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Using the Mantis X10 to compare recoil on three shotguns

Mossberg M500M MILS, Benelli M1014 Flag Edition, Molot VEPR-12

I’d been telling people that I think my Benelli M1014 has more felt recoil than my other shotguns. I’d been getting responses like, “You must be joking“, “What an idiot“, “a semi would never have more recoil than a pump“, “ur a fuckwit“, etc.

Well lucky for me the people at Mantis asked me to write a review of the X10. I’m working on that. (Spoiler, I like it!) One of the many features of the X10 is a “Recoilmeter”. Now I want to compare my .45 ACP Glock 30 vs my Colt 1911 in recoil. I want to see how the Glock compares to the P320, etc. But I really wanted to see how these shotguns compared.

I was able to use the adapter that comes with the X10 to clamp to to the Mossberg M500’s barrel. This clamp also worked on the Benelli’s mag tube. I was able to install the X10 right to the rail on the gas block of the Molot VEPR-12.

I fired four shots of Winchester 00 buckshot from each gun. For our purposes I am going to use the numbers from the first 3 shots of each test. We will throw out the 4th shot as on two of the guns the action locked open and what we really care about is recoil between shots. And. . I didn’t have the clamp tight enough on the Mossberg for the last shot and the whole unit slipped forwards.

It is not really a fair comparison, as one is a pump. I tried to have the Mantis X10 in as similar a position on each gun as possible. I tried to keep things as comparable as possible. Shooting was done at a rapid pace. I use a 8 inch repair bull target at 50 yards for my point of aim. The X10 records and tells us a variety of different info from each shot.

Side note, the grey line you see going off to the upper right on each image is the movement of my last shot, the 4th one, which included moving the gun off target afterwards.

When firing the pump action Mossberg, the muzzle rise record by the Mantis X10 clocked in at 2.40, 2.05, and 1.25 degrees. This is an average of 1.9 degrees of muzzle rise across the three shots. Interestingly enough, the movement of the gun tended to be more up and left vs the up and right as often see with firearms fired right handed. This is shown by the negative “Recoil Angle” that is in the MantisX app.

Shooting 12 gauge buck shot out of a pump action has noticeable recoil. I’m not particularly recoil sensitive, but I have injured both my shoulders in the past, so I tend to prefer not to shoot higher recoiling guns any more. Still I could shoot this Mossberg all day long. You feel the recoil, but double-naught buck is not unpleasant out of this gun.

Firing the Benelli M1014 flag edition clocked in a muzzle rise of 4.30, 4.93, and 4.82 degrees. This is an average of about 4.7 degrees. Over DOUBLE the muzzle flip of the pump action Mossberg.

HA! Who is crazy now?

The Benelli classically recoils up and right like your average longarm for a right handed shooter. About a 30 degree angle up and right as shown by the MantisX app.

This increased muzzle flip is really noticeable as the firearm was coming up and off the 50 yard target between shots. While the Benelli has superior sights, I had to reacquire the target and realign the sights between each shot.

Now to keep things interesting, I also tested my Molot VEPR-12. I’ve often told people how surprisingly pleasant the VEPR-12 is to shoot. I can use lightly loaded shells and 3 inch slugs in the same magazine and it will cycle them all and still be pleasant to shoot. It will reliably cycle lightweight loads that make the M1014 jam.

The X10 recorded muzzle rise of -0.19, 1.07, and -0.22 degrees. This gives up an average of 0.22 degrees of muzzle rise across the three shots. Big difference between shooting this shotgun and others.

Now this shotgun does have a large muzzle brake on it. It was really pleasant to shoot before the brake, and the brake certainly doesn’t hurt. These particular Mossberg and Benelli guns have no accommodations for a choke or brake.

On a tangent, note that after the last shot on the VEPR-12, I was just lowering the muzzle like had I been firing an AR15.

Now I know some of you are saying, “Hey, that recovery time listed is higher on the Vepr-12.” You would be right. The VERP-12 averaged 1.01s over the .89 seconds of the M1014. This is a difference of over a tenth of a second. I’m not sure what happened there. If it was due to the AK style sights or if I was just shooting slower after being abused by the Benelli.

Now this isn’t a definitive test, it is a small sample size of shots with just me as the shooter. We only see the recorded muzzle flip and it says nothing about the overall recoil impulse. But is is nice to have some hard numbers showing that my Benelli moves more during shooting that my other shotguns, even the pump action.

More unnecessary ranting below:

Read moreUsing the Mantis X10 to compare recoil on three shotguns

M1014 and VEPR-12

For some time I had wanted to get a Benelli M4 Super 90 (M1014) and figured I’d sell my VEPR-12 after I picked up the Benelli. Molot VEPR-12s are no longer imported, and I am concerned about spare part and magazine availability. I liked the idea of the Benelli having the self contained tubular magazine where I wouldn’t need to worry about accessories. I thought the M4 Super 90 would be an excellent choice due to its’ proven performance, reliability, etc. I traded for a customized limited edition (the flag edition) M1014 model of the M4 Super 90 line.

While I was waiting on the shotgun to come in to my dealer, I read so much about them. The operation, history, manuals, etc. So many people talked about how it will reliably feed any ammo and is so light recoiling.

