Gun Preview: Benelli M4 Civilian Tactical

You asked for it and we got it – a Benelli M4 Civilian. Supposedly this is the gun that settles the Mossberg SPX vs. FN SLP vs. Remington Versa-Max tactical debate. For those who aren’t familiar with the M4, this is the same gun the U.S. Marine Corps are using. The M4 strays away from traditional and sometimes complex (not to mention dirty) gas-operated actions and utilizes its unique Auto Regulating Gas Operating system (ARGO). The ARGO system instead uses dual stainless steel, self-cleaning pistons to operate the action and was designed to handle everything from low power rounds to hard-hitting buckshot. But here’s the big question . . .

Is the Benelli – with its $1629.99 sticker price – worth it? Nick has had great luck with his Mossberg 930 SPX and I’m a Mossberg 590A1 fan. My 590 has put thousands upon thousands of rounds down range with little issue. With that in mind, I’m planning on torture testing the M4 for our loyal readers.

Not a bury-this-thing-in-the-mud kind of test. It’s safe to say that the Marines have probably done that for me already. Instead I’ll do my best to try to get it to jam up or fail. From there, she’ll get turned into a 922(r) compliant 3-gun beast!  If you have any suggestions or specific ammo you’d like to see me run through her, leave your ideas in the comments section below.

Initial Impressions:

- Solidly built. Everything about it feels very solid. My 870 Talo pump
feels like a piece of aluminum foil compared to this thing. Lockup, stock
fitment, barrel fitment, and  finish are all what you’d expect from
Benelli.

- The ARGO system is indeed very simple. There are very few moving parts
and once you get it all apart, it becomes very clear and obvious.

- The buttstock is nicely sized and proportioned for me. The pistol grip is
made out of a fantastic rubber/poly blend, but the forend is
surprisingly slippery. For the time being, though, I’ll hold off from making any
judgments until after some thorough testing.

- The LPA sights are great and provide a very useable sight picture. We’ll
see how they do at the range.

Stay tuned. This should be fun.

69 Responses to Gun Preview: Benelli M4 Civilian Tactical

  1. avatarCoyote Gray says:

    $1629.99 sticker price?!?!?!?!

    My $400 Remmingtion 870 pump action always works like a champ. Unless the bottom of that Benelli pistol grip is shapped like Jennifer Garners mouth and comes with an articulating tongue, I doubt Benelli has added over $1,200 worth of improvement over anything else on the market.

    • avatarAge Quod Agis says:

      Coyote, you’re a sick man….and I like it!!!

    • avatarAharon says:

      #1

    • avatarPatrick Carrube says:

      Like everything else in the world, the “cost vs. performance” chart is not linear. Is the Buggati Veyron nine to ten times “better” than the Corvette ZR1 Supercar (the fastestand most advanced production Chevy ever)? Is a LWRC M6A2 two or three times as good as a DPMS Sportical? Aside from that, the notion of “better” is subjective. What you’re looking for in a HD gun may not be what someone else is looking for their HD gun.

      Keep an open mind and follow this space to see if the M4 is at least somewhat worth the extra $1200 :)

    • avatarNot Too Eloquent says:

      Top 10 comment ever!

    • avatarDex says:

      shooting the benelli M4 is like being on the receiving end of Jennifer Garner’s tongue. trust me. The Benelli is worth every penny.

    • avatarRoy says:

      I love the 870. Everyone should own one. But this is tier 1, no compromises.

      Here is what you get for $1,200:

      1. Speed. Your 870 recoil plus pump action is not even close to an M4. This is a faster, more accurate weapon.
      2. Stainless steel self-cleaning pistons=Few moving parts. Piston drive is the cleanest, fastest, simplest, coolest and smoothest technology of any shotgun.
      3. Modular. You can fix anything or reconfigure it by hand in seconds. Grab your home defense weapon, shoot skeet and then nail some cans at 100 yards, all without a single tool. This makes it vastly more versatile than an 870.
      4. Accessible. What if your wife or 14 year old daughter needs to grab a shotgun? An 870 is difficult for many people to handle. The M4 has far less recoil and will not fail. Your wife not only can shoot it, she will like to shoot it.
      5. Everything you like about the 870: Military heritage, simplicity, ultra reliable.

