View Full Version : The Marines are going with the Benelli M4...

November 14, 2001, 08:38 PM
My question is why? Is there something the new Benelli M4 gas-operated autoloader can do that the Mossberg 590A1 with peep sight can't? Why spend the money, especially since shotguns are a limited-issue basis weapon in the military?

November 14, 2001, 08:44 PM
Probably because the Benelli works and the Mossberg jams constantly.

My $.02 of course

November 14, 2001, 09:55 PM
I've never heard of the Mossberg jamming. How does a pump shotgun jam anyway? If you short-cycle it, you'll have problems, but that's operator error and can happen with any pumpgun.

November 14, 2001, 11:40 PM
I have watched Mossberg autos jam with consistency on the skeet and Sporting Clays field. Perhaps that is why Mossberg no longer makes autos.

You are right of course about the difficulty of jamming pump guns. I guess I will have to learn the numbers for Mossbergs.

The marines are going to the Benelli because it is an auto and a very reliable one at that. Is is a very simple mechanism that does not require the maintenance of Gas operated autos. Benellis have a great rep amongst duck hunters.

I once was soundly thrashed at Sporting Clays by a young guy using a Benelli M3 with short barrel and extended mag tube. I encouraged him to take up Trapshooting:D

November 15, 2001, 12:03 AM
That's the thing...according to Benelli's website, the M4 is Benelli's first gas-operated autoloader.

I don't see that a semiauto service shotgun provides an advantage over a pump. In fact, it would probably be unable to use low powered less-lethal ammo that may be what a military shotgun is used for.

Plus, the Benelli undoubtedly costs twice as much as the Mossy or a Remington 870 would.

There must be something more to it, but I'm not sure what.

November 15, 2001, 12:22 AM
why..because you cannot heavily add accessories to the inertia recoil operated benelli in its present form...the gun will not cycle..thats why benelli went to the gas....winchester actually started the inertia recoil system in the model 50..it never sold..and the delayed roller blowback on the HK was invented in the US in the 1920s...just a little history..as usual we invent..dont buy it..and somebody overseas puts it into there guns and then we think its great because it must be good..it was made overseas....buy the way..the m4 stock is wonderful..but the gun itself weighs a ton..ive handled it....was not impressed

Sergey Podgirin
November 15, 2001, 04:23 AM
We do have here a number of M4's in Moscow gunshops, but Benelli's price is something outstanding: $1,800, while Rem-870's for only $400-$500.

A gas-operated semiauto seems to be a good choice for service shotgun, especially when it is made as reliable as Benelli. The only question is why did they install an M1S90-type recoil spring in the buttstock (just like AR15 buffer)? Benelli M3S90 had a recoil spring placed over the magazine tube, so it could been used with both PG and a full stock. M4 shotgun can be used with special Uzi-type folding stock only because of the recoil spring housing.

BTW, does anyone know if Benelli M4 is available with classic full stock, like M1S90 or M3S90? I've never seen M4 with fullstock, but I dont see any reason why it couldn't exist.

With best regards,
Sergey Podgirin

November 15, 2001, 07:54 AM
Ok Dumb question.. can it be fired one handed? Otherwise why a pistol grip stock?

Some tech stuff I've read says it will shoot anything you put in it from low brass 2 3/4 to max dram 3 inch shells and is expected to last 25,000 rounds without and parts changes. Sounds cool to me.

The 'folding stock" looks like something that will get tied up in web gear. Why not a sort of m-4 carbine type stock? Or is the spring buffer tube forcing the stock down instead of straight back? Charging handle on the bolt looks small, can it be reliably engaged with heavy gloves?

And I sort of agree.. do we really NEED a new combat shotgun? the argument seems to be putting funky doo-hicky sights and stuff on the shout gun. Really does a shotgun NEED a laser range finder?

BTW saw a thing on discovery/history channel the other day about the battle of Hue.. US Marine said they borrowed a bunch of shotguns for house to house fighting from the army. That sort of suprised me, an 8 shot weapon over a 30 shot weapon when ranges are varied from point blank to 100's of yards.? Well according to one marine YES.. it was all shot guns and grenades.

November 15, 2001, 08:19 AM
Doctor, it hurts when I do this [moving arm up and down]!!!

Yes, you can shoot a shotgun one-handed and you should practice this skill. I am amazed how many people think that they will not be shot in a gunfight.

"Pistol grips" are for GSCs and part of that raging infection the "Iwannacoolgun" virus. They allow the weapon to be ripped away from you easier. However, the militree likes them because they make the weapon easier to handle for people with smaller hands (i.e., females). Folding stocks are silly and are solely for GSCs who claim in their Selous Scout days they needed to retract the stock as they jumped out of the helicopter with a knife in their teeth.

