Unlike the majority of modern semi-automatics which are gas-operated, the Benelli is based around an inertia-operating mechanism. It is a work of true engineering genius. It utilises a rotating bolt head attached to the main body of the bolt by means of a short, stiff spring. The locked front part of the bolt assembly remains stationary relative to the barrel at the moment of firing while the main mass behind accelerates forwards and compresses the connecting spring. When under full tension, it all accelerates back as a single unit. This initiates the unlocking of the bolt head and the extraction and ejection of the cartridge-case. The breech block, which also has a hinged “rat’s tail” connected rod to its rear – is re-energised by another longer spring contained in a tube in the plastic butt. The action returns forward, loading another cartridge into the chamber, completing the cycle.
This is a most impressive gun to shoot. It is lively, without being too light (hitting the scales at something over 7lb but without excessive frontal weight). It is instinctive and forgiving to use. There is more felt recoil than in some gas-operated guns of similar weight but the cycling is extremely quick and the gun handles exceptionally well. Thanks to its anti-recoil features, this gun is the softest shooting Benelli that has passed through my hands.
One advantage of the inertia mechanism is that there is less cleaning to be done than with a gas-operated semi-automatic. No propellant gases foul a chamber/piston beneath the barrel since the part is dispensed with in this design. The Benelli shoots extremely well by any standard. It is darkly elegant.
At £1,390 including VAT it offers value. You would have to go a long way to find a better or more rugged gun for hide or marsh. If I were going to Argentina or South Africa for high-volume pigeon-shooting, it would be my first choice.