Review: Benelli MR1 ComforTech

When I saw Benelli had come out with a ComforTech version of its MR1, as a Californian I was intrigued. Here was a sharp-looking .223 carbine that, thanks to its lack of a pistol grip, is legal in California even though it has a detachable magazine. (California prohibits semiauto centerfires that have, for example, both a pistol grip and a detachable magazine. Don't get me started.)


David Fortier had reviewed the pistol-grip version of the rifle in our September/October 2010 issue, and I thought it presented a cool option for Golden State gunners or anyone who wants a short, handy defense rifle.


At the heart of the MR1 is the Auto Regulating Gas Operated system or ARGO. It's a piston-driven setup, with the gas port located just forward of the chamber, which the company says results in cleaner, hotter gas driving the piston and making for a cleaner, more reliable system.


The gun functioned 100 percent through hundreds of rounds of various .223 ammo. It does seem to run cleaner, too, but you'll still have to scrub carbon from the piston.

Disassembly takes less than two minutes. Unscrew the barrel retaining nut, remove the fore-end, then use the cap retaining spin--a spring-loaded metal projection in the fore-end--to remove the gas retaining nut and its spring. Pull the barrel and remove the arming bolt handle; the bolt assembly comes right out and is super easy to strip.

Reassembly is a little trickier. It took me a while to get the hang of installing the barrel assembly onto the fore-end, but even a klutz like me could reassemble the rifle in 3.5 minutes with a little practice.

The MR1 ComforTech sports a rear sight and a Picatinny rail attached to the receiver, and a post front with protective wings. Because I wanted to put a normal-size scope on the rifle for 100-yard accuracy testing, I had to remove the rear sight assembly.

I wish the rail ran the full length of the receiver and featured a folding, back-up type rear sight on it instead of a sight that's screwed into the receiver. That combination would give shooters more optic-mounting options. However, you can easily affix a red dot sight (as I later did), and with some red dots you can get it to co-witness with the irons.

For accuracy testing, I clamped a Burris 3-10x40 onto the rail. Results are shown in the accompanying table. The trigger has a slight take-up, followed by a consistent but heavy six-pound, nine-ounce pull (average of 10 pulls on a Lyman digital scale). I didn't mind the take-up, but the overall feel of the trigger is "shotgunny," which I didn't care for--at least for benchrest testing.

The rifle tended to string when it got hot. But, overall, for a rifle with a short, light-contour barrel, I thought it shot fairly well. The gun weighs just shy of eight pounds, but it doesn't feel that heavy in the hands--and in fact I much prefer its handling qualities over an AR-15's. With both iron sights and a Weaver variable dot I was able to transition quickly on close targets and ring steel out to 200 yards with ease, and that solidifies my opinion of the rifle as a good defensive carbine, recreational shooter or a decent option for multi-gun competition.

Much of the rifle's excellent handling is due to the ComforTech stock, which combines gel stock chevrons, gel comb and a gel recoil pad to reduce recoil and muzzle rise significantly. The system works like a charm, creating an incredibly comfortable .223/5.56 carbine.

The rifle is supposed to take AR-15 magazines, and Fortier had no issues with a number of mags he tested. However, I tried a 10-round steel mag and two 10-round Magpul P Mags (20-round bodies blocked to 10 rounds), and they were difficult to pull from the rifle. My sample worked well only with the supplied five-round magazine.

Shooters who are wedded to the AR-15 and its manual of arms may not like the MR1's controls. The right-side mag release isn't reachable by the firing hand from a firing grip. However, the left release can be activated by the support-hand thumb while keeping the firing hand in position.

The bolt lock/release on the forward part of the trigger guard takes some getting used to (you can also release the bolt by tugging on the arming bolt handle when there's a loaded magazine installed), but I found the lock/release to become second nature fairly quickly.

Unless you're some kind of high-speed/low drag "operator," I think this is all moot. Those who train with the MR1 and make it their primary carbine won't have a problem.

Gun services provided by Turner's Outdoorsman. Range facilities provided by Angeles Ranges.

Specifications Benelli MR1 ComforTech

Type: gas-operated, piston-driven semiauto

Caliber: .223 Remington

Capacity: 5-round detachable mag supplied; accepts AR mags

Barrel: chrome-lined 16 in.; 1:9 twist; no muzzle device

Overall length: 37.1 in.

Weight: 7.9 lb. w/o mag

Trigger: single stage; 6 lb. 9 oz. pull

Sights: adjustable aperture rear, front post; Picatinny rail

Price: $1,429

Importer: Benelli USA

Accuracy Results: Benelli MR1 ComforTech

.223 Remington

55-Gr. Winchester BST:              Vel. (fps): 3,240, SD: n/a, Avg. Grp (in.): 2.03

50-Gr. Black Hills Red V-Max: Vel. (fps): 3,300, SD: n/a, Avg. Grp (in.): 2.38

64-Gr. Winchester Power Pt:     Vel. (fps): 3,020, SD: n/a, Avg. Grp (in.): 2.39

55-Gr. Black Hills FMJ:              Vel. (fps): 3,200, SD: n/a, Avg. Grp (in.): 2.71

Notes: Accuracy results are averages of three three-shot groups at 100 yards off a Caldwell Fire Control rest. Due to chronograph malfunction, velocities are nominal published values fired from test barrels. Velocities from the MR1 will be lower due to shorter barrel length. Abbreviations: BST, Ballistic Silvertip; FMJ, full metal jacket

Recommended for You

Lever-Action

Marlin Model 1895-.444 Marlin

J. Scott Rupp - May 29, 2019

The Marlin Model 1895-.444 Marlin is a handy, powerful rifle capable of taking down elk,...

Semi-Auto

Review: Hi-Point 1095 TS 10mm Carbine

James Tarr - April 04, 2019

The Hi-Point 10mm carbine, technically the 1095 TS, sports a 17.5-inch barrel, is 32 inches...

Ammo

Federal Berger Hybrid Hunter Ammo

Brad Fitzpatrick - April 30, 2019

The Federal Berger Hybrid Hunter Ammo combines high BCs with a forgiving bullet profile and...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Ruger Launches New American Rifle Predator in 6.5 Grendel

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Ruger's Matt WIlson kick off SHOT Show 2018 by taking a look at the Ruger Predator.

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Ammo

New 30-06 Springfield Elite Match Ammo from SIG SAUER

Rifleshooter Online Editors - April 03, 2019

SIG SAUER adds to its Elite Match ammo line with the 30-06 Springfield.

Rimfire

Winchester Releases Wildcat 22 LR Rimfire Rifle

Rifle Shooter Digital Staff - April 11, 2019

Winchester Repeating Arms releases the new autoloading Wildcat 22 LR rimfire rifle.

Bolt-Action

Review: Ruger American/Robar Scout Rifle

Ed Head - April 23, 2019

Gunsite's Ed Head reviews the Ruger American/Robar Scout Rifle.

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×