We may not need a new shotgun; we do need increased training. Why not let each unit decide what they want given a choice between the two? A shotgun does not need a laser/phaser, but does need a light and good sights.

Shotguns have long been used in fights. Depending on your range and understanding that it is just a tool, it may be the right tool, but the operator is most important.

November 16, 2001, 02:31 AM
I find it interesting that the Marines would find the 590-A1 unreliable. My understanding is that the 590-A1 was the only shotgun to pass the durability test when it was adopted several years ago.

Now I'm not saying that there may have been some hanky-panky involved in the switch to the Benelli M4, but it has been known to happen. I am not at all familier with the M4, but if it uses a trigger group like the M1, I see trouble down the road.

Of course, this is just MHO.

Dave McC
November 16, 2001, 06:50 AM
I know little first hand about either the Benelli or the 590, but I've some insight into the military mind.

First, you should recall that the M-16 was never intended to be a battle rifle, but a survival tool that was to be strapped to an survival kit, or liferaft. Once some fool decided it was a line werapon, it took about 5X as much money to make it reliable and effective as it did to develop the concept.

Second, the adoption of that Beretta 9mm in place of the old Colt warhorse has seen more NDs and injuries in 20 years than the GM had in 70. And, the Beretta rep for FTFs put it way down the list of picks for personal defense.

Now to shotguns....

Ever since the Brown Bess was state of the art, military weapons have ben built as ruggedly as possible. The Garand, K-98, AK etc, come to mind.
My guess is the 590 doesn't hold up, and since the folks that picked it don't want to admit that, they moved on to a "New, Improved" shotgun rather than regress to an older, previously used model.

Point of Fact, possibly the best fighting shotgun from a military POV is the old Model 97. Tough, reliable, ambidextrous, with relatively high mag capacity, it's sole drawback is the fairly high cost of machining the parts. The experimental model w/ grip safety done at SA might still be the best choice in a military shotgun.

November 17, 2001, 10:53 PM
Dave McC said:

"First, you should recall that the M-16 was never intended to be a battle rifle, but a survival tool that was to be strapped to an survival kit, or liferaft."

Huh? Are you, perhaps, confusing the AR15 and the AR7? The AR7 was indeed a survival rifle, but the AR15 did not come from the AR7.


November 17, 2001, 11:47 PM
The AR-15 was originally adopted by the Air Force. The Army and the Marines didn't want it at first, until Bobby MacNamara and his Whiz Kids forced it on everybody.

No matter how you hash it, the M16 is NOT a battle rifle. It's an assault rifle. The M16A2, with it's increased weight and long range sights, is, in my opinion, a step in the wrong direction. They should have made the M16 LIGHTER, not heavier. And why the heck did they put 800 yard battle sights on there? The Army only trains for 300 meters, and the Marines for 500, I believe. They're trying to turn the M16 into something it's not, I belive. Now, they're taking a big turnaround with the adoption of the M4 carbine, and are going back to the weapon being a lightweight, easy to carry assault rifle.

Back to shotguns. Here would be my IDEAL service shotgun.

-Solid steel receiver like the Ithaca and Remington 870.
-Ambidextrious saftey like the Mossberg series, placed in a similar location.
-A ghost ring sight system.
-8 or 9 capacity
-Parkerized finish.

Basically, it's the Rem 870, except I don't like the Remington's saftey.

November 18, 2001, 10:52 AM
The Air Force originally bought the M16 for the security guards around their airbases, not as a survival tool.


November 18, 2001, 01:39 PM
nightcrawler you are not alone

November 19, 2001, 12:22 AM
Here's a thought - maybe the collapsable stock on the Benelli M4 is for use with and without differant amounts of armor, gear, etc? Ever think of that?

When you are wearing an entry vest, your length of pull on the weapon needs to be differant from when you are just wearing BDU's. That was one of the major reasons I was given when asking about the collapsing stock.

Second - it's not a matter of laser sights as much as being able to mount the Comp M / NV combo on it. Being able to see what you are shooting at keeps you from accidentally shooting one of your own guys.

Anyone else here actually handle one? I did at SHOT last year, and found it quite easy to use. It's beeeefy, but handles well, wish I had one for home defense.

Let's see how it survives the first few years before us armchair commandos start bitching about how it sucks ass.

November 19, 2001, 02:45 PM
Nightcrawler, you are incorrect. As Kharn posted, the Air Force purchased the AR15 for airbase security purposes, NOT as a survival tool for its pilots. Ezell's book "The Black Rifle" talks about the gestation of the AR15 and its procurement for the Air Force.

