The journey of the Beretta 486 Marc Newson began in New York City on Halloween Eve in 2012, not with The Big Apple’s ghosts and goblins but with a meeting between Dottore Franco Beretta, the younger son of Beretta’s President Ugo Gussalli Beretta, and the party’s host. Informed that Franco was from Brescia, a city in northern Italy about twenty miles south of the Beretta offices and factories in Gardone Val Trompia, the host offered to electronically introduce him to world-renowned designer Marc Newson. Newson had recently visited Brescia and would again soon, probably related to his work designing a speedboat for the Italian yacht manufacturer Riva in collaboration with Officina Italiana Design.
Franco is passionate about designs and metal craftsmanship, whether firearms, watches, automobiles or other art and consumer goods. He contacted Newson and immersed himself in studying his work, becoming most intrigued by Newson’s round shapes and metal construction. Also significant to Franco were the impressive prices Newson’s creations garnered at auction, particularly what some writers denote as Newson’s break-through design, the Lockheed Lounge chair, a fibreglass and aluminum chaise that Newson designed and made by hand. It was featured in a Madonna video and first exhibited in 1986. Twenty-three years later it sold for £1.1 million, a record-breaking auction price at the time for a piece of contemporary design art.
A polymath of a designer, among his many accomplishments, Newson has designed a beer draft machine for Heineken, limited-edition shoes for Nike, worked with Range Rover, Leica cameras and crafted a one-off nickel surfboard for pro-surfer Garrett McNamara, later purchased by the Gagosian Gallery for its permanent collection. His most recent and rather outstanding honor has been joining Apple’s design team to create, it is believed but it’s a secret, the iWatch. Named by Time Magazine as one of the “most influential” people in 2005, Newson says his prolific output is fuelled by the fact that he is “obsessed by the idea of making things.”
The Foundation for the 486 Marc Newson
During Newson’s visit to the Beretta factory, much time spent observing the production of the premium guns. Newson was immediately receptive to a project with Beretta. “One of the things I like most about my job as a designer,” he said, “is the opportunity I get to immerse myself in different industries and acquire knowledge about their manufacturing processes, materials and technologies. I am interested in the way things work – it’s a technical obsession.”
Initially Franco wasn’t thinking about working with Newson on firearms designs but to develop a project for specially-shaped optics for Beretta’s newly acquired Steiner Optics. As his education on Newson deepened, however, ideas for firearms designs, specifically designs based on round shapes, blossomed in Franco’s fertile mind. Coincidentally, at the time of Newson’s visit, Franco and Beretta designers such as Fernando Belleri were conceptualizing the new Parallelo 486, Beretta’s first side-by-side round-action shotgun. Franco began a conversation with Newson about crafting a unique variation of the Parellelo.
Information about the Parallelo is helpful to enable the reader to grasp the engineering intellect that is the foundation of the 486 Marc Newson model and to understand its distinguishing refinements. The 486 model number is derived by subtracting 1526, the official founding year of Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta, from 2012, the year the Parallelo was conceptualized. Whenever I need the most nuanced details of a Beretta firearm and the history of its development, as I did with the Parallelo, I communicate with Jarno Antonelli, Defense & Law Enforcement Specialist in Gardone Val Trompia. Jarno has a Pentium processor for a brain and has the Beretta ethos coursing through his blood by the quart in every vein.
Jarno said the Parallelo’s concept was a traditional side-by-side shotgun with Beretta’s aesthetics, boasting a new round body receiver and benefitting from state of the art technology in the trigger group, barrel construction and safety innovations. It is high tech on the inside and boasts classic lines on the outside. The timeless Anson Dealey trigger system was modified so that all components are on a trigger plate. The design is the same as on the successful DT 11 competition over/under target shotgun. The trigger plate can be removed easily for maintenance and replacing the firing pin and mainspring. Leaf mainsprings are used rather than coils, and although they are substantially more expensive, they are more reliable and durable. The Parallelo has rebounding hammers and a safety system which includes a gravity safety which blocks the trigger when the gun is pointed downward at about ninety degrees. The safety system, Jarno explained, will also prevent firing when the shotgun is held upside down, as when carrying the shotgun over the shoulder.
Cold hammer forged barrels are joined by a new patented process named Beretta Triblock that produces stronger barrel attachment, enhances aesthetics and allows a slimmer barrel width. Welding lines manifest in the typical monoblock construction are eliminated, leaving a seamless surface as found on the more expensive demi block design. Cartridge ejection can be changed from extractor to ejector. The retaining pin on the top lever has been redesigned. Usually round, the pin gets worn after years of use. The Parallelo’s new system features an integrated hexagonal pin which reduces lateral free play and wear and increases longevity. The Parallelo balances in the center of the receiver, the butt plate is wood rather than rubber and the chokes can ordered as fixed or interchangeable. The understated English-style scroll engraving fully covers the receiver and extends to the top lever and trigger guard. The Parallelo is available in 12 and 20 gauge versions.