Beretta 500 Series & Whitetails Unlimited

Discussion in 'Other firearms built on Sako actions' started by stonecreek, Jan 17, 2020.

  1. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I own three of these, a 500 (.222 on A-I action), a 501 (.308 on A-II action) and 502 (.30-06 on A-V action). The .30-06 is NIB, so I've never fired it, but the other two are very accurate, especially the .222. I've corresponded with another guy who has a 500 .222 who says his is extraordinarily accurate. They apparently came in a couple of different configurations since my .222 has a Monte Carlo stock and is sightless while his has a straight stock with iron sights.

    Beretta built these on Sako A-series actions made expressly to Beretta's specs. The actions have round tops, a matte finish, and Beretta's name on the receiver -- not Sako's. The barrels and stocks appear to be made by Beretta. The barrels are of a slightly different contour than those of contemporaneous Sakos, have numerous Italian proof marks on them, and are marked "Made in Italy". These rifles were built and marketed quite some time before Beretta acquired an ownership interest in Sako, and also before Beretta marketed its "Mato" series on the Dakota actions.


    I notice that our friend Rodger at SakoSource now is advertising two of these, both of them from a limited edition of 125 rifles made for the Whitetails Unlimited organization: https://www.sakosource.com/-1592rs-wtu30-06.html I've looked at one of them the last time I was in his shop and if I didn't already have the NIB 502 .30-06 I'd have bought it. I'm only vaguely aware of the Whitetails Unlimited organization. Can anyone tell me something about it and does anyone know what year these Beretta-Sakos were offered by the organization? Regardless, they're really nice guns.
     

  2. Professor

    Professor Member

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    Stonecreek,
    While in college I saw two rifles that made my head spin. The first was an AV Fiberglass in .338 win mag. This was before the tacticool movement and I thought it was "the bomb." I already thought a lot of Sakos and the Fiberglass did nothing to change my mind. The second rifle I saw at a church wild game supper. It was a Beretta 502 in 30-06 and it was on display promoting Whitetails Unlimited. I do not remember if they were selling tickets for a drawing. I do remember how taken back I was with the rifle's simple lines and beautiful furniture. That event took place after the deer season ended in 1986. I assume the church did not organize any events until After Christmas so I would bet it took place in January of 1987. That is the only Beretta 502 I have ever seen. In fact I never even saw one in Gun Digest.

    Fast forward to a couple months ago and I am ready to buy a nice rifle for myself (kids grown, etc.). I have always coveted Sakos, but I remembered that Beretta and decided to see if there might be a used one available. Imagine my surprise when, after reading the limited info online, I found out the Beretta is a Sako. Oh joyful irony. This made me want the 502 even more. Of course now I know they come in numerous classes and three action sizes. I have seen the two advertised at Sakosource.

    Since you own three, and you have a box and I assume documentation, you may be the expert. I have two questions I am hoping you might help me with. First, can you tell me the weight of both the 501 and 502. I have found nothing on the 501 but I have seen everything from 8 to 9 pounds on the 502. My second question concerns scope mounts. A couple of references point to Weaver bases, but I am just sure that Beretta did not put that much effort into the rifle only to top it with Weavers. Somewhere I read in a post that EAW pivot mounts were an option. This sounds more like it. Did your boxed 502 come with mounts and rings? Does the manual mention mounts and rings?

    Glad to be an honest contributing member.
     
  3. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Perfesser: Sorry to be so long responding.

    Weights: My 502 .30-06 comes in at 8 lbs 2 oz bare. It has a lightweight stock with a short "European-style" forearm, but the barrel is fairly robust. My 501 in .308 weighs 7 and 14 oz, but that includes a 2-7X Leupold in Redfield-type rings in two-piece bases. The 500 in .222 weighs 7 and 13 oz, but that also includes a Leupold 3-9 in steel rings on Weaver bases and a sling. So, I'm guessing that a bare 501 would be around 7 even, and a 500 perhaps 6 1/2.

    The rear bridge is round and level with the front ring, so it shouldn't be hard to find bases from almost any manufacturer. The .30-06 came with Conetrol rings/bases which I've never installed. I don't have the part numbers for any of these, but any well-stocked gun shop should be able to outfit you with bases by mix-and-match.
     
  4. Professor

    Professor Member

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    Thanks for the info stonecreek. Since posting my questions I have been told that a stripped down and unloaded 501s in .308 - with the same style stock as the Whitetails Unlimited 502s - weighs in at 7 lbs and 4 ounces. Assuming the .243 has the same barrel profile it should weigh a few ounces more. To me, 7.25 lbs is a good weight. Beretta could have easily kept the weight down if that were the goal. The 23 inch barrel is, IMO, unnecessary for a rifle chambered in a .308 family cartridge. With a 20 inch barrel The 501 should be down around 7 lbs, but the longer barrel with open sights adds a "dangerous game" mystique. I really like the look of the 502s but that rifle would be pushing 10 lbs loaded and all dressed up. This first rifle will be a hunter, and a heavy rifle with a 24+ inch barrel is not really practical for my style of hunting. I not so fond of the .243 s I think first I will look for a 502s in .308.

    Good news about the rings and bases. This will be a hunting rifle and I have QD rings on all of my rifles. This limits my options for mounting hardware but fortunately QD bases and/or rings are mostly high quality.
     
  5. Professor

    Professor Member

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    I do not think all of the 500 series offerings were imported into the states.

    Beretta 502 Carbine in 300 win mag
    Stainless

    [​IMG]
     
  6. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    It is possible that some versions were not imported to the U.S., but it is also possible that planned versions were cataloged but never produced.

    I've seen this dozens of time down through the years where the manufacturers' advertising gets ahead of its production, sometimes on purpose. A manufacturer may advertise a planned model just to gage interest in it and if the reaction is insufficient may drop the plans. However, it is sometimes that an entire new line supersedes a planned variation of an older model. For instance, Beretta produced the 500 series right before their Mato replaced it. It is possible that they had planned one or more variations of the 500 but dropped them when they adopted the Mato instead.

    I'm not saying this is what happened (nor that the stainless in the ad was never produced), just citing this as an example of how the manufacturer's advertising can't always be depended on to accurately reflect what it was producing and selling. Just ask the Marlin collectors who are still looking for a Model 62 Levermatic in .22 Jet.
     

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