      For $1,200 you get a notably superior defensive weapon.

  2. avatarChris Dumm says:

    Every once in a while a great gun comes along at a shockingly high price. I should stop being shocked.

    • avatarRoy says:

      It’s a great value. I don’t know anyone who owns an M4 who would call it overpriced.

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        I agree that the M4 seems fairly priced. I’ve had mine for three years, and paid 1,300. It’s built like a tank, is soft to shoot even with 1 3/8 oz loads, and perfectly reliable so far. It is, in truth, a specialized design. For perspective, my long-term shotgun interest has been in skeet and wing shooting, and I only own double guns otherwise. I have three double guns for skeet that I also use for upland bird hunting. I wanted a semi-auto defensive shotgun, and couldn’t, three years later, have more confidence in a firearm. With a Geiselle hammer, 7 round tube, and Urbino stock, it fills the niche well, and is a joy to shoot.

  3. avatarSteve says:

    Want to know why it costs 1600$?

    The US Military will pay that much. They will pay that much because they are spending Someone Else’s Money (in this case, yours and mine). Who cares what it costs? Uncle Sam is picking up the tab. Go ahead and have desert too.

    In the grand scheme of things, 1600$ for a shotgun is peanuts to the US Defense Budget (funny way to use the word “budget” huh), but those peanuts really do stack up.

    I doubt that the M4 is really that much better than…say an FN SLP which runs around 1000$. Maybe…and for 1600$ I hope it really is the cat’s ass…

    • avatarAnon in CT says:

      At least the DoD produces an annual budget, unlike the Federal Government at large.

    • avatarC. Walther says:

      The military pisses away money, no argument there. But I *seriously* doubt the Army would purchase something at sticker price. Especially civilian sticker price.

      Military discounts apply for bulk weapon sales too, you know.

      • avatarScot Echols says:

        No kidding! I work for a state govt’. If I want to buy pens for my office, I can’t get the $0.99 pack from Walmart, I have to use the GSA catalog and pay $8.99 for the exact same thing. It’s the same with every single thing the government buys.

    • avatarRoy says:

      Reliability.

      The FN SLP is fantastic and very fast, but it also is less forgiving with ammo. It is well made and a good value for the price point, but it is laughable to say it is of similar quality and reliability as the M4.

      The FN has two gas pistons for heavy and light loads. Lame. The M4 is auto adjusting.

      “Oh, hey zombies, time out. I put in the wrong pistons for these shells. Hang on while I look for the right pistons and swap them out.”

      Go hold them side by side, shoot them with different ammo, and then come back and tell us if you still think they are in the same league.

  4. If you are interested, I’ve done a few videos on my M4, demonstrating it’s function and speed, I was able to get six rounds out of it in under .7 seconds. Also, I did a video overview and complete field stripping/reassembly video. You are going to love how easy it is to take it down.

    Here are links:

    Shooting the M4/Speed Demo:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dibSfoBtGU

    Overview and Field Stripping/Reassembly

  5. avatarAustin says:

    Remington has this video of the Versa-max where they load every kind of 12ga shell they could find into the gun and always mix up the order, etc. At least in that video it ran everything flawlessly. I’m sure it isn’t the only gun that can do that, but I think that shows what should be expected these days. Do something like that!

    • avatarAustin says:

      Also, are you going to test it with or without that sex-toy magazine block?

      • avatarPatrick Carrube says:

        Haha, that will be Part II and I will acquire some goodies from Freedom Fighter Tactical (FFT) that will ensure 922r compliance and will help transform this into a very capable HD gun into a 3-Gun monster…

  6. avatarjwm says:

    this is america, buy whatever makes you happy. but as has already been stated. is it three to four times better than a remington or mossberg, because it costs that much more?

