When ATI engineers sought to dress up Benelli’s proven M4 tactical shotgun, they made a great defensive gun even better.
I mean regardless of whether you are a professional operator or a suddenly awakened homeowner responding to an unexpected threat, when confronting danger, you not only want a piece that can deliver efficient and accurate stopping power, but it doesn’t hurt if you look the part of someone who is capable of handling the situation as well.
This shotgun is truly an intimidator. But it is also built for peak tactical performance, outfitted as it is by a specialized collection of ATI furniture.
The ATI Difference
So what exactly makes this M4 incarnation different from when it simply rolls out of Benelli’s warehouse? Let’s start at the rear of the gun and work toward the business end.
ATI started with their Six-Position Adjustable Raven Shotgun Stock, which boasts a network of technology built into this one part of the gun. The Raven stock is fully adjustable to six different lengths for a perfect length-of-pull fit for any shooter. Completely collapsed, it also makes toting or storing the gun easier, particularly when trying to pack it in a vehicle or boat or haul it through thick cover.
Mounted to the rear of the stock is the Scorpion Razorback Recoil Pad, which greatly reduced felt recoil from the heavy slug loads I was shooting and greatly aids comfort. By limiting the felt recoil, it also aids in rapid follow-up target acquisition. The recoil pad is designed to remain flexible even in extremely cold temperatures and is not affected by cleaners or solvents.
In addition to adjustments for length-of-pull, the Infinity Adjustable Soft-Touch Cheekrest also allows for dialed height adjustments on the polymer stock, allowing for easy sighting if using the front-fixed post/rear ghost ring sight combination or needing to raise your line of sight a bit by going with rail-mounted red dot or laser sight.
The internal components of the cheekrest are made of Military Type III anodized, 6061 T6 aluminum for durability, while the stock attaches to the receiver easily via a precision CNC-machined receiver mount with a pivoting sling loop for left or right side sling attachment along the receiver.
Aiding in the rear grip of the ATI/Benelli M4 is a paired Scorpion Recoil Grip, which wraps the extended pistol grip with a soft, Sure-Grip texture that improves the shooter’s hold on the gun and aids comfort for extended aim times.
Moving toward the front of the shotgun is ATI’s polymer over-molded forend, designed with an ergonomic palm swell toward the bottom for improved hand comfort and better dissipation of recoil forces. The forend boasts the same soft-touch, non-slip texturing found on the Scorpion Recoil Grip and six-position stock.
ATI’s package calls for replacing the magazine tube with theirs, which is made of the same Type III Anodized aluminum as the internal components of the stock and holds five shotgun shells in addition to the one loaded in the chamber. The magazine follower is also anodized aluminum.
Rounding out the look of the shotgun is top receiver-mounted rail and a front-mounted magazine tri-rail with a heavy knurled magazine cap with a fitting for the front end of a sling. The barrel is also shrouded with a heat shield that adds to the rugged look of the gun more so than adds any real benefit unless you plan on smoking a lot of rounds out of the shotgun at a given time.
Shooting both Winchester and Federal slugs, as well as Winchester No. 4 though an open choke, I tried the gun on targets set at several different distances.
With the slugs, I wanted to see how they would do out to a typical range of 40 yards. Shooting down a smoothbore barrel, it’s important not to use rifled, sabot slugs, but rather go with Foster-type designs made to fill the internal dimensions of the barrel.
With just the open sights, I was able to deliver groups inside 3 to 3 ½ inches shooting from a seated position on the ground or balancing off my knee. (It was a shotgun, so I wasn’t overly worried about benchrest accuracy here, since one would be unlikely if I had to shoot at an approaching threat—animal, mineral or otherwise.)
Shooting No. 4 buck at 40 yards, the choke threw a deadly spread, and at 10 yards—a more likely defensive range—a grapefruit-sized pattern, complete with a hole from the wad, decimated the target.
The open sights worked fine and are adjustable, but I found even with the cheekrest dialed down, I had to really plant my head against the stock. Cranking it up a bit and mounting a compact Aimpoint or TruGlo red dot sight, or even a dialed-in laser sight would be my preference.
The total package added a bit more weight to the gun, a difference between 7.8 pounds as a stock M4 verses 10.4 pounds in the Raven version. This added weight likely won’t be much of a concern for mere defensive shooting and may even aid in reducing recoil, but for lengthy totes it can become noticeable.
It’s also important to note that ATI does not sell the M4 Raven itself. You need to already own one or if interested, buy a Benelli M4 at your local gun shop. They retail for approximately $1,800. The Raven Kit including the stock, forend, magazine and magazine follower retails for $375 from ATI’s website while the rails, sight and heat shield are extra options that you can choose to include.
It’s not a cheap option, but for the person looking for what may well be the ultimate tactically inspired defensive shotgun today, it may well be worth the price.