20 April 2023

Waterfowl hunting with Benelli's M2 Black and M2 Max 7 shotguns

Some types of hunting require the use of semi-automatic shotguns that are versatile, robust and reliable.

For this reason Benelli has renewed and redesigned a semi-automatic of its range, the M2, which is a guarantee when it comes to hunting performance, especially if we talk about waterfowl hunting.

The attention paid to the different functional solutions introduced allow the firearm to be used in any condition, even the most extreme.

The extreme fluidity in hunting operations is guaranteed by a series of optimizations in the design of M2, which act as integrated solutions.

The receiver has been redesigned in shapes optimizing the balance. Together with the barrel and bolt in matt black shades, it defines a strong, decisive and undiscovered style.

Waterfowl hunting: what is it and how does it take place?

How do you put into words the essence of a waterfowl hunt?

Sometimes, due to the peculiarity of the technique and the environment they are practiced in, some types of hunting can not be easily told, you can only experience them.

So what comes to mind is the details. Like waking up at three o'clock in the morning, preparing the mold game even before the faintest lights of dawn appear on the surface of the water, standing despite the continuous whipping of the wind, despite the bitter cold that you feel in your bones.

Whichever technique is chosen, waterfowl hunting remains one of the most complex and hardcore hunting types, so much so that one might wonder what drives hunters to undertake such an endeavor again and again.

To this question, the answer is always and only one: it is not simple passion, it is a lifestyle.

It is about doing something difficult, which places a challenge and spurs you continuously, but it is also the emotion of seeing, after hours of immobile waiting, the joy of your dog diving into the water to bring back the wild, being captured by the colors of the sunset making its way through the reeds, of feeling the whisper of an approaching flock.

Waterfowl hunting in Italy

In Italy the species that can be hunted are the malland, the coot, the moorhen, the teal, the gadwall, the water rail, the Eurasian wigeon, the northern pintail, the garganey, the northern shoveler, the common pochard and the tufted duck, while abroad one of the most popular waterfowl hunts is that of geese.

There are three most commonly used techniques: the wandering one, the stalking one and the stalking from land one.

M2: The semi-automatic shotgun for waterfowl hunting and beyond

Reliability, robustness, durability. When we talk about M2 we do not name a simple semi-automatic shotgun, but an unstoppable ally that makes the solidity of operation a 360-degree value.

The new semi-automatic M2 for waterfowl hunting is available in the M2 Black and M2 Max 7 models with state-of-the-art camouflage.

It is a semi-automatic shotgun in 12 gauge and 20 gauge efficient, practical, solid, which owes part of its success also to the careful, but simple, linear and in some ways "pragmatic" aesthetics, because it also visually transmits the prevalence of "practical" interests over formal ones, with a combination of form and function in which it is the latter that assumes a pre-eminent position.

However, the formal essentiality of the M2 is not synonymous with economy in performance.

It can be said that the M2 is the Benelli entry level hunting semi-automatic, placing itself in the middle of the market, while possessing operational and functional characteristics that can be superimposed on those of high-end models, from which it deviates only for some aesthetic preciousness.

Let's talk about the operating system of this semi-automatic for waterfowl hunting.

The new semi-automatic M2 features some technical, technological and formal innovations that make it even more user-friendly, because it is improved in substance and ergonomics.

Like all Benelli semi-automatic shotguns – except the M4 – the M2 has the typical geometric inertia-driven closure that has now become synonymous with the brand itself, not only thanks to its invention in 1967, but to its continuous evolution: a technological heritage and knowledge accumulated in decades of production combined with continuous research aimed at perfecting an even excellent archetype.

Benelli bolt assemblies are designed according to the model and gauge, but at the same time they are conceptually identical. This basic concept means that the technologies created by the brand, whether exclusive or patented, can be implemented on the bolt assembly of each Benelli shotgun.