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      The Germans and Chinese also buy what suits their taste. It isn’t just us. The M4 isn’t expensive. A Holland & Holland is expensive. A pro-grade Gamba or Perazzi skeet gun is expensive. Is an H&K pistol twice as reliable and durable as a Glock? No. “Comparisons,” they say, “are odious.” For that matter, shooting three-gun for a year or two makes the cost of the M4 small beer.

  7. avatarDerek says:

    Federal OO Buck is the cheapest big name buckshot in my neck of the woods. If it will reliably eat that and cheap birdshot and it’s truly more reliable and easier to clean than my 930 then it’s got my interest.

    Granted, it’s going to be pretty much impossible to, definitively, be “more” reliable than my 930 seeing as I haven’t had a single malfunction in ~1800 rounds of bird/buck/slugs. So if you’re willing to put more than 1800 rounds and you don’t have a malfunction of any kind then I suppose it could technically be more reliable… I think.

    • avatarPatrick Carrube says:

      Derek, have you cleaned the gun at any point during the 1800 rounds? I’m thinking a good way to judge the M4′s “worth” would be an ultimate long-term no cleaning test to see where (and if) it will jam. Benelli touts this gun as being super reliable in the dirtiest conditions with minimal maintenance. Knowing what I know about the SPX and FN SLP (and many semi-auto hunting guns), both of those guns have a hard time making it past 250-300 rounds before FTE/FTL’s increase exponentially (the reason why you’ll never see a semi-auto in any national skeet match where the round count for the day normally exceeds 400). Obviously, if you clean your gun every 100-200 rounds, there is nothing to be worried about. I hoping to see the M4 “go the distance” in that regard. Stay tuned…

      • avatarDerek says:

        I’ve cleaned it a couple of times but I’ve gone a lot more than 200 rounds between cleanings. I’m no expert, in fact my 930 is the only semi-auto shotgun I’ve ever shot, so I’m not saying one’s better than another because I simply don’t know. I’m just saying the 930′s a lead throwin machine. Either way, I’m excited for your review. Now get to shootin already :)

      • avatarjwm says:

        cleaning routine for my mossberg 500. cut large patch from old t shirt. open action of shotgun, unloaded of course. spray clp down barrel and into action. use t shirt patch to wipe out. never had a ftf or fte.

        • avatarPatrick Carrube says:

          Perhaps just from a day at the range. I use my 590 for coyote hunting, dove hunting (yup, even with a 20″ barrel it works well), 3-Gun (just learning btw), etc. Mine, although 100% reliable, does require more than just a patch down the barrel. I’ve pulled pebbles out of my trigger pack, luckily none of which were large enough to block anything.

    • avatarDex says:

      Just ask the Marine Corps, Navy SEALs, and other Special Operations what they think of the M4 Benelli.

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        Or offer them a free choice, the Benelli or a Mossberg 590….

        The comment that price increases are not linear as construction quality and manufacturing costs rise, is the sad truth of the world. I’ve blown more money just to get a somewhat better HP server, and it isn’t involved in defense of my life, just somewhat faster data handling and backup.

  8. avatarGS650G says:

    There are shotguns and there are Benellis. To own one is to know.

  9. avatarAdam says:

    I just purchased one of these and pick it up Thursday from on order from my local FFL. I already have waiting in the box my Urbino OD Green Stock and FFT Foreend along with the full mag Titanium tube to go on once I get the thing. I personally can’t wait.

    • avatarPatrick Carrube says:

      How does the OD stuff look? I’m thinking about it myself vs the standard black furniture. Did you get the cheekriser stock with Limbsaver pad? I spoke with Todd yesterday on the phone and he was very helpful and provided a lot of insight. I’ll be doing a “3-Gun Monster4″ build using many of the Freedom Fighter Tactical parts.

      • avatarAdam says:

        I got the whole deal.. cheek riser, limbsaver pad etc. The OD green is dark but not quite as dark as I thought it’d be but its fine. I plan on a EOtech XPS2 I think it is or a Reflex sight soon

        • avatartimer00 says:

          My registered username is now timer00 but anyways I took a quick video of my M4 I picked up finally yesterday along with a quick look at the Mesa accessories.. I’ll be doing a video that has it taken apart and put together with the Mesa gear. Just look up “zarack00″ user on youtube.

