5.56 Timeline

A critical look at the M1014/M4 Super 90

I am a fan of the M1014 aka M4 Super 90, enough of one that I have been wanting one for a long time.

If you made a list of pros and cons, the M4 Super 90 has many pros going for it. It is a proven gun, perhaps the semi-auto shotgun with more combat experience as the U.S. Military’s M1014 and as the U.K. military’s L128A1. It is known for reliability, and has shown it self to be fast in competitions like 3 Gun. Most importantly, it looks really cool. It is high capacity, at 7+1+1. The additional +1 comes from the ability to “ghost load” an additional shell onto the shell lifter to cram another round in the gun. It comes with really great Ghost Ring sights, an optics rail, and should go at least 25,000 rounds with out parts replacement. Like the Mossberg shotguns, it has a superior alloy receiver unlike the inferior steel receivers of the Remington 870 shotguns.

1 round in chamber, a full tube, and a “ghost load” round on the lifter.

People rarely talk about downsides to guns. What are the downsides to the M4 Super 90? First would be cost and weight. If someone was looking for a gun for 3-gun competition, they could get a tricked out M2 Super 90, or other guns for less cost than the stock M4 Super 90. The “ARGO” dual gas piston system on the M4 Super 90 add weight making the gun heavier than inertial driven shotguns. (On the plus side, of you are mounting lots of accessories, the M4 will run with all that extra weight on the gun)

Back to cost, the M4 Super 90 comes neutered from the factory. Reduced capacity, and the collapsing stocks are hard to find and even more expensive. It can cost many hundreds of dollars to configure a M4 Super 90 into M1014 configuration.

Personally, I think one of the most iconic parts of the M1014 is also one of the worst parts of the design. The collapsible stock is very expensive to buy, and major flaw. Benelli somehow managed to make a stock that is always wrong. Not only is it rare and expensive, and there are weird 1, 2, and 3 position versions, it adjust at an angle, making the cheek piece problematic.

Like most shotguns, the stock is overly long than what is ideal for many. As you collapse it, the cheek piece get higher and higher, preventing the use of the sights. Unless you have mounted an optic, the sights are unusable when the stock is collapsed. You collapse the stock on this for storage, not to fit you. The stock is also way too short when collapsed. If this was a rifle stock, people would complain about the tremendous amount of wobble in it, but somehow this is ok on an expensive shotgun.

Note how much higher the cheek piece is with the stock extended vs collapsed.

A very minor grip of mine would be the three dots on the sights. IMHO, the two biggest improvements of the M1014 over the military issue pump shotguns are the superior sights and that it is semi-auto.

This picture does not do it justice, but the M4 Super 90 comes with great sights. But being Ghost Ring sights, the white dots on the rear sight are centered around the Ghost Ring. Since you use the top of the white post. If you were to line up the dots you would be aiming high. I’m looking forward to trying this with slugs and seeing how much the difference in point of impact will be.

When people talk about about the M4 Super 90, usually one of the biggest selling points it the absolute reliability across all ammunition types. People love to say how the Marine Corps picked it because it can shoot less lethal loads and cycle them.

When I read that I was confused, because when I was in the M1014 wouldn’t cycle breaching or bean bag rounds. But now I read people talking about how the M1014 does.

Turns out, the USMC contracted a 3rd party company to modify and retrofit all their M1014 to work with light loads. If you buy a M4 Super 90, you don’t have the same gun that the USMC uses. In 2010-2011, SRM modified all the USMC M1014 shotguns to be able to cycle light loads.

So all this talk about how your M4 Super 90 can run anything is bullshit. For example, this commercial M1014 pictured above choked and malfunctioned on light target loads that function fine in a VEPR-12.

Oh, and despite the USMC spending time and money to do this retrofit to their M1014s, they still felt the need to turn their Mossbergs into modular breachers 6 years later with the MEK kits.

I had 4 malfunctions with this light target load in 9 rounds fired. Now, to be fair, this M1014 has a low round count and perhaps might break in more. Hopefully.

Most people don’t seem to like the stock controls on the Benelli M4 Super 90. Enlarged buttons for the safety, and bolt release. In the picture above a Taran Tactical extended button is installed.

Many aftermarket buttons are so very much larger than the little original bolt release button.

