LooseRounds.com
5.56 Timeline
Weaponsman.com

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.

BCM Gunfighter Charging Handle Revisited (Gen2)

Recently I was gifted a new Gen2 Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM) Gunfighter Mod 4 medium charging handle, (stocking stuffer). The very first article I wrote for Loose Rounds was on the original BCM Mod 5 small and Mod 4 medium Gunfighter charging handles. see here – (http://looserounds.com/2012/06/09/bcm-gunfighter-charging-handle-guest-writer-duncan-larsen/)

I have been using the BCM Mod 4 charging handles for years and it is my go-to charging handle on all AR type platforms. I have not purchased the newer BCM charging handles since they modified and changed the design about two years ago (to the Gen2 design).

When I first opened the packaging and threw the new BCM Mod 4 into my new AR, I was surprised that the medium latch appeared to be a lot smaller than the older original Mod 4 charging handles. I was immediately thinking I might have to go with the larger Mod 3 charging handle because there might not be the same amount of latch surface I was used to running.

I pulled one of my older BCM Mod 4 charging handles and compared it to the new Gen2 BCM Mod 4. The new charging handle is a lot sleeker/compact and does not protrude out as far sideways or forward with the latch.

After running the new Gen2 BCM Gunfighter in the same manner I have used the older BCMs, I really see no functional/operational difference even though it is slightly smaller. I can still run the Gen2 medium with the flat/palm of my support hand or with my index finger and thumb grip. With a shooting glove it is even easier as you can be extremely aggressive with the charging handle. I would suggest gloves if you are training hard.   

The new serrated cuts in the back of the charging handle latch assist in the index finger and thumb grip, that I primarily use. The additional serrations provide a very positive grip and I can see it working well with a stuck case or having to aggressively charge the handle to clear the weapon or a malfunction that does not require mortaring your AR.  This is still enough latch to kick start the thing if you are unfortunate enough to have to do this.

I do not feel it is necessary to move up to the Mod 3 Large charging handle with the new Gen2 design. With the new lower profile of the updated Gen2 BCM charging handles, I do not feel I am losing anything function wise, but it would appear it is even more snag free on gear.    

Final Thoughts:

Now if you have one of the older BCM Gunfighter charging handles, do you need to switch it out for the new design? No. If you are getting a new AR and want to have the same function and size as the older BCM charging handles, stick with the same size in the Gen2 BCMs. Is the new design an improvement over the older charging handle? I believe it is. The BCM Mod 4 medium charging handle is still the best option for snag free and positive function compared to the other sizes. If you have a G.I. charging handle, upgrading to a BCM of any kind is a must IMO. The Mod 4 medium is the best all around size. I have seen them for under $40.00 dollars at several places. If AMBI charging handles are your thing, BCM has them as well.   

Duncan.

Aimpoint LRP Mount

I had an Aimpoint T-1 laying around I wanted to use on the B&T APC9K. But I needed a mount to use. I saw a used Aimpoint LRP mount for sale cheap, so I picked that up. The LRP mount is a quick detach throw level mount. Looks like they run about $120-130 new.

I was a little surprised that there is a little tab on the lever of the LRP mount. You have to pull up on the lever to get it to open.

I wonder if crud/dirt/debris would get caught in opening area by the cam. Would probably be pretty easy to clean out with a brush.

I think that little tab makes it hard enough to open that it will not accidentally open on you. Gives it a good bit of security. There is a not so a little hex knob you can use to adjust the tension on the LRP mount. The knob on this one can easily be turned by hand when the lever is open. Don’t turn it when mounted as you can damage the mount.

Aimpoint’s LRP mounts are low profile, but they can come with spacers to raise the height of the sight for guns that need it like the AR15. Sometimes the LRP mounts are sold with out the spacer, so if you need it, make sure it comes with one. You will also need longer screws to use with the spacer, so if you buy used, make sure it comes with those too.

I initially ran into a little issue mounting and removing the mount, but it turned out to be user error. The lever needs to be fully open for mounting.

I’ve not used it enough to know if it hold zero when removed and reattached, or how durable it is. For the price I paid for this one I am plenty happy, but I wouldn’t pay MSRP for one. At the full price, I’d rather buy something else.

