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Practically Shooting

Benelli M4: On the Way Here


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Because I didn’t have one, I guess. 

I wanted one of the current heavy hitters; the M4, Beretta 1301, or the new Beretta M300 Ultra Patrol.  Maybe a Benelli M2.  

Actually I started out shopping for Mossberg 590s, but they are running in the upper $500s up to well into the $600 range.  I thought I might as well go ahead and buy Italian.  


It turns out none of my wants are any too abundant right now, and when found they bring every penny they can get.  I went back and forth between all of them as my favorite, but when I cleaned up my Benelli M1 it was decided.  I was reminded how simple Benellis are, how beefy some parts are, and how clean they stay.  

I was tempted to get a Benelli M2 because they are so close to the M1 Super 90 I have and like.  Then I threw a lowball bid at a used M4 on Gunbroker and won.  
It should be here tomorrow. 

Since I already have a Benelli M1, why another shotgun so similar?  
For one reason, I want a spare.  I don’t have a similar backup for any shotgun.  In classes, shotguns tend to fail a lot.  They simply don’t withstand the heat and constant use as well as other types of guns.  Switching to a spare gun is a very common necessity, and all of my shotguns are different from the rest.  That kind of change can screw up the learning curve.  Shotgun classes are held less often than others.  I’ll make a greater effort to get to one, so it sucks even more if and when I can’t use the intended gun throughout the entire class.  

Another reason is I’ve expanded my shotgun use, for lack of a better description.   I never used to keep a shotgun handy for defensive use except in the home.  Then during the “Summer of Love” with all the riots two years ago, I started taking my Benelli M1 in the SUV whenever I went very far from home.  Moving it out of its comfy house bedding spot to the SUV with all the casing up, stashing it in its spot in the SUV, and little things like unscrewing the light lens a little so it can’t be switched on in transport running the batts down, carrying a bag of ammo back and forth, etc, etc- then reversing the process when I got home- was enough of a nuisance that I probably left it home sometimes when I shouldn’t have.  

So I will now have two guns that operate the same, with similar controls, and the same sights, so one can get comfortable in the SUV and one can stay home.  I can use them in classes without worry of having to switch to something completely different if one goes down.  I can even switch back and forth, which might make it easier on the guns.

 That’s it!  It’s a money saving purchase!  

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I’ve now had it a few days, but haven’t shot it yet.  Oddly, I had never handled an M4 before buying one.  I kept reading how much heavier they were than their competition, including Benelli’s own M1, M2, and M3, but it feels close to my Benelli M1.  Part of that could be the old Surefire forend light on the M1, which isn’t heavy but probably has enough weight to effect the feel.  

Just looking it over, and IMO, the M4 is a tiny step down in quality from my old M1.  The M4 is also 20 years newer (2001 vs 2021) which may have something to do with it.   Two parts caught my attention right off.  

One part that always impressed me on the M1 is the “rat tail” of the bolt- the link pinned on the back of the bolt that runs to the recoil spring in the stock.  It’s much beefier than on most semiauto shotguns I’ve seen.  
It’s a different part on the M4.  It’s made of flat stampings stacked and riveted together.  It’s probably fine, but it doesn’t look as impressive as the M1.  

The M4 also has a plastic trigger guard/trigger group housing while the M1’s is aluminum.  That may save a minute amount of weight, but not much.  I’m not opposed to some trigger guards being plastic, but for guns like this, the housing supports several pivoting and spring-loaded parts. Most of these parts get banged around pretty well in cycling and are on pins supported by this housing.   I’ve never heard or read of a problem here, but I’d sure feel better with metal.  
They are available on the aftermarket.  I might splurge. 

Then again, Marines have been using the M4 (as the M1014) for over 20 years now.  They don’t seem to be destroying them, so there’s that.   

One thing I really like on the M4 is the pin that retains the trigger group.  The trigger assembly is attached similar to most other pump or semiauto shotguns; with a pin through the receiver.   Only THIS one is captive.  It pushes through from right to left, stops when the assembly is freed, and stays there.   I always seem to put these pins where I can easily find them later, then forget where that place is.  I will know where this one is.  
Small thing maybe, but to me it’s worth a lot in actual use.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have ran it through a class now. It was only a one-day class where I used 148 rounds, but still a class.  

There were only three students in the class, including me, so it may not mean a lot that it was the only shotgun to get through the day without a malfunction.  The fact they were sharing Buffalo brand (?) shells didn’t help them any.  

I wasn’t planning on using it because I didn’t have a stock yet that fit me.  I was going to use my Benelli M1 Super 90, then maybe switch to the M4 late in the day to see how much different it felt.  But I guess the “new gun” factor was too much to resist.  
Naturally, my new stock arrived the following afternoon.  

Nothing exciting to report about the gun.  Keep shells in it and shoot.  This instructor was a proponent of reloading the gun with what you shot ASAP (Shoot one, load one; shoot two, load two, etc) so I got a lot of practice stuffing the tube full.  The magazine spring and the shell latch spring are stronger than my M1 or any other shotgun I have, so it was my LEFT arm that was feeling it from shoving shells in all day.  

So far, I recommend it. 

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