Benelli’s M2 Field will help you conquer all your shotgunning goals — from clays to upland to waterfowl to turkey — this multi-purpose shooter is a win.
by Jace Bauserman
I am a bit of a shotgun connoisseur, and while I’m no Phil Bourjaily (shame on you if you don’t know that name), I have been able to test lots and lots of shotguns over the years.
I don’t consider myself a shotgun snob. Of course, though, when the name on the box is Benelli, my heart pitter-patters a bit faster in my chest.
This would be my first Benelli go with a non-SBE3 model, and I was excited to get the ball rolling.
The Benelli M2 Field arrived in new-for-2023 Realtree Max-7, Realtree’s best-disappearing act to date. The shotgun came in three pieces, and assembly took seconds. I slid the forearm onto the barrel, then the forearm and barrel over the magazine tube, and screwed on the endcap. Quick and straightforward, just the way I like it.
Many noticings jumped to the forefront of my brain once assembly was complete. The M2 is light and airy; the 26-inch barrel shooter ( 28-inch barrel available) has a fighting weight of just 6.7 pounds. The throat of the stock is thin and promotes an excellent feel and the raised and lowered curvatures on the forearm aid in overall control.
The package is sleek and sexy, and swivel studs are found on the stock and end cap. The barrel showcases a raised rib that dips down in front of the action and raises to its full height as it travels toward the muzzle. The sighting system is a single red fiber-optic in a bracketed metal housing that threads into the rib.
The safety is oversized and located at the backend of the trigger guard housing for quick access, and while I won’t call the trigger guard large, it’s by no means small. Gloves shouldn’t be a problem.
Action manipulation was, as expected, buttery, and the action-lock button is on the front of the trigger guard. Like the trigger guard, the action release button is not large but easily located directly under the action for quick access.
Benelli shotguns have purposeful technologies, and the M2 follows suit. Of course, the Inertia-Driven System is a must-mention. The system is simple but effective. Three main parts (body, inertia spring, and rotating bolt head) mean less chance of failure and years of use. Cycling is consistent, regardless of the load (more to come), and gas, smoke, and burnt powder remain in the barrel. This means less post-shot residue in the action and other mechanisms.
Another hat-tipper that has saved my bacon in the field more than once is the rotating head. If that action is closed slowly and the head doesn’t fully seat, the head’s design will seat the second the shotgun is shouldered, which means it will always fire if a round is in the chamber.
The operating system is fast and bullet-proof, and the design keeps weight down and helps the shotgun balance well when shouldered.
Air Touch Is A Win
A good grip is essential, and whether rain and snow are falling or its sultry out, the hands need to grab the stock throat and forearm flawlessly without slippage.
Enter AirTouch — a dimpled pattern that Benelli molded into the synthetic stock and forearm. Not only does it feel great, but it is a fantastic gripping surface that prevents slippage. You have to feel the throat and forearm to get the full effect of how good Air Touch feels.
Benelli freezes its barrels to -300 degrees Fahrenheit. Why? Freezing the barrel strengthens it by relieving the stress caused by hammer forging. The inside of the barrel becomes perfectly uniform and is smoother, which means less friction created by the wad. Crio barrels stay cleaner and boost speed and energy because less resistance against the wad means a better killing pattern. It works, I promise.
In The Field
Naturally, there are more technologies and features I could rave about, but what you want to read is how the gun performed in the field.
Let’s get to it.
It’s June, and there are no birds to shoot, so I settled for smashing seven boxes of clay targets. Oh, and I played with choke patterns at different distances with different loads.
For starters, this M2 performs as advertised. My oldest son and I cycled 500 Federal Field & Target Multi-Purpose 2-3/4-inch low-brass shotshells through it. Not once did the shotgun jam, and all spent hulls were thrown feet, not inches.
The shotgun is a blast to shoot. It shoulders well, swings even better, and balances like a dream. We had no problem crushing crossing clays and those moving in a straight-away flushing pattern.
Moving to larger 3-inch shotshells, we fired numerous Black Cloud 3-inch BB and Fiocchi’s Golden Waterfowl in 1 1/4-ounce #2. All shotshells cycled perfectly, and Hunter (my son) and I were pleased with the recoil.
Of course, most shotguns with any recoil-reduction system don’t beat you up with low-brass field loads, but high-brass shells with a little more ummph can rock the body if the recoil system is sub-par.
Yes, the M2 kicks — any shotgun will — but the M2’s combination of the Inertia-Driven System and ComforTech recoil pad reduce shoulder and cheek abuse. A shotgun that doesn’t beat the shooter up, even with heavier loads, builds shooting confidence. Plus, the shooter can be much more accurate when fatigue isn’t an issue.
According to Benelli, the ComforTech System reduces recoil by as much as 48 percent over competing brands. I can’t speak to that, but the computer-aided engineering that went into these pads makes a noticeable difference.
For kicks, we tested many loads at various ranges with the included IC (Improved Cylinder), M (Modified), and F (Full) chokes. This shotgun patterns remarkably well, and with the Crio Full inserted, I achieved one of the best patterns I have seen with a non-ported, non-custom choke at 60 yards. My load of choice was Hevi-Shot’s Hevi-18 TSS Reduced Recoil Turkey. This 2- 3/4-inch 12-gauge shotshell has a muzzle velocity of 1,090 and still hits like a ton of bricks.
I smoked a Nebraska bird this spring with this 1-1/4-ounce load at 54 yards using Benelli’s Super Black Eagle 3 Turkey. It performed brilliantly and had the recoil of a sub-gauge shotshell.
The 60-yard pattern from the M2 with the Crio Full was ultra-impressive. This was par for the course for all loads and all chokes. The M2 puts a lot of pellets on target.
The M2 Field comes in numerous finishes, Anodized Black, Realtree Max-7, and Mossy Oak Bottomland, to name a few. Its streamlined build is perfect for waterfowl wrecking, upland assaults, and turkey missions. This is a do-all shotgun that hits a pleasing price point for a Benelli semi-automatic and it deserves a place of honor in your gun safe.