The AR7 was a .22 survival rifle, but it's an entirely different rifle. Yes, it took quite a while and a fair bit of money to develop the AR15 to the point where it was reliable. But, as Ezell points out, the same was true of most US small arms. The difference is that the AR15 was pushed into combat too quickly, before all the development and testing was complete. There are various people and organizations to blame for that.


November 21, 2001, 01:07 AM
The Benelli M4 is better for the battlefield than a pump because
1. You can fire it with one hand. In a war you have a realistic chance of getting wounded in one arm or hand.

2. In a war you might be firing your shotgun in a real confined area like a tight trench or baracade where pumping is difficult.

3. If you are on patrol, your pumping sound may give away your position to the enemy.

November 21, 2001, 02:46 AM
Yep, that sounds real good. Of course a Benelli tends to be real quiet when it's broke.:rolleyes:

November 26, 2001, 12:33 AM
For what its worth..I have a 590, Love it. Shoots a wonderful pattern and never one breakdown. Easy to breakdown and clean. I find the ghost sight setup makes for an easy and quick target locator. If I could change anything on it I would be to put a cleaning kit in the butt end of the shoulder stock like that of an m-16. As for shooting one handed...forget it. You might do it once but would think strongly about it the second time.

November 26, 2001, 03:02 AM
Isn't there some rule of Gov'ment logic mandating that anything which works well must be replaced? That's the only way this makes any sense. Let's see, what's the last flawless weapon left in the military now that the 1911 and the M1 are gone? The pump action shotgun. Well obviously it's got to go. The Mossy doesn't have nearly enough moving parts to break down, and it's far too easy to use. Most importantly, it's not nearly expensive enough and it lasts far too long.

I have to wonder if the folks who make these decisions are the same ones who'll have to actually use the weapons. Something tells me they aren't. I damn sure know they aren't the ones who have to pay for these new wiz-bang toys.

November 27, 2001, 05:43 PM

Just curious, why do you prefer Parkerized over a blued finish?


November 28, 2001, 12:14 PM
The military prefers parkerization because it's a bit more durable than bluing.

I like it because it doesn't seem to scratch as easily.

Will Beararms
November 30, 2001, 09:51 PM
The M4 is actually a hybrid for Benelli who for the record is owned by Beretta and all Benelli shotgun barrels are made by Beretta. When I say hybrid, the M4 is part recoil operated and part gas operated.

As for Benelli Super Black Eagles and Montefeltros, they are wonderful sporting clay and upland bird guns but as a good duck gun? I must disagree based upon personal experiences not second hand information. They may fair well in a duck blind or boat but when you are wading in chest waders in flooded timber or swamps for ducks, they cannot meet the challenge. I have seen three Benelli Super Black Eagles, One Montefeltro die in the duck blind all were within two years old.

The problem is the recoil mechanism in the stock, it either sweats or is drug through the water in the flooded timber and said recoil assembly starts to rust causing massive problems with reliable function. I will go out on a limb to tell you that the Marines will be disappointed with the Benellis over the long haul. Accelerated tests are one thing but when slow rust is factored in, the story is altogether different.

Now for those of you reading this who have plunked down your $1,200.00 or so bucks on a Benelli, be of good cheer. MACK'S PRAIRIE WINGS of Stuttgart, Arkansas, USA has the sure cycle which is a replacement recoil mechanism made of stainless steel and for $150.00 you can remedy the problem.

Benelli Shotguns and Beretta M9's you ask? Well, well we owe this to our namby pamby, nickle dime politicians who need their heads kicked up in their rearends. The 1911 and the 870 pump are unequaled in performance but instead we reward a foreign company with the spoils of providing some of our military sidearms! Yes I bird hunt with a Beretta Shotgun but the idea of Beretta getting both the pistol and shotgun contract is apalling! But then again it's politics and look what the politicians did with the anthrax deal on capital hill. They had the clean up crews in congressional offices within hours but the Washington DC area post office had to wait for weeks to get attention and after a death occured, then the politicos came running.

Sorry for the rant. Am I a moderator or a gun expert? No. Do I have fifteen links for youy to go to to back up my story? No. What I am is a guy who since the age of seven for 30 years has hunted the swamps and river bottoms of SE Arkansas and N Louisiana. I know that actual, unbiased expereince is not allowed for gun writers but that's all I have to offer.

God Bless our Soldiers. God Bless America and outfit them with AMERICAN MADE weapons in man-stopping calibers noit something the weaklings in NATO or the UN approve!