    • avatarDex says:

      Adam, you will love it. If you’re married, you might have fidelity problems though ;)

      • avatarAdam says:

        haha.. my wife of course is kind of on board.. she knows how the world is getting and isn’t too naive :)

        I sold our 3rd car a 95 Volvo wagon that I had for 3 years to pretty much pay for the gun.. though the extras I bought ahead of time by a few weeks.

        • avatarDex says:

          if you have to donate bodily fluids for money and prostitute yourself, the Benelli is worth it LOL ;)

          Im dead serious.

  10. avatarCurzen says:

    http://www.stoegerindustries.com/firearms/stoeger-model-2000.php

    buy stoeger if you want the argo system without the benelli price. both are owned by beretta.

  11. avatarSkyler says:

    I’m curious as to how it’s different from the military version.

    • avatarPatrick Carrube says:

      Fixed buttstock and a 5-round magazine tube… the USMC uses a collapsible stock and a 7-round tube. Other than that, it’s the same gun.

    • avatarAdam says:

      The civilian version comes with a restricted mag tube, and no collapsible stock plus I think they get the 14″ barrel standard for the military instead of the 18″ civilian

      • avatarPatrick Carrube says:

        To my knowledge, the 14″ barrel (aka the M4 “Entry”) is mostly for law-enforcement or specialized units. The Standard M1014 (military M4) has an 18″ barrel.

        • avatarAdam says:

          Your right .. I was just thinking along the lines that certain military areas might prefer the 14″ :)

      • avatarAndrew says:

        I think I heard a while back that Benelli was manufacturing a m4 in the US – that being the case, do you think it would be possible to find an extended mag tube along with collapsible stock? I had thought there was some weird obscure rule where it prevented the import of a completely foreign made rifle/shotgun? Maybe TTAG made an article on it?

        • avatarPatrick Carrube says:

          Mine was mfg’d within the past 6 months and says “Made in Italy” right on the barrel.

          However, the collapsible stock and mag extension are available. One needs to remember that swapping parts or adding a mag-ext will require the gun to maintain 922r compliance. The adjustable stock runs about $599 and is available from multiple vendors. Keep an eye on this space for more info…

        • avatarLeo Atrox says:

          Benelli is assembling the M4 H2O models in the US because they are coated in the US before assembly. The main components are still made in Italy.

          There are enough aftermarket parts available to allow the installation of the Italian-made telescoping stock and pistol grip (which are two parts; not one part like the standard “pistol grip stock”). You’d have to replace foreign parts with US-made parts to be compliant with federal restrictions. US-made hammers, forends, magazines, and followers are available to facilitate this reconfiguration, but it can be pricey to acquire all the parts.

          As for import regulation, the M4 has a 5-round magazine so that it falls within the guidelines to determine it a “sporting” shotgun. This allows it to be imported in ATF-approved configurations for civilian sales (which is just one configuration).

  12. avatarMotoJB says:

    I’d love to have one…but not at that price. My FN TPS or Mossberg 930 are fine, thank you (with a wad of cash left over for ammo).

  13. avatarAccur81 says:

    I own an 870 and a Benelli. The Benelli is a sporting clays model, granted, but it shoots much faster than the 870. It also needs very little maintenance. I’ve shot my gun buddies Benelli M4 head to head with an 870. The M4 put 00 buck on target much faster. Yes, the M4 is damn expensive. It’s also what I’d want in combat.

    That being said, the 870 is my duty gun because my department cannot afford Benelli M4′s. I train with the 870 on and off duty to avoid training scars.

  14. avatarjustin says:

    went out to the country for a shooting day with some friends. And one of the guys brought one of these. that was a pretty bad ass shotgun. could toss a milk jug full of water up into the air and put 7 shells into it before the jug hits the ground.

