Benelli is known for making shotguns for discerning customers. Customers like the U.S. Marine Corps, the French Special Forces, the Irish Special Forces, the Israeli Special Forces, the SAS, as well as lots of assorted law enforcement agencies. And the Benelli M4 is the Cadillac of semi-automatic tactical shotguns.
The Benelli M4 was initially designed for the Marine Corps, where it serves as the M1014.
The Benelli M4 is a 12 gauge, gas-operated, semi-automatic shotgun designed for tactical applications. The gas system the M4 uses is called the ARGO (Auto Regulating Gas Operated) system. Its a half-decent Ben Affleck flick, too.
The ARGO system increases the reliability of a shotgun by taking gasses from the further up the barrel than normal. This gives you cleaner gas and less fouling. The ARGO system also implements two pistons that directly contact the bolt. It’s simpler and lighter than most gas systems.
The Price Tag
The price of smoothbore perfection is steep. The MSRP is a hair south of two grand, depending on the model (there are two M4 H20 Tactical models with titanium Cerakote finished receivers for $270 more). That barrier to entry makes the shotgun inaccessible to most and, even when you can afford it, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth the money.
The answer is…complicated. As someone who owns an M4 and has used the M1014 during my military service, I can say its worth every penny…but it also isn’t.
It’s worth the price if you need a shotgun that can eat not only thousands of rounds between cleanings, but also a gun you can take on patrol and submit to the grit and grime of a big dirty world.
If you need a gun that can go through a sandstorm, ride in a vehicle all-day-every-day and be generally abused — but still work every time its called on — then the Benelli M4 is for you.
If you just need a shotgun for home defense, for 3-Gun competitions, or for plinking, then the Benelli M4 might be a little bit of overkill.
Then again, if you’re like me and just have an affection for the gun or a desire for the best, whether you need it or not, then the Benelli M4 might be for you.
Tight tolerances are usually the sign of a well-made and well-designed weapon. Sometimes it’s also associated with a gun that’s prone to malfunction or a one that’s picky when it comes to lubrication and maintenance.
The Benelli M4 is a tight-fitting firearm that defies those typical tight tolerance negative stereotypes. It’s neither lubrication sensitive or high maintenance. Everything just reeks of quality.
You won’t find much slop or play between the moving parts of the shotgun. The tight tolerances of the Benelli M4 give it a superb feeling of quality. From the rear adjustable sight to the way the magazine nut screws on, everything is tight and precise.
Inside the Benelli M4
The Benelli M4 Tactical Shotgun comes in several configurations, all with a 5+1 round magazine capacity. This includes a fixed black synthetic stock, a fixed pistol grip stock, and a fixed stock mock-up of their M1014’s collapsible stock. The Benelli M4 comes with ghost ring sights and an optics rail for attaching any red dot or optic you choose.
One benefit of a gas gun over an inertia-driven (see the Benelli M2) system is that you can tack on anything you want and not worry about the weight causing reliability issues. The M4’s forend has no rails, but the aftermarket has introduced several systems to make it easy to attach lights and the lasers of your choice.
The charging handle is on the right side of the gun, as is the bolt release button. The bolt release is one of my main complaints. It’s unnecessarily small and probably the first part I’ll switch out.
The loading port, however, is quite large, making it easy to load the tube, especially in a tactical or high-pressure situation. There is plenty of room for you to work and lots of space to correct mistakes in. When it comes to port loads the bolt and receiver leave plenty of room to make it so.
Another minor complaint is the safety positioned behind the trigger. I much prefer a safety being located forward of the trigger (though that would put it close to the M4’s cartridge drop lever).
The button to switch the shotgun from safe to fire is plenty large, though, and it’s easy to find and press. The pistol grip is quite large and, in my opinion, one of the best grips out there. It fits my big hands and gives me a good deal of control over the gun.
The Benelli M4 Tactical Shotgun is one comfortable gun to shoot. The weapon eats up most of the recoil from the gun, and muzzle rise is equally as minimal as the weapon’s recoil.
The Benelli M4 shotgun is likely one of the softest shooting shotguns on the market. Not only does the ARGO gas system help cut recoil, but the gun is designed to maximize control with its rigid stock, ribbed forend, and large pistol grip.
The gun also eats everything from cheap birdshot to hard-hitting slugs. It doesn’t eat mini shells, so don’t ask. While some say it has trouble with lower powered loads, in my experience the gun cycles even low recoiling rounds like my all-time favorite Federal FliteControl 8 pellet buckshot. The sights are quite precise and allow for quick target acquisition to accurately throw a load of buckshot or a slug at anything opposing you.
The M4 cycles incredibly fast. With a little practice and a lot of ammo, I got to the point where I could drop all five rounds before the first one hit the ground. It’s such a fun gun to shoot rapidly that I got rather good at manipulating the trigger.
The trigger is absolutely outstanding. Shotgun triggers shouldn’t be judged like rifle triggers, but the Benelli M4 has a trigger easily comparable to a good rifle trigger. It’s clean and short with a positive reset. If one wanted, you could easily bump-fire this gun with little effort.
The Benelli M4 shotgun has proven to be reliable and has yet to have a malfunction in my hands. At this price point, if it did malfunction, I’d have a return tag to Benelli in by now. This shotgun is one of my favorites. It’s light, fast cycling, accurate, reliable, and comfortable. What more could one want from a tactical shotgun?
Specifications: Benelli M4 Semi-Automatic Shotgun
Barrel Length: 18.5 inches
Overall Length: 40 inches
Weight: 7.8 pounds
Caliber: 12 Gauge 2.75 and 3 inches
Action: Semi-automatic gas-operated.
MSRP: $1,999 (about $1,800 retail)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability: * * * * *
The Benelli M4 eats everything you toss at it. It cycles buckshot and birdshot with ease and is only challenged by less lethal, breeching loads, and other ultra low powered shotgun rounds. High brass, low brass, it doesn’t matter…the M4 makes it go bang.
Accuracy: * * * * *
It’s a tactical semi-auto shotgun, so accuracy is easy because of the close-range nature. I will give it full marks because the sights are absolutely fantastic and fast and easy to acquire. From slugs to buckshot, the gun puts it where it needs to be.
Ergonomics: * * * *
As far as semi-auto shotguns go, the M4 has a great length of pull (14 3/8″), excellent loading points, and well-placed controls. The only real downside is the small bolt release button.
Customization: * * * *
While it’s no AR-15 or GLOCK, the Benelli M4 has a surprisingly large aftermarket following with tons of different options to customize and upgrade the gun. The receiver comes fitted with a length of Picatinny rail for mounting scopes, a red dot, cigar holder, whatever.
Overall: * * * * 1/2
The Benelli M4 is a powerful, accurate, reliable, and easy-shooting semiautomatic shotgun. It’s an excellent tactical shotgun, though at a very high price. This gun is certainly a capable defensive shotgun for anyone, although it’s built for combat in foreign lands.