Beretta has been in the arms-making business for more than 500 years, and the creation of elegant, hand-engraved shotguns is a significant part of the company’s legacy.

In recent times, let’s say the last 100 years, Beretta’s handcrafted shotguns have been a focal point, with exclusive over/under shotguns like the SO6 EELL commanding upwards of $50,000 and models like the SO10 EELL Special ranging from $125,000 to $320,000 with collectors.

So when international designer Marc Newson was brought in to design a special limited-edition Beretta 486 side-by-side, the renowned artist was literally given a free hand to redesign the gun and create its unique engraving. Limited to 25 guns for U.S., the 486 by Marc Newson will be a Beretta Gallery exclusive.

Restyled Classic

Introduced in 2013, the 486 Parallelo brought the round action side-by-side shotgun back into the Beretta lineup. But rather than giving an older model a facelift, Beretta redesigned the action, springs, trigger group and the overall outward appearance of the shotgun to rekindle the “classic” styling of the past, all while incorporating materials and engineering features that make it much more durable than anything produced 100 years ago.

The traditional design of side-by-side shotguns has always been very simple and elegant. Over the years, the “round body” design has been introduced to emphasize the slimness and lightness of the gun. Marc Newson has used the characteristics of steel and modern machining to elevate the concept of the “round body,” bringing it to a new level. The receiver is edgeless and the lines flow through the entire surface of the shotgun with no sharp edges or breaks.

In redesigning the gun, the traditional tail of the receiver was been lowered, allowing the wood to separate the receiver and the safety/selector like a wooden bridge over the steel. This unique design makes the 486 by Marc Newson extremely elegant and instantly recognizable.

Inspired Engraving

The engraving pattern on the gun is a clear homage to Asia as the homeland of the pheasant. “My initial source of inspiration came from the idea that pheasants originate and are native to Asia, before being widely introduced elsewhere as a game bird,” Newson explained. “For me, it was important to somehow pay homage to this and incorporate a subtle Asian influence into the design.”

The engraving is comprised of dragon-like pheasants snaking between flowers in a style that references both traditional Asian illustrations of flora and fauna and the use of shotguns for hunting game. The engraving continues onto the triggerguard, which is seamlessly integrated into the receiver and covers the guns Anson-type trigger system.

The unique engraving for the 486 by Marc Newson is done with high-tech laser technology that ensures the best texture wrap over the entire surface of the receiver and also allows for a deep contrast and sharp resolution in all the details of the design. Another distinctive feature unique to the 486 by Marc Newson is the fixing of the triggerguard to the receiver. While most shotguns screw the guard to the bottom of the receiver, the Newson design inserts the triggerguard into a milled guide.

“The result,” said Newson, “is a perfect junction of two surfaces, which creates a higher aesthetic value.” The forend is also leaner and more streamlined, while the coupling point between the receiver and the forend iron has been reduced to a minimum.

Elegant Design

Beretta’s cold-hammer-forged, 30-inch Optima-Bore barrels for the 486 by Marc Newson are built to be tough and last for generations. Moreover, Beretta’s Triblock technology makes the barrel truly elegant by eliminating the welding lines. The hand-made polishing gives the surface the perfect finish, a result that’s typical only of the most refined shotguns. Tipping the scales at just a touch over 7 pounds, the 486 by Marc Newson comes up to the shoulder naturally and instinctively. Point of balance is right at the hinge pin. The wide plane of the side-by-side barrels will naturally guide the eye to the target. Target acquisition is also aided by the fact that the action is trim and low profile. Add to this a gravitational safety that engages if the gun is dropped as well as the choice between auto and manual extraction and you truly have today’s most useful side- by-side—whether you use it in the field or at the clay range.

For Newson, who has designed everything from furniture to watches, cameras, luxury speedboats, automobiles and executive jets, the Beretta 486 is a remarkably fresh canvas. “One of the things I like most about my job as a designer is the opportunity I get to immerse myself in different industries and acquire knowledge about their manufacturing processes, materials and technologies,” said Newson. “I am interested in the way things work—it’s a technical obsession.”

At least 25 people will be able to indulge themselves in Newson’s obsession with this limited-edition Beretta 486 model. The rest of us can take advantage of Beretta’s clothing, other shotguns and renowned self-defense pistols.

For more information, visit or call 800-BERETTA.

This article was published in the 2015 Gun Buyer’s Guide. To subscribe, please visit

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