Benelli M3: A third model of legendary Super 90 shotgun

by Eric Sof

A New Zealand Army soldier armed with a Benelli M3 Super 90

Benelli M3 shotgun was specially designed to meet the needs of law enforcement and counter-terrorism squads. The Benelli M3 Super 90 uses a rotating bolt locking system. It works so that the user can select either semi-automatic fire or manual pump action by simply pressing the command lever in front of the handguard.


To fire in the semi-automatic mode, this lever is turned anti-clockwise and moved forward to lock the handguard to the barrel connecting ring. Once set in this mode, the Benelli M3 operates using the two-part inertia bolt mechanism described elsewhere.

For pump action, the command lever is turned anti-clockwise and pulled backward. This frees the handguard to be pushed back and forwards in the usual slider or pump-action manner to load and unload the gun. When set in the slide-action mode, the inertia spring I locked out of action, and the gun can’t fire semi-automatically.

As with other-slide-action shotguns, the bolt of the Benelli M3 Super 90 remains open after the last round in the magazine has been fired, both in semi-automatic and slide modes.

The upper receiver is alloy steel; the lower receiver is Ergal special aluminum alloy. The alloy steel barrel is cylinder bored and chromium-plated, the outer surface being blued. The stock and handguard are in Rilsan synthetic material, reinforced with glass fiber. The foresight is fixed, and the rear sight is adjustable for windage.


In addition to the standard Benelli M3 Super 90, several variant models exist. The Benelli M3 Super 90 Combat is the same as the Super 90 standard but has special “ghost ring” sights that allow the shooter to keep both eyes open while aiming. He focuses on foresight, and the rear sight becomes a softly defined “ghost ring” image around it. This new sighting system ensures fast and accurate target acquisition and is now used by many law enforcement agencies.

The Benelli M3 Special Application Model 90 is intended for easy car carriage; the barrel is shortened to 14 inches (355 mm), and the magazine capacity is reduced to five rounds. It also has a folding skeleton stock that folds across the top of the receiver to act as a carrying handle.

Benelli M3 Super 90 and Benelli M3T Convertible
Benelli M3 Super 90 and Benelli M3T Convertible (Photo: Wiki)

The most recent variation is the Benelli M3T Convertible, the standard Super 90 with the Special Application model folding stock. It is generally supplied with a 500mm barrel and 7-shot magazine, but on special order can be built with a 13.3 inch (340 mm) barrel and 5-shot magazine, making it even more compact than the Special Application model.

The Benelli M3 Super 90 family is highly versatile, capable of firing rifled slugs, buckshot (lead or rubber) or birdshot cartridges, CS or CN tear gas grenades, smoke bombs, and signaling flares.

Technical specifications

Country of origin:Italy
Manufacturer:Benelli Armi SpA, I-61029, Urbino
Type:Convertible semi-auto or slide action
Barrel:19.7 in (500 mm)
Weight:7.7 lbs (3.50 kg)
Magazine capacity:7+1 round tubular magazine (Military); 5+1 round (Civilian)

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