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

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Video benelli shotgun review

To see the Benelli M4 in action, check out the video above. For more gun content, make sure to subscribe to Pew Pew Tactical on YouTube.

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…

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.

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.

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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.

Benelli M4 Thunder Ranch

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 Handguard
(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 Shooting

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 James Reeves
I mean, it won’t quit on you.

How Does the M4 Shoot?

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 Receiver Shooting
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.

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Benelli M4 Loading
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 Apple Boom
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 Thunder Ranch
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.)

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 Fire
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 (9)
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…

Benelli 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.

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

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

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

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

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

Benelli M4 Loading
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
(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…

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 Review: Best Combat Shotgun? [Video+Tested]

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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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>