A longstanding performer in the Benelli lineup, the M2 Field is a practical choice for sportsmen considering an all-seasons scattergun

by David Kelley

“Beware of the man with one gun; he knows how to use it,” has been a common phrase in firearms, shooting, and hunting circles for as long as we can remember. In one way or another, the expression can absolutely ring true, especially for those who only sporadically engage in shotgun shooting and hunting compared to rimfire and centerfire rifle or pistol use. While I can handle my own (and not terribly embarrass myself) on a trap range or a dove field, I’ve learned a few things over the years through my own faults, mistakes, and general lack of early exposure to wingshooting.

First, I’ve owned many shotguns, though very few fit properly. Whether it was length of pull, cast, drop, or a combination thereof — few naturally pointed well. Second, when I did use a gun that fit well and pointed as it should, I wouldn’t spend enough time with it before shifting interests or pulling another proverbial club from the bag. Many years were spent rotating through a stable of firearms for quick and informal summer trap shoots, September dove hunting, and later pushing brush after small game, finally rounding the year out with waterfowl on the cold shores of Lake Erie. Add in a few spring turkey hunts and you’d find me using several completely unrelated shotgun designs over the months. Many missed shots can be attributed to using a wide array of shotgun designs and loads that I never mastered. I’m confident that many readers can apply the same experiences to different scenarios and understand my self-induced frustration, be it shooting sports or any other hobby that requires fine and gross motor skills.

This thought generation began and ended during an opportunity where I was able to handle, fire, and hunt with a longtime offering in the Benelli USA line — the M2 Field. Some hands-on with this shotgun demonstrated that a do-all shotgun that is easily adapted to individual physique does exist and is a relevant fit for many users’ needs.

The Shotgun

Auto Draft

The semi-automatic M2 Field, operated by Benelli’s Inertia Driven System, is composite stocked and offered in 12- and 20-gauge chambers for both 2 3/4- and 3-inch shells. It is available in 24-, 26-, and 28-inch barrels for each.

The Crio System barrels are cryogenically treated and threaded to accept the same named choke tubes. Included are flush Improved Cylinder, Modified, and Full chokes. Affixed at the muzzle end of the metal vent rib, a red fiber-optic measuring .550” in length serves as a front bead. The magazine cap is machined with a slight taper to allow easier grip, particularly in the last few clicks when tightening the barrel assembly.

The forearm, which was improved for 2023 and later models, is molded with AirTouch texture for a majority of the length. The AirTouch gives just enough grip without feeling overdone or too sharp. The forearm measures a trim 1.75 inches at its widest ridge and has distinct breaks in the texture for an added feel of repeatable hand placement.

Auto Draft

Moving back to the receiver reveals several other updates to the M2 Field since the near 20-year anniversary of inception. The charging handle of the bolt provides a solid serrated flat for positive hand engagement and the loading port area is angled from the trigger guard to the magazine tube, allowing easier manipulation of the shotshells. Not only a functional design, the sleek lines of the trim forearm and contoured receiver give the latest M2 a pleasing visual upgrade. The rectangular bolt release is a welcomed feature in comparison to small round buttons — especially when wearing gloves.

Field Test: Benelli M2 Field

The buttstock wears the same AirTouch texture as the forearm and extends further to the rear than traditional checkering or stippling. The buttstock is fitted with an easily removable recoil pad that can be replaced to alter length-of-pull. One of the more prominent benefits of the stock is the ability to alter cast and drop with the provided spacers. When properly installed, this system enables the user to fine-tune the shotgun to their physical features instead of fighting to make the body work around the firearm shape to point properly. The system is straightforward to understand and to install. To adjust, remove the recoil pad, unbolt the stock from the receiver via the 13mm nut, and replace the existing spacers between the receiver and buttstock based on the directional changes required. Benelli has produced a video that shows the process and visual aids to more clearly explain the adjustment.

Overall length and weight vary depending on the chambering and barrel length selected. The 26-inch 20-gauge (11173) that I have on-hand measures 47.5 inches and weighs a mere 5.9 lbs.

