Plus–Benelli’s M2 Workhorse, our choice for this game! Watch a helmet-cam video of 3-gun action right now!
When I shot IPSC back in the late 1990s (and ugh, nothing like remarking on something almost 15 years ago to make a girl feel old), three-gun matches were just kind of something the local match coordinators would throw in once a year or that you’d see at big Area shoots or Nationals. Today, this is a sport all its own, a remarkable feat in a day of been-there-done-that.
Why so popular? Well, I think it has a lot to do with why I chose sporting clays over the routine of skeet and trap, and why IPSC and other action handgun sports pick up where NRA-sanctioned bull’s-eye leaves off—i.e., there’s never a dull moment, and you never shoot the same thing twice. Now three-gun—whew-WEE! that’s a lot of shooting! And not only is this sport an ammo-factory full of fun, I believe it’s really making shooters better rounded. You can’t just be good with a souped-up Colt .45, and you can’t just be king of the long-range with your AR-15. You must be disciplined across the spectrum, and you really have to know how to deal absolutely effectively with myriad situations: dropped mags, jammed chambers, stuck bolts, fluff loads, tight shooting quarters, prone shooting, sitting shooting, one-handed shooting, run-and-gun, targets that almost fall down, targets that refuse to go down. The list goes on forever, but no doubt about it, this, this, is shooting excitement.
Not only is the shooting itself spectacular, so, too, is the specialization and customization of the guns to meet the demands of this sport. One of the best examples out there is Benelli’s ultimate 3-gun M2 shotgun straight out of its Performance Shop and a result of a joint effort with Briley Manufacturing. Benelli debuted this super-slick scattergun at the recent 2011 AR15.com 3-Gun Pro Am Championship held at the Rockcastle Shooting Center near Park City, Kentucky. Designed specifically for winning times and scores in this fast-paced competition, this custom M2 is likely to be the gun serious match competitors are going to be ordering en masse.
Benelli describes its standard M2 as the “workhorse” model, in its vast lineup of shotguns. And, indeed it is, thanks to the company’s trademarked Inertia-Driven recoil system. Gas-operated semi-autos are perfectly serviceable, provided they’re kept relatively clean. I remember taking one of my favorite gas-operated semi-auto shotguns on a duck hunt and writer’s junket in Colorado. After two days of shooting—and no real time or place to do a strip-down cleanup overnight—the third day brought plummeting temps, and my gun became a single shot, thanks to the cold freezing up the gunk and residue from all the shooting over the previous days. I still love that gun, but gotta keep it clean, and given the number of ducks that flew by me on that cold November day while I was shucking my carrier back and forth, I rather wish I’d had a Benelli in my hands.
The Inertia-Driven concept is simple: use the energy of the recoil to cycle the action. This eliminates the residues inherent with gas actions. Too, some gas operated shotguns can be finicky over the range of shotshell loads, but the Benelli cycles everything from a 1-oz. 2 3/4-inch 12-gauge load through the entire spectrum of 3-inch 12-gauge chamberings. Now, wrap all that science into a three-gun match-specific model, complete with fully adjustable ghost ring sights, optional pistol grip, and an optional Comfortech stock that can reduce felt recoil by nearly 50% (and for those of you shooting heavier loads in speed matches, this can make or break your game, by allowing you to get back on target faster after each shot), and you won’t wonder why Benelli is a leading contributor to this shooting trend.
Tactical Shotgun Resources
About the Author: Jennifer L.S. Pearsall joined Gun Digest in summer 2011 as a books editor. She began her career selling guns in a retail gun shop and handgun range in Northern Virginia in the early 1990s. Recruited by the NRA to join its editorial staff in 1999, she then went on to succeed as a freelance writer and photographer. She's been a competitive shooter in many disciplines, including sporting clays, IPSC, and metallic blackpowder cartridge silhouette, and she has been an avid hunter for many years.
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