Today I got to visit the Canadian facilities of Italy’s Beretta Holding SpA, whose brands include Benelli, Beretta, Sako, Stoeger and Tikka guns, and Burris and Steiner optics. My hosts showed me the offices and target range, but we spent most of the time in the showroom.
Beretta Canada is one of the country’s biggest gun importers, and gets firearms directly from the group’s factories in Italy, Finland and the U.S., said George Wallace, sales manager for the Canadian subsidiary in Oshawa, Ontario. He was one of my hosts, with Shany Poulin, marketing manager.
The company operates as a “manufacturer-owned distributorship,” Wallace said, meaning that the same company that makes the guns and gear owns the subsidiary that distributes them to retail stores. Some other distributors in Canada are independent and sell products from several manufacturers.
“The Beretta family has made a significant investment in the business in Canada,” Wallace said. He declined to say how much they’ve spent, but over the past two years they’ve helped build or renovate the offices, warehouse and 100-metre testing range, he said. “That shows strength and confidence in the Canadian marketplace.”
The showroom is simple, bright and large. One side has a bank of windows, two walls are filled with Beretta apparel and bags, and the fourth wall is a rack of long guns from the different brands, from the Benelli M4 shotgun used by the U.S. Marines to the Tikka T3 Arctic, a civilian version of the new rifle of the Canadian Rangers, and the Tikka T3x TAC A1, a new modular rifle. The wall of guns includes many that I didn’t recognize, but I want them all. Around the room are cabinets displaying Steiner and Burris scopes and optics (I want those, too!), and a big boardroom table.
Following are a few points that I learned about some of the company’s top-selling long guns in Canada:
- Benelli Super Black Eagle 3. This long, light, 12-gauge shotgun designed for duck hunters has become the Beretta group’s bestselling firearm in Canada this year, even though it went on sale in March and retails for $2,500. It has several improvements over the second generation, and Wallace said demand exceeds supply. The previous edition, the Super Black Eagle 2, is a favourite for hunting outfitters who rent out guns because of the abuse they can handle and still work reliably, he said.
- Tikka vs. Sako. Their barrels come from the same production line, but the rifles use different designs for certain parts. Of the two rifles Wallace used to demonstrate, the Sako was more expensive by about $900.
- Tikka: closed breech, two-piece milled bolt, plastic magazines, mag releases when mag-release lever is pushed forward, safety must be disengaged to open bolt, out-of-the-box accuracy guarantee within 1 minute of angle: 3 shots.
- Sako: open breech (for easier top loading), one-piece milled bolt (smoother), steel magazines (stronger), mag releases when mag-release lever is pushed in and then forward (less likely to release accidentally), has bolt-release button (to open bolt without disengaging safety), out-of-the-box accuracy guarantee within 1 minute of angle: 5 shots.
- Sako TRG 22 Jubilee Model. Sako made 100 of its TRG 22 .308-calibre precision rifles coloured in winter camouflage, rather than their usual green or black, Poulin said. They’ve all been sold.
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