Shotgun Marketing Manure, Part One: Benelli

By Randy Wakeman

By now, most folks should be accustomed to the perpetual reinvention of the firearm that marketing departments claim happens annually. What is new, is when marketing hyperbole and incomprehensible nonsense makes its way into an Owner's manual. An owner's manual is supposed to be about proper care and maintenance of the product, or so I thought.

The latest collection of comedy comes from the Benelli division of Beretta, in their Ethos owner's manual. Here is a direct quote:

“Like all Benelli automatic shotguns, the fully automatic operation of the new shotguns depends on its recoil. This eliminates the drawbacks of the systems with barrel recoil (barrel vibration during firing, need to brake the system and regulate it when firing powerful ammunition etc.) and those of the gas operated type (need to clean gas outlets, loss of power due to acceleration of the shot charge and adverse effect on the longitudinal conformation of the wad and possible malfunctions under adverse climatic conditions), producing a modern, highly reliable gun.”

This is really something, a groundbreaking little owner's manual rant. Benelli apparently is unaware that they manufacture and sell the Benelli M4 Tactical Shotgun, starting at $1899. The Benelli M4 (M1014) is the Auto-Regulating Gas-Operated (A.R.G.O.) semi-auto that is the combat service shotgun of the U.S. Joint Services.

It should be astounding to the shotgun aficionado that the gas-operated shotgun supplied to the United States Armed Forces loses power due to acceleration of the shot charge, has possible malfunctions and (the real whopper) is plagued by the adverse effect on the longitudinal conformation of the wad. That this unreliable, problem plagued design is sold to our troops by Benelli is quite a story. It is such a secret that Benelli seems unaware that they make the thing and that their parent company, Beretta, continually foists dysfunctional, problematic gas guns on an unsuspecting public, oblivious to the malfunction-prone design. The next time you miss a clay pigeon, though, it was likely an “adverse effect on the longitudinal conformation of the wad” that did you in. That one is a real keeper, straight from the Benelli engineering department.

The helpful information continues: “In particular, we have determined 200 kgm as the minimum kinetic energy required from a 12 gauge cartridge (measured at 1 m from the muzzle of a manometric barrel). WARNING: at the minimum kinetic energy stated above, correct functioning is only guaranteed for a shotgun with a MAXIMUM total weight of 3.150 kg.”

That's a real problem, for 200 kgm is right at 1961 joules. A one ounce load at 1200 fps is 1399.25 foot-pounds (1897.13 joules). According to the Ethos owner's manual, the Ethos not only will not function with 7/8 oz. loads (as claimed), it isn't reliable with 1200 fps 1 oz. loads, either.

Manufacturers historically carp and beg their customers to read and understand the owners manual before attempting to operate their firearms. Some print this right on the barrel. I well understand this, for such are the times in which we live. Our government teaches us that it is never personal responsibility, for there is always something/someone to blame it on.

However, if gun companies want to scold their customers into reading their owners manuals, the very least they can do is present accurate, useful information and leave the intoxicated marketing hyperbole to intoxicated marketing departments.

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Copyright 2014 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.