This happens for example with the Easy Loading, present in different models and also characteristic of the new M2 semi-automatic. Whether the slow manual closure is voluntary or involuntary, or the bolt assembly has a jolt – such as jumps, impacts with branches or other – on the new M2 the bolt assembly will always be correctly closed, thanks to the elastically loaded ball, inserted in the front of the bolt-holder, which with a closing firearm engages a seat in the tang of the bolt.

The M2 rotary bolt bolt assembly is particularly advantageous also in terms of the robustness of the complex and the durability: not only because it achieves a better support with the cylinder head of the barrel, but because this resistance results in axis with the force that tends to push back the bolt.

Benelli kinematics with rotating bolt, which can be kept much faster than the reaction times of any shooter, also guarantees high capacity of self-regulation with respect to the cartridge power, so much that a shotgun of a given gauge can use any commercial load of that gauge, provided that it emits a minimum threshold of kinetic energy that varies from gauge to gauge.

In the new M2 12/76 the minimum energy threshold is 230 Kgm, which makes it compatible with any load of 28 grams of pellets with V1 around 400 m/sec provided that the shotgun does not weigh more than Kg. 3,150.

The new M2 weighs 3,100 kg (+/- 100 g) with a 71/28” barrel, and the initial speeds of the hunting cartridges with 28 grams of pellets are always much higher than 400 m/sec and in the case of loadings with steel pellets the plate speed oscillates between 420 and 440 m/sec.

But which are the most suitable reeds for waterfowl hunting animals?

The new M2 can mount all the barrels of the previous variant, but has barrels “dedicated” to each model: 61/24”cm, 65/26” cm, 70/28”cm and 76/30” cm for the M2 Black 12 gauge model, while for the M2 Max 7 12 gauge 65/26” cm, 70/28” cm and 76/30” cm, all with ventilated rib equipped with rear ramp and high visibility optic fibre sight.

The barrels have 5 Crio 7 cm chokes supplied and incorporate measures aimed at preventing "movements" of the breech by firing and not varying the correctness by disassembling and reassembling the barrel.

Also like the barrels of the other Benelli semi-automatic shotguns, also those of the M2 have a rear extension that in addition to "constraining" welding while the barrel in the receiver brings the elastically loaded ejector that "adapts" to the various lengths of the cartridge cases.

Surely the most suitable barrel lengths for waterfowl hunting are those of 70 and 76 cm.

Steel Shot punched at the National Test Bench, the barrels are chambered 12/76 and the shotgun always works correctly with cartridges 12/76, 12/70 and 12/67.

The barrel eyelet is inverted on the magazine tube, "open" in the distal part, which carries 3 cartridges (both 12/76 and 12/70), is equipped with a reduction gear (magazine capacity: 2 cartridges) and, where this is allowed by the regulations, can be equipped with extensions from +2/+4/+7 rounds in the 12 gauge of the M2 Black and +4 shots in the 12 gauge of the M2 Max 7.

In the absence of extensions, the magazine tube is closed at the front by the fore-end cap that locks forearm and barrel on the magazine tube and is characterized by a design that is well integrated into the lines of the shotgun and facilitates the grip of the hand.

The fore-end cap carries externally the front base for sling swivels (the rear one is integral with the stock) and internally a suitably calibrated antagonist spring, as well as a polymer bushing.

The spring prevents the fore-end cap from accidentally unscrewing, the bushing reduces friction preventing the fore-end cap from seizing, in this way the fore-end cap of the new M2 will never unscrew "on its own" and will never put undue resistance when the user wants to unscrew it.

How important is semi-automatic shotgun ergonomics in waterfowl hunting?

The new M2 is renewed for stock, forearm and receiver, with sharp and slender lines with formal results.

As well as from an aesthetic point of view, the lines of the new M2 are the result of the desire to maximise effectiveness in the field, facilitate use and maximise the interface between hunter and shotgun.

