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stevenb

Benelli M4 -- Interest in a true 4 point rail system?

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Hey everyone,

Like many with the Benelli M4, I've been seriously disappointed with the current aftermarket rail systems for this weapon. Currently I personally have the Sidearmor rail system. It leaves a lot to be desired though.

I have been in contact with an industry manufacturer in the firearm industry for a while now. They've developed a platform that is very impressive. I did throw in a tip here and there. ;)

 

This rail system once installed will make disassembly slightly easier then the factory stock handguards.

The top of the rail system is an uninterrupted rail from front to back. The top rail extends aprox. 4 inches past the front of the stock handguards. 3 and 9 o'clock rail positions are true to the barrel. Rails on the sides are optional, and different lengths can be used depending on the users needs.

The rail system offers a complete heatshield enclosing the barrel for the entire length of the railsys.

The system offers a free floated barrel assembly. No barrel clamps or bolting the rail to the weapon to prevent disassembly.

Exact materials are yet to be decided. Cost of molding/machining has to be taken into consideration before a final decision is made. As with final cost is yet to be determined.

Right now, a wiring plan is being laid so the user can properly route tape switches and keep them from being damaged. Something which no AR-15/M16 platform has offered.

Weight is a major issue, and is being dealt with in many different ways. There are a few other "features" that are being developed with this project that will make the weight penalty null.

Now, the only problem is the marketability of this item. There needs to be an interest in this item for the manufacturer to tool up to produce them. Crossing fingers and hoping for Military/LE contracts is risky.

We've all seen the rail system that is likely from Surefire that was at the Beretta booth at the NRA show, it was okay, but lacking.

 

The manufacturer will be watching this thread, (along with a few other places that I post it) So all you have to do is show some interest. When we get a little further with the design, the maker will probably let me post some renderings.

 

My personal interest?

A. I want one, it is by far the best design I've ever seen

B. Some of the design points I've helped with would be neat to see actually developed.

C. Resume material. tongue.gif

 

-Steve

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"Weight is a major issue, and is being dealt with in many different ways. There are a few other "features" that are being developed with this project that will make the weight penalty null."

 

Oh, the old helium filled Surefire, Right? smile.gif

 

Just messing with ya, I love my M4 and it is pretty neat right out of the box so there has to be a compelling reason for me to stick something on to it. I really have trouble coming up with anything I need to add to it with the possible exception of a light. I don't believe I need a rail system for that. I think there is a need for these but it is probably in the LE or Military area. But I also know there are those that have to have every accessory that might be of use to tack on the sides, top, and bottom of their firearms and my attitude is more power to them. It is your money and your biceps. I wire my boat trailer lights not my shotguns.

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Current systems for mounting a light to the Benelli are pretty limited, unless you're talking about using half a roll of duct tape.

I don't consider barrel clamps to be a viable solution since they usually complicate the disassembly of the weapon.

If you don't need anything to mount, then a rail system isn't for you.

Using this rail system will require the user to remove a number of factory pieces, so the weight differences is minimal. Top factory picatinny rail, factory handguards.

 

-Steve

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Hi Steve. Pretty cool what you are doing. You're asking for opinions. so here is mine. Being an AR15 fan as well, I think that Brugger (B&T) handguard is pretty close to exactly what I'd want...a simple Knight's RAS-type hand guard replacement that doesn't require me to alter the factory weapon (except to swap out the factory handguard with it...obviously). RAS-type rail covers would be cool as well to slide over the unused sections of rail for comfort. K.I.S.S. is a good rule. Keep us informed, and thanks again.

 

They say that the B&T is heavy...perhaps a similar unit that uses lighter materials may be the way to go.

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usctf,

Thanks for the comments.

I examined the B&T unit and found a list of downfalls a mile long as have others.

One of the major problems with an open design is the venting gas beneath the handguard assembly. Weight was another issue. Comfort. Ability to hold a zero. Lack of an uninterupted top rail from the receiver over the top of the rail system. This is the major support for the rail systems ability to keep a zero.

 

The top rail and most of the "heatshield" is attatched to the weapon by 5 bolts/screws on the top of the receiver. Naturally, you replace the factory picatinny rail. The sides and bottom rail system are one piece which locks into the top rail assembly, and is engaged between the receiver extension and barrel extension much like the factory handguards.

The magazine cap then holds everything together just like the factory design.

 

No modifications to the weapon which cannot be reversed are needed.

 

Weight is a huge issue with our design. The Benelli M4 is already an overweight monster. Which on one hand helps with recoil, but on the other wears out the user who is carrying it for an entire day.

 

The wiring routing plans are really slick. Something which I haven't even seen done in AR15 rail systems.

 

The idea with rail covers is to have the ability to remove the rail or install a shortened one to reduce weight or things for webbing/gear to catch on. With any picatinny rail, you could use rail covers if you wish.

 

As soon as I get permission to post a rendering, I will do so.

