily remedied.
Below the front of the barrel we have a magazine tube with a capacity of seven (7) 2.75″, or six (6) 3″, shells. The magazine tube is secured to the barrel with a clamp that features a quick detach QD swivel mount on both sides of the shotgun. I will note that MagPul QD swivels require a generous amount of coercion to attach and detach which essentially eliminates the quick characteristic of the mounts.
Continuing on we find a modified MagPul Zhukov forend with a smooth adapter that replaces the stock OEM forend. Unfortunately I can’t provide a comparison between the forends as I haven’t personally handled a stock Beretta 1301, but I can say that the MagPul forend is comfortable and easy to maintain a grip without slipping when employing the Haught method with sweaty hands. The position of MLOK attachment points at the 11 and 2 o’clock positions are ideal for adding a weapon mounted light to the 1301, so that’s nice too.
Under the forend is the piston and other components of BLINK gas operating system which is Beretta’s newest and most advanced system. While I don’t have anything to compare it to, the scatter gun savvy folks I’ve talked with, including a handful of shotgun instructors, confirm that the gas system cycles noticeably faster than Beretta’s older systems. They have also told me that the gas system is one of the reasons the 1301 has a softer recoil than other semiautomatic shotguns they have used. All I can say is that I would describe the recoil from the 1301 as tame compared to Remington 870s which happen to be the only other shotguns I have any meaningful time behind.
Next up we find the receiver. On the top, we find the GG&G optic rail mount for the RMR with a half moon sight which replaced the original Picatinny rail and protected ghost ring sight. The rail mount allows the RMR to be mounted lower and closer to the receiver than if it was mounted to the original Picatinny rail. The result is a lower height over bore from the red dot sight and co-witnessing with the iron sights that would not have been possible with the original configuration.
On the right side of the receiver, we have the ejection port, bolt, and bolt release. The bolt is of the rotating variety and uses two lugs to lock up with the chamber. The action on the bolt is very smooth. Attached to the bolt is an oversized charging handle which is more commonly found on competition shotguns. I found the size of the charging handle to be great for fast manipulations and not so big that it got in the way or snagged on anything. The bolt release is found right under the ejection port. Its location is easy to reach and is intuitive to use. At least that is the case for right handed users.
Under the receiver we find the loading gate. At the rear of the loading gate, we find the carrier stop button. Just behind that we find the trigger guard and the manual safety near the front of the guard. The trigger guard provides ample space to manipulate the trigger while wearing large gloves.
The curved trigger, which has received a trigger job from Langdon Tactical, has exceptionally little pre-engagement travel before reaching the well. While the trigger is hinged and moves very differently than a 1911 trigger, the amount of play, or rather lack thereof, reminded me of a good precisely fitted 1911 trigger. The break isn’t quite as crisp as a 1911 trigger, but it is still very tactile and definitive. The reset is also very short. There really isn’t very much travel to the trigger at all. The average trigger pull weight after five breaks with the trigger gauge came in at 4 lbs 12 oz (or 4.75 lbs) with the lowest reading coming in at 4 lbs 9.4 oz and the highest reading coming at 4 lbs 15.1 oz. It’s quite nice.
On the left side of the receiver is a GG&G side saddle. While I suspect my opinion of the side saddle might change over time, my first impressions weren’t all that great. The saddle is from 6061 T-6 aluminum which is light and durable. The shells are held snugly in place which I found to be a double edged sword. On one hand, it holds the shells securely. The shells aren’t going to go anywhere even when loaded base down. On the other hand, I found the saddle to be difficult and slow to fill and reload from because the shells are held so snuggly. I admit this experience was largely influenced by novice shotgun skill level and my arthritic hands. The saddle was also brand spanking new. I don’t know if the retention mechanism will “break in” and I suspect my reloading technique will improve which may evolve my opinion in the future. A detachable shell carrier like the one from Aridus Industries that was utilized by LTT in previous generations of their 1301 build would be helpful for classes, training, and practice because one could preload several carriers and thereby reduce reloading time while on the firing line.
One last thing about the side saddle, even though the edges have been rounded. The mounting plate found at the back of the receiver caught my left knuckle and took off several layers of skin when the shotgun was under recoil as I was working around cover from the weak side. Granted, poor technique was a contributing factor. Even so, it wasn’t fun. At the time of writing, I would have preferred stiff cards with high quality elastic loops held secured to the receiver with industrial grade hook and loop.
At the end of the shotgun we have a MagPul stock that is installed using a specially designed GG&G stock adapter that has a spring tensioned bolt recoil buffer. Without any spacers it reduces the 1301’s length of pull by about an inch which can be configured to the user by adding optional spacers between the stock and the recoil-reducing butt-pad in half inch increments. The comb height can also be adjusted by purchasing and installing a MagPul SGA cheek riser. The stock also features an integral sling loop and a QD swivel mount point on each side of the stock.
That’s pretty much the LTT 1301 from end to end. So how does it shoot? Even though I took a few layers of skin off with the gun, the 1301 has been a real pleasure to shoot. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t have a lot of experience with shotguns and don’t have a lot to compare the 1301 to. I’ve also already mentioned that the recoil is tame compared to the Remington 870s I have some experience with. Granted, I’m comparing two different actions, pump versus semi automatic. Even though I would describe the recoil of the 1301 to be tame in comparison, it is still a 12 gauge shotgun. As of writing, I have attended a six hour shotgun class where I sent roughly 100 rounds down range with the LTT and I can say that my shoulder felt it at the end of day, but not as bad as my shoulder has felt after a day of dove hunting where far less ammunition was used.
Speaking of ammunition and in terms of reliability, the first dozen or two shells sent down range were some low recoil 2.75″ 7.5 shot target loads from Herter’s. These did not cycle reliably at all with roughly a 50% failure to eject rate. This was troubling because one of the biggest marketing points Beretta makes about the 1301 is that it is “ultra-reliable”. It was suggested to me that this might be because the 1301 needs to be “broken in” first which was news to me because I have yet to find a “break in” process, procedure, or period mentioned in the manual. The other loads I ran, which included hot premium pigeon loads from Rio, value priced 9 pellet 00 buck from Estate, and Federal Premium Law Enforcement 9 pellet 00 buck with FliteControl, all ran without issue. The Federal Premium 9 pellet FliteControl loads, which I intend to load for defensive applications at least until I can acquire some of the 8 pellet low recoil unobtanium loads, ran remarkably well and held a tight 3″ group at 15 yards without a flier pellet.
Is the LTT 1301 worth the price tag?
In my opinion, yes. At least for folks who want a high performance semiautomatic shotgun for defensive applications and will be training and practicing with it with moderate to high frequency. Folks who are looking for a reliable semi automatic shotgun that is more likely to sit ready for home defense but will be practiced and trained with in frequency might want to consider something like the Beretta A300 Ultima Patrol which will be more than adequate for about half to two thirds of the price. There is also nothing wrong with the good old pump actions like the Remington 870 or the Mossberg 500.
What’s next for the LTT 1301?
I’ve got another defensive shotgun class scheduled later this year that I will be using the LTT 1301. Assuming my interest in defensive application of shotguns remains strong, which is a safe assumption to make at this time, I may pursue a Rangemaster Shotgun Instructor certification in 2024. That means the 1301 is likely to see a fair amount of use for the foreseeable future. As such, it is safe to assume that follow up reviews aren’t far away. If nothing else, I will revisit the reliability concerns that I currently have with low recoil target loads. In terms of accessories and upgrades, I am considering replacing the follower with a high visibility follower and throwing a weapon mounted light on it. The side saddle might also get replaced if I continue to struggle with it. Either way, stay tuned.