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New M4: Stock to Upgraded; what worked for me


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Hey everyone!

Long time lurker, first time poster.  Been a Benelli/Stoeger fan for a long time and just got into the M4 world.

First item, I have to give massive props to @strangerdanger.  He is one of the most knowledgable shotgun guys I have ever ran into and is humble and friendly.  He is an asset to this forum and to all here who enjoy Benelli guns. 

So the purpose of this post is to go through what worked for me and what didn’t as I took an out of the box M4 and upgraded it.  There might be other lurkers or people wondering or on the fence about stuff, and if I can pay it forward and help them – I am happy to do it.

Bought a brand new Benelli M4 (11707) in March.  No idea how long it was on the shelf at the shop I bought it from but the receiver is black – no hint of blue.  Serial number has an IT marking.  Plastic trigger guard housing.  Fit and finish looked to be good.  No burrs or obvious cut corners that I can see so far.

 

Trigger Guard:  Went with an A&S trigger guard – ordered directly from their site.  Shipped fast and quality is very good.  Main reason for doing this as an upgrade was the fact I like metal trigger guards and had plans to upgrade trigger related items and wanted a more standard Triggerguard instead of the variances people reported with the plastic trigger guard.  Transfer of stock parts over to the A&S was easy.  Only issue is the safety detent spring that many people discuss here.  On the A&S, you need to find a way to hold it down in place – with a pin or punch, or with a tool or you have to be cautious installing the safety roll pin.  First time I assembled it, I got the pin in a little too far and had to compress the spring around and under the pin.  I would suggest using a fork shaped tool as StrangerDanger suggested in his post on this issue or just a punch to hold it down and drift the pin over it as best you can.  The pins are a little tighter to get in on the A&S but the fit is really superb.  See pic below.

 

Trigger/Internals:  Options were send my trigger unit in to Briley or ShootingSight, or take a chance on Freedom Fighter Tactical (FFT) trigger kit.  I decided to give the FFT kit a try first and if that did not pan out, then ShootingSight or Briley.  As most folks know, there are reports that the FFT kit needs fitting – almost surely in the plastic trigger housing and it seems half the time or better in an A&S trigger guard.  Sadly, I was one of the unlucky ones.  On the upside, the FFT hammer worked totally cleanly with my stock trigger and disconnector in the A&S.  With all three FFT item though, as others have reported, the FFT hammer was JUST hanging up on the disconnector.  After a bunch of research, and talking to knowledgeable folks I decided to VERY carefully work on the hammer where it was hanging up.  As others have said, use a file sparingly on the lip where the disconnector would snag it.  Because I am paranoid, I only did a tiny bit of file work and then used different grades of sandpaper to finish it out.  With maybe 30 mins total work, the back of the hammer not cleanly passes the disconnector and all safeties work perfectly.  Trigger pull feels a bit crisper than stock and reset feels a little sharper.  If the trigger pull is less, it is not by more than a pound at the most.  After shooting 20-40 full power slugs and buck through the gun, in taking it apart, I noticed the hammer was ever so very slightly touching the disconnector on the way down.  More fine grit sandpaper and we are clear not touching again.  Hoping it is worn in now and will not require more sanding.  See pics below - 1 picture shows hammer clearing, 1 picture shows hammer hung up.

 

Safety:  With my big mitts, I had issues easily accessing the safety to click it off.  Dave’s Metal Works Oversized Safety or the Taran Tactical Safety have completely solved the issue.  Both of those safeties stick out enough with that you can easily push it in without having to dramatically break your grip on the gun.  It does not stick out far enough to dig into your hand.  Solid click to turn it off/on.  Others have advised removing a coil off the safety detent spring but I am going to see if/how they wear in over time.  Install was easy, as long as you can manage the safety detent spring listed above.

