A few weeks ago, Benelli introduced their newest shotgun, the Vinci, following a much-hyped teaser campaign in which all anybody knew about the gun was that it came in a strange shaped case and that a movie trailer-like commercial featuring a running hottie in a tank top and her James Bond-looking associate promised it would hit the market March 31. The promo, first played at SHOT Show in January where most companies opt to actually unveil their new guns instead of the “idea” of a new firearm, actually made some writers mad because they wanted to know what Benelli had in mind.

On the day the gun hit the market, demand and interest were so high, the hits on the company’s Web site were so numerous it overloaded their servers and temporarily shut the site down. It was the day after the launch madness that I got the privilege to hold one of these new gems in my very own hand. I was in Florida with Benelli Brand Manger Joe Coogan and company Marketing Director Stephen McKelvain for a turkey hunt.

We would be only the second group (the first after the launch) to hunt with the shotguns and put them through their paces. Another group of Benelli staffers and writers (including OL’s Editor-in-Chief Todd Smith) got to travel down to Argentina with the first prototypes of the Vinci to put it to the ultimate torture test in the South American dove fields. Our mission was to put it through the paces in more of a one-shot-counts experience.

The collective assessment of all in attendance was that this gun met the hype Benelli was selling. Light-handling, comfortable to swing and aim and recoil resistant, this shotgun was everything a hunter shooting hard-kicking shells such as a 3-inch Federal Mag-Shok turkey load would want. With it’s ComfortTech buttstock design and In-Line Inertia Driven action, the Vinci reportedly reduces felt recoil by a whopping 72 percent over its competitors. The gun did indeed handle the heavy loads nicely. Even better and unique to the Vinci is it’s modular design. The entire gun breaks down in seconds into three basic parts: a barrel/receiver module, the buttstock and a single trigger group/forearm module.

The receiver and barrel are all one forged unit. That combined with the reduced recoil automatically got me to thinking, “how soon before you guys have a slug gun for this thing?” While buying a receiver/barrel (the serial number is on this part of the gun as this is what the ATF currently considers as the “firearm”) will no doubt be more expensive than say, just purchasing a slug barrel, there’s no denying that mounting a scope to a slug barrel/receiver combo and swapping it back and forth with the scattergun barrel will keep your scope more reliably on zero. It will also reduce the effects of shock due to the reduced recoil, as well as minimize any misalignments caused by shifting between a separate receiver and barrel.

Benelli officials would say for sure when a slug barrel would be available, but you can bet it is already on the drawing board. My hunch is you can expect to see one by fall–next SHOT Show in January at the latest. The challenge will be getting it at a price point that a guy will be willing to spring for the additional barrel. The gun’s design certainly lends itself to such changes.

Right now, the Realtree APG version of the Vinci is retailing for just over $1,400. For the dude that has no issues with that price, it’s unlikely an additional $400 to $600 dollar receiver/barrel module would be much to balk at as well. One thing is for sure though, when that baby hits the market, it will be one wicked slugger with few peers. Until then, I’m betting the Vinci can sling some buckshot as well as it did the heavy turkey loads–at least where such hunting is practiced and legal.–Doug Howlett