The Picatinny accessory-mounting rail, attached to the receiver top with five screws, is another significant design point. In addition to the high-quality sights, the rail allows for attachment of a broad range of optics and accessories.
Another design feature attributable to the military background of the M4 Super 90 is its blissfully simple disassembly procedure. I was able to take it down to its basic components in less than a minute. Additionally, the removable bolt handle doubles as a tool for disassembling the ARGO gas system.
There are three main design features that set the M4 Super 90 apart from the M1014, including the collapsing stock mentioned earlier. The magazine tube capacity of the M4 is limited to four rounds for legal compliance, and, rather than the full-length magazine tube of the M1014, the M4 Super 90 has an aluminum “blocker” threaded onto the shortened tube. That was necessary due to the barrel ring located at the end of the barrel that must slide over the magazine tube. The final difference is the incorporation of choke tubes in the design. While the M1014 has a fixed modified choke, the M4 Super 90 uses Benelli’s interchangeable choke tube system.
Operating the M4 Super 90 admittedly necessitates more training than a slide-action shotgun, but it is not overwhelming. Loading is accomplished by pressing shells up through the bottom of the receiver into the tubular magazine. Once the tube is loaded, the user has two options. He can simply open the action, drop in a shell and release the bolt. The other method requires manipulation of the cartridge drop lever located forward and to the right of the trigger guard. Activating the lever releases a round from the magazine onto the carrier. Cycling the action will load the round into the chamber. When the gun has been fired and the magazine tube is empty, the bolt will lock open. The bolt is released by pressing the carrier control button, or bolt release, located on the forward right side of the receiver. The design allows users to easily change the type of ammunition in the chamber without accessing the ammunition from the magazine tube.
The M4 Super 90 handles quite well. Good ergonomics in the design of the controls as well as the buttstock/pistol grip/handguard combine to make for a quick-handling and easy-shooting shotgun. Rate of fire is very fast, and recoil surprisingly easy to control, making follow-up shots accurate. But a well-made firearm is more than simply the sum of its parts—it must prove itself on the range.
To “wring out” the M4 Super 90, I enlisted the help of Lt. Michael Clayton of the Person County, N.C., Sheriff’s Department. We put the shotgun—fitted with the optional full pistol grip stock—through its paces at the department’s training facility. Clayton, accustomed to using a slide-action shotgun on duty, mentioned that the Benelli is very “smooth shooting and easy to control.” He said, “I especially like the pistol grip as it makes it very easy to hold on target and fire accurately.” This was obvious as he consistently hit point of aim with slugs at 50 yds. within the first few shots. He also noted that the design of the pistol grip and overall excellent ergonomics result in a shotgun that is easy to maneuver with, allowing him a secure hold on the shotgun while moving around barriers and over obstacles. In the course of that session, we fired a combination of 2 ¾” and 3” buckshot and slugs, and the Benelli functioned without complaint.
While the gas-operated semi-automatic shotgun is by no stretch of the imagination a new development, the M4 Super 90 is representative of a new phase for the combat shotgun—in both its operation and its employment by our armed forces.
After closely examining the M4 Super 90 and testing it for performance and functioning, I have to say that I am glad that Benelli is planning to offer this version of the M1014 for sale to the public, although it will not be available until later this year. I was thinking I needed to enlist to get my hands on one again!
Manufacturer: Benelli Armi, S.p.A., Via della Stazione, 50, 61029, Urbino, Italy