On May 4, 1998, the U.S. Army Armaments Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ issued Solicitation #DAAE30-98-R-0401, requesting submissions for a new 12 gauge, semi-automatic combat shotgun for the US Armed Services. 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 beat the competition. In early 1999, ARDEC awarded the M1014 Joint Service Combat Shotgun contract to Heckler & Koch, USA subsidiary for importation of the Benelli M4 Combat Shotgun. The first units (count of 20,000) were delivered to the United States Marine Corps in 1999. During testing, the protoype was called the 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 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.
It is also self-regulating for cartridges of varying length and power levels. It can fire 2.75 and 3-inch (76 mm) shells of differing power-levels without any operator adjustments and in any combination. Low-power rounds, such as less-lethal rubber pellets, must be cycled manually.
The sights are military-style ghost ring and are adjustable in the field using only a cartridge rim. The accessory rail on top allows use of both conventional and night-vision sights, while retaining use of the original sights.
Also touted is the modular assembly basis of the weapon. It allows an operator to exchange the various assembly groups (barrel, buttstock, forearm, etc…) without tools. Especially useful in the field, the process is quick and allows the weapon to adapt to a changing tactical environment…