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[Video+Review] Benelli M4: Best Combat Shotgun?

Tactical shotguns are favorites among the home-defense crowd, known for their reliable performance and ability to adapt to close quarters environments.

And the Benelli M4 is no exception. This Italian 12-gauge has a reputation for being a solid autoloading shotgun with style, unlike most others.

Benelli M4
Benelli M4

But what makes this shotgun so good?

Well, we’re going to find out today as we explore the legendary M4. Spoiler alert: it’s a beast.

I’m going to run you through the specs and features; then, we’ll take it to the range here in my home state of Tennessee and at Thunder Ranch in Oregon.

Benelli M4

By the end of this article, I might just have you convinced why I think the M4 is one of the best combat shotguns on the market.

So, if you’ve ever caught yourself gazing at the M4 and wondering, “what if,” keep reading…

If you want to see the Benelli M4 in action, check out the video below.

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Table of Contents

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Specs & Features

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first.

The M4 is a 12-gauge automatic shotgun with a barrel that sits at 18.5-inches. It eats 2 3/4 or 3-inch shells and comes in a few different models.

Best High-End Semi-Auto
1799
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Mine happens to be the anodized black version.

It weighs in at a hefty 7.8-pounds with an overall length of 40-inches.

Benelli M4

Controls sit where you expect, with the cross-bolt safety located where you need it.

Some say the bolt release is a little small, but I think it’s okay.

Benelli M4 Receiver
Benelli M4 Receiver

The ergonomics are fantastic on this shotgun. That over-molded pistol grip feels big and solid — perfect for handling heavier loads.

(By the way, I think for a combat shotgun, you need to go with a pistol grip.)

Benelli M4 Pistol Grip
Pistol Grip

On the front, the M4 shipped with a plastic front grip.

It was okay, but I opted for an aftermarket M-LOK handguard so I could add a flashlight down the road.

Benelli M4
I tossed on an M-LOK handguard.

As far as aesthetics, the M4 looks great.

The Benelli branding is minimal and super clean – though I have no idea why an Italian gun has an American flag on it. Regardless, I like it.

It didn’t come with much, just a box and the gun itself. So, I added one of our own Pew Pew Tactical Flatline rifle straps and a red dot.

55
at Shall Not Comply

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

ARGO

As I mentioned, this gun is a beast. It runs and runs well, but what makes it all work?

At the heart of the M4 rests the Auto-Regulating Gas-Operated system.

Benelli M4 ARGO
ARGO

The ARGO system offers a short-stroke, dual-piston design. It was originally created and approved for use by the U.S. Marines in 1998.

And this bad boy thrives on heavier loads. Not to mention, the pistons are self-cleaning.

But if you do need to clean it, it all field strips super easy with no tools. It’s a ridiculously simple design.

Benelli M4 Cleaning
It’s easy to field strip and clean.

Personally, I love that it is self-cleaning, not because I’m afraid to clean a gun. But because it runs clean.

The M4 will run forever in the field, and you won’t have to worry about reliability.

Benelli M4 Thunder Ranch
Even in the snow…it runs. (Photo: TFB TV)

Why So Expensive?

Get the aloe, y’all…this is going to burn.

Depending on the setup, MSRP on the Benelli M4 comes in between $2,000 and $2,300.

Street price is $1,800 to $1,900 unless you want the collapsible stock…which is unobtanium.

And if you do find one, expect to double the price of the gun.

Full disclosure, I paid full pandemic price for mine – buy once, cry like six times.

Why is this gun so darn expensive?

Benelli M4 Thunder Ranch
(Photo: TFB TV)

Blame it on the Italians, man. Italian shotguns have long held the reputation for being premium builds with top-of-the-line pricing.

While $2,300 seems steep, compared to other Italian guns (like Beretta’s DT11 topping out at $20,000…no typo there), it’s kind of a steal at $2K.

But really, with the M4, you pay for the reliability.

Benelli M4 Handguard

This shotgun will literally go through the apocalypse with you. You can’t stop it.

And that tends to be well worth the price, especially if you consider it for defensive purposes.

With all that said and done, let’s talk about how it did at the range…

Benelli M4 Shooting
I mean, it won’t quit on you.

Range Time: Smooth Shooting

I took the M4 to Thunder Ranch for a private shotgun class with Clint Smith.

