Who doesn’t love boomsticks, aka shotguns? And today, we are taking a shotgun reputed to be the very best with our Benelli M4 review.
I’m a big shotgun guy and always have been. The first gun I ever owned was a Remington 870 in .410 as a birthday gift when I was 8. Since then, I’ve been all about the scattergun. I was one of the few guys issued a shotgun in my Marine Corps unit due to my inherent knowledge of the shotgun. I’ve handled, owned, shot, and trained with dozens in all manner of layouts and actions.
I’ve used all manner of tactical and sporting shotguns, from classic pumps and doubles to the most modern auto-loading shotguns on the market. This experience makes me uniquely suited to review the Benelli M4 shotgun.
In the last year, I’ve put over 2,000 rounds downrange with the Benelli M4. During that time, I found it to be a fantastic shotgun. Semi-auto shotguns have a spotty reputation for reliability, but the Benelli M4 is an absolute workhorse of a gun that never taps out.
It’s accurate, fast firing, controllable, and you can tell it’s designed to be a combat shotgun from the ground up. We will walk you through our extensive testing of the Benelli M4. You’ll see the shotgun’s reliability, accuracy, and how the gun handles ergonomically.
We’ll talk about what makes the M4 unique and why when the Marine Corps went shopping for a new shotgun, they went with Benelli. Heck, even John Wick chose the M4 for combat.
On top of that, we’ll guide you to some of the best accessories you can attach to your Benelli M4 to make it the best gun possible. Finally, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of the design and break down the features and design to help you make your purchase decision.
Keep reading to see what makes the Benelli M4 different.
Benelli M4 Review
- Barrel length – 18.5 inches
- Overall Length – 40 inches
- Caliber – 12 gauge 3-inch chamber
- Capacity – 5+1
- Weight – 7.8 pounds
- MSRP – $2,099
The Benelli M4 is a gas-operated, semi-automatic shotgun that feeds from a tubular magazine mounted beneath the barrel of the gun. It’s fairly simple in design but highly effective. These firearms benefit from being simplistic, and there haven’t been many huge advancements in shotgun technology. That being said, Benelli’s guns are known for being inertia operated.
It’s Gas Powered
With the M4, they went with a gas-operated system. Gas-operated systems are not affected by external weight. The Marine Corps wanted a shotgun they could attach accessories, including large night vision optics. Inertia guns will malfunction if weight is increased substantially.
The gas system in the M4 makes the gun stand out. It’s known as ARGO system, and ARGO stands for auto-regulating gas-operated. The auto-regulating gas-operated system uses two stainless steel gas pistons and ports the gas from ahead of the chamber.
This gas is hotter and cleaner, making the weapon less prone to fouling. Benelli describes the system as self-cleaning.
Is The Benelli M4 Worth It?
That’s the two thousand dollar question. The Benelli M4 is an expensive shotgun, and that can make it a tough sale. In my opinion, it’s worth every penny. However, that doesn’t mean a more affordable option won’t work for you.
The Benelli M4’s price is tied to its insane reliability in the worst conditions possible. The average person in a home defense situation might not face the same challenges as a Marine infantryman.
For the Tactical Shooter
With that in mind, the Benelli M4 isn’t for everyone. As someone who loves shotguns, I have a want for the very best shotgun on the market. The ARGO system ensures reliability, the weapon cycles quickly, comes loaded down with modern tactical features and is very easy to use.
To me, the high price is just the cost of admission to get the best combat shotgun on the market.
Benelli M4 Pros & Cons
- Extremely Reliable
- Easy to Control
- Equipped With Modern Tactical Features
- Lacks Features Due to American Import Laws (922R.)
Digging In With the Benelli M4
The Benelli M4 comes in several configurations, including an NFA-restricted short-barreled shotgun, field stocks, pistol grip stocks, and even the H20 model with a titanium cerakote finish. Today’s example of the Benelli M4 began as the base model with the standard field stock and low-capacity 5-round tube.
Its item number is 11703. I’ve done some extensive modifications to expand the weapon’s capacity, ensure it’s compliant with US Import laws and 922R, and largely expand its capabilities.
My model features the Benelli M1014 collapsible stock with pistol grip and a seven-round magazine tube. Additionally, the weapon wears a Mesa Truckee forend, a red dot, and a side-saddle. We’ll discuss these more later when we talk about accessories.
Benelli includes a set of ghost ring sights that are easily adjustable. The front sight features a big white dot to make seeing it easy. The rear peep sight also features two white dots that make rapid alignment easier in low-light conditions.
These sights are fantastic for shotgun work and allow for both quick combative shots and well-aimed slug shots at various ranges. Ghost rings are the best irons you can get for a shotgun.
In front of the rear sight sits a short section of Picatinny rail that allows you to mount all manner of optics. Tossing a red dot on takes no time at all and makes it even easier to get on target. These optics have become the norm on tactical shotguns, and you won’t feel left behind with the M4.
Controlling the Benelli M4
The controls are simple and what you expect from a tactical shotgun of the semi-auto variety. We have a charging handle on the right side, and beneath the ejection port sits a bolt release. The charging handle is perfectly fine.
It’s big enough to grab easily and offers enough leverage to shove the bolt rearward to free a stuck cartridge if it’s ever necessary. The bolt release is painfully small. It’s a teeny tiny little fellow that is stiff and can be tough to press.
At the trigger guard, we have a cartridge drop lever that drops the first round from the tube to the carrier. Without pressing the cartridge drop lever or pulling the trigger, a round will not automatically feed from the carrier.
This has its benefits. At any time, the user can retract the bolt and have it locked to the rear without an additional round leaving the magazine. This makes it easy to load a specialty round of ammunition, like a slug, and carry on firing.
