“Poor Man’s” Benelli?

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.

Girsan’s MC312 is imported from Turkey by Zenith. It is very well made, mechanically identical to a Benelli, but for about 1/3 the price.

Girsan’s MC312 is imported from Turkey by Zenith. It is very well made, mechanically identical to a Benelli, but for about 1/3 the price.

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
Chamber: 3″
Length of Pull: 13 1/2″
Weight: 7.5lbs
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.



Scott Mayer



“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”


Scott Mayer

Scott Mayer

Writer at John1911
Mayer began his outdoor industry career in 1993 on the NRA Technical Staff where he became American Rifleman magazine first Shooting Editor. Mayer left NRA and entered the business end of publishing in 2003 as Advertising Account Executive for Safari Club International SAFARI Magazine and Safari Times newspaper. In 2006, Mayer was named Publisher of Shooting Times magazine where he was also tasked with launching and leading Personal Defense TV, the first television show of its kind.

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.
Scott Mayer

Latest posts by Scott Mayer (see all)

  • Freeze

    I have owned several Turkish made firearms over the years and I have never had any complaint. I would not hesitate to pick one of these up over a Benelli. The cost factor appeals to my sense of cheapness.

    • Uh oh. Get ready. Scott is about to throttle us and say, “Inexpensive”!

      Have to agree. This shotgun really appeals to me. I will be looking into it more. I wonder how long Scott has owned it and how many rounds he has through it?


  • Brennen Munro

    The Turkish Firearms industry has been known outside of the USA for turning out many fine guns, now that is relative when looking at the quality of most guns produced here or say in Germany. The Turkish guns that I have shot all worked, and isn’t that what really should be the measuring standard? I would say that if you do not mind the few tooling marks, the just average bluing, and the outright ugliness of some of the produced Turkish guns, then take a look at them, you could do a lot worse in some cases! And I really like the idea of an “inexpensive” Benelli.


  • Mikial

    I would be very interested in seeing one of these Girsans. My experience with Turkish firearms has always been very positive. My wife’s ATI C92 Beretta clone has been every bit as reliable as my Glocks, and it’s accurate and smooth to shoot. And, all the blank fire subguns and pistols we use in training scenarios with our clients are made in Turkey, and they have worked flawlessly through a lot of scenarios and training rotations.

    In terms of a tactical shotgun, I’m not sure if the Girsan would be better for the money than a Hawk, but it is certainly worth checking out. personally, I am not a person who cares where a weapon is made as much as i care about reliability, functionality and accuracy. That’s not un-American, it’s just a product of using a whole lot of different weapons in a whole lot of places over the years.

  • Duro Sig

    Import capacity limits are always what holds me back. Will this accept benelli extension tubes?

  • JBenat3006

    I bought a Turkish Linberta 12 guage semi auto on gunbroker.com for less than $350.00. Haven’t shot it yet but have done a good bit of fondling. Not a Benelli but seems like a very good home defense gun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxwtJWiYjhA