Benelli developed its Inertia-Driven System of operation in 1967 that, partly because the gas and carbon produced during firing don’t enter the mechanism, has built a reputation for being among the cleanest running shotgun actions ever designed. It’s simple in principle and unfailing in reliability, too, with only three main parts—bolt body, rotating bolt head and inertia spring. For those reasons the reception from enthusiasts was a warm one when the company chose it to run the M2 semi-automatic shotgun line it introduced nearly 20 years ago.
The M2’s virtues continue to make it a popular choice to this day, and there’s a staggering variety of models from which to choose. Early in the model’s run, the company offered the warmth of oiled-wood furniture (seen above from our 2004 files), but as news of the shotgun’s performance and rugged build spread, owners made it obvious the main attraction was the gun’s function and durability, not head-turning looks. As a result, brand-new versions wear a synthetic stock in black or various camouflage patterns.
The Inertia-Driven System can take abuse, with steel locking lugs and rotating bolt. It reliably cycles everything from light field loads to magnums offering enthusiasts, home defenders, hunters and target shooters diverse functionality for task-specific roles.
There are six distinct branches in the M2 shotgun family—Field, Field Rifled Slug, 3-Gun Performance Shop, Turkey Performance Shop, Waterfowl Performance Shop and Tactical. MSRPs start at $1449, $1559, $2,599, $2,999, $2,699 and $1,249, respectively.
M2 Fields are available chambered in 12 and 20 gauge and run 2 3/4" and 3" shotshells. Receivers are anodized black or camouflage. Barrels, which are either 21", 24", 26" or 28", are blued or camouflage. There are even versions built for southpaws.
The M2 Field Rifled Slug is available in 20 and 12 gauge with 24" barrel. It also has a 3+1 capacity and chambers up to 3" loads.
Benelli's M2 Performance Shop versions carry all the designs virtues, including the perceived-recoil reducing ComforTech Recoil Pad and Comb Pad system. The special features added, however, make them an ideal choice for their respective pursuits.
The Tactical model is the lone version available with a pistol grip (although the other black stocks are also offered) configuration. They are chambered in 12 gauge only, wear an 18.5" barrel and have a shotshell capacity of 5+1. Add the company’s Crio System of cryogenically treating the barrels and choke tubes (included), and you can’t go wrong choosing a Benelli M2.