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M4 11703 Barrel change advice needed


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I have a Benelli M4 model 11703. I have the "low recoil" stamped on the barrel model. Should I send the the shotgun in to Benelli for the upgraded barrel? What are the PROs and CONs of doing this? As I understand it , as long as I am not shooting alot of 3" MAGNUM loads I will be ok with the "low recoil" stamped barrel I have. With the upgraded barrel , firing "low recoil" ammo may not cycle properly??? What do you all think. Cheers , Michael


[ 12-22-2005, 04:24 PM: Message edited by: AR-BALLISTIC ]

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+1 on M1014's suggestion...


I'm now north of 1000 rounds through my Low Recoil M4, not a single hiccup...


I just got back from the range, after firing 60 rounds of Remington 3" Magnum #00 buck. Tearing stuff to shreds is a kick in the pants. My shoulder is a little sore, but my M4, aside from needing a little cleaning is no worse for the wear.

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Yeah, don't look for trouble, it will find you.


I too had the Low Recoil barrel and was one of the first to go through the swap to the two port barrel - and I am glad that I did.


When I got a look at the new 2 port barrel, I was truly amazed at how much larger the total gas port area was on the older 4 port LR barrel. I have an earlier post with some factual information you can look at to decide for yourself.


When I got the LR barreled M4, I was cautious and only shot low recoil loads on my one range session (about 200 rounds of shot, buck and slugs that day). Everything was flawless and ejection was vigorous.


I then swapped out to the 2 port barrel and again went through about 150 LR rounds in my first session. I could immediately tell it was cycling slower, but all the normal low recoil or tactical loads worked flawlessly. These low recoil/tactical loads all worked 100% in the 2 port barrel: 8 pellet - Federal LE133 OO, Hornady TAP FPD. 9 pellet - Federal LE 132 OO, Remington RR12OOBK, WinchesterXB1200LR. Slugs - Remington RL12RS, Federal LE127RS.


The Fiocchi 12LESLUG is a very 'mild' low recoil slug round and this was the first to show any cycling problems with the 2 port barrel. Out of the 20 rounds fired, one did not cycle far enough to eject and the bolt closed with the empty shell back in the chamber. Two other rounds fired and ejected, but the carrier didn't kick back far enough to lock open (I was shooting one round at a time). The other 17 rounds fired, ejected and locked the carrier back. Recoil was very mild and the cycling gave a unique slow motion feel due to its sluggishness.


As a lark, I also tried about 15 rounds of Winchester's AA12FL8, which is a very light target load that is marked with "Low Noise, Low Recoil" and a Feather on the box. This has only 7/8oz #8 shot with 2½ dram loading, yet surprising it fully cycled the two port M4 about 60% of the time. I had a few failures to lock the carrier and two rounds which again left the empty shell in the chamber. I mention this extremely light target load since I would never have believed it would cycle even once in the two port barrel from what I had gathered from Benelli and this board.


Again the two port barrel is intended for normal buckshot or magnum loads and yet worked fine with the reduced recoil rounds. It should thus cycle a little faster and eject with more vigor with it's normal diet as intended. Even if restricted to low recoil buck or slugs, I wouldn't see the need for the LR barrel given these initial results. I'd just pick a load with the patterning I liked and then shoot enough of it to ensure reliability. There would always remain the option to move up to normal power loads.


Knowing how much more gas is being bled by the four port barrels, I can't even imagine the pounding they would produce with full 3" magnums. I certainly would not be comfortable blasting away with full power loads in a Low Recoil barrel, let alone those 3" magnums. I am glad I had the chance to experience both barrel types in starting out with my M4, but having done so, I would never go back to the four port low recoil barrel (unless I only intended on shooting those featherweight AA12FL8s !!)



Mentioning the ammo options above, the Hornady TAP FPD load seems to be a middle ground offering at ca. 1370 fps, falling between the 1150 fps reduced recoil loads and the normal 1600 fps 00 buck. These were the most powerful of the 'tactical/defense' type loads I tried; they cycled very quickly and patterned well. The only downside was the brilliant 12" diameter fireball they produced. These may be marketed for police or defense use, but I'm not sure how much effort was put into them since they have significant muzzle flash. Comparing some literature, I think Hornady simply rebranded the older #86278 'Light Magnum' with the flashy TAP name to take advantage of the growing market for anything tactical. The flash was quite prominent indoors as shown - nothing else came close to it.




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Hi Austin,


My swap was done simply to get the regular barrel and my lack of confidence in Benelli's customer service reps answers to my questions about the low recoil barrel. I was lucky to find a M4 here in Los Angeles, and while waiting on my 10 day DROS to clear called Benelli about the markings. The answers were as varied as the number of reps I talked to ... most knew nothing of a 'low recoil' barrel, yet they all said it should be safe to shoot anything 12 Ga loads in it, including 3" magnums.


I pretty much gave up the idea of getting the military type two port barrel and assembled a big selection of the low recoil buck and slugs to try, hence my first outing. Then about two months later, another poster here said he'd gotten a replacement barrel. I called the next day, went through the CSR game again where they knew nothing about a swap, and then once proving I'd contacted them before, they immediately offered a new barrel. I sent it second day, hoping it would be returned quickly as was the first poster. Again some nonsense about it taking 6 to 8 weeks, and then I got ahold of the right lady and it was done in a day, back via UPS the next week.


I've only had the one range session with the new two port barrel, putting all these LR rounds back through it. Slower cycling perhaps, but they worked great. I will try out some regular buckshot loadings in my next try, something I would have been wary of doing with those four large ports on the Low Recoil barrel.


As luck would have it, about a month later while on a business trip in San Jose, I stopped by a gunshop on the way to my hotel. After wandering around I was about to leave when I spotted something that caught my eye ... it was the distinctive cheekrest of a M1014. I asked to see it and they said they had just put it out as a used gun. It was pristine, looked to have been fired maybe with one box of shells, and in the end, it turned out to be a Very expensive business trip for me! Considering some of the other M1014s I've seen on auctions sites, I overpaid, but this was the only M1014 I'd ever seen here in CA, was something I could see and examine firsthand, and was in virtually new condition. I am still debating whether to shoot it, or just hold onto it as a collector and shoot my M4 only. Either way, I have compared the gas ports in both barrels and they look the same, with the only difference being that the newer M4 barrel is threaded for the choke tubes. When I get some free time, I will measure them up side by side to dispell the idea that the early military barrels are heavier walled than the current commercial barrel.


BTW that range pictured is the Iron Sights range in Oceanside, CA. It's about a 40 mile drive south, but it has a 25 yd rifle range that is one of the few ways to conveniently try your tactical/home defense type shotguns with slugs and buckshot. The range is well used, and this day there was an AR-15, M1A SOCOM, two other shotguns, Mini 14 and a pump rifle in what looked to be 30-06. The key word for this 25 yd indoor range was LOUD. Great fun though.

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