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WTH Does the M4 Cartridge Drop Lever Do?


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New to this forum (found you after a recent first Benelli purchase, an M1014), and I’m extremely curious to learn this weapon system.  

On this episode of “What does this feature of my Benelli M1014 do?”, the Cartridge Drop Lever is a mystery to me.

Disclaimer: I’ve read the 138 page M4 manual cover-to-cover- 5+ times- and it seems to disagree with my experience shooting the M4, specifically regarding the Cartridge Drop Lever.

I took it to the range today and fired 102 shells through it, 20 slug and 82 00B. Yes, my shoulder is bruised and it feels like Andre The Giant shoulder-checked me. 

What I can’t figure out is, what the Cartridge Drop Lever is supposed to do. 

Per various reading, it’s supposed to allow the user to switch rounds mid-mag, e.g., if you have 7 x 00Buck rounds in the mag tube and after the 3rd 00Buck round you need a slug, you use the Cartridge Drop Lever to do X to allow the operator to introduce a new shell mid-stream. 

Today at the range I hit this Lever in 20 various situations throughout firing through the loaded mag tube and every single time the weapon reacted the same regardless. If I hit it before firing the chambered shell, the next shell in the mag tube is moved to under the carrier and the carrier locked. I couldn’t force another round into the tube because the carrier was locked and if I cycled the action before firing, the current shell would eject but the next shell currently on deck would chamber. 

This an identical order of operations to not hitting the CDL: don’t touch the CDL and the next shell in the mag tube would be chambered upon firing and auto-cycling the current chambered shell. 

There was seemingly nothing I could do to make use of this Benelli M4 feature. 

I’m at a loss as to what I could be doing different, what differently the Cartridge Drop Lever is meant to do, or a combination of these. 

Finally, I read this BUSAF thead multiple times prior to the range visit, kept it in mind during said visit and re-read following the visit and think either A) My weapon is operating differently than designed, B) Has been redesigned to deactivate the CDL, or C) Today is the day I discovered that I’m too old/stubborn/dim to understand what should be some really phenomenal capabilities. 

Any input is appreciated  




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As you've probably already found out, just cycling the action, as you might on something like a Remington 1100, will not load a round from the magazine into the chamber.  The drop lever is useful when you want to load to "cruiser ready" (loaded magazine, no round chambered), or, under a competition scenario, you must start with the magazine loaded but no round chambered.  Under either condition, merely cycling the action will not coax a round out of the magazine.  The drop lever must be pressed first (or the trigger pressed - NOT recommended) in order to drop a round onto the carrier, then operate the action to chamber the round.  The drop lever allows you to drop the first round onto the carrier.  After that, merely cycling the action will load the round, saving you a step in getting the gun into firing position.  

One benefit of having that system is something you alluded to but isn't really a function of the drop lever.  On the Benelli system, if you have a birdshot chambered but need a slug to fire immediately, you can operate the action unloading the chambered round.  Doing this does not drop a round out of the magazine and onto the carrier.  You can then load your slug directly into the ejection port while holding the bolt back, then allowing the bolt to close.  When practiced diligently, you can do that in one smooth motion and it's much faster than loading the slug into the magazine, hitting the drop lever, then cycling the action.


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On 5/31/2019 at 7:30 PM, truckcop said:

As you've probably already found out...

Truck, this video is solid gold and I’m irritated I somehow didn’t find it myself earlier as I was searching on functionality of the CDL. 

Confirms what I’d figured out myself plus I learned multiple use scenarios I hadn’t imagined. 

Thank You!


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