The Benelli M4 Super 90 (M1014) is an Italian semi-automatic shotgun manufactured by Benelli Armi SpA. On May 4, 1998, the United States Army’s Armaments Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey issued Solicitation #DAAE30-98-R-0401, requesting submissions for a new 12 gauge, semi-automatic combat shotgun for the U.S. military. In response to the request, Benelli Armi SpA of Urbino, Italy designed and built the Benelli M4 Super 90 Combat Shotgun. On August 4, 1998, five samples of the M4 were delivered to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and after intense testing, the M4 had beaten the competition. The first units (count of 20,000) were delivered to the United States Marine Corps in 1999. During testing, the prototype was named XM1014, but after adoption, the ‘X’ was dropped, and the weapon was officially designated the M1014.
The M4 was the first gas-operated shotgun produced by Benelli. Its function is designed around an entirely new method called the “auto regulating gas operated” (ARGO) system. The short-stroke design uses two stainless-steel self-cleaning pistons located just ahead of the chamber to function opposite the rotating bolt, thereby eliminating the need for the complex mechanisms found on other gas-actuated automatics. The ARGO incorporates only four parts: two symmetrical shrouds containing two small steel gas pistons. Additionally, the weapon is self-regulating for use with cartridges of varying length and power levels. It can fire 2.75 (70 mm) and 3-inch (76 mm) shells of differing power-levels without any operator adjustments and in any combination.
Preliminary testing of the M4 suggests a high level of reliability. It can reliably function for at least 25,000 rounds without replacement of any major parts. The steel components of the weapon feature a matte black phosphated corrosion resistant finish while the aluminum parts are matte hard-anodized. These finishes reduce the weapon’s visibility during night operations. The weapon requires little maintenance and operates in all climates and weather conditions. Low-power rounds, such as less-lethal rubber pellets, must be cycled manually The modular basis of the shotgun means many of its features can be reconfigured as needed. It allows a user to quickly exchange the various assembly groups (barrel, buttstock, forearm, etc…) without the use of tools. The rail interface system or Picatinny rail, built into the top of the shotgun accepts scopes, laser illuminators, night-vision sights, and flashlights.
Benelli Tactical is a division of Beretta’s Law Enforcement (LE) division. Benelli Tactical manages the sales of all Benelli tactical shotguns to law enforcement, government, and military entities. The M4 shotgun is sold in three configurations: M4 Entry with a 14 in barrel; M4 with an 18.5 in barrel; and M1014, which is an M4 with the “M1014” nomenclature on it for military usage only. M4 shotguns sold through Benelli tactical are available with the collapsible buttstock. Benelli Tactical and Beretta LE have maintained the belief that the collapsible buttstock, while no longer illegal in the United States, is still only to be made available to law enforcement and government agencies.