TV Guide version: it feels like a precision machine – smooth and easy.

Benelli M4 James Reeves
TFB’s James Reeves testing out my M4. (Photo: TFB TV)

Back home in Tennessee, I used Kent number 7 alongside some higher brass turkey loads, which I think are Winchester.

One of the things I like about this gun is the trigger. It’s short, light, and crisp. No complaints here.

Benelli M4 Receiver Shooting
That trigger is clean.

Combat loading on the M4 feels super clean. You just drop in a shell, hit that release, and you’re ready to rock and roll.

The rubber on the stock and the overall weight eat a lot of the recoil, meaning you can run this all day without needing to see your chiropractor.

Benelli M4 Loading
Loading her up.

Accuracy-wise…it gets the job done. I mean, the Marines use it for a reason. I brought out a bag of Granny Smith apples for my testing because blowing stuff up with shotguns is a good time.

I also used rifled slugs to touch out to 100-yards.

How’d she do? Just fine. Again, smooth is the word of the day, and that’s how she ran.

Benelli M4 Apple Boom
There was an apple here at one time.

Even with the stock iron sights, the M4 just works. I eventually added a Sig Sauer Romeo 5 to mine, and that ups the ante.

(If you need some optics suggestions, check out our guide to the Best Red Dots for Shotguns.)

Brutally Tested Budget Red Dot
139
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Downsides to the M4

Now, everything has a downside. There’s no such thing as perfect, and the M4 has a flaw – the capacity.

Because of our wonderful government and 922R nonsense, all M4s come as a 5+1. That’s kind of lame.

Benelli M4 Thunder Ranch
Capacity is kind of lame. (Photo: TFB TV)

Also, you may hear guys on the internet say the M4 doesn’t do so well with light loads. In my experience, it eats light loads just as well as it eats the big stuff.

Again, it’s durable and built like a tank, but it’s heavy. Fully loaded, it sits at over 10-pounds, so eat your Wheaties.

Benelli M4 Fire
It’s a heavy gun.

Also, once more, there’s the price. This gun ain’t cheap.

And the aftermarket goodies are high too. The entire M4 market is a little out of control. Blame John Wick. And the Italians. And the Marines.

But speaking of the aftermarket…

M4 Upgrades

One of my favorite things about the Benelli M4 is the upgrades…there’s a lot! From foregrips to magazine tubes to optics and lights, you can customize what you want.

Need some help getting started?

Off the bat, swap out the standard sights for some Meprolight Night Sights.

89
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Then throw on a red dot. I used the Sig Sauer Romeo 5, but the Trijicon RMR works too.

Best Pistol Red Dot

While we’re talking optics if you want to mount the optic low enough to co-witness with irons, grab a Scalarworks Mount.

Remember how I said it has a low capacity? You can work around that with a Mesa Tactical Sureshell Carrier.

110
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Also, grab an M-LOK handguard to throw on some accessories. One of our other writers, Travis, prefers the Strike Industries Hayl Rail.

115
at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

In fact, Travis has a whole article dedicated to his favorite Benelli M4 upgrades.

Benelli M4 (9)
Travis loves Benelli M4s so he’s got a list of things to add to it!

By the Numbers

Reliability: 5/5 

Some guys on the interweb have complained about trouble with birdshot. For me and multiple thousands of rounds of birdshot, the M4 is perhaps the most reliable gun I’ve ever run. 

Ergonomics: 4/5 

The big grip is fantastic, and the controls are solid. The foregrip it comes with is so-so but is an easy replacement for something bigger. 

Benelli M4 Loading
(Photo: TFB TV)

Accuracy: 5/5 

Rifled slugs at 100-yards? Fuggedaboutit. 

Customization: 5/5 

The aftermarket for the M4 is robust, albeit overpriced — lots of options for magazine tubs, night sites, rails, handguards, and more. OK, maybe not as many options as we’re used to in the AR world…but for a shotgun, the Benelli is the top of the heap for dialing in your gun. 

Value: 4/5 

You get a LOT for the price. But boy, that price…

Best High-End Semi-Auto
1799
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Overall: 4.5/5 

This is a little odd because I call the M4 the best combat shotgun on planet Earth…so shouldn’t it be a 5/5? Well, that price is painful, and it’s heavy. And I think most folks will want to swap out a couple of things on their stock Benelli. So yeah, it’s a crazy solid gun…but still sitting at a 4.5. 

