Benelli MR-1 (Video)

The MR-1 is a recently introduced 5.56mm tactical black rifle from Benelli, which is remarkably not an AR15 or AR18 in disguise. Instead, Benelli took the gas system from the M4 Super 90 shotgun and combined it with a 3-lug rotating bolt (akin to the Leader T2 and Barrett M82) and the handling of a Benelli shotgun. The rifle is being sold as a civilian rifle in the US and Italy, with no signs of serious attempts at military contracts (which makes sense, given that Benelli and Beretta are owned by the same company, and Beretta has a good lock on the current Italian service rifle). It seems to me that the purpose of the MR-1 is to grab that slice of the 5.56mm modern rifle market which is populated by sport shooters who are being dragged towards ARs by all the popular media surrounding them.


  1. This was actually intended for LE market sales to agencies which did not wish to have an “evil black rifle” such as the AR profile for a patrol rifle program. The deliberate use of the shotgun form factor was considered a selling point. Similar approaches were seen with the Remington 7600 tactical.

    This did not see much market impact. Poor ergonomics and a general push to select weapons on performance versus PC perception limited sales. There were also documented failures of shorgun type patrol rifles in officer involved shootings, which although not involving the MR1, cast doubt on the utility of the entire category.

    • “why not”
      This is interesting example of developing self-loading rifle from shotgun.
      I could list some shotguns developed from rifles (like Winchester Model 9410 or Vepr-12) but in reverse – not

      • That’s right – this is the easier way. With space all around it is not that difficult to fit there small bore mechanism. It would not work the other way around.

        • This is also, locally, caused by laws, as for some places, obtaining license for shotgun is easier than for rifle. Hence there is market for rifle-like shotguns.
          I wondered about possibility of deriving rifle for powerful cartridge from shotgun. For example .577 Nitro Express from 20 gauge or .500 Nitro Express from 28 gauge. I’m not sure about in durability, but if it would possible there might be result in tubular-magazine repeating or even self-loading rifle.

          • I would definitely not attempt to do anything even close. It needs different lock up. Mind you, I have CZ over/ under which is designed for rifle barrel combo. It uses very strong combination lock.
            I have seen (or better heard of) .50cal shot effect in modified 10ga shotgun – scary.
            At shotgun you get some 12ksi at max while rifle goes easily to 60ksi and over.

          • “I have seen (or better heard of) .50cal shot effect in modified 10ga shotgun – scary.
            At shotgun you get some 12ksi at max while rifle goes easily to 60ksi and over.”
            In fact cartridge which I mention, are low pressure by modern standard.
            states following:
            DESCRIPTION — pressure at 60°F in Tons per
            ·500 Nitro Express Rifle, 3″ — 16·0
            .500 Nitro Express Rifle, 3 1/4″ — 16·0
            ·577 Nitro Express Rifle, 2 3/4″ — – (not given)
            .577 Nitro Express Rifle, 3″ — 14·0
            Some other cartridges for comparison
            ·30 Rimless Rifle (U.S.A. Model 1906) — 20·0
            ·303 Rifle (British Mark VI Model) — 17·0
            ·303 Rifle (British Mark VII Model) — 18·5
            ·375 Belted Rimless Magnum Nitro-Express — 20·0

  2. One reason this rifle might find a niche are irrational gun laws. For example in Canada semi-auto AR-15s are “restricted” meaning they can only be fired on “approved” ranges and to get a license to own one you have to pay for an extra days “safety” course. An AR would also be registered and require additional “safety” measures in storing it.

    This rifle, in a configuration with a 18.5 inch barrel would be “non-restricted” which means one could fire it in a gravel pit or use it for predator control etc. and avoid many of the gun control laws associated with the AR.

    I’m not sure how many countries have laws restricting particular models or makes of guns but getting around stupid laws may be a business opportunity.

      • The way it actually works is if a non-converted semi-auto rifle has a 18.5 in. bbl and wasn’t on the original list of bad guns circa 1994 it’s non-restricted. The other options were “prohibited- grandfathered (owners can trade among themselves but eventually there will be no one left who can own them)” and outright “prohibited”. All converted autos and most military style semi-autos ended up some form of prohibited. I’m not sure how the AR managed to not be “prohibited” along with FALs, HK91s etc. In any event as rifles have been invented they have been judged by bbl length and they were not on the magic list.

        The RCMP recently tried to claim (dishonestly in my view) that some Swiss Arms rifles and others were “converted autos” because they were built using parts designed for a full auto rifle. The government of the time quashed that.

        What’s really incomprehensible about the Canadian system is that a person who is legally allowed to own “prohibited” rifles is not allowed to shoot them- even on government approved ranges. This supports the idea that “gun control” in Canada isn’t about public safety as much as part of a culture war in which anyone who would own a FAL etc. should be punished and other shooters protected from viewing guns they can’t legally possess and perhaps getting ideas about equality before the law.

  3. “5.56mm tactical black rifle from Benelli”
    What is difference between tactical and not tactical rifle?
    I fear I will never understand intricacies of U.S. terminology.

    “purpose of the MR-1 is to grab that slice of the 5.56mm modern rifle market which is populated by sport shooters who are being dragged towards ARs by all the popular media surrounding them.”
    I would guess, that it might be for people which want 5,56mm modern rifle, but don’t want AR, for example just to be different.

    • A non-tactical rifle would not include rails for accessories, would probably have a traditional ‘sporting’ look without a pistol grip, and would likely not have a large capacity magazine.

  4. Ghost of the STG-44 in that recoil spring.

    Gander Mountain has it for $1300 which more than twice what you can get a good AR for.

  5. Speaking of addressing niche markets: I have wondered about a 5.56 rifle that has (only) an internal magazine that accepts stripper clips or perhaps en bloc clips. This would be legal in some large markets such as California that have many restrictions on self loading rifles. Imagine for example an SKS or M-1 Garand in 5.56

    • It sounds like you’re on the path to creating a “sporting rifle” that can easily become a reserve weapon in a pinch. I imagine that one could take a Ruger Mini-14 and fit it with a Garand internal magazine and a semi-auto only trigger. Did I mess up?

    • “Imagine for example an SKS or M-1 Garand in 5.56”
      I would propose M1941 Johnson rifle-style magazine. It was clip-loaded, and shouldn’t stick downwards as most box magazine does.

    • “(…)5.56(…)SKS(…)”
      Due to very different geometry of 5.56×45 vs 7.62×39 reworking SKS to accept that particular cartridge reliable would be problematic.
      However notice that exist 5,6×39 мм (known also as .220 Russian) for which reworking SKS would need much less effort (.220 Russian is necked down 7.62×39)

  6. I’d buy one, but featureless and without a pistol grip due to being in California.

    However, I’m always a little confused about how it’s designed when it comes to magazines. When it comes to this and Ares/Fightlight SCR’s use of AR magazines, the mag release is way ahead of the shooter’s firing hand and you have to shift around a bit to push that button, unless, in the SCR’s case, you install an ambi magazine release.

    Now, I know that they are designed to use those magazines due to how absolutely common they are and that everyone and their mother has at least a closetful, but wouldn’t it be a bit more practical and easier to use for these kinds of rifles to have either a rock in magazine (is it possible to modify one so that it can fit something like a Mini 14?) or do something like Ruger’s precison rifle, Holloway’s HAC and the BM59 where it has a lever release, but you can insert and remove the magazine straight in and out like an AR?

    Don’t quote me on the BM59, I can’t remember if that one is right.

  7. the barrel nut being loud and making lots of clicking noises means it is from a Benelli i swear they love making breaking guns down loud

  8. The purposes directing M4 Shotgun with twin gas pistons located as close as to the chamber were; Using shortest barrel possible, getting the cleanest hot gases to work the mechanism and having sufficient volume of gas pressure with less radiused gas tubes…In a conventional shotgun mass and space.

    What would be the purpose of creating such a carbine or rifle… A shorter barrel… Cleaner useble gas or a shrinked shoulder gun construction…And even in a classic buttstock location under the barrel axis… There would be only one purpose provided with the gas tube taken rearward as much aas possible: Having a free floating barrel which seems absent in this sample.

    No way…Give it up. No future.

  9. Recently introduced ? It was first introduced in 2006 as the Beretta RX4 in their X4 Storm serie (as a companion to CX4 pistol caliber carbine and PX4 pistol) and later rebranded as the Benelli MR1.
    Actually, it is a small caliber derivative of the Benelli Argo (or R1) hunting rifle (competitor to the Browning BAR).
    I see its appeal in European countries where military looking firearms are not authorised or difficult to get. It is in the same league as the HK SL8 derivative of the G36.

  10. In Italy, and most Europe, this rifle can be purchased with a 12.5″ barrel with flash suppressor and a telescopic stock (according to the EU law, a rifle must have at least a 30cm / 11.8″ barrel and a total lenght of at least 60cm / 23.6″. With the 12.5″ barrel and the stock collapsed the rifle is 78.7cm long with the flash suppressor and 73.7cm long without it, so perfectly compliant).
    Those features are not available in the US only due to US restrictions on imports.
    So what’s the market this rifle is intended for? Essentially not the US market, but places where the AR15 is not so dominant among the “black rifles”. Not cause the law prohibits it, but simply cause the customers are not so obsessed with it.

  11. I really enjoyed watching this video as there just isn’t much information out there on the MR1. That’s too bad because it’s a great rifle. I bought mine just after they came out precisely because it wasn’t an AR. Since I already had two AR’s, an AK, SKS, and Benelli M4 shotgun I wanted something different just for that sake of it being different. The fact that it used ammunition and magazines that I already had in quantity and its similarities to the M4/M1014 really appealed to me.

    Mine has been reliable and accurate although it doesn’t like steel cased ammo. Its got a great trigger and the locations of the controls fit me much better than an AR. My only real complaint is that reassembly can be difficult. A few years after I bought it I was able to locate a ComforTech stock assembly. It looks cool with it installed but I found the original pistol grip stock to be more comfortable. Another thing I noticed is that on the MR1 the crossbolt safety is forward of the trigger whereas on the M4 shotgun it’s aft of the trigger. Otherwise the two share quite a lot including the grip, stock, rear sight assy, and bolt handle.

    I think the MR1 would be worth hunting down for anyone who likes the .223/.556 cartridge but wants something a little out of the ordinary or for someone who likes the ergonomics M4/M1014 shotgun.

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