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Tokyo Marui Benelli M3 Super 90
  • Manufacturer 
     Tokyo Marui
  • Model 
     Benelli M3 Super 90
  • Capacity 
     30
  • Weight 
     2000
  • Power 
     290
  • Power Source 
     Spring
  • Blowback 
     None
  • Hop-up 
     Fixed
  • Shooting Mode 
     Single Pump
  • Construction 
     ABS Plastic, Metal

Pros

+ Excellent looks
+ Highly tactical and versatile
+ High quality finishing
 

Cons

- Too much plastic and not enough metal
- A little on the light side
- Not semi auto like the real thing
 

Verdict

Overall, we are quite happy with the new Benelli though we can't help but wish for someone to release a semi-automatic version that would do the real steel justice. Until that time, the Marui Benelli will undoubtedly hang from our shoulders during our future CQB outings for that maximum SWAT effect!

 

The shotgun of choice by elite law enforcement agencies across the world, the Type M3 Benelli Super 90 has finally been released by Tokyo Marui on August 5th in Japan. Featured in the hands of Hollywood actors in movies like Eraser, the Benelli has long been an object of desire for many airsoft enthusiasts. A model designed and manufactured by Benelli, Heckler and Koch negotiated the rights to manufacture the M3 in 1993 and hence some of you may have seen models of it with the Heckler & Koch name inscribed on the side. The deal with H&K was terminated in 1997 though and today's M3's only carry the Benelli name. This highly anticipated shotgun was announced to be in the works early this year and much speculation has been made regarding its power source and tactical usage in airsoft. This latest release brings to light some delights as well as some minor disappointments which we'll get into below. Receiving the first of our M3's 2 days after the launch in Japan, we wasted no time in taking our new shotgun out for a little CQB test, the results of which we'll describe shortly.

First, let's look at how Marui has done this time. The real steel 12 gauge Benelli is frequently employed by SWAT for their semi-automatic action and high performance; with slight recoil and high cycling speeds, the M3 makes for easy "double-tapping" into a villian's chest. And it is with this that I bring you the disappointing news that the Marui Benelli is a spring action gun and does not reproduce the semi-automatic action of the real steel. Having said this, Marui's offering does offer many merits that make this gun worth owning, namely the excellent fit and finish, and of course the drop dead styling.

First impressions on shouldering the weapon was that it felt a little light. At 2,000 grams, this is not a heavy gun, but it is very well balanced with the center of gravity located right around the cocking lever in the middle of the gun.

Despite the good balance, the M3's stock still felt a little light initially, but a night of skirmishing soon made that unnoticeable. You'll also notice that the M3's stock is quite long and shaped quite similar to that of an M16A2. Metal parts are more abundant in the forward part of the weapon, making up parts including the barrel, lower shell storage tube, front sling mount, front and rear sights. Other metal parts include cocking lever, shell release latch and cover, trigger, safety, and rear sling mount. The buttstock is made of rubber, and the pistol grip has a rubberized surface that makes it quite pleasant to grab. The front grip is high quality textured plastic that doesn't squeak and twist when handled hard. A self-adhesive rubber strip is even included that you can attach to the side of the foregrip. Apart from providng a better grasp, the strip also adds a tactical look (ressembles the pressure switch on the side of a Surefire tactical flashlight grip for the MP5)

The spring action of the Benelli is very similar to the SPAS12 ; and with no surprise since the guns share much of the same internal mechanism and parts. The cocking action on the Benelli seems a little heavier though since the cocking grip is smaller and the spring resistance seemed more concentrated...which again we got used to very quickly.

The above photo shows the same shell loading mechanism as the SPAS12 with loading bay cover ejection swtich on the lower right of the picture. Like the SPAS12, the M3 takes one shell at a time, where each shell is capable of storing 30 BBs. Each shot of the M3 pumps out 3 BBs. The M3 takes exactly the same shells as the SPAS12.

Power is quite abundant on the M3 and each shot is met with a resounding "PLOCK" that seems even louder than the SPAS12. The safety switch is located on the trigger guard and operates quite simply by pushing left and right, where the latter puts the M3 is safe mode.

An impressive touch is the shell storage tube located beneath the barrel (see photo on left). This tube can be accessed by pulling out a black stopper plug (designed in such a way as to make accidental unplugging almost impossible). You can store two spare shells in this tube and a spring mechanism bounces the shells out quite easily for retrieval at any angle. However, we found this to be more a "neat" than practical feature and opted for the stock mounted Marui shell pouch for faster loads (holds up to 5 shells).

An LAPD officer demonstrating the tactical use of a M3 mounted with a SureFire front grip
One shell is loaded at a time. Each shell holds 30BBs
Spare shells are stored in the lower tube

One disappointing thing you'll notice as you cock the M3 is that the bolt chamber cover and the cocking lever are fixed (decorative) attachments, though the bolt chamber cover has a high metallic content which gives it quite an impressive look. Front sites are adjustable through the use of an included hex wrench and aiming the M3 was a new experience since the rear sights are actually located very far forward (in front of the cocking lever). After some practice, we concluded that this setup actually provided faster and more accurate lineup of targets.

True to modern day designs, the M3 is designed for both left and right hand users with sling mount options on both sides of the gun. A recessed sling mount ring protruding from both sides in the butt stock matches up with a directionally adjustable front sling mount ring which works much like the front sling mount on an M4A1. Realignment involves a simple twisting of a lock ring and positioning the front sling mount ring in the direction of your choice.

So what about the Benelli outside the test lab? Without much hesitation, we took our new Benelli out for a CQB test to determine its usability in skirmish scenarios and the results were quite good. The power of the M3 is enough to keep heads down and it feels a lot more manueverable than the SPAS12 in close quarters. Our first impression was that the M3 was quite powerful. Mounting a Surefire 6P flashlight to the shell storage tube using a universal mount gave the Benelli a very tactical look though we hope to adapt a G&P Surefire handguard to the front grip very soon.

There were also no rattles or squeaks that sometimes plagued SPAS12's in tense situations. The Benelli felt very solid and was an effective weapon for room clearing.

Power-wise, the Benelli clocks at around 277fps using 0.2g BBs and 292fps using 0.15g BBs. However we recommend using 0.2g or 0.25g BBs to counter the fixed hop-up for maximum performance. Maximum effective range is about 50 feet with a 90% likelihood of a kill. Beyond 70 feet, this percentage drops gradually.

Using the same 3 inner barrel design as the SPAS12, the Benelli obtains fairly good dispersion on its shots. The picture on the right shows dispersion for shots made at 10 feet (marked green) and 20 feet (marked yellow). Shots were made using 0.2g Excel BBs.

Overall, we are quite happy with the new Benelli though we can't help but wish for someone to release a semi-automatic version that would do the real steel justice. Until that time, the Marui Benelli will undoubtedly hang from our shoulders during our future CQB outings for that maximum SWAT effect!

M3 Bolt
Textured grip
BB's spread out to provide a cover pattern

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