Vibra-Tite VC-3 thread locker

Some time back I bought something and it came with a little sample plastic baggie of Vibra-Tite VC-3.
(wow that is really descriptive and informative, right?)

Being the cheap guy that I am, I cut a tiny little cut into the bag and slowly used up the sampler on optics and accessories screws. Unlike Locktite, this doesn’t fully harden, so it can be reused (up to 5 times they claim). The little sampler I used impressed me, so I went ahead and bought a bottle.

I kept having the tri-lug adapter come loose on the APC9K PRO. I am going to try using VC-3 thread locker to keep it in place. Unfortunately VC-3 is only meant to be used to 165 degrees F, but I want to see how well it works out, and check if I have any issues with bore solvent. I imagine it will probably work fine for this application.

While it isn’t really the right choice for a muzzle device, I would highly recommend this stuff for all the standard bolts and misc threaded connectors you have laying around. While I’m not going to throw away my bottles of locktite, I am going to mainly be using Vibra-tite for around my home.

Last note, with VC-3, you are suppose to coat the threads and let it dry before assembly. I didn’t know that until I bought this bottle.

Understanding the USMC new ACOG reticle

The Marines started using a new ACOG reticle in the Squad Day Optic (SDO) on the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). That optic got moved to the M27 IAR when the USMC switched over, and now the Corps is having the 4X Rifle Combat Optics (RCO) scopes get this reticle.

Simple, right? Pretty much self explanatory. I feel like I would be insulting your intelligence to explain how to use it.

But, just in case you weren’t clear how to use it, I’ll explain.

First, back ground info:
M249 SAW has been available in various barrel lengths. I’ve seen different numbers thrown around, but 16.3 and 20.5 inches seem to be the official lengths.
The M4 and M4A1 has a 14.5 inch barrel, and the M16 series of rifles has a 20 inch barrel.
M27 IAR has a 16.5 inch barrel.

Previously the USMC fielded two different ACOGs, the TA31RCO-A4 (AN/PVQ-31A) and TA31RCO-M4 (AN/PVQ-31B) for the 20 inch rifle and 14.5 inch barreled carbine respectively.

There is a rumor that Trijicon used the same BDC in each scope, but I don’t believe that. I do know that back in 06-07ish, higher ups in the USMC claimed that the scopes were interchangeable. I think that it shows that the level of precision considered acceptable by the USMC allowed either scope to be used.

The SDO optic, adopted for the SAW, needed to be able to work for either barrel length. It used this reticle with green illumination.

Blah blah blah, let us talk about this reticle. I could type up an explanation, but it would be easier for me to copy and past from the USMC own Squad Weapons manual.

First Zeroing:

Ideally you zero at 300m using the tip of the post. If not that, then use the top of the dot at 100m. Reduced range zeroing can be done using the tip of the post at 33m/36 yards for the M16.

Unlike the RCO models which had a Chevron and Bullet Drop Chart (BDC) that went out to 800m, these have a BDC that goes out to 1000m.

Note the narrower lines below the marked lines. We will come back to that in a moment. Those are important.

Ater the 500m line, instead of using a line to cover your target to estimate range, the SDO reticle has a gap. You fit the torso of your target into these gaps to find the distance to them when you are using the 600-1000m section of the reticle.

What are all these smaller lines below the BDC range lines?

As previously explained, we have these 14.5-16.6 inch barreled guns, and 20-20.5 inch barreled guns. The lower smaller line is for the ballistics of the shorter barrel.

This scope had a BDC for the rifle and the carbine (or the Para-SAW and the standard SAW). This lets the USMC have a single ACOG that can work on the M4/M4A1, M16A4, M249 (regardless of configuration), and the M27 IAR.

I’ve shot out to 1000 yards (~914m) with an ACOG and it is far from ideal for that job. But it is far better than using iron sights at that range. While stuffing a 1000m BDC in an ACOG may be idealistic for the one shot one kill rifleman, it very useful tool for the automatic rifleman’s suppressive fire. It is better for our troops to have it and not need it, than the other way round.