 

Charging Handle:  I like handles that lock in and do not spin.  If they are gigantic, they could interfere potentially with your operation of your bolt release (or vice versa).  I have 2 I am using and can speak to their quality – Dave’s Metal Works and Taran Tactical Innovations.  Both provide a better grip for my big mitts over the stock bolt handle.  The TTI version is smaller (width) and has once detent in one spot you lock into.  I tested over insertion and could not get it to go any further in than the detent area.  Dave’s charging handle is wider and has 3 detents on it that you can lock into – much like the stock charging handle.  Could also not get any deep depth overinsertion by pushing in on the Dave’s version.

 

Bolt Release:  I started with a Dave’s Metal Works Speedbar and for the cost – it is nice!  Works as advertised and is super simple.  My issue came when trying to get my gun assembled.  It was VERY tight to get it in beside the plastic handguards and I am not quite ready to go shaving plastic for something I am not sure I would like long term.  Currently I am waiting for my FFT Bolt Release to come in.  GG&G would have been an option but the FFT came in stock and I like the option to change to a round button.  Will report back when it is here and installed.

 

Carrier:  I was stuck between TTI and FFT.  Ended up with a TTI since I had an order already going in to them.  This seems to be a pretty worthwhile upgrade.  I have long/big fingers and did not have any serious issues getting forked by the stock carrier but then I put gloves on and lo and behold – my gloves would snag/pinch on the forks of the stock carrier.  Super easy install, fit and finish is really nice.  Taran may not have the best reputation as a person but his stuff seems to work.

 

Collapsible Stock:  This one hurt.  I think I should have done the 2 gun method to get a stock, but alas I found a local guy who had one for sale and I got it for just under the going rate on ebay and gunbroker.  Nice upgrade in my opinion.  The longest setting is most comfortable for me but middle is not bad.  Smallest setting is damn near uncomfortable.  Install is easy (as long as you have the proper recoil tube installed).  Worth 800-1000 bucks?  Not sure yet.

 

Magazine Tube:  Once I decided on the M4, I placed a pre-emptive order with Carrier Comp for a 7 round titianium tube.  Wait times vary and I was warned on their website and the forum here.  Had an order I was putting in to Dave’s Metal Works and his 7 round tubes were in stock, so I snagged one of those as a place holder until the CC tube was ready to be shipped eventually.  Dave’s 7 round steel tube is well made and a great color match to the barrel of the gun.  Install was harder than I expected but by no means difficult or impossible.  I had a heat gun, set it up, had it blowing at the tube inside the receiver.  10 mins, 15 mins, 20 mins – checking every 5 mins.  I started to get concerned – saw no smoke, no smell, nothing to indicate the Loctite was breaking.  I went back to my heat gun box and found a more directed nozzle that would put heat right on that piece of receiver metal where the tube meets it.  I also turned up my heat gun to about ¾ power.  Tried that for another 5 mins with no movement.  Turned heat gun fan up to high and let it go another 5 mins.  Saw a tiny whisp of smoke coming out.  Tried to turn the tube off again and it moved a tiny bit – jackpot.  Back into the heat for a couple mins, turned a bit more, and repeated the process until it came out totally.  None of the Loctite stayed in the receiver – it was all in the threads of the tube.  Let it all cool down and then tried to clean the threads of the receiver but they were spotless.  Every single thread from end to about 2-3 threads from the main tube body was coated entire way around in a red Loctite and it was still solid in the grooves of the tube.  Cleaned the threads of Dave’s tube and it installed perfectly and smoothly.  I ended up not putting any Loctite on the new tube going in.  I just check to make sure it is tight when I put the gun back together and the end cap really does hold it all together well – no issues.  FFT and others even recommend not using Loctite on new tube installs, so I will run it and see what happens. 

 

Side Saddle:  I am a big believer in the Velcro style side saddles.  I buy the industrial Velcro at Walmart or from Amazon.  Use alcohol to wipe down the side of the receiver and let it dry to make sure it is clean.  Dry fit the Velcro and cut to fit the entire side of the receiver with a square notch cut from the bottom for the takedown screw pop out.  Buy lots of Esstac or Vang comp shotgun cards.  Works like a dream.