December 1, 2001, 02:45 PM
Sure, it couldn't be about having a better tool for the job. It couldn't be about removing operator error out of the mixture by removing the pump cycle and replacing it with semi auto operation. Using your logic, we all should still be using single action revolvers.

The M4 represents the next step forward in the combat shotgun. Unlike the Super Black Eagles and Montefeltro's you mentioned, it's designed that all major maintenance is done by the end user - the soldier. He's able to break it down into major components, all thoughtfully designed so that he can keep them ready for combat, not out in the duck blind.

If Remington, or Mossberg, or Winchester / Browning / FN had come up with a shotgun as good as the M4, then we'd probably be hearing about how it would have been a better alternative. Unfortunately, I don't see any out there being released with these specifications. Maybe Scattergun or Vang will release a new Border Patrol model with a rail system, collapsible stock, and other gadgets. Until then, nothing is matching the features on the M4.

Does anyone here actually have some first hand experience with this new firearm, or is everyone armchairing this?


Will Beararms
December 1, 2001, 03:46 PM
There's one simple tenant to live by in the shotgun world: pumps are more reliable than semi-autos--------------period. Therefore a pump is the best tool. With a semi-auto, it's not a question of how it will break down but when. I've seen it with all of them.

I am anything but armchair and typically I shy away from any topic I am unfamiliar with but in this case I know what I am talking about. Some may not like but its a fact and call me cocky if you will but it's just reality. Rifle? I am a novice. Handguns? I am a novice novice at best. Shotguns you ask? I know em.

I'm sorry but dragging a shotgun through mud, sand and freezing water---------not to mention the occasional times they are dropped in the water totally and then fired within minutes with no cleaning is a realistic measure of performance. You're telling me that bring a shotgun out of a warm environment to the shock of 20F and then back again after shooting fifty to hundred rounds per day and not cleaning it for weeks isn't punishment?

No sir we're not talking arm chair in my case and I will still tell you that the pump is more reliable. To imply that favoring a pump is akin to a single shot pistol is well let's just say a long reach. If you think the best win out a politically controlled trials I have some things to sell you. Ask any soldier slogging through mud or sticky desert sand about the M9's if you need help grasping the concept.

Nothing personal you see but common sense is common sense. If a soldier can't cycle a pump, maybe they need a desk job. Having a soldier field service a Benelli semi auto beyond field stripping? Get real.

December 1, 2001, 04:18 PM
I'll say this again - does anyone have any first hand, actual experience with the firearm in question?

Comparing your SBE in the duck blind to a weapon designed expressly for combat is like apples and oranges. The SBE is inertia / recoil operated. The M4 is gas operated. It's capable of mounting heavy night vision equipment and other accessories that would render useless the standard Benelli.

From the Bennelli M4 page -
Benelli engineers developed and patented a unique new "auto regulating gas operated" (ARGO) system. Dual, stainless self-cleaning pistons located just ahead of the chamber operate directly against the proven rotating bolt and eliminate the need for complex linkages found on other gas autos. The result..."Marine" tough reliability under the harshest environmental conditions.

Five samples of the Benelli M4 Super 90 were delivered to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland on August 4, 1998. The guns were put through an intensive, grueling test for safety, function and performance. Subjecting them to mud, sand, baking heat and extreme cold, the M4s beat out the competition to be chosen as the new U.S. "Joint Service Combat Shotgun."


About corrosion: Steel parts are black matte phosphated and aluminum matte hard-anodized for low visibility in night operations and corrosion resistance.

Hard-anodization is a mother of a coating - I know first hand because to prove points I regularly abuse hard anodized SureFire's compared to the standard models. We all know about how "parkerizing" holds up. Judging from the above picture and the stripped models I looked at first hand, it looks extremely easy to clean and keep cleaned - easier than a M16 truthfully.

As for the "operator error" - if operating a shotgun is so easy under stress, how come we still hear about "short stroking" and all sorts of other failures? Much easier to pull be a charging handle and release... plus you get a semi consistant stoppage drill across all your long arms.

Just my 2cents as a former grunt.


Will Beararms
December 1, 2001, 05:38 PM
You are taking Benelli's word for it and believe me they said the same things and do say the same things about the other shotguns they make with durability and corrosion resistance. Heck Beretta lauds the M9 as well.

The fact is a Remington 1187 is a better shotgun than a Benelli SBE. I have seen the 1187 shoot circles around Benellis in durability terms thought they may not actually shoot as fast.

With the semi-auto, You are relying on a series of small parts that get banged up pretty badly in a shotgun. They break and fail I don't care who makes the weapon. I love my Beretta 390's but they too will eventually fail while my 870 keeeps going and going and going.