On this particular gun, pushing rounds into the magazine was very stiff to get the rim past the catch. I read that this is not uncommon in Benelli shotguns and people will modify the catch by polishing, bending it, or removing material around the two U shaped cuts in it. I don’t recall any of the M1014s I used in the Corps being like that, but that was also a long time ago that I last used a Benelli. I expect that will become easier with use.

I see people say this is the ultimate home defense gun. It is nearly 2 pounds heavier and 2 inches longer than a M4.

I like this gun, that is why I own one. But I believe that if you need or want a semi-auto shotgun, there are many cheaper options that would fit that need just as well. But if YOU want a M4 Super 90, and can afford it, get it.

It is a cool gun. I’ll be talking about mine more later.

There is one more topic I feel it is important to discuss. This is not a gun issue but a training issue. Semi-automatic shotguns have a different manual of arms than most all other semi autos.

On your average semi-auto pistol or rifle, you load the mag, cycle the action, and you are ready to go. On a semi auto shotgun like the Benelli, you can fill the tube, and cycle the action all the day long and you will not chamber a round. You need to hit the shell release to release a round from the tube onto the lifter in order to chamber a round.

There is a bolt handle, a safety, a shell release, and a bolt release. All of which have to be used in the proper order. Now those of you that are familiar with semi-auto shotguns are probably yelling at your screen that any idiot would find that easy. For me, it has been something like 5 years since I last used a semi-auto shotgun that worked like that. I had to read the manual.

I remember in training on the M1014, guys would be on the line, a whistle or firing command would be given and they would raise their gun and *CLICK*. They had failed to load it correctly.

Watch this Marine at the 18 second mark in this video. Again at the 40 second mark.

I’ll withhold commentary on other training issues shown in the video. But it goes to show that this guns manual of arms is not obvious to people not familiar with it. It takes training and practice.

Colt ‘CS’ Stock

Guest Post by Brent Sauer of www.TheColtAR15Resource.com

Colt ‘CS’ Stock

          Anyone who collects Colt AR-15’s knows that there are many part variations across Colts AR production history. As a newer collector (I began collecting in 2017) I come across new (to me) variations on a pretty regular basis. On December 1st, 2019 I came across a Colt rifle stock with a ‘CS’ marking on it. I had not seen this stock variation before nor had I seen any online discussions about the Colt CS stock. Curiosity leads me down rabbit holes and away I went.

          My search for information on the Colt CS stock began with a Google search. The search results were limited to mostly archived posts on AR15.com. Simultaneous with the Google searching, I had made a post on AR15.com in the Colt ‘Industry’ section looking for information as well. The Colt ‘Industry’ section has several knowledgeable collectors that visit there. I additionally found some bits of information from other places like snipershide.com and M4carbine.net. So, the information that I am presenting here is a combination of data gathered across the internet and some data that originates from me.

History and origination of the Colt CS stock

The history of the Colt CS stock goes back to World War II and originates with the Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk I rifle as used by the Canadian military. The rifles were produced with different lengths of stocks available in Bantam (B), Short (S), Normal (N) and Long (L) lengths. The use of different stock lengths continued when the Canadian military converted to the C1A1 (FN/FAL) rifle beginning around 1955. The C1A1 was available with Short (S), Normal (N), Long (L) and Extra-Long (XL) stock lengths.

          The Canadian military had a simultaneous rifle development program going on during the same time that the United States was developing the M16A2 rifle. These programs were so closely aligned that the Canadian military had a Canadian Forces liaison officer working with the United States Marine Corps in the program that was officially known as the M16A1 Product Improvement Program. The Canadian liaison officer would call back USMC test results to Canada and they implemented lessons learned into their rifle development program. Born out of the liaison with the USMC was the Colt Canada C7 rifle which was adopted by Canada about 1984. This rifle later evolved into the C7A1.

          The Colt CS stocks discussed in this article were used on the Colt Canada C7/C7A1 rifles. Design specifications in the C7 program continued the Canadian military tradition of having multiple lengths of rifle stocks available for Canadian military personnel. The stock lengths used on the Colt C7/C7A1 rifles were Short (CS) and Normal (A2 length). There was an additional .5-inch (13mm) spacer available to increase stock length if needed.