We also have a manual cross-bolt safety that’s simple but well-designed. To flip it off safety, you have a huge button to press inward. To flip it to safe the button is smaller but still easy to press. Who needs to switch to safe fast?
The pistol grip is rubberized and plenty comfy for a tight grip. It won’t slip in your hand even under 12 gauge recoil. The Benelli M4 does have a fairly long length of pull at over 14 inches, and that might make the gun tough for new shooters to handle.
Feeding the Beast
The Benelli M4 uses a tubular magazine tube with a loading port in front of the trigger. Rounds slide in the magazine tube without issue, and you can reload quickly without worrying about leaving a DNA sample inside the gun. Too many shotguns tend to pinch and grab when you reload, especially when you go quickly. The M4 avoids that fate.
The ejection port is fairly large, and doing emergency port reloads is easy. Slap it in and go! The only downside is the little bolt release. You have to get some real muscle memory in to learn how to drop the bolt quickly and pull off that emergency reload.
I mention reloading because the Benelli M4 is a fast cycling, rapid-fire weapon that’s super easy to control. If you know how to use the push-pull method of recoil control, you’ll be able to tame the Benelli M4.
With a proper push/pull, you can tame the gun and keep it on target for fast follow-up shots. The action cycles as quickly as you can work the trigger, and the recoil and muzzle rise are fairly soft. It’s much softer than any pump-action tactical shotgun and a fair bit softer than most other semi-auto shotguns.
With the Benelli M4, the added pistol grip does make it easier to pull the gun rearward into your shoulder. The stock forend allows you to push forward easily and get a good push/pull going on. This translates into a very light recoil impulse. It’s a gun comfy for both new shotgunners and experienced shotgun fans.
Being able to shoot fast while keeping the sights on target is not an issue with the Benelli M4. In shooting, I found it very easy to shoot one target, then transition and shoot another. During some range time against the timer, I could land two shots on two targets in less than 1.5 seconds. Shooting this thing is a pleasure.
Shooting fast doesn’t matter much if you can’t hit your target, right? Well, with a tactical shotgun, accuracy isn’t exactly measured in MOA. They are close-range weapons that fire multiple projectiles per trigger pull. Still, the point of aim and point of impact are perfect. With the ghost ring sights, I can direct modern buckshot loads exactly where I want them.
This means headshots and chest shots with ease at ranges from 5 feet to 50 yards depending on the ammunition. A slug can take you out to 100 yards with ease, and that’s a huge benefit to ghost ring sights. If you use modern buckshot loads like Federal Flitecontrol, you’ll be able to make very precise shots out to 25 yards.
I’m a big fan of optics, and I think you should take advantage of that Picatinny rail. Toss on a modern reflex sight, and you’ll shoot faster, further, and with more accuracy than irons can offer.
The Benelli M4 provides a semi-auto shotgun with absolutely amazing reliability. The ARGO gas system is brilliant and ensures the gun runs in any environment you toss it in. I don’t clean my Benelli M4. I want to see how far it can go between cleanings, and so far, we are at over 2,000 rounds without a single malfunction.
Ammunition wise it eats everything. It won’t cycle less-lethal loads or those silly mini shells. Use standard and even reduced recoil ammo, and you’ll have no problems.
Here are a few accessories I think are must-haves for the Benelli M4.
|Scalarworks SW1100 Mount||Check Price|
|Mesa Truckee Handguard||Check Price|
|Blue Force Gear Vickers 2-Point Sling||Check Price|
|ARIDUS INDUSTRIES LLC – QUICK DISCONNECT SHOTGUN SHELL CARRIERS||Check Price|
Scalarworks Sync Mount
The optic’s rail is great, but this mount allows direct attachment of mini red dots. I used the RMR model, and it mounts my sight low enough to co-witness. Installation is easy, and it’s quite durable.
Mesa Truckee Handguard
The Mesa Truckee Handguard replaces plastic with metal and offers you M-LOK slots for mounting accessories like lights. It’s a huge upgrade to the stock plastic handguards.
Blue Force Gear VCAS Sling
The VCAS is a modern two-point sling that allows for rapid adjustments to meet an ever-changing battlefield. It’s perfect for the Benelli M4 and matches the role of the combat shotgun well.
Aridus Industries Q-DC
The Aridus Industries Q-DC is a rock-solid, universal side saddle to add six rounds of spare ammo to your gun. It’s overengineered and built for the apocalypse, just like the Benelli M4.
A Few Benelli M4 Alternatives
Here are a few shotguns that serve as worthy alternatives to the M4.
Mossberg 940 JM Pro
If you want a high-quality American-made shotgun, the Mossberg 940 JM Pro has you covered. This semi-auto design is incredibly reliable and less than half the price of the M4. The Security version comes red dot sight ready and with M-LOK slots for adding accessories. Plus, there is no 922R to contend with, so the gun is available with 7-round magazine tubes. It’s a darn fine home and self-defense gun.
Beretta owns Benelli but still produces one of the best alternatives to the M4, the 1301. The 1301 has slowly gained respect as one of the top-tier autoloading shotguns on the market. Its lightning-fast-cycling system and crazy lightweight design make it a favorite of serious shotgunners. While not cheap, the Beretta 1301 is still considerably more affordable than the Benelli M4.
The Italian Sports Car of Shotguns
The Benelli M4 is one of the best shotguns ever created. It’s the king of the tactical shotgun world. The gas system is unique and very effective. It’s highly reliable, accurate, easy to control, and soft recoiling. Shooters armed with the Benelli M4 tactical shotgun can easily customize the weapon to make it just right for their needs. It’s a thoroughbred, and other shotguns are ponies. It’s one of the few scatterguns trusted by the United States military for a reason.
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.
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