The technopolymer stock differs at a glance from the previous one for pistol, grip cap, checkered fore-end and "integrated" base for sling swivel. The new stock, in particular with the geometry of the pistol, ensures maximum comfort for the hand and wrist, guaranteeing a natural and instinctive grip that, precisely for this reason, does not tend to vary from time to time.

The stock wears AirTouch checkering, which facilitates circulation of air increasing grip, is equipped with a drop and advantage variation kit (37 mm drop at the standard comb and 60 mm drop at the standard heel) and mounts a recoil pad with L.O.P. at 365 mm.  Recoil pads are available low (L.O.P. mm 355) and high (L.O.P. mm 375) are available as optional, easily replaceable and without the aid of tools.  

The new M2 features newly designed recoil pads, made of special polyurethane foams, particularly effective as shock-absorbing elements, thanks to the high volumetric compressibility and the contained lateral expansion.

The technopolymer stock has high resistance to rubbing and scratching, is not affected by the use of solvents or other chemicals with which it could come into contact during use and is completely "insensitive" to the presence of moisture and water, which could instead damage the metal parts contained within the stock.

The fore-ends of all the Benelli shotguns are shaped in such a way as to facilitate gripping, so as to allow a safer contrast of the muzzle and help in swing.

The forearm of the new M2 semi-automatic shotgun resumes a style already in use on other Benelli shotguns, designed both to further facilitate the grip and quick rearrangement of the hand and to favour the management of the shotgun and counteract the muzzle, in a general context aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the shotgun in the field, maximizing the hunter's performance.

Compared to the previous one, the receiver of the new M2 is modified in the design of the rear part, but above all it has a wider ejection port and an enlarged and completely revised loading ring to make it faster and easier to insert the cartridges and empty the magazine.

The interventions on the ejection port and on the loading ring also serve to facilitate the hunter who uses gloves. In fact, the main controls (safety, handle, cartridge stop button) have been increased or made better accessible, as in the case of the cartridge descent lever.

A further improvement of the new M2 is Easy Loading. This consists of a series of improvements that facilitate the loading and unloading of cartridges from the magazine.

The new double cartridge stop lever allows to reduce the force needed to be applied to the lever to manually load and unload the cartridges from the magazine tube; the lever has a double cartridge gripper to increase reliability during the feeding phase.

The new cartridge stop lever button is designed to facilitate both the grip and the operation of the lever itself without affecting in any way the descent of the cartridges during the operation of the firearm.

How important is it for the shotgun to stay on target in waterfowl hunting?

The firing of multiple shots in rapid succession, while staying on target, has always been one of the Benelli semi-automatic shotguns’ strengths.

This is thanks not only to the characteristics of the closure, but to those of the shotgun as a whole, in the first place of the variable geometry trigger assembly, thanks to which it is possible to combine safety with characteristics and predictability of the shot.

On the new M2, a further step forward was taken in terms of the "quality" of the shot, which ensures reduced load (2.2 kg as an average nominal value), net and regular while providing very high security against accidental shots from falling.

The components redesigned in the shot of the new M2 are the trigger, characterized by a new plate, reduced stroke, new coupling profile with the safety and with the retaining spring; the hammer, characterized by a new hook cam, a ring and, finally, a smaller room between the coupling tooth and the safety tooth.

The design of the Benelli shotgun feeding devices brings several advantages:

  • rapid loading and unloading without the need for preliminary manoeuvres to unlock the elevator
  • "jam-proof" design so that the operating cycle does not undergo alterations even if a cartridge " ends " between elevator and bolt during loading
  • possibility to remove the chambered cartridge quickly, without the need for particular manoeuvres and without interfering with the cartridges in the magazine, because by manually manoeuvring the bolt the stop lever holds the cartridges in the magazine

In addition to the 12 gauge for waterfowl hunting, the new M2 is also available in 20 gauge with 76 bore.

As for the other families of semi-automatic shotguns, even that of the M2 puts the 12/76 gauge shotguns side by side with those in 20/76, not simple adaptations to the cadet gauge, but shotguns designed ad hoc according to the cartridge and field use.