          The C with a ‘nestled’ S, as seen on the stock below, is an abbreviation from the French / English combination of Court / Short. Court is the French word for the English word short.

Fixed stocks were gradually phased out of Canadian service around 2004 as the Colt Canada C7A2 with collapsible carbine stock came into service.

History of the Colt CS stock in the United States

          I was not able to identify exactly what year that the Colt CS stock became available in the United States. Information found on the internet indicated that the stocks appeared around 1991 on civilian rifles. The Colt CS stock is featured on two Colt rifle variations in the Colt 1992 firearms catalog. The two rifle variations that featured the Colt CS stock are:

          1. Colt Model R6530 Sporter Lightweight (.223 carbine with CS stock)

          2. Colt Model R6430 Sporter Lightweight (9mm carbine with CS stock)

If you look closely at the rifles in the catalog photographs, you can see the ‘CS’ letters on the stock just behind the rear of the lower receiver.

I have not been able to find any solid evidence of the Colt CS stock being factory installed on any other rifles. However, we also know that just because a product appeared in a catalog doesn’t necessarily mean it appeared in the retail market and vise-versa…products could have appeared in the retail market and not the catalog.

          I have seen former CS stock owners discuss selling these stocks for anywhere from $50 to $225 dollars. This CS stock is the first one that I have seen for sale in roughly two years (2018 – 2019) so they seem to be pretty rare. My winning bid on December 1st, 2019 was $193 dollars so I paid about average current market value it seems. Several people have stated that they still have factory rifles with the CS stocks present. Several factory rifle owners have talked about having removed the CS stocks over the years and replacing them with various other commercial stocks. Obviously, that is not a good move from a collector’s perspective.

Technical details of the Colt CS stock

The Colt CS stock is popular for being made from the more durable A2 rifle stock materials but maintaining the A1 rifle stock length. For comparison I have provided the following data using three stocks that I have on-hand:

A1 stock length: 9-7/8 in.          A1 stock weight: 15 ounces

A2 stock length: 10-5/8 in.        A2 stock weight: 14.9 ounces

CS stock length: 10 in.              CS stock weight: 13.3 ounces

The ‘trap door’ on the CS stock storage compartment is a metal assembly. The inner compartment is yellow to facilitate seeing items stored inside.

I hope that you found this article informative. Please feel free to comment and provide any additional information that you may have.

5 AR Triggers

Note: I thought I published this some time back, now I found it today in the drafts folder, so here it is.

I have this opportunity to compare 5 different AR triggers, so I would be a fool not to write about it.

The Triggers:

  • Standard AR15 Trigger
  • Geissele SSA
  • Larue Tactical MBT
  • LMT 2 Stage
  • KAC 2 Stage

Before I try them all side by side, I’d guess that the standard trigger will be the heaviest, the MBT the lightest, and the SSA my favorite of them.  Of the two stage triggers I have the most time behind the SSA.  In the past I used to highly recommend the SSA, but Geissele has raised the price on them at least twice and the MBT can be had for under $100.

First up is a notched standard Colt fire control group.  The notched hammers will not work with some of the .22 conversions and most all of the pistol caliber uppers.  You can find non-notched hammers in various brands of lower parts kits.

These standard triggers can vary drastically.  Some have a smooth trigger pull and others are terrible and inconsistent.  Most of them will become significantly better as you use it.  But few people these days seem to want to spend the time to dry fire their firearm a few thousand times.

Using my trigger pull tester, I had the following results.
7.5 lbs, 6.75 lbs, 7 lbs.

On this trigger there is a noticeable amount of creep.  The trigger can be pulled very slightly and will move before the shot breaks.  But this distance is short, only noticeable if you are pulling the trigger very slowly.

The trigger reset is crisp, and the trigger will do what we really need. But there are nicer options.

Geissele triggers have a G marking visible on them.

The trigger pull tested measured in at 4.5 lbs, 4.25 lbs, and 4.5 lbs.

This two stage trigger requires about 2.75 pounds of weight to pull the first stage.

I never noticed before, but when I was just releasing the trigger until it resets, it feels like most of the weight is in the second stage.

The LMT 2 stage trigger has a straighter trigger bar than the others.

Trigger pull weights measured 4.75 lbs, 5.5 lbs, and 5.5lbs.  The first stage was measuring about 4.5 pounds.