 

Optics/Rail:  I have a cart saved with a Scalarworks in it, but for the time being I am pretty content with my Holosun 503CU Green on an American Defense Low Mount.  Easy on and off so I can use the irons if I want to.  I am a big Holosun fan, it is fast for me to get on target with the Eotech style reticle.  Was concerned about the C-stock and how it would work.  With the farthest extension, the optic sits a little too high, but it is not impossible for me to use at all, just my head is up a hair from the nose on the stock.  Middle setting is pretty solid, maybe a smidge high but not bad.  Closest setting is just too danged short to even shoot but I think it is the right height lol. 

 

Sling/Light Mounts:  Options are pretty limited, especially with the C-stock.  I went with Impact Weapons Components mounts in the front and back. Install was easy on both and they lock the sling swivels in place.  The IWC front has mounting points on either side for a scout light or you can pay extra and get a small piece of picatinny rail that mounts in the scout light holes.  I went this route.  I am a TLR-HL fan and am used to operating them on other weapons, so I mounted the pic rail section on the RIGHT side of the gun.  Might seem odd, but on other shotguns, I have had sling issues with lights on the left side, so I mount the light on the right side and turn it on and off my left-hand fingers.  Has worked on previous shotguns and I don’t see it being a problem here.

 

Choke:  I snagged one of the Benelli 2 piece chokes/muzzle brake and several Trulock chokes to try with the gun.  The Benelli chokes SEEMS to provide a reduction in muzzle flip over the flush chokes I tried.  Whether this is real or perceived, only time will tell.

 

Range Report – First Shots: Took it out and ran full powered slugs and buckshot and then some reduced recoil buck through it.  Slugs were Remington Sluggers, 1oz.  Full power buck was S&B 9 pellet and some Fiocchi.  Reduced power buck was Nobelsport (NSI).  No malfunctions at all.  The NSI reduced buck though, it was obvious the bolt was cycling slower but the gun operated just fine. 
Accuracy was surprising with slugs.  Had the Holosun dialed in within 5 rounds.  Took it off and shot irons, irons were perfect left to right but 6 inches high at 50 yards out of the box.  Took it down a bit and we are in business.  Buckshot was a little less exciting.  Seemed to open up at 15-25 – running but the Benelli 2 piece choke and a Trulock IC. Federal Flight Control might be back in stock sometime in 2047, so it will be crappy buckshot for a while.

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Edited by bigdog02
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Awesome and very informative!  I definitely appreciate you walking us through your choices and why.  I hope to be there soon but I’m waiting on the back log for some of these items.  No biggie I can wait.

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Update with a couple items.

Optics: After working on bringing the gun up, shooting on the move, and some snapping between targets; I noticed that I was just not quite getting the reticle where I wanted it in my vision.  With the C-stock in the farthest and middle positions, it was just not quite where I wanted it after running it a bit.  Purchased the Scalarworks mount and put it on.  Install was super easy.  OEM top rail is held on with just a little but of torque on the screws and locking washers on the screws.  Scalarworks mount does not take much to install and is a clean look.

Bolt Release:  FFT bolt release is installed.  Nice clean look, I am really impressed.  I tried the round pad and the rectangle and for my big mitts, I liked the rectangle more.  Install was easy aside from having to install the pin 3x because I kept tapping it in too far lol Watch the install of the spring to make sure that it is not turned or pinched.  Installed with just a drop of blue loctite and snugged up by hand on the bolt.
Pictures attached showing bolt back - showing the angle, then bolt forward showing distance from the gun.  Front of the release is all that touches the gun and only does it when you mash it down to release the bolt.

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7 minutes ago, StrangerDanger said:

I like that FFT bolt release. The checkering looks quite nice. I’ve burned my finger many times on the lines of the GG&G when moving too fast on the bolt handle. That pattern might be more forgiving?

It is not super aggressive, which I like - the points in the pattern are wide and flat.  I would think you would have a tough time tearing up a hand or glove on it.  
Edges are turned down nicely and smooth as the pattern drops off.  Pricey upgrade but is a nice piece of kit.

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