A secondhand Benelli M2 will handle big-shot magnum shells, making them great for fox control at short range as well other forms of pest control
The eight-shot Benelli M2
The eight-shot version of the Benelli M2, which illustrates this review, holds up to seven cartridges in the magazine tube, plus one in the chamber. Fortunately, there are also three-shot versions for shotgun certificate holders. Both the new and second-hand markets seem to be awash with Benelli semi-autos at the moment. There are guns to suit all tastes and most pockets — and all shotgun sports except formal game.
Most modern semi-autos are gas-fed, which means that hot combustion gases are tapped off at a point about halfway along the barrel to work a piston arrangement that ejects the spent cartridge case and loads a fresh cartridge from the magazine tube. With modern gas valve design, this system makes many guns tolerant of a wide range of ammunition, typically from 28g or less, up to 3in magnums. The disadvantage is that the mechanism needs regular cleaning to get rid of baked-on carbon.
Benellis are different because their mechanism is cycled by an inertia mechanism, which gets rid of potentially dirty gas ports and pistons. They also use a turning bolt mechanism, similar to the famous Kalashnikov bolt. The mechanism is simple and very reliable, although some critics claim that it’s less ammunition-tolerant that the gas system. That said, however, the Benelli M2 seems to cycle on most 70mm (2 3⁄4in) cartridges.
The eight-shot Benelli M2, as featured, with its synthetic stock, is really for pest control — mainly pigeon, crows and rabbits — but there are camouflage versions, too, and even a 10-shot gun made specifically for the practical shotgun competition discipline. As a bonus for pest control, the guns will handle big-shot magnum shells, making them also suitable for fox control at short range.
To Benelli’s credit, most guns are available in mirror-image, left-handed versions. There are also 24, 26 and 28in barrels available, but remember that a 28in semi-auto handles like a 30-in break-action gun because of the longer length of the action.
Benelli M2s are very reasonably priced for good-quality semi-autos. New guns are in the £1,200 to £1,300 range from the larger suppliers, and really good second-hand guns sell for around £850-plus.
The UK distributor is GMK Ltd, Bear House, Concorde Way, Fareham, Hampshire PO15 5RL. Phone the company on 01489 579999 or visit www.gmk.co.uk.