 

-Steve

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You'll notice the side saddle. That is optional.

Replacement of the Tacstar carrier is high on my list.

 

-Steve

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Yeah, Steve...that looks pretty cool. I like it.

What will it be made of? Some sort of polymer construction would keep it light.

 

I'm just a little weary of removing my factory picatinny rails, but I could be persuaded :D

 

[ 05-04-2005, 06:09 AM: Message edited by: usctf ]

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Depending on the interest, the more willing the maker is to put up the bucks to do polymer moldings (very expensive)

Right now, everything is on paper for extruded aluminum.

This is pretty much set for the top rail, but the handguard section is up in the air. Personally, I would like to see a polymer handguard assembly due to weight, and the ability to mold in any feature you want fairly easily.

 

On the bottom picture, the overmolding is not applied. You can see the large rectangular slots milled into the handguard assembly. This is our first design for routing tape switches that do not disconnect from the tail cap. The idea is to snake the preasure pad through the slot to wherever you need it. This design may change though.

 

Removal of the factory picatinny rail is pretty simple. I was expecting worse due to the fact that they're flatheads. The replacement will come with either socket or hex key screws to replace the cheap flat heads (this is what I'm told)

 

Anyone who has suggestions or ideas feel free to express them. We're weighing any and all options as they come along.

 

-Steve

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I'd hit it!

 

Count me in as a buyer if it goes through. I agree that the lower should be polymer to reduce weight. Also, the lower rail should be removable like the side rails, rather than a permanent part of the HG mold. All the rails, save for the top, should be removable, IMO. Hex screws would also be nice, & more secure.

 

The side saddle carrier rail interface is a welcome feature. Current offerings leave alot to be desired, IMO.

 

[ 05-06-2005, 03:05 PM: Message edited by: Double_wield ]

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Thanks for the comments double_wield.

Their shell system has been coined the "Shell Holder." The term Side saddle I guess is a trademark of Tacstar.

 

If a polymer handguard assembly is produced, the bottom rail would definately have to be removeable. I'm pushing for this on the aluminum model too. The issues mainly are not to interfere with anything on the inside.

 

Here is a new rendering with a proposed Shell holder design that would be optional.

prototype2.jpg

The design is to mount to the existing picatinny holes.

 

A mount design which hooks to the picatinny rail itself is also being considered.

 

Going polymer will reduce weight by about 20% over aluminum. Not a huge amount. The biggest benefit is the ability to do complex ergonomics cost effectively.

 

 

-Steve

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This is the BEST I have seen to date design and layout wise. I would DEFINETLY buy this when it is available. The B&T and SURFIRE are not that funtional for those who want to mount a light on the side rails as they not extended far forward enough to allow for any support hand clearance. The UNINTERUPPTED top rail is a must for optics especially for those REAL M1014's in military service and converted guns with collapsable stocks. With the stock collapsed the original top rail section just does not seem long enough for reflex sights as you are right on top of them. I believe POLYMER and ALUMINUM would be the best for weight and cost effiencies. If it could be done as the same as LARUE TACTICAL AR rail fore-ends, that would be perfect. They are VERY LIGHT, PERFECT TOLERENCES, and FIT/FINISH quality seems to be the best. I think they are all MACHIENED FORGED ALUMINUM? If this could be done for the BENELLI system, I think you would have a winner.

 

 

Originally posted by stevenb:

Thanks for the comments double_wield.

Their shell system has been coined the "Shell Holder." The term Side saddle I guess is a trademark of Tacstar.

 

If a polymer handguard assembly is produced, the bottom rail would definately have to be removeable. I'm pushing for this on the aluminum model too. The issues mainly are not to interfere with anything on the inside.

 

Here is a new rendering with a proposed Shell holder design that would be optional.

prototype2.jpg

The design is to mount to the existing picatinny holes.

 

A mount design which hooks to the picatinny rail itself is also being considered.

 

Going polymer will reduce weight by about 20% over aluminum. Not a huge amount. The biggest benefit is the ability to do complex ergonomics cost effectively.

 

 

-Steve

 

[ 05-13-2005, 06:58 AM: Message edited by: WIN9639445 ]

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I would be interested! I really like the idea of improving the current offering of the "side saddle" Keep us up to date.

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For future information, the term "side saddle" is a registered trademark of Tacstar, so we won't refer to the product in discussion as such.

We've been using a generic term, "Shell Holder."

You guys can call it whatever you want, but I just wanted to clarify it as to not confuse anyone.

 

A prototype of this rail system is being built. Should have it by some time next week I believe. It will be a plastic model to see how everything fits together and ergonomics.

 

We've done some major design changes that I doubt I can post pictures of, but the design changes significantly added to the strength of the system. For this reason, I doubt a polymer handguard will be built. The design has focused on adding rigidity and strength to the Benelli M4 without adding a significant amount of weight. What may come about is a polymer mold that fixes to the aluminum skeleton to enhance ergonomics.

