The Italian concern of Benelli developed their improved M3 Super 90 shotgun following the arrival of their well-accepted M1 Super 90 line. The M3 Super 90 is unique in that it is designed to operate from either a conventional manually-actuated pump-action slide feature or an internal semi-automatic action. The action is managed by the proprietary inertia-driven recoil system which has been a staple of Benelli shotguns since the arrival of the Benelli M1 Super 90. Due to the inertia-driven action requiring a heavy load to properly cycle, the option for pump-action service when firing lighter loads was implemented in the M3 Super 90. The operator simply manages a selector ring to bring about either firing mode - this being another Benelli proprietary (and patented) design feature. Like the M1 Super 90 before it, the M3 Super 90 is marketed at military, law enforcement and civilian markets around the world.
Overall design of the M3 Super 90 is traditional with a squared, rectangular receiver housing the required internal working components including the bolt and chamber. The loading gate is under the forward section of the receiver with clear access to the tubular magazine running under the barrel. The ejection port and charging handle are set to the right side of the receiver. A forend shrouds the magazine while the barrel is largely exposed. The M3 Super 90 is available with a full stock with integrated grip or a full stock with standalone pistol-style grip. Other accessories can be fitted including optics and aimers thanks to the predrilled receiver. Military and law enforcement models feature a 7+1 tubular magazine count while civilian marks are restricted to fewer rounds (5+1) through a shorter tubular magazine assembly. Construction is highly durable and the action robust and reliable. The M3 Super 90 has been released in a 12- and 20-gauge form. Sighting is through a ghost-ring adjustable rear aperture and a fixed-blade front sight arrangement. Tritium are available/optional.
The dual-nature firing capability of the M3 Super 90 allows the pump-action mode to fire "less-than-lethal" rounds such as rubber bullets, tear gas or bean bags required in crowd control and anti-riot actions. When turning to more powerful, heavier shells, the operator simple manages the selector ring at the forend to fire from the inherent semi-automatic action facility. Now full loads can be fired as normal without need of the pump-action system. Rate-of-fire is depended on the operator for the most part, particularly when utilizing the pump-action mode.
The M3 Super 90 has been released in a few notable marks - the M3 "Convertible" is given a fixed buttstock while the M3T "Tactical" is fielded with a "up-and-over" twin-strut skeletal folding stock and standalone pistol grip.
The Benelli M3 Super 90 has seen adoption by Canadian special forces, Czech Republic special forces, Estonian military, French military, Indonesian special forces, Ireland, the Japanese Army, Luxembourgish police units, Malaysian police and counter-terrorism squads, the New Zealand Army and the Philippines.
The M3 Super 90 has been succeeded by the M4 Super 90 - this variant adopted in quantity by the United States military as the M1014 Joint Service Combat Shotgun (JSCS).