To me the transition from the first stage to the trigger breaking was crisper on this trigger than the SSA.

I didn’t test it, but this felt like a heavier hammer spring than the others.

The Larue MBT trigger can be identified by the recesses on each side of the trigger bar.  This felt very light compared to the previous triggers.

All three trigger pulls clocked in at 3 pounds.  If it were any lighter I wouldn’t want it on a fighting rifle.  The whole weight of the trigger pull seemed like it was in the first stage. The MBT comes with a heavier spring to use as an option. I prefer to use this heavier spring as it makes the trigger feel more like a Geissele SSA. Also, on one of these triggers I found the reset was sluggish with the lighter spring. I have heard of other people having this issue, and using the heavier spring was the suggested solution. I have not tested the weight with the heavier spring.

Trigger pulls measured 4 lbs, 4 lbs, 5 lbs.  Getting 5 on that third pull surprised me so I measured several more after that and for 4.5 lbs on each of those.

I’m not sure how to describe it, but it is a little clicker than the others. If you are riding the trigger(or rolling the link, what ever you wanna call it), the reset is very noticeable and firm.

Compared to the SSA, I would say this feel heavier, even though it isn’t.

I like this trigger, but running at about $320 dollars, I could have three MBTs with cash left over. I wouldn’t buy this trigger simply due to that high price. The trigger and hammer are coated with something, probably chrome.

For dollar value, the Larue MBT can not be beat. I am partial to the Geissele SSA, but that is because I have been using them longest and own several. I certainly wouldn’t replace any of the above if I was using them.

As of January 2020, the LMT 2 stage is $140, which is a good price. Larue MBT trigger line is $80. If I was going to upgrade the trigger in an AR15, I just don’t see how to justify the price of anything other than the MBT.

End of the year musings on prepping and survival

As we come to the end of another year, I was remembering the Y2K discussions. Now I see people talking about preparing for civil unrest, and some the the discussions are similar.

Being a gun nut, it is easy to focus on weapons. Nice to have a stack of guns and a larger stack ammunition. People like me would joke about building a fort of of your ammo cans to fight from.

Back when Mosin Nagant rifles were dirt cheap, I would read about people buying a crate of them with the intent to arm their friends, neighbors, and harem of liberated soccer moms after the end of civilization.

If you are prepping for the SHTF, or the zombie apocalypse, civil war II, etc, it seems to me that there are so very many items other than a stack of guns that would be useful.

I think in this sort of case the person wanted to buy something, and had to rationalize a reason for it.

Hey, if you want something, and can afford, why not get it? If you can’t afford it, wait.

If you are really trying to prepare for bad times, look at the areas you are weak in. Think about stuff you would not be able to get if supply lines or power were cut.

A simple example would be that many people could make a silencer in their garage with a hand drill. But not very many people could build night vision from scratch. If not night vision, how many people can make a good flash light from the stuff around their house? Similar for body armor or gas masks.

It is like that comical joke of the body builder that always skips leg day. Seeing a tremendous amount of upper body muscle mass atop tiny spindly legs.

It is no fun to acknowledge our weaknesses. I’ve been working on my personal fitness for example, always been a weaker area for me. I have a little food and water stashed away. I keep a pile of ammo. But for me, a realistic bad SHTF event would be an extended period of unemployment. Fortunately I have various job skills that I would like to believe would keep me employed even in a bad recession.

For prepping, we gotta be honest with out selves and ask if we are buying what we want, or what we would need to cover a realistic problem. Are we buying the stuff that gives us a big improvement in our capabilities, or stuff that is just cool to have?

ebay and “gun giveback”

My ebay account got suspended today for selling gun stuff.

Previously they had warned me for selling a “barrel shroud”. I had sold a quad rail for an AK. I got suspended for listing up a threaded barrel. See, you can sell barrels on ebay, but not threaded barrels.
What ever, I’m fine with taking my business elsewhere.

Instead of “Gun Buyback” the new buzzword is “Giveback”. Give back your guns to the police.

Yea. . . Sure. . . When did the police ever give me to guns to begin with?

I hear that in VA there is a law that police gun buybacks have to offer to sell the firearms to a dealer. By doing a “giveback” the police could then just destroy any firearms turned in.