Sometimes underrated in the UK, this semi-auto shotgun from Breda impressed Mike Yardley in this detailed test and review...

This month, we have a Breda 930i Sporting under the spotlight. We had a more basic Breda a little while back and, being a fan of semi-automatics, I was interested in testing this more refined version. I have also had good experiences with other Bredas previously. They are inertia-operated with a similar rotating bolt-head action to a modern Benelli (early Benellis, and indeed some Bredas, are inertia-operated but don’t have the clever rotating bolt system now employed).

Breda 930i - first impressions
First impressions of the test gun are of a quite chunky, brightly finished, modernistic piece of kit. It is probably brighter than my taste. That said, it looks smart and everything appears to be colour-coordinated! Apart from the brush-polished alloy receiver main body (it’s a two-piece action design with a blacked steel top cover), there is a blue anodised alloy trigger guard and a blue anodised cap to the weighted fore-end cap, not to mention an extra large blue-anodised bolt-handle and similarly finished enlarged bolt release button. The barrel is ‘gloss’ blacked and shows signs of good preparation.

The 930i feels and looks a quality product. Levels of finish are excellent with nice grain too (which I am assuming is not enhanced). When you pick it up, however, the gun feels a little heavier than its 7.5lb (and that includes a weighted end cap weighing about 3oz / 7.35lb without it). It is a little stock heavy with large stock shapes and the adjustable comb adding rearwards weight and a relatively short 28" barrel not counterbalancing it completely. My preference, especially in a gun intended for sporting, would be 30" (I’d go with a slightly smaller grip too). Nevertheless, the gun points well as a single-barrel repeater and the 10-8mm taper rib is first class, one of the best I have seen recently.

This Breda comes to the shoulder well. The grip, which has a fairly tight radius, feels large as noted but the shapes are good and provide excellent purchase. The comb needed to come up about 1/8” to suit my Mr Average 5'11" frame. The drop out of the box is about 2¼" to the rear and 15/8" to the front. This sounds low, but I thought it spot on for a gun with an adjustment facility. Some people need a low fit and 2¼" out of the box allows you to accommodate them as well as those with smaller heads/body frame needing a higher comb to look along the rib comfortably.

Looking at the dimensions further, the length of pull is 14¾" including about an inch of plain black ‘rubber’ pad. This is standard enough, but there is, interestingly, almost ½" of extra length to the toe of the stock. This is a lot more than the modern average, but what you used to see on many Victorian guns and some more modern Purdeys. The length to heel, though, is just marginally more than the length to centre, I measured it at about 1411/16". These are unusual dimensions, but the gun felt very secure and stable at the shoulder. The good purchase on the large grip as discussed helped too (and I think this would be retained even if the grip was a little smaller).

The fore-end of the 930i was good as well – not too thick; it doesn’t need to be in an inertia design, but it's thick enough to hang onto well. Both fore-end and grip are laser-chequered with good sized diamonds. The wood surprised me with its quality and the oil finish was well done too. The more I handled and looked at the Breda, the more I liked it. I’ve good history with these guns. I shot an Ermes 2000 some years ago, again, a 28" gun and was most impressed with it. The 3.5" chambered gun we tested here some months back was good too. I think it would be fair to say Breda are underrated in the UK.

Breda 930i - Technical overview
This is an inertia-operated gun, as noted, with a fixed barrel. Early inertia designs like the Danish/Swedish Sjögren and Browning A5 involved large bits of metal moving (breach and barrel respectively). 
This Breda uses the kinetic energy of gun recoil to cycle the action but in a more user-friendly way. It works, like the modern Benellis, by means of a short stiff spring positioned between the bolt body and a rotating bolt head. 

During firing, due to the recoil of the gun, breech block inertia makes it move about 4mm forward; when this is fully compressed, it thrusts to the rear allowing the extraction of the cartridge case and reloading. The spring pressure is designed to delay the opening of the action which occurs after the shot has left the barrel and regulates the different pressures produced by different cartridges. The system is simple and robust. The bolt has two locking lugs on its head which closes axially into the rear of the barrel. Unlike a gas-operated gun, the system needs no bleed holes in the barrel and minimises working parts and cleaning. 

Breda 930i - how did it shoot?
I like inertia-operated semi-autos and am always interested to test them as a semi-automatic fan. I love gas operated guns too – especially the Beretta 300 series – but I am also a fan of Breda having had one when I was a kid. The test gun did not disappoint me. It pointed well even with the relatively short barrel – effectively extended by the grooved receiver top channel which add about 6” of sighting, so 28 becomes 32”.

The controls worked very well. I loved the extended bolt-handle. The only problem with the big release catch was that I found myself operating it accidentally as I slipped the gun. Nevertheless, I really liked the ergonomics of the Breda. It’s shooting qualities were good too. In particular the lack of felt recoil for this mechanism type. The barrel is bored relatively tightly at 18.5mm but has a very long forcing cone. I had a couple of cycling issues with light loads, but I would always advise 70mm 28g cartridges with an inertia gun. Overall, though, an impressive semi-automatic and one which is very nicely presented.

Thanks to Lyalvale Express for the cartridges used in this test.

We Like

  • The build quality
  • The modern styling
  • The moderate felt recoil for the design type

We Don’t Like

  • The grip is a bit big
  • It can be fussy with some cartridges

Tech Specs
Make: Breda
Model: 930i Sporting
Action type: Inertia with rotating bolt-head
Bore: 12
Chmaber: 3” (76mm)
Proof: fleurs-de-lys for steel 1,320 BAR
Barrel length: 28” (30” option)
Rib: 10-8mm taper
Weight: 7.35lb
RRP: £1,760