The Italians have long dominated the semi-auto tactical shotgun market. Benelli and the M1, M2, M3, and M4 series have dominated alongside guns like the Beretta 1301 and America had lagged behind in terms of modern, tactical, semi-auto shotguns. We dominated the pump market, but the Italians ruled the semi-autos until recently when Mossberg released the 940 Pro Tactical semi-auto shotgun.
Mossberg had the 930 series for quite some time, and it’s an okay gun. I loved my 930 SPX, but like every 930 owner, I’ll tell you that it is maintenance finicky. If you don’t clean this gun often, it won’t run well. Jerry Miculek and Mossberg teamed up to produce the original JM Pro shotguns and to improve on the 930 series. Mossberg has taken the 940 series and expanded it into hunting markets and now tactical markets.
Mossberg generously sent me a loaner 940 Pro Tactical, and I was impressed quite quickly. I expected a decent semi-auto shotgun, but I didn’t expect it to be as outstanding as it was. After a few hundred rounds, I began thinking maybe Mossberg could bring America back to the top of semi-auto shotguns. As an owner and fan of the Benelli M4, I decided to take it and a Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical out for a bit of a spin.
Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical and Benelli M4 — From Front to Rear
While everyone loves and praises the Beretta 1301, I’ve been a bigger fan of the Benelli M4. It’s always been an absolutely outstanding shotgun that’s proven itself in war. For that reason alone, the Benelli M4 wears the crown of combat shotgun king. It seems to be like the perfect shotgun to test the Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical against.
Controls And Ergonomics
One of the big benefits of the last 23 years is that shotguns have gotten better, and Mossberg took advantage of those years to provide a shotgun that’s ready out of the box. The Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical features massive controls. The charging handle and bolt release are absurdly large and easy to access.
One of my main complaints about the M4 is the micro-sized bolt release. Why anyone thought that was a good idea on a combat shotgun is beyond me. Charging handles have never been a big deal, but the bolt release needs to be big.
The safety on the Mossberg is the tang that works best with a standard stock. Benelli went with a large push-button design. Both work well, and admittedly Benelli designed the gun around a pistol grip and stock combo, and the button works well with that or a traditional stock.
Mossberg enlarged the loading port on the gun as well as the ejection port. These larger ports make reloads faster and more intuitive. Benelli doesn’t offer that on the stock M4.
The Pro Tactical comes with a stock designed for LOP adjustments. You can use a series of spacers to get it just right. If you spend a good chunk of change, you can get the Benelli collapsing stock which offers you a 14.5 or 12.5 position. Mossberg does it way better. With the M4, the collapsing stock raises your sightline, making it tough to use the iron sights with a 12.5 LOP.
Shotgun sights are a matter of preference. Mossberg sends the 940 Pro Tactical out with a fixed high-visibility front sight, and that’s it. It’s basically a bead. Benelli does use Ghost ring sights, which are quite nice. I prefer ghost rings to a bead, and Benelli does get the thumbs up here with iron sights.
Both Mossberg and Benelli accepted that optics are the future and ensured their guns were optics-ready. Benelli includes a Picatinny rail with their gun, which makes it easy to add whatever optics fits your needs. Mossberg always drills and taps their guns, and you can add a Picatinny rail. Better than that, they also cut the receiver to accept an optic; specifically any optic with a Shield RMSc footprint.
It’s a bit of a tie here, but I’m partial to the Mossberg optic’s cut. This places the optic lower and makes it easier to co-witness with the standard front sight.
It’s pretty simple in the capacity department. Mossberg’s 940 Pro Tactical holds more rounds. However, that’s not entirely the fault of Benelli. 922R ensures the Benelli M4 is capped at five rounds for import purposes. A standard Benelli M4 holds seven in the tube, one in the pipe, and another ghost loaded for nine rounds total.
The ghost load gives the Benelli an advantage, but that’s only after you find and purchase a seven-round tube and all the other 922R parts to make things legal. That sucks, but it is what it is. I’ll say it’s a tie.
At the Range
Both guns handle well at the range. They are both gas-operated and tame recoil to a significant degree. Just chucking lead isn’t enough to say one is better than the other, so I set up several tests and drills against a timer to see if one had a noticeable difference. I used the same ammo types for each drill, and both guns wore red dots.
Four for Four
The Four for Four drill is four clay pigeons placed on a berm three feet away from each in a square-like shape. At the beep, the shooter engages each clay pigeon with one round of birdshot. For all of these drills, I would have three runs swapping from gun to gun between each round. I then averaged the times.
On the Four for Four drill, my runs with the lighter, more ergonomic Mossberg averaged out to 2.54 seconds. With the Benelli M4, my average time was 2.76 seconds. I do credit the superior Mossberg safety for being easier to access and the lighter gun with a shorter LOP for being easier to manipulate.
With a Steel IPSC target at 15 yards, I practiced double taps with buckshot. The buckshot was a Lambo load, which is a cheap Greek nine pellet 00 buckshot at 1,325 FPS. As the name implies, I fired two as fast as I could control, with both rounds hitting the chest area of the target.
With the Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical, I averaged out to 1.45 seconds for both rounds. With the Benelli, I scored an average of 1.46 seconds. Not really much of a difference, and it’s a tie with a statistical outlier.
Next, I set up two 10-inch gongs and practiced firing one shot into each target. The gongs were six feet apart. The Mossberg Pro Tactical scored 1.44 seconds, and the Benelli M4 scored 1.55. For target transitions, Mossberg’s low-mounted sight worked best and made it a more natural transition.
Next, I practiced both port and standard reloads. The standard reload is a round taken from a belt-mounted position and inserted in the magazine tube. The chamber was loaded, and the drill ended with a shot fired. The Mossberg’s massive loading port gave it a clear advantage with 2.59 seconds compared to the Benelli’s 3.4 seconds.
Port reloads were conducted with the bolt locked to the rear and one round inserted into the port and then fired on a 10-inch gong. Again the larger port ensured a Mossberg win with a time of 2.35 seconds compared to the Benelli’s three seconds. The larger port made a significant difference.
This is the magic number. Which one malfunctions less? Well, in my experience with either gun, the Benelli M4 and the Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical have never failed with standard ammunition. However, my experience is limited, and I will say the Benelli M4 is combat proven. It’s been issued for over twenty years now, including some of the most nonpermissive environments on earth. The Benelli M4 wins this purely on reputation alone.
A New Age For Shotguns
A good shotgun can go a long way. You are certainly getting a good gun with the Benelli M4 or Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical. The Mossberg tends to have fancier features and a significantly lower price tag. That’s worth mentioning. If I had to jump into Fallujah right now, I’d probably take the proven M4, but for defending the home, the Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical takes the top spot.