Benelli M2 – July 1, 2004 - CBM
(also posted over in the Benelli Forum)
Let me preface by saying this is intended as a rather lengthy review for people who, like me, haven’t been satisfied with the limited reviews that are out there right now on the M2. But mostly it is to get all of my own thoughts down. I’m by no means an expert on shotguns or shotgun sports – so apologies if I ramble on about things everyone else already knows.
I wanted a gun to be my one-gun-for-everything gun and I wanted quality. I considered an over/under, those certainly are fine guns and in many peoples opinions it would seem better choice as a one-for-all gun than an automatic. Thing is I’ve always wanted an automatic and a darned good one at that. I looked at over/unders and quickly found that I’m just not a fine wood and pretty etching guy. I’m a black synthetic all business repeater guy I guess.
After some on-line R&D I got enamored with the Benelli’s pretty quickly. I seriously considered the SBE II, but the only functional difference between the M2 and the SBE II was that the SBE II is designed for the 3.5” shells. Since my primary use was more general applications and trap shooting, I figured most of my usage would be with 2.75” and 3” shells, and leaned towards the M2. This wasn’t really price driven ($300 difference) so much as my desire to assure reliability with the lighter loads. The M2 was also a smidge lighter – it’s important.
So last week my wife bought me a Benelli M2 that I picked out for my birthday (need to get her some flowers for that). I’ve never owned any shotguns other than a Mossberg 500 pump – so my reasons for getting the Benelli were mostly based on reputation – and negative heresy I suppose about other brands. In a nutshell – Benelli’s have a reputation of superb quality, reliability, ease of use, low maintenance, as well as being very light and very good field guns. Other brands – not so much. After a week and about 125 rounds through it, here’s my review:
What I got:
A spanking new black synthetic Benelli M2 with Comfortech and a 26” barrel.
(that's the 20 Ga photo, couldn't find the black 12 Ga photo)
The gun was purchased at Gander Mountain in Wisconsin for $1000.0 – cash and carry. It came with
• 4 chokes in individual plastic tubes plus one in the gun (5 chokes),
• a flat choke key,
• 4 shims and 2 plates for stock fit customization,
• A bottle of clean, lubricate, protect type oil,
• Hard carrying case (short style for broken down gun carry)
• The longer style Comfortech butt-plate (You’ll have to buy the other size if you want it)
• Owners manual (Says M2, but looks like it’s for the M1 – Super90)
• Parts list manual
• Reliable – no jams so far, even with Wal-mart cheapies – 125 rounds and counting.
• Customizable ergonomics – The gun comes with 4 shims and 2 plates, allowing you to adjust the height and angle of the stock for that perfect fit. Since my main usage this month is for trap shooting I’ve opted for the highest setting, which happens to fit me perfectly (guess I’ve got a short neck and lil’ head).
• Light weight – this is a very light shotgun. I have to admit, this was one of my defining criterion for selecting this gun. The Inertia Drive mechanism of operation for this gun means no clunky fore-stock or weird weight balance.
• ComfortTech – The ergonomics of this gun are very good. I love the slim fore-grip. Most automatics have a very clunky oversized fore-stock that I just don’t find comfortable, The Benelli’s is great. The gun overall fits very comfortably. The Comfortech helps tame the light weight and sharp recoil that apparently goes with owning a Benelli. It does this by having a generous butt-pad, as well as a soft face pad section. There are Chevron’s running along the stock that are supposed to also help too – maybe they do, I’m not sure. I’ve shot an M1 and almost passed on the Benelli design I so disliked the recoil. The M2 is better – so the ComforTech’s doing something. After 75 rounds yesterday, I could have easily gone another 75 – (I might complain if I had to do a third 75 though).
• 5 choke tubes - Maybe everyone else gives you 5 tubes too, but to me this seemed generous. I like having lots of options. These tubes are also rather long, which in theory is better since it’s a less abrupt choke than some others. Not sure if that really matters, but it seems like it would. The tubes are also Cryo Treated. I have to say, this sounds pretty gimmicky to me for a scatter-gun. In theory this causes less axial “tailing” of the shotgun pattern. Even if true, I’m not sure if that matters much – maybe it does.
• Chrome lined Barrel- That’s what it said somewhere at least. I sure hope it is, I love chrome lined things – cleaning’s a snap (and much more optional). The barrel too is Cryo-treated. This cracks me up, none of my rifles I use for 600 yard high-power matches are cyro-treated – but by God my scatter gun is! Supposedly this keeps the barrel cleaner too – that I like.