    Nice shotgun but I think I’ll stick with my 590A1.

  15. avatarMatt in FL says:

    I am very interested in your review of this shotgun. Really wring it out for us. I’m also interested in what you do to make it a 3-gun happy shotgun. That’s something I’d like to get into eventually, once I have, y’know, 3 guns.

  16. avatared byrd says:

    i know most semi’s wont cycle the aguila short shells.
    but for shits and giggles.
    mind trying a few short shell slugs in this ?

  17. avatarFEDCOP says:

    I am a Federal LE and can assure you Beretta charges the Govt a $$$$$ less than the $1600 sticker. Our department bought several of the civilian versions that has the magazine tube limiter, which is easily replaced with an extension for a few $$. We are experiencing a problem with Federal 00 buck rounds splitting in the chamber and only the brass section ejecting. MOST of the time the broken hull slides out the barrel. Beretta markets this weapon as being compatible with “any” ammo. However, when contacted about this situation, they are blaming it on the ammo. I wanted to find out if anyone else was having this issue.

    This weapon is amazingly fast, I can load and shoot 6 rounds before a Mossberg 500 can shoot six.

    • avatarC. Peters says:

      Any semi auto will shoot faster than any pump, so the comparison is not accurate. I have a Benelli M$ and have been VERY satisfied with it. I wish my house was cheaper also but we pay for those things we want.

  18. avatarJohn says:

    My Stoeger M2000 was $420 with all the chokes. I can’t seem to make it jam. It’s made by Benelli but if it had the Benelli logo it would cost $1200.

  19. avatarAdam says:

    Well I have been out twice with my M4 with Mesa Tactical stock/limbsaver and FFT 3/4″ Ti charging handle and matching FFT OD green forend.

    I shot Federal 7 1/2 shot, Federal #4 Buck, Remington 3″ Magnum #4 Buck, and Remington 2 3/4 00 Buck. Probably about 200 rounds total and everything went fine.

    Yes if I didn’t have an extra car to sell to buy the M4 I probably would have went Mossberg but I decided to splurge and haven’t regretted it. I have heard from various people from reading gun boards: In general buy the best quality weapon you can afford. I only plan on having a 3 gun type setup (pistol, shotty, rifle, eventually hunting gun possibly) Again this is all my preference and situation.

  20. avatarC. Peters says:

    Comparing a pump gun cost with a semi auto cost is comparing apples to oranges. Very different function as well as cost. Having fired all the mentioned guns I own a Mossberg 500 for a pump and a Benelli M4 for a semi auto gun. The Benelli simply runs all the time and I can not say the same for the others. If you can’t afford it or simply do not wish to pay that much the don’t. It is still a free country, but don’t bash something you have not ever tried. In my mind the cost is retaliative to what you expect to get out of it. I wish I could have spent less but I am also very satisfied with what I have purchased. In my mind the 590 does not really have anything over the 500. I have several thousand rounds through my 500 and absolutely zero problems. Someone can say the same for a Remington 870, but you cam not compare the 500, 590 or 870 to any semi auto as they are different tools.

    Compare it to a 1100 or something semi auto but not a pump gun. I hands down choose the Benelli M4 over the other semi autos. But again the M4 is not the same as any other semi auto in the design of the gun over all. The configuration of the M4 is unique for it’s intended purpose.

  21. avatarDaleC says:

    I, currently, own a Mossberg 500 tactical and have owned Remington 1100 and 870 tactical shotguns. I have also spent countless hours in the dove fields of Alabama and Mississippi with various 1100′s, Model 12′s, 870′s, Browning humpback autos and Citoris and Mossbergs. Sometimes I was the shooter and other times, I was next to the shooter. Over the last 35 years I have run thousands of shells through those guns, from low brass #9 generic birdshot, to various grades (and ages) of buckshot and slugs. I have never had a failure to fire, stovepipe, jam, disintegration or failure to feed. EVER. Every single time I pulled the trigger, the gun went “bang”. I also don’t know anyone who has experienced any of those in the field.