Conclusion

Benelli’s M4 stands as a shining example of what a good Italian auto shotgun can do.

Far and away, it’s the best combat shotgun on the market. This autoloader looks great, runs smooth, offers up a certain cool factor, and you can trust your life to it.

Benelli M4

It earns two huge thumbs up for me. Without hesitation, I recommend you run out and buy an M4.

PPT Writer, Travis Pike, contributed to this review.

Again, to see the Benelli M4 in action, check out the video below.

What do you think of the Benelli M4? Let us know in the comments below. For more combat-style shotguns, make sure to peep our list of the Best Home Defense Tactical Shotguns.

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24 Leave a Reply

  • Scott

    Appears the 3/4” FFT charging handle is damaging your finish.

    August 7, 2021 3:45 pm
  • Greg Caswell

    What about the Beretta 1301 mod 2? The same for less?

    July 30, 2021 9:43 am
  • D

    Went with the m2 and no regrets. M4 runs a little cleaner still does not justify the thousand dollar extra. 870 still gets my vote or browning 12 imo.

    July 30, 2021 9:11 am
  • Paul F

    Mossberg 940 JM Pro, is a superior shotgun to the Benelli, its faster, just as reliable, self cleaning, is designed for easier reloads, looks cooler, and has a 9+1 capacity out of the box, it is highly customizable, and best of all its half the price.

    I know the 940 has a 24" barrel and all the tacticool mall ninjas will say "well I couldn't do commando roll through the hall way while clearing rooms in my house" to that I say you will never need to. If you ever have a break in you'll likely lost up in the bedroom and smoke whoever broke into the house when they try to come in your room, and if for some reason you do need to go John Wick and start clearing rooms there are techniques to do this with a longer barrel. Its called short stocking, and is highly effective.

    Good video on luckygunner.
    (Won't let me link to it, Google " Lucky Gunner Close Quarters Shotgun Technique"

    July 29, 2021 10:18 pm
  • J Varnell

    Not a Benelli though comes highly touted and a whole lot less expensive......worth a look and btw supposedly all M4 parts are interchangeable.
    Check out torosarms.com copolla T4 &
    thetruthaboutguns.com/gun-review-toros-copolla-t4-tactical-shotgun/

    July 29, 2021 4:20 pm
  • Thor

    Edit to my previous post: Toward the end I said "In the first 4-5 missions with an 870, I had a couple failures". I meant to say: "In the first 4-5 missions with a BENELLI, I had a couple failures." I never had an issue with an 870.

    May 30, 2021 5:48 pm
  • Thor

    The Benelli M4 shotgun is a good range gun, and that's it. In the mid 2000s I was on a team in the Middle East. One of my jobs was to breach doors. My team would mostly do 'hard hits' at night, in Blackhawks, landing in front of the target house and entering by breaching a gate/wall/door/sometimes a ceiling. The rotor wash from the helicopter jammed the action of my Benelli m4 on at least 2 occasions. This happened to others, too. Within a couple weeks, all our teams ditched the Benelli and went to the 870. The 870 never failed to fire. Even if it did, you could rack the action and be back in business. Not the case with the Benelli. That action would stick, and there was nothing you could do quickly enough when it mattered. Also, the 870 weighs 1/2 as much as the Benelli. Also, the buttstock of the 870, assuming it doesn't have a pistolgrip, allows for a much better range of motion in real-world scenarios. Also, assuming you're carrying a long gun as a primary and a sidearm, there's no room for the shotgun without it being an obstruction, so it makes sense for it to go on your back. We would heat up PVC and wrap it in rigger's tape and ziptie it to the top strap of a plate carrier. it was easier to grab the 870 with a regular buttstock since it rode higher - and put it back on after you used it - than it was for the Benelli with the pistol grip. And the Benelli bounced around more in that configuration when running. In summary - the Benelli is sexy and maybe ok for limited applications, though I can't envision what those applications would be. I wouldn't carry it if you gave it to me for free. I certainly wouldn't pay $1800 or whatever the going rate. I know... what are the chances the average shooter will be in the situation above? Very unlikely. However, if paying $1800, I would want my shotgun to have that capability. I don't know whether the Benelli could fare better in other elements like mud or water. But common sense tells me the action of any semiautomatic shotgun would be less reliable than a pump. Just figured I'd share this since I see nothing but glowing reviews for the Benelli, and a very small percentage of people, to include entire services that have green-lighted it, have actually used it for it's chief purpose. I'm sure there are people who have had different experiences. In my experience, it's not a good thing to be in a bad guy's house at night following an explosive breach and trying to ride the momentum, with an entire stack behind you waiting for you to shotgun breach a door, and your shotgun seizes up. In the first 4-5 missions with an 870, I had a couple failures. In the approximately 100 missions that followed with the 870, never once had an issue. I'd probably put the Mossberg 500 series up there with the 870.

