Benelli semi-auto shotguns are some of the most trusted guns used by professionals who make their living with a shotgun whether it’s for tactical or hunting purposes. They’re so reliable that in the duck blind, they’re often called “meat makers.” That reliability comes from an inertia operating system as opposed to a gas system. They run cleaner and are generally more reliable, but dang they sure cost a lot.
Recently I unexpectedly came across what I think can be called the “poor man’s” Benelli from the Turkish manufacturer Girsan MC312 and imported by Zenith. It has the same rotary bolt and inertia operating system as the Benelli, and I’m even told by Zenith reps that some of the parts may be interchangeable, but its retail price is closer to $500 instead of $1,500.
While Zenith offers several hunting-specific models, I asked them to send their Tactical version because it has a lot of what I’m actually looking for in a hunting shotgun. I hunt predators and turkey with shotguns, and I like the shorter barrel because there’s that much less wagging around for a coyote or turkey to see, plus it’s more maneuverable, and I’m not swinging it on moving targets where a longer barrel makes things smoother.
The gun comes with a full complement of choke tubes, so you can find the one that patterns the best for BB if you’re after coyotes or smaller shot if you’re after a turkey. There are great iron sights, and even a Picatinny rail if you have to mount a red dot or other optic. Similarly, the gun is set up great for slugs. Of course, it’s also set up well for it’s intended purpose, and even comes with a vented breaching tube.
One thing I noticed immediately about this shotgun is that it has perhaps the smoothest shotgun action I have ever worked. The bolt simply glides back almost effortlessly and like it was on ball bearings. Fit and finish inside and out are simply superb. It does kick hard, and that’s something I find comes with the inertia system, plus you can’t reliably shoot really light loads, but that’s the trade off for a gun that shoots cleaner than a gas shotgun.
Rib: 8×10 Ventilated Rib
Rear Sight: Adjustable Ghost Ring
Recoil Pad: Rounded Ergonomic Rubber
Receiver: Aluminum Alloy
Action: Inertial Rotary System
Length of Pull: 13 1/2″
Chokes: Full set of choke tubes plus breacher
Additional Features: Oversized Bolt Release, Oversized Charging Handle, Integrated Fast Load and Picatinny Scope Rail, Pistol Grip, Fixed Stock.
“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”
In 2008, Mayer returned to the editorial side of publishing, this time in the digital field, as Editorial Director for Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Handguns and Rifleshooter online magazines. After a brief stint in 2011 as the Digital Media Director for an ABC TV affiliate, Mayer returned to the outdoors industry and Safari Club International where he is currently Assistant Publisher and Multi-Media Communications Editor.