After crowning all of the winners in our four Ballistic Best Reader’s Choice Awards handgun categories (see all of them below), we’re now moving onto the “Best Semi-Auto Shotgun.”

In the early 1990s, everyone carried a shotgun. Today, virtually the opposite is the case. Everyone carries an AR-style carbine, and the shotgun is fading away. AR rifles are easier to shoot. But remember, for most law enforcement purposes, a 12-gauge slug is far superior to any 5.56mm NATO round available. By a lot.

Calling the 12 gauge a superior round will put more than a few keyboard commandos into cardiac arrest, but let’s look at the facts. Police shootings tend to happen up close. A 50-yard shot is almost unheard of, and even law enforcement countersniper shots are statistically in the 70- to 80-yard range. And which round is more lethal? Would you try to harvest a 140-pound deer with a 5.56mm round? How about a 12-gauge slug? If a 5.56mm isn’t going to reliably drop a whitetail, what will it do to a 220-pound man hopped up on meth and looking for a fight?

Reader’s Choice for Best Semi-Auto Shotgun

Moving on, here were the six nominees in Reader’s Choice “Best Semi-Auto Shotgun” category:

  • Benelli M4 H20 Tactical
  • Beretta 1301 Tactical Marine (Tactical Life range test)
  • Kalashknikov USA Komrad
  • Mossberg 930 Thunder Ranch
  • Rock Island Armory VRBP-100

Also, here are the list of other Reader’s Choice winners we’ve announced:

Joining those winners after collecting a staggering 2,845 votes out of 7,089 (40.13 percent), is the Benelli M4 H20 Tactical shotgun.

Benelli M4 H20 Tactical Details

The following was written by contributor Robert Jordan as a part of the 2019 Ballistic’s Best issue. Want to find out the winners our staff chose? Grab digital and/or physical copies of “Ballistic’s Best 2019” at

If you’re talking about tactical shotguns, Benelli always plays into the discussion. Always. The M4 platform is unique because it is the company’s gas-operated gun, while most Benellis are inertia driven. Gas guns typically offer less recoil, but this Benelli also comes with greater reliability. Benelli first introduced the M4 in 1999, and it has been in production ever since. The U.S. Marine Corps soon adopted it because of its die-hard reliability, and the H20 Tactical version looks sharp with its titanium Cerakote finish.

But looks are always second to performance when lives are on the line. Semi-auto shotguns are notoriously finicky. But the M4 H20 Tactical had zero malfunctions all day. Zero. The Auto-Regulating Gas-Operated (ARGO) rotating bolt system was a game-changer when it was first introduced, and it remains the standard by which others are judged. The shotgun’s AR-style ghost-ring night sights were easy to acquire, and the trigger had a long take-up but broke cleanly. Most splits from all three testers ranged from 0.15 to about 0.29 seconds, with an average of 0.23 seconds. Comments from the guys included: “Tried and true, this Benelli screams, ‘entry weapon,’”; “Very little felt recoil”; and “Expensive but worth the cost.”

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Benelli M4 H20 Tactical Specs

  • Gauge: 12; 3-inch chamber
  • Barrel: 18.5 inches
  • OA Length: 40 inches
  • Weight: 7.8 pounds (empty)
  • Stock: Black synthetic
  • Sights: Ghost ring
  • Action: Semi-auto
  • Finish: Titanium Cerakote
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • MSRP: $2,269

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