The Italian Benelli M4 "Super 90" 12-gauge, semi-automatic shotgun was adopted by the United States military after extensive trials in which the US Army was seeking to upgrade its shotgun line of the late 1990's. In 1999, the Benelli Armi S.p.A. design was formally accepted into service as the "M1014" Joint Service Combat Shotgun (JSCS) (the designation upgraded from its prototype "XM1014" nomenclature) with a contract for import awarded to the German firearms concern of Heckler & Koch which represented Benelli in the US competition. The US Marine Corps received their first batch of production M1014s that same year while the type has seen consistent combat action in both Afghanistan and Iraqi theaters.
The original Benelli M4 was designed in 1998 with production beginning 1999 and ongoing today (2013). The M4 was of note for it became Benelli's first gas-operated shotgun. The design sports a weight of 3.82 kilograms with an overall length of 35 inches (barrel is 18.5 inches long). The internal workings permit semi-automatic fire through the use of slug, buckshot and non-lethal rounds as required. Effective range is out to 55 yards depending on ammunition used while the tubular magazine can house 7+1 shells (the civilian mark limited this to 5+1). Sights are of a "ghost" ring-style arrangement and are adjustable while a short span of Picatinny rail is featured above the receiver (as well as over and to the sides of the forend) for the mounting of optics and accessories (including a vertical foregrip under the forend for maximum control). The M4 lacks a solid, fixed stock and instead makes work of a collapsible buttstock (optional) with a base ergonomically-shaped pistol grip. Overall construction of the M4 consists of a mix of steel, aluminum and plastics. Reliability of the M4 is notable while the action is quite excellent.
The Benelli M4 shotgun is currently in service with the United States Army and Marine Corps (as the "M1014") as well as the United States Navy SEALs and the Los Angeles Police Department. The weapon has also been adopted by Australia, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, the United Kingdom (as the L128A1) and South Korea. Many of these groups stock the M4 for their special forces ranks.