Range and Field Time   

Out of the box, the M2 pointed high when quickly shouldered. I did change shims to adjust the drop. This shotgun was then fired using a mix of Winchester, Federal, and Fiocchi 2 3/4-inch target and game loads. As advertised, the M2 cycled all loads — with no gas system to clean at the end of the day. Being in the middle of our Pennsylvania turkey hunting season, I then placed a Burris Fastfire 4 on the vent rib, inserted a JEBS .560-inch Headhunter choke, and patterned with Fiocchi Golden Turkey TSS. This combination printed 175-215 pellets in the 10-inch circle at 40 yards.

Field Test: Benelli M2 Field

This past April, the same model shotgun and optic were used on an Ohio turkey hunt with the factory provided full choke. The 25-yard patterns were absolutely lethal for reasonable-range turkey hunting, but the JEBS is a great option to try if you’re searching for the tightest of patterning choke tubes.

With the M2 Field not being drilled and tapped, the Burris vent rib mount and FastFire 4 served as an appropriate combination. The FastFire 4 offers the same durability as previous models, with a larger window and multiple reticle options. The button on the left side of the optic turns the reticle on/off and adjusts brightness, while the right button cycles through the four reticles. Both buttons are easily manipulated while gripping the forearm, using the thumb to turn on and the middle finger to toggle the reticle.

Field Test: Benelli M2 Field

Mounting the sight to the vent rib further shows the versatility of modern sporting and field options. The gun was fired with the factory bead and target loads to test function and to break clays. Immediately after, an Allen wrench was used one range down to mount an optic, swap the choke, and pattern the shot in preparation for another upcoming turkey hunt. That gives a synopsis of interchangeability that many desire, not only with this Benelli, but of many shotguns and optics available today given the numerous mounting options.

Summary

This shotgun is easily adjusted for length-of-pull, cast, and drop. It swings nicely, functions well, and is a joy to carry at its weight point. I do appreciate the lightest of firearms, and this one is in that category.

Field Test: Benelli M2 Field

The 26-inch barrel is often viewed as a touch long for a tight turkey blind or dense woods. The 24-inch model is available for those who save every inch they can, and the 28-inch is on the menu for field shooters and waterfowl hunters who prefer the additional weight forward of the lengthier barrels. I believe the middle selection is a solid compromise of the two if plans involve a wide variety of uses. Your mileage may vary.

Regardless of chambering or barrel length, the M2 Field in the configuration of choice is a viable option for those desiring a single item that far exceeds adequacy for multipurpose use and has been doing so for nearly 20 years.

Now, I must modify our opening truism. I’ll interpret is as, “Beware of the man with one gun that fits and shoots it in all seasons; he knows how to use it.”

Field Test: Benelli M2 Field

Benelli M2 Field Specifications

  • Model #: 11173
  • Action: semi-auto, inertia operated
  • Gauge: 20
  • Barrel Length: 26 in.
  • Chamber: 2 3/4-, 3-inch
  • Minimum Recommended Load: 2 1/2 drams, 7/8 oz.
  • Stock & Forearm: black synthetic
  • Receiver: anodized, black
  • Barrel: matte, Blued
  • Chokes Included: Crio IC, M, F
  • Length of Pull: 14-3/8 in.
  • Drop at Heel: 2 1/4 in.
  • Drop at Comb: 1 1/2 in.
  • Overall Length: 47.5 in.
  • Weight: 5.9 lbs.
  • MSRP: $1,499
David Kelley
Latest posts by David Kelley (see all)

David Kelley is a retired Sergeant First Class, having served on active duty with the 82nd Airborne Division and various organizations within the Pennsylvania National Guard (AGR) during his 22 years of service. He is a High Master card holder in both NRA High Power and Mid-Range Prone. David is an avid hunter with a bow, shotgun, and rifle. His latest obsessions include spring turkey hunting and muzzleloader rifles and shotguns.

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