I do a lot of research before I buy expensive items, and I'd been looking at shotguns for more than a year before finally making up my mind this spring. My choice? I bought the Benelli M2 Field shotgun in 12-gauge with a black synthetic stock and the ComforTech™ recoil reduction system.
The older I get, the more I appreciate lighter guns and the M2 is light by shotgun standards at right around 7 lbs. That makes it fast handling and a quick-mounting gun as well. Laws of physics would normally dictate that reducing the weight of a firearm and continuing to shoot the same shotgun shells you always did in heavier guns would result in an increase of felt recoil. That's where Benelli's ComforTech comes in.
You can read all about the science behind ComforTech on Benelli's website, but there are two primary elements to it: an ergonomic gel-filled buttpad, and a unique recoil-reducing series of synthetic chevrons embedded diagonally through the rear stock. Benelli engineers claim the result is up to 48% less recoil than an unspecified competition's firearm, and sufficient reduction of muzzle climb to recover and get back on target up to 69% faster than the competition.
I've shot both clays and trap with my new M2 and can confirm that the gun shoots softer than the Browning Citori I own, and also does get back on target more quickly. Does it really recoil 48% less and recover 69% faster? I have no way of measuring those figures, but unscientific experimentation on the range would lead me to say that might be a bit ambitious. Nonetheless, the M2 does kick substantially less and muzzle climb is significantly reduced when compared to my two over-unders, my Winchester pump-action shotgun, and my old Remington Model 11.
The M2 also has a barrel and chokes that have Benelli's Crio® System. That is to say that they are frozen to around -300 degrees, a temperature range at which steel undergoes alteration at the molecular level. The process relieves stresses on steel caused by hammer forging and, as far as gun barrels and chokes are concerned, results in a smoother, more even surface at the microscopic level. The purpose for deep-freezing is to create inner barrel and choke surfaces so smooth that the shot charge and wad encounter less resistance as they move down the barrel. This is supposed to result in better patterning and a cleaner barrel at the end of a shooting session. Is it true? I believe it is. I'm breaking more clays than ever before and when I'm done I'm amazed at how little there is to clean out of the barrel, even when I shoot cheap and dirty-shooting shells. Usually, just one pass of my Hoppes Bore Snake down the tube is sufficient to return a mirror-like finish to the M2's barrel interior.
I've fired both inertia-driven and gas-operated semi-automatic shotguns, and the M2 is inertia-driven. It's a fact that inertia systems have fewer parts and tend to be lighter than gas systems. Make no mistake, there are big fans of both systems and the superiority of one over the other can stir up a vigorous debate amongst shooters. Those who favor gas-operated shotguns point to the fact that they tend to be lighter recoiling because gasses from the shell ignition process help cycle the action, leaving less force to back against the shooter's shoulder. Normally that would be true for guns of equal weight shooting equal loads with different kinds of semi-auto operating systems, but Benelli's ComforTech tends to cancel out that advantage. Though very reliable, because gasses from the shell are used to drive the mechanics of the shotgun, gas-operated guns may need to be cleaned more often than inertia-driven firearms, and gas-operated guns can slow down or gum up more easily in extreme weather conditions. Advocates of inertia-driven shotguns claim they'll function with unwavering reliability in the absolute worst of hunting conditions and maintain a rate-of-fire advantage over gas-operated guns.
I don't know exactly what the rate of fire is on my Benelli M2, but I spent time at a local range with a photographer and he took a photo that showed something very interesting. The snapshot showed a clay pigeon breaking apart downrange, a spent hull about three feet to my right flying through the air and the action of the M2 already fully closed with a second shell in battery and ready to fire. The M2 Field is definitely the fastest-shooting semi-auto I've ever owned. Loaded shell capacity is 3+1. Its combination of handling speed, accuracy, light weight, ease of operation, reliable performance, and light recoil make it one of the best shotguns I've ever owned and I recommend it without hesitation.
The Benelli M2 Field Shotgun with ComforTech™ comes with a convenient takedown hard-plastic gun case, and instruction manual, adjustment shims to customize fit and length of pull, a choke wrench and five chokes. You'll find them at the gun counter of any Cabela's store with a retail price right around $1,000 and it's one of Cabela's top-selling shotguns.
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