    May 30, 2021 5:38 pm
  • Chuck

    Wondering if the Trijicon RM07-C-700679 (RMR Type 2 6.5 MOA) has too large a dot at 6.5 MOA to accurately send slugs downrange at 50-75 yards to hit 8x11 metal plates. Thoughts y'all?

    February 25, 2020 8:26 pm
    • Rick

      If that’s what you have, use it. I’ve found the smaller RM09 1 moa dot perfect on mine. My buddy has the Holosun 507c on his and it’s great as well with the 2moa dot and 35moa ring.

      April 11, 2020 11:45 am
  • Michael

    I have an M3 Super 90 folder. It is beyond the best shotgun ever made, much better than the M4 even. I love this thing, there is nothing like it. It is Smooth, and handles anything I put in it!

    February 7, 2020 11:40 am
  • Bruce Parker

    I Agree with the Bolt release Being undersized But I First added a FFT Oversized Charging handle to my M-4! Great Accessory,

    February 6, 2020 2:13 pm
  • Joshua McDaniel

    I love the M4, but I just can't justify its price tag. There are so many other weapons that I want, I just can't. I bought a mossberg 500, put all the gear you could want on it, and im in under 500.00

    February 4, 2020 9:59 am
  • Joe

    I want this gun! its one handsome machine.

    February 3, 2020 1:33 pm
  • Guy in NJ

    My M4 it wouldn't cycle the light loads reliably until I broke it in with 20-30 shots or so. After, I polished the buffer and trigger; and put lighter springs in both. I added the Scalarworks mount and RMR. Now I can put slugs on top of one another at 100 yds, while smoothly and reliably working the lightest loads. Great home-defense firearm for this condo dweller.

    February 3, 2020 8:15 am
  • Ian VanVranken

    WHOOAA BLACK BENELLI, BAM BA BLAM...

    February 3, 2020 8:05 am
  • BigDon

    So no one is building an oversized bolt release for them yet?

    February 3, 2020 7:51 am
    • Guy in NJ

      Oversized bolt releases are available. I agree with the review; a must-have upgrade.

      February 3, 2020 8:18 am
  • Johnny

    How does Remingon V3 gas system compare?

    February 3, 2020 6:57 am
  • Bill Robertson

    Great review. I think the Beretta 1301 would have been a good comparison for value.

    February 2, 2020 8:14 pm
  • Vlad

    FN SLP runs as well for me. But hey, great review!

    February 2, 2020 8:03 pm
  • SHANE HOLT

    mossberg has the new JM 940 out now, wonder how that will match up

    February 2, 2020 6:05 pm
  • Nephthys

    Love my M4. Bought it as a birthday gift to myself this past October, and it makes the trip to the range with me every sunday, where its fed a steady diet of slugs. Not a single hiccup once. Ran a couple boxes of 3" slugs today, any of my other shotguns and my shoulder would be hamburger, but this thing just soaks it all up.

    February 2, 2020 5:51 pm
  • Slovko

    You mentioned the only difference between a M1014 and an M4 is the stock. The two other notable differences between the two is that the M1014 barrel is a heavier military profile with a fixed modified choke and has an American flag on the receiver. The civilian M4 has a thinner barrel with a removable chokes.

    February 2, 2020 5:17 pm
  • Douglas Andrew Gracey

    I say not only no but HELL no! Competition ok, give it to a grunt why ? They brake shit . Not cost effective IMO

    February 2, 2020 4:27 pm