I wonder now if the people who said that actually shot one. It recoils like a pump action. Shooting the VEPR-12 and the M1014 side by side the VEPR move so much less. Shooting the VEPR-12 is like shooting a standard AK. Shooting the M1014 reminds me of when I had a .45-70 guide gun. Not unpleasant, but moves a great deal with the recoil of every shot. I can shoot the VEPR-12 fast and the barrel stays level and the sights on target.

I would have probably would like the Benelli a great deal more had I never shot a Vepr-12. But I can load 3 inch slugs and extra-light bird shot in the mag of the Vepr-12 and it runs it fine due to its’ self adjusting gas system. The M1014 chokes on light loads and makes heavy loads borderline unpleasant to shoot.

Now, I’m not so sure I’m going to keep that Benelli. I might just sell or trade it off and leave the Molot Vepr-12 as my semi-auto shotgun.

Benelli M1014 Flag Edition

Finally got it set up the way I want it. had to replace the Surefire railed handguard with the standard forend and I removed the Taran Tactical enlarged bolt release button and installed a standard bolt release.

The bolt release button is also the catch that holds the shells in place when you load the tube. The bolt release that was modified with the Taran Tactical bolt release was very stiff to insert shells into the gun. I wonder if it got bent slightly in the installation of the enlarged button. The stock catch makes for easy loading.

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.
https://ndiastorage.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/ndia/2015/smallarms/Turlington.pdf

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.

ATF letter regarding the Franklin Armory Reformation

December 19, 2019

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has received questions from industry members and the general public regarding a new type of firearm produced by the Franklin Armory. This firearm, known as the “Reformation”, utilizes a barrel that is produced with straight lands and grooves. This design contrasts with conventional rifling, in which the barrel’s lands and grooves are spiral or twisted, and are designed to impart a spin onto the projectile.

The ATF Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD) has examined the Reformation firearm for purposes of classification under the applicable provisions of the Gun Control Act (GCA) and the National Firearms Act (NFA). During this examination, FATD determined that the straight lands and grooves incorporated into the barrel design of the Reformation do not impart a spin onto a projectile when fired through the barrel. Consequently, the Reformation is not a “rifle” as that term is defined in the GCA and NFA. Moreover, because the Reformation is not chambered for shotgun shells, it is not a shotgun as defined in the NFA. Given these determinations, the Reformation is classified as a shotgun that is subject only to the provisions of the GCA (i.e., it is not a weapon subject to the provisions of the NFA).

Under the provisions of the GCA, if a Reformation firearm is equipped with a barrel that is less than 18-inches in overall length, that firearm is classified to be a short-barreled shotgun (SBS). When a Reformation is configured as a GCA/SBS, specific provisions of the GCA apply to the transfer of that firearm from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) to a non-licensee, and to the transport of that firearm by a non-licensee in interstate or foreign commerce. These provisions are:

18 U.S.C. 922(a)(4) requires that an individual wishing to transport an SBS in interstate or foreign commerce obtain approval by the Attorney General to transport the firearm.

18 U.S.C. 922(b)(4) requires authorization from the Attorney General consistent with public safety and necessity prior to the sale or delivery of an SBS to an individual by an FFL.

The Attorney General has delegated the authority for approval of requests pursuant to these sections to ATF.

The Franklin Armory Reformation is the first firearm produced and sold by an FFL that ATF has classified as a GCA/SBS. Because GCA/SBS firearms have not previously been available in the marketplace, existing federal firearm regulations do not provide a mechanism to process or approve requests from FFLs for approval to transfer a GCA/SBS to a non-licensee pursuant to section 922 (b)(4) or requests from non-licensees to transport a GCA/SBS pursuant to section 922(a)(4).

ATF is currently developing the procedures and forms to address this new type of firearm. Once promulgated, these new procedures and forms will provide the mechanism necessary for FFL holders and owners of GCA/SBS firearms to request the statutorily required approvals. Until such time, you should be aware of the following:

An FFL may lawfully sell/transfer a GCA/SBS, such as the Reformation, to the holder of an appropriate FFL (a GCA/SBS cannot be transferred to the holder of a type 06 or type 03 FFL).

No mechanism currently exists for ATF to authorize a request from an FFL to transfer a GCA/SBS, such as the Reformation, to a non-licensee. Therefore, until ATF is able to promulgate a procedure for processing and approving such requests, an FFL may not lawfully transfer a Reformation configured as a GCA/SBS to a non-licensee.

No mechanism currently exists for an unlicensed individual who possesses a GCA/SBS, such as the Reformation, to submit a request and receive approval to transport the GCA/SBS across state lines. Therefore, until ATF is able to promulgate a procedure for processing and approving such requests, the possessor or owner of a GCA/SBS, such as the Reformation, may not lawfully transport the firearm across state lines.

Any questions pertaining to this Open Letter may be sent to the Firearms Industry Programs Branch at FIPB@atf.gov or (202) 648-7190.

Curtis W. Gilbert
Acting Assistant Director
Enforcement, Programs and Services

Originally Posted By LHA-2:
Just read it again, it makes perfect sense. It isn’t a shotgun, but it’s a shotgun.

Moreover, because the Reformation is not chambered for shotgun shells, it is not a shotgun as defined in the NFA. Given these determinations, the Reformation is classified as a shotgun that is subject only to the provisions of the GCA (i.e., it is not a weapon subject to the provisions of the NFA).

Clownshoes.