Spending our morning at the Benelli tent had its perks as highly regarded 3-gun shooter (and pants ironing stickler) Dianna Liedorff Muller showed Dan and I around Benelli’s reworked 3-Gun edition M2. Benelli currently lists a Performance Shop Edition version of this gun, but the one I shot today is most decidedly not that gun . . .
In discussions with Nick, it appears that part of what makes a good shotgun for 3 gun is the ability to feed the damn thing as quickly as possible. Shotgun reloads, by their very nature, are time-consuming and complex. This adds an element of stress and uncertainty to a shooting stage.
Benelli’s answer to this, and one that carries over from their previous edition, is an oversized, smoothed out, and slicked down loading port that allows the shooter to quickly grab two shells and shove them forward with vigor to recharge the gun. Dianna was kind enough to show us the finer points of “schlooping” i.e. loading multiple shells at once, as rapidly as humanly possible. I’m by no means a pro after a three minute session with Ms. Muller, but I was able to see how the modified port helped things out.
Another carry over from the previous gen gun is the oversized, and fluted bolt knob that allows the operator to get a firm grip when it comes time to rack and cycle. What has changed, are the two additions from RCI-XRAIL you see at the front of the receiver. The previous generation 3-gun sported an oversized bolt release, but not one nearly as big as this one. Get within the general vicinity of this button, and the bolt is closing home. And just forward of that is an shell caddy that holds that extra shell that might be the difference between first and a much lower placing.
Dianna was kind enough to coach me through usage of the shell caddy. As this gun was fresh out of the box, the caddy was extremely stiff and refused to give up its death grip without some extensive force. I’m assured by the Benelli team that with time, this would break in just fine.
Once the clays started flying, I had no trouble using the bright fiber optic front and (newly added) rear dovetail to pick ’em up and put ’em down. At an MSRP of $2499, the 2016 Performance Shop 3-Gun Edition won’t cost any more than last year’s, but it has a couple extra bits that make it a bit more appealing to the serious 3-gunners among us.