Any 870 could be designed to work with light or lazer systems and the design materials could be treated to resist corrosion. I'm no grunt nor am I a writer or expert but I guarantee you I have used all types of shotguns as much as any soldier or law enforcement officer anywhere. As far as operator error goes, it's easier to make a semi jam than it is to make a pump jam. I have had it happen with both.

I am not trying to engage in a grudge match but again in thirty years of sporting clays, duck hunting, quail hunting,pheasant hunting and dove hunting. I have never seen a semi that is more reliable than an a pump. What I have seen is that semi-autos spit out extractors, jam and corrode and you can bank on it.

Time will tell. I may be eating crow in the future but I have a cast iron stomach.

December 1, 2001, 09:24 PM
The fact is a Remington 1187 is a better shotgun than a Benelli SBE.

Whoopee-crap - I don't see the Marines going with the Super Black Eagle, do you?

With the semi-auto, You are relying on a series of small parts that get banged up pretty badly in a shotgun. They break and fail I don't care who makes the weapon.

Eventually, on a long enough time line, anything will break. Lets look at the components involved -
Rotating bolt head: Hmmm, we have those on AR's all the way up to .50 cal - seem to do just fine.
Trigger group: Again, if common parts can handle .50, 12 guage shouldn't be a problem.
Gas pistons: We use them in the M240 and M249 machine guns, they should work dandy in a shotgun.
Recoil buffer and bolt group - seem to be adapted from the already successful Benelli's. Other than the "extractor" problem, how many other failures are common?

Guess what else? Gas operated versus pump operated means true one handed use - how many pump action shotguns offer that? Not to easy to pump when you've been shot in the arm.

Furthermore, with the incorporation of stainless steel parts where it counts, it sounds like this is tougher than your standard Benelli. If it has a stainless receiver, it definately is.

I am not trying to engage in a grudge match but again in thirty years of sporting clays, duck hunting, quail hunting,pheasant hunting and dove hunting. I have never seen a semi that is more reliable than an a pump.

And again, you are looking at dove / clay / whatever guns not primarily designed for combat. Polished Walnut is not designed to be submerged for hours on a combat swim. Bluing is not as corrosion resistant as parkerization. Standard (type 2) anodization is not the same as Military grade type 3 hard anodization.

You can have 100 years experience driving Model T's and that doesn't make you qualified to comment on how a Ferrari handles without touching it.

So again, this all leads back to the "I've never seen it work, so therefore it can't possibly work" syndrome. Again, if yours was the prevalent thought, we'd still be shooting lever actions and single action revolvers.


Will Beararms
December 1, 2001, 10:31 PM
I hold to my position. The semi-auto will not be as reliable as the pump. Serious fowl hunters who start out in March in Hawaii turkey hunting and go until the end of January each year will shoot a shotgun as much as any soldier will----------probably more. I base my conclusions from this type of usage not just a couple of seasons.

One handed operation? Boy I'll bet that'll be real accurate. I think I'll stay with an aimed shouldered position. One handed? Yep I can see that-----------shot one is level and by the end of the magazine, the barrel is straight up in the air.

Meanwhile, let's see what happens like I told ya, I can eat crow. The ultimate test will be not four or five hand-picked shotguns during an accelerated trial bit actual use over a span of say two years. I'ma patient. I can wait.

For the record, I like lever actions and I would take a garand over a .223 or 7.62 x 39 any day of the week.

December 2, 2001, 03:10 AM
Yeah because, after all, every modern army in the world is using lever actions and 8 round clips.

I give up - I bow to your "wisdom" - quail hunting shotguns are obviously a "match" for combat shotguns, which is why we see so many trap guns in use with the Border patrol and FBI. The conditions are exactly the same after all.

Failure to maintain your weapon is neglect on the part of the operator. Period. If you haven't learned that in 30 years of duck hunting, no wonder you like pump guns so much.

Have fun with your cap and ball weapons.


December 2, 2001, 03:13 AM
You guys can argue the merits of one type of shotgun over the other until the cows come home and it won't prove a thing. "The proof will be in the pudding" as they say.

Personally, I think the Benelli will prove to be a big mistake. I smell the "brother-in-law" effect here. Someone is calling in favors to get a deal like this. That's just my opinion, but I fail to see how the Mossberg 590-A1 proved to be unsatisfactory when in the trials to select a new shotgun it was the only one to stand up to the military destruction tests. Now, all of a sudden, it's no good. Yeah, right.

Let's see what happens to the Benelli a year or two down the road.

Al Thompson
December 2, 2001, 06:54 AM
In a couple of years I'll unlock this thread... :D