    The same goes for thousands of .45, .22, .38, .357, .44 Mag and .40 rounds sent down the tube in various pistols and rifles.

    I can assure you that the maintenance of those guns was spotty, at best.

    What am I doing wrong? I should have had a few dozen misfires, misfeeds, jams and whatnot in that time, at least.

    Weird.

    • avatarPC says:

      Dale, I would suggest that you play the lotto then, as you are the luckiest woodsman ever. To never experience a misfeed, misfire, or jam is simply remarkable. Even the military accepts the facts that anything mechanical is inherently doomed to fail or hiccup at one point or another and has certain “failure limits”…

      I do hear your point though, guns over the past 30-40 years have become boringly reliable. Looking at the four 5-gallon buckets I have in the garage, I would say I put an honest 10,000 bullets down the pipe each year – both at the range and in the field. Even then, I couldn’t “name” my last malfunction. However, even so, I have had misfires with factory ammo in factory guns, had failures to eject with a brand-new 887 shotgun, misfeeds with a Custom Shop SIG, had sights fly off (Glock), a broken firing pin (numerous guns), bent magazine lips, busted 1100 gas rings (I always bring a couple spares dove hunting myself), worn-out extractors (10/22), broken a hammer (A5), had a frozen safety/selector (Charles Daly), a turret “pop” off on a high-end hunting scope (Leupold), and on and on and on. Statistically, these failures are low – we’re talking fractions of a percent, but they DO happen. Add the possibility of user error, and the figures goes significantly higher. To add to that, I am also a competitor and I see guns break and malfunction ALL the time (I’m not talking about user-induced failures here) – including some of my own.

      If you look through some of the gun reviews here on TTAG, you’ll see that these types of issues do happen, even if not often. Some guns, simply by their design, are more robust and less prone to breakage and failure than others. Semi-auto shotguns can be notoriously prone to failure – especially when the gas system isn’t “tuned” to the rounds selected. This is why on guns like the 1100, the A5, etc. you can “adjust” the gas system for whatever loads you choose. The Benelli M4 is supposed to change all that (I guess the Versamax is getting good marks in that department as well) and I can report as of now that there hasn’t been a single hiccup with this gun. I’ve literally lost track of how much rounds have been shot through and will have to go through my range books to see. Off the top of my head, there was a single round that I could not get to fire – a super light, 7/8-oz #7 shot handload that a 70 year old man loads for his C.G. Clay’s gun.

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        PC: What a delightful summary of things that go wrong on guns. Thanks. The only guns I have that are even more reliable than my M4, and measurable only in the sense that they absolutely don’t care about super-light loads, are my skeet double guns.

  22. avatardc says:

    MSRP is $1900 to $2100 based on version and they are impossible to find for sale.

    Isn’t it great when not only do we have to suffer being victimized by criminals, but then suffer re-victimization by iatrogenic politics and public hysteria?

  23. avatarTom Sorce says:

    Benelli M 4….shoots everything I put through it, bird, buck & slug. 1,300 plus rounds and never a malfunction. The truly impressive bit for me is to be able to consistently hit the 8 or 9 ring at 100 yards with a slug. No optics, just the factory ghost ring sites. Used to be a pump owner….no longer. The M 4 is the funniest gun I have ever owned. Multiple target acquisition is fast, fun and seamless. Now looking to add a Mesa Tactical stock and possible some optics to see how far out I can get with a slug. Love my Armalite AR & my Glock 22, but if I had to pick one gun, and only one gun, it would be the M 4.

  24. avatarChris Goshorn says:

    Good article. Very fine shotgun. I was lucky enough to add a Benelli collapsable stock and extended magazine tube to mine, after the tedious process of making it 922 compliant (see freedom fighter tactical’s site for regulations). Anyone wishing to convert to the extended mag tube, remember you will need a new spring, or the last shell will not chamber.

  25. avatarMichael Lindley says:

    It has been two years since Patrick Carrube promised a review of the Benelli M4. Does anyone know if this was ever completed?

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