• Pattern Test – Pattern centers pretty much exactly where you aim at 30 yards. Possibly an inch or so high, I didn’t do a scientific analysis. Even if so, not enough to fret about. I did learn while doing this that Improved Cylinder REALLY opens up more than I would have thought at 30 yards. It did this with my Mossberg too – so the choke’s working as designed. As a side note, the IC shot pattern opened up so much that you could easy miss clay’s and birds that are dead in your sights at 30 yards. I promptly switched to Modified, which solved that problem at 30 yards at least.
• Carrying Case – Nice touch, I wish more companies would include this relatively low cost handy item.
• Performance: Three things –
• This gun is NICE. It’s a joy to hold, handle, and shoot – quality exudes.
• I just started shooting Trap this year. I’m bad. I usually shoot worse with each successive shoot in one day. But not with the Benelli, I shot BETTER with each successive shoot – that’s a first.
• I’ve never even broken a 20 in Trap. Except for now! My first day out with this gun I got a 21 by the end of the day. Lucky fluke maybe, but I was giddy as a school boy.
• Mechanism: Because the M2 is Inertia Driven, there’s no gas port, no gas ring, no gas seal, and no fouled mechanism to clean. The only thing that gets dirty is the barrel. Well, not entirely, but you get the point. Because of this, the gun’s much lighter and the fore-grip is most comfy. I also liked the feed lock button. This way the bolt locks back for single loading, even with a full magazine. Maybe everyone does this, but neat all the same.
• Low profile sling mounts – Thank you, so many makers don’t even give you this.
• Recoil – Not bad actually, but the ComforTech marketing almost implies no recoil and instant shot recover. This isn’t the case – to be honest, I was still getting a good bit of muzzle jump and was quite aware when the gun went off. Much better than my M1 experience though. If you’re seriously recoil shy, you may want to try before you buy.
• Assembly: - Apparently the receiver of the M2 is aluminum. Because I’ve already managed to ding up the front assembling the gun. For me, the barrel extension keeps wanting to hit the top of the receiver during assembly, nicking the finish. Trivial maybe – but I don’t like that.
• Carrying Case Selection – Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled they provide me with a case, but I wish it was a full length case. Having to field assemble/disassemble the gun each time I shoot it is annoying and probably what’s causing my assembly headaches mentioned above. The occasional disassemble in the comfort of my home ever few hundred rounds would probably be much better. I plan on getting a generic full length case later this week. This is a shame, I hate to have the nice factory molded case be a dust collector now. I can't even use it for travel, since this otherwise well thought out case doesn’t even have a locking loop on it anywhere – a disappointing oversight.
• No support for Trap shooters – At my range you are expect to pick up all of your hulls when done. Since trap is single shot, most guys clip on a shell catcher which catch the rim of the hull during ejection and keep it hanging in the port. This way they don’t have to chase hulls – also flying hulls sometimes annoy other shooters that get hit with them. The Benelli design is not conducive to the manner in which these shell catchers work. This means you either chase hulls, or you use the rubber band trick (Basically put a rubber band over the front of the ejection port instead of a plastic shell catcher). Problem is the serrations on the sight rib are so sharp it cuts the rubber band while you’re putting it on. This could have easily been avoided by mounting the cocking handle higher in the bolt carrier.
• Stiff springs – Doubtless these will loosen up with time, but right now it’s hard getting the gun to come apart. Particularly getting the bolt out. I have to loop a string around the handle and yank really hard. I hope this lightens up.
• Securing mechanism for the buttpad. - The comfortech butt-pad is held in place by a rubber ring that fits in a rubber grove. You basically grab the pad and yank it off to get into the stock. No problems so far, but I tend to prefer more secure attachment mechanism – like a screw or flip clip or something.
• No trigger lock – Actually I couldn’t care less, I have a safe, but some others probably care about this.
• Magazine Limiter - I need to purchase some special tools to get this thing out, so I haven’t bothered yet. It would have been nice if a simpler mechanism for removing this item were chosen.
• Cost – I just paid $1000 for a scatter-gun!. What kills me is this is half as much as a decent over/under. How in the world does it cost people $2000 to figure out how to stack two $110 crack-barrel smoothbores on top of each other!?? Ok, rant mode off – the good stuff cost’s money.
Great Gun! No regrets here.