The cadet gauge is appreciated both for its slender lines and formal balance and for the preferences and habits of those who, although preferring greater lightness and manageability, do not want to give up excellent levels of performance, so as to make the most of the ballistic qualities of the ammunition and dominate recoil and muzzle.

This means excellence of dynamic skills combined with maximum controllability by firing heavy and magnum loads, today both much more widespread than before, thanks to the evolution of ammunition, whose ballistic yield is no longer penalized as once as the weight of the pellet load increases.

The new M2 semi-automatic 20/76 gauge follows the mechanics, the stock and the lines of the 12/76, but it is not a simple “reduced version”, but a new firearm that takes into account the different balances – formal and substantial – that are its own.

The shotgun weighs 2.7 kg (+/- 100 g) with 26"barrel and operation is guaranteed with all loads that dispense at least 190 kg one meter from the muzzle.

The new M2 semi-automatic shotgun in 20 gauge can mount the barrels of the pre-existing shotguns, but has dedicated barrels: 61/24” cm, 65/26” cm, 70/28” cm magnum chambered and steel shot punched, with vent rib equipped with ramp and high visible optic fibre sight.

The chokes are the Crio 7 cm * **/**** */Cyl steel shot and */** non-steel shot.

The magazine tube carries 3 rounds (standard or magnum), is equipped with a 2-rounds reduction gear and being "open" in the distal part (where permitted by the regulations) can be equipped with an extension.

Here are now the compact equipment for a shotgun waterfowl hunting and not only.

There are hunters who by physical complexity, personal preference or young age can benefit from a shotgun with shorter stock, low weight and not too advanced center of gravity to reduce inertia by aiming and following a moving target.

The new M2 semi-automatic shotguns in 12-gauge and 20-gauge are also available in the Compact set-ups, characterised by a shorter stock and a slightly reduced weight also due to the 65/26” barrel length for the 12/76 and 61/24” for the 20/76 in both models: M2 Black Compact and M2 Max 7 Compact.

The choice was dictated by a better aesthetic balance and by the desire to favour the reduction of inertia (retraction of the center of gravity) to enhance the dynamic qualities and the feeling of those who approach the shotgun for the first time.

The weight has been carefully studied to enhance the  qualities of the shotguns and the performance of the hunter. With the M2 Compact 12/76 the scale needle stops at 2,950 kg (+/- 100 g), while for the 20/76 it drops to 2,550 kg (+/- 100 g).

Camo Max 7: the best camouflage for water hunting

All the new M2 semi-automatic shotguns in 12-gauge and 20-gauge, also in Compact set-up, are available in a variant with Real Tree Camo Max 7 hydrographic leather extended to stock, receiver, barrel with barrel extension,  forearm and fore-end cap.

The Camo coating enhances the M2's already high resistance to environmental aggression and the Max 7 pattern has been designed for humid environments, but with a good degree of functionality also in other hunting environments.

The Max 7 pattern is an evolution of the Max 5, which featured a slightly darker colours palette to blend in with wood and flooded fields.

After the release of Max 5, Real Tree developed the Timber camo, which provided the starting point for the Max 7 with particular attention to the most common areas of waterfowl hunting, which do not contain a large amount of timber.

Max 7 is a versatile camo, suitable for both flooded fields and dry areas, designed to camouflage more naturally with reeds, earth and muddy water muddy bodies of water.

828 U Lock Plate

Initially used on the 828 U Silver and 828 U Black, the Lock plate is the mechanical innovation that most characterizes the Benelli over-and-under...

European Regional Development Fund: The Smart Factory

The R&D program, conducted in partnership with Palazzoli, centered round the study and development of innovative process solutions. This involved ...

Benelli at the IPSC Shotgun World Shoot in Pattaya, Thailand

In the challenge with ourselves, we truly discover who we are and where we can go. Attitude, discipline, commitment, excellence these are value...