Benelli M2 vs. M4 Shotguns – Which is Best?

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You can’t mention shotguns without the name Benelli popping up. That’s because the company is an established purveyor of high-quality arms with fans all over the world.

Back in 1988, the US army was looking for a new 12 gauge splatter gun. The open request attracted an entry from Benelli, with their M4 being awarded the contract. Not only was the M4 exactly what the military was looking for, it literally smoked its competitors.

Benelli, the maker of the Benelli M2 and the M4, is synonymous with stellar shotguns for the discerning shooter. The Italian company is quite young in the arms market historically, having only been founded in 1967 by the six sons of Benelli. 

Benelli’s elite customers include the USMC, SAS, Israeli Special Forces, Irish Special Forces, and the French Special Forces. Many law enforcement agencies also prescribe Benelli semi-automatic shotguns. 

Bringing Fresh Shotgun Innovation to the Arms Market 

It all started in 1911 when widowed Teresa Benelli invested the futures of her six sons in an automobile service shop. The garage was located in Pesaro, Italy where the family serviced motor vehicles and made spare parts. 

Soon after, the boys expanded their services to repairing motorcycles and even tinkered on their own creations. The Benellis were avid hunters and remarkable gun nuts.

One, in particular, Giovanni believed that the future of shotguns was in semi-automatic configurations. In 1967, the Benelli family formed Benelli Armi SpA, teaming up with the inventor of revolutionary new action.

The designer’s name was Bruno Civolani, and the action was patented as the Inertia Driven mechanism. This innovative design involved using the firing energy, and subsequent recoil to shed the shell and reload the weapon. 

The inertia driven action replaced the current norm at the time; gas-operated mechanisms. Benelli’s system enabled the development of the fastest reloading shotguns in the world. 

Comparing the Benelli M2 vs. M4 Shotguns 

Benelli shotguns can be considered the Cadillac of the firearms industry. 

According to Benelli’s company history, the mayor of Urbino gave the family land to build a motorcycle manufacturing plant. Instead, the Benelli brothers used the factory as the base of Benelli Armi operations. 

In 1983, Benelli Armi SpA was sold to Fabbrica D’ Armi Pietro Beretta S.p.A or simply Beretta. This transfer didn’t affect the policy of technical, research, and innovation focus which Benelli had carried on since 1967.  

The Benelli brand continues to produce the most advanced shotguns available. These machines are manufactured in part by automated machines, and robots perform precise tooling and quality control. 

In the early 80s, Benelli applied the short-stroke recoil system they had developed for the M1 and M2 shotguns. Dependent on the gun’s rearward recoil, the inertia system enabled heavier loads to cycle in shorter amounts of time. 

The shotgun cycles with the buttstock in place, as this is where you’ll find the spring housing for recoil. This integrated system also consists of the comb and stock, featuring a high capacity energy absorption and deformity. 

The polymer made butt plate system features 12 boomerang-like slots on both sides. This makes the butt flexible, effectively acting as a barrier for the recoil energy.

Inertia Driven Recoil System with Tight Tolerances

The definitive inertia driven recoil system is simplistic in design but requires Newton’s law formulas to define. This system, though patented to Benelli, the concepts for this system’s working were invented by Carl Axel Theodor Sjogren in 1900. 

Although moderately successful, Carl did manage to create around 5,000 semi-automatic inertia driven firearms. 

The same principles were used by Benelli designer Bruno Civolani, adding a simpler yet more robust recoil mechanism. Acting like a slingshot, the Inertia Driven recoil system capitalizes on the shot energy to move fixed parts of the gun backward.

An inertia spring and the bolt are free-floating, allowing them to stay put during the action recoil movements. This is a very strong spring, and it’s able to tap on the compression between the bolt head and rear of the firearm. 

Once the shot has exited from the barrel, dissipating recoil force releases the spring, which in turn unlocks the bolt body. When the unlocking bolt head opens, the bolt is thrown backward to eject the spent shell cartridge. 

With a super-fast re-cock of the shotgun’s hammer, the bolt is sent hurtling back forward by the inertia spring. On its way back, the bolt head picks up the next round, locking the bolt onto the barrel as a super-quick reload. 

Benefits of the Inertia Driven System Aside From Reload Speed

You can choose any 12 gauge shell to shoot with a shotgun in this system. Interestingly, your choice of the cartridge will determine the task your Benelli can perform.

While some are perfect for tactical close-range shooting, other loads will better accomplish long-range shots.

Shotguns in inertia recoil action can also be ordered with features that vary according to the specifications of your requirements. You can have a round capacity of three or four plus one, and a barrel length that reflects the range you are targeting

From short-barreled 24-inch to longer 28-inch barrels, you’ll juggle between compact maneuverability and overall accuracy for the desired range.

The Benelli M2 uses inertia recoil drive to be a ‘field range’ shotgun. The M4, on the other hand, uses a gas-operated, piston-based system making it more of a tactical weapon. 

Well designed and manufactured weapons have tight tolerances. This means that a gun is tight-fitting and components don’t rattle with use.

A shotgun that lacks tolerance is prone to malfunction, and it’s a pain when cleaning or doing maintenance. The Benelli M4 isn’t lubrication sensitive and doesn’t require high maintenance. 

There isn’t much play or slop between moving parts with this shotgun. Everything is precisely tight, from the magazine nut screw to the rear adjustable sight. 

The Semi-Automatic Benelli M2’s Taste for the Hunt

This is likely the most common Benelli shotgun and by far the most popular. Coming in a wide range of configurations, the Benelli M2 has a tactical model, field gun, a 3 Gun, a waterfowl and turkey performance shooter. 

A predator designed for reliability, comfort, and versatility, the Benelli M2 is a semi-automatic shotgun that stands out in any version.