 

We're still playing with materials to use for the surface. This is probably the most difficult part IMO. What I like, others may hate.

 

I personally would love to see the rail sys built out of milled aluminum. I fear the cost would be prohibiting though. I am a fan of the Larue rail systems also. I don't personally know what the cost difference would be between an extrusion and machined block aluminum. My guess is it would double the price -- but I will look into it.

 

-Steve

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We have some new pictures of the rail system. Here is our more current design.

prototype4.jpg

 

This is likely the length the system will be.

 

Here is an older rendering, the length is not current:

prototype5.jpg

 

You'll notice that the bottom rail is going to be removeable.

 

A lot of the holes are going to be removed. They were just overwhelming, expecially since most may not use any of them.

 

Ergonomics are interesting. I have a prototype made from ABS plastic, just the handguard assembly. Here are some pictures of it:

prototype3.jpg

 

For being flexible plastic, the handguard assembly fits extremely well. and is very sturdy.

 

You'll notice the ears over the receiver on the right side.

 

-Steve

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I went and did some trials on the 24th with the ABS handguard assembly. It was a 105 degrees out and the test was to run nearly 300 rounds through the weapon as fast as I could feed it to them. This took between 5 and 10 minutes. It seemed like a lot longer.

Main item to test was how much gas actually vents through the top and out any holes on the side. Venting gas out the top was a concern due to the open heatshield design on the top. Don't want a B&T type problem.

You'll notice my scientific gas signature detector on the pictures. It's a stiff white piece of paper from the back of a notebook.

The idea is vented carbon would build up on the paper to indicate the presence of high pressure gas and carbon spray.

I was glad to discover that there was almost no carbon vented on the "detector." I also didn't detect much gas venting out the side holes by my other detectors (my hand.) Reguardless, these holes have been mostly removed or plugged.

Another big issue is heat. Some design changes have been made in order to maintain structural strength of the rail system. There are some internal designs I'm not sure if I can fully discuss, plus the design hasn't been finalized.

 

I can't judge ergonomics really since a massive amount of design changes have been made since this prototype. From what I've handled, comfort is a step down from the factory plastic handguards, but utility is significantly boosted. The newer designs are to be more ergonomically pleasing.

 

trial01s.jpg

www.citlink.net/~boehm/trial01b.jpg

 

You'll notice my target for the day in this first picture. I was lucky enough to be the first to break in this debris left in the desert. :rolleyes:

Someone didn't like Marvin the marshans dog either I guess. I had to put him down for them.

 

This is some time afterward:

 

trial09s.jpg

www.citlink.net/~boehm/trial09b.jpg

 

trial04s.jpg

www.citlink.net/~boehm/trial04b.jpg

Here's an action shot. Notice the shells flying through the air, and the action in the process of loading a new shell.

 

I didn't feel like reattaching the front sling loop to the barrel. It's a PITA with its retaining ring. I use a picatinny mounted front sling loop.

 

-Steve

 

[ 05-26-2005, 10:10 AM: Message edited by: stevenb ]

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hey what are the chances of that system being made for the M! super90? Or is inertia (**** Newton!) a problem?

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You've hit the problem big fish. This is why the M4 was built.

I wonder if you changed spring rates within the M1, you could calibrate it for the amount of weight added to the weapon?

 

-Steve

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hey I'd try it-- I.m still not convinced that the m1 would fail to function with all that hanging off of it-- isn't the whole concept based on the "INERTIA (nee Montefeltro bolt) DRIVE" BS?

Would that setup even FIT an M1?

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I don't personally have a M1 to give you a definate answer. What is for sure is the receiver would have to be tapped for the 5 screws in the top rail.

 

Another issue is the clearance under the handguard and how the factory handguards engage the receiver and barrel extension.

One thing is for sure, it wouldn't be as stable as the current design.

The weight issue is a big issue. I've heard of M1's throwing a fit when used with a flash light and a shell carrier.

If it will dimensionally fit, I'll talk to Jeff over at Surecycle and see what he thinks about tailoring spring weights. I'm unsure if the problem resides in the recoil tube assembly, or the spring behind the bolt.

Reguardless, you'd have a gunsmith job on your hands. Plus, if it complains that much about weight, any accessories you add are going to change your formula.

Same issues for the M3, not to mention the fact that it also has a pump feature.

Considering the money you'd spend to fix an M1, I'd urge you to buy an M4.

These reasons alone were why I bought the M4 over the rest.

The M4 I'm told has much less recoil then the M1. I believe it. Comparing to my Dad's old M121, the difference is amazing. Most people think an SKS kicks more then the M4 with 2 3/4 #7 birdshot.

-Steve

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yeah just got done with 59+hrs OT.

Have been busy...

Anyway Steve that M4 seems to miss the whole point of the benelli design... Gas operated, no?

And I just got this gun... It would wound my fragile psyche too much to admit I was wrong. I mean, M1 Super 90! it's always been the hallmark of tactical shotguns...

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