The Benelli M2 has its origin from the M1 base, a hunting gun designed to meet ever-increasing consumer demands. This is an excellent multipurpose tool, technically evolved from the Benelli M1 Super 90.

In terms of efficiency, the M2 shotgun is at the top of its range. Its strength, safety, and wear resistance comes from the materials, which include techno-polymers for the fore-end and stock.

Apart from its exceptional aesthetics, functional features on this shotgun mean it’s been meticulously researched and innovation baked. 

The 12 gauge Benelli M2 tips the scales at 6.6 pounds, with its Inertia Driven system and rotary head bolt that’s practical and easy to clean.

An oversized trigger guard eases finger reach when you are wearing gloves. For optimal grip, you have a checkered pistol grip. AirTouch checkering also appears on the forend, assuring your comfort in any shooting scenario.

The secure attachment of the barrel to its receiver increases the M2 semi auto’s strength significantly. This shooting stability ensures precision in your aim, guaranteed by a rear extension of its coupling point. 

The c recoil dampening system, situated in the Benelli M2s stock control the muzzle rise and recoil reduction. 

Beneath the Hood of the Benelli M2 vs. M4

Perfect for target shooting, the Benelli M2 becomes versatile with its short barrel and special optics. Interchanging the barrel with a longer one, fixing chokes coupled by adjusting the ComforTech stock makes it the perfect hunt gun. 

All M2 models are in 12 and 20 gauge calibers, each with a variety of finishes for the inertia driven shotgun. 

The Benelli M2 shotgun is famous for cleaning up the competition and is a popular 3 gun competition firearm. This shotgun’s popularity has seen it feature in box office hits like john week 3: Parabellum.

Its tactical configurations include a standard with a pistol grip, another with a straight stock, and the ComforTech with a recoil-reducing stock

There’s also a choice of either ghost rings or open rifle sight. The Benelli M2 is the lightest, weighing in at 6.7 pounds. 

It’s also a low-priced shotgun, but the price is not a reflection of poor quality in comparison to other Benelli offerings. 

The only downside is that none of the M2s in tactical configurations has an accessory rail. 

The Benelli M4, the Pinnacle of Tactical Shotgun Innovation

The M4 shotgun is a tactical firearm that comes in several configurations. All of them have the five plus one mag capacity, with ghost rings, and Picatinny rail for sight attachment. 

Some people claim that there are only four configurations, mistaking this with the standards on all Benelli M4s. 

M4 Civilian Configurations

The four configuration standards available for civilian use include; 

  • The M4 tactical with a tactical stock 
  • M4 tactical with a pistol grip
  • The M4 H20 with a tactical stock 
  • M4 H20 with a pistol grip

Benelli has the consumer acclaim for making weapons that are strictly for use by law enforcement agencies and the military only. The company restricts some features from civilian models, reserving them for use by its top and exclusive clients. 

For instance, even after the US government lifted the ban on collapsible buttstocks, Benelli still offers firearms devoid of this feature.

One of the features that beat its counterpart in my Benelli M2 vs. M4 comparison is the optics. The ability to toss on thermal or NVD optics gave the US Marine Corps the gas system shotgun they were looking for. 

Back in 1999, when the M4 came into play, the optics seemed enormous. Its military designation is the M1014, which became successful and was superbly popular with the forces. 

For the average Joe, the Benelli M4 is the most reliable and cleanest-running gas gun available on the retail market. This is also Benelli’s heaviest shotgun, weighing 7.8 pounds which is still lighter than to other notable brands.

The Benelli M4 is a ton of incredibly smooth and fun shooting. The most common tactical configurations include the standard black anodized, desert camouflage and a titanium H20 Cerakoted model.

You can cycle everything from light to heavy loads with this shotgun’s comfortable recoil. 

Gas Operation, but With a Difference

The Benelli M4 is a gas-operated 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun which is perfect for tactical use. This gun uses what Benelli calls the Auto Regulating Gas Operated system or ARGO. 

By taking advantage of gasses from further up the barrel than previous gas actions, the ARGO system increases the M4s reliability and versatility. 

Two pistons directly impact the bolt, giving a simpler, lighter mechanism with cleaner gas and less fouling. 

This shotgun is worth the price if it’s a tactical weapon that you’re after. The Benelli M4 will eat thousands of rounds while submitting to the grit of patrols or breach entries.

If you are seeking a home defense shotgun, or for plinking and 3G competitions, the M4 may prove to be overkill. 

The US marines, LAPD, UK military as well as forces in South Korea, Australia, and France favor the Benelli M4.

Unlike the M2 which is the cheapest of Benelli shotguns, the M4 is the priciest. This excellent weapon is however worth every penny, especially from a heavy tactical perspective.

The Final Round for Benelli M2 vs. M4 Shotguns 

From a popularity or commonality angle, the Benelli M2 is a standard measure for everything else. For a 3-gun however, the tactical versions of this shotgun have a pistol grip that interferes with single-shot reloads.

Its light to start and the barrel can be a 24 or 26 inch with a magazine extension added. You hold an extra four to six shells out of the barrel’s muzzle, a fantastic choice for home defense. 

I wouldn’t recommend using the Benelli M2 as a competition or sporting gun. It’s more of a tactical weapon, and with modifications will be the best hunting, 3 Gun, HD, or clays gun.

With the M4, you have a purposefully built tactical and HD shotgun. Its ARGO action differs from the M2s inertia driven recoil system and adds more weight to the Benelli M4.

Recoil has been incredibly minimized by the M4, and its action is smooth and reliable. If you’ve got work for the shotgun that the USMC breach teams rely on, get yourself a Benelli M4. 

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