This review started when I said mean things about Turkish shotguns online. My comments were generally targeting the gas-operated bullpup magazine-fed guns, but I have had a generally negative view of most Turkish shotguns. That opinion is based on a parade of Turk shotguns that have come through the shop where I work. As a category, they have more issues than shotguns of other origins. But they also have price points that tend to be much lower. I was soon contacted by a VP at Four Peaks Imports who threw down the gauntlet. He offered to send out a shotgun from their lineup because he thought shooting one would change my mind. I respect his approach of choosing a public hater as a potential reviewer, and letting the product speak for itself. I selected the Aksa S4, and in short order, it showed up at my FFL.
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Attack of the Clones?
The Benelli M4 is a legend. There can be no debate on that point. It has been used by militaries, police forces, competition shooters, and people who just like nice shotguns. It has graced the silver screen and been used in Triple-A video games.
Whenever a gun reaches icon status, there will be clones. Some clones are more of an homage to a design, others are quite literal “clones” of the original. The Aksa S4 is the latter. Parts are generally interchangeable, including common upgrades like magazine tubes or stocks. It is not a Benelli but is impressively similar to the original.
My negative view of Turkish shotguns generally stemmed from the obscene gas-operated bullpup magazine-fed guns that clutter the shelves of too many retailers, but the actual range of Turk scatterguns is very broad. There are pump guns with prices so low they look like misprints, and there are CZ-branded guns competing in the higher tiers. As a whole, this category of shotgun tends to cost less than comparable models made in the USA or places like Italy and Japan.
The S4 In Action
Gun reviews are intrinsically limited by (usually) having a sample size of one, and by not having unlimited time or ammunition. Multi-year, 10,000-round reviews across 20 sample guns would be an incredible source of data, but it is simply not feasible unless you are running some type of government procurement program. I was footing the bill for ammo and I most certainly do not have a Department of Defense budget. With those caveats in mind, it was time to start shooting.
I did not lubricate anything, clean the gun during the review, or put thread locker on any screws before the initial break-in. Some reviews of similar models insist that these steps are necessary before shooting a Turkinelli. Instead, I stuffed shells in the magazine tube and started shooting. Gas-operated shotguns usually need some rounds through them before they operate reliably. That was true for the Aksa S4. In the first 50 rounds or so, there were a few failures to feed and failures to extract. After the first few boxes of shells, it smoothed out and operated normally.
I wanted to put a wide range of shells through the Aksa S4 because semi-auto shotguns can be picky with ammunition. I fired 550 rounds of birdshot, primarily 1 1/8oz and 1oz Winchester and Federal as found in your local Walmart. Outside of the initial break-in and one hang-up in the burndown (discussed below), it ran this ammo 100%. Some semi-automatic scatterguns struggle with this cheap ammo, but the Aksa S4 ran it like a champ.
I also fired 110 mixed rounds of buckshot, slug, and turkey shells. The loads fired included Federal Law Enforcement buckshot and slugs, Fiocchi buckshot and slugs, cheapo no-name buckshot from a baggie in my basement, Winchester military 00 buck, and the least-expensive turkey shells from my local Sportsman’s Warehouse. Everything cycled fine, with the exception of Fiocchi low recoil buckshot. It did not like that load at all. Thankfully, that was the outlier.
The manipulations are exactly the same on the Aksa S4 and the Benelli M4. I have shot Benelli shotguns in the past and there were no differences in the manual of arms. Both the M4 and S4 benefit from larger aftermarket bolt release buttons and extended bolt handles. Extended magazine tubes can also be added, though that can trigger 922(r) compliance issues. I chose to stick with basic upgrades for this review, which would not change any functional parts of the Aksa S4. I added a piece of industrial Velcro to the left side of the receiver for use with Esstac Shotgun Cards, and a Vortex Crossfire red dot on the factory optics rail. Some reviews of similar guns reported that the optics rail came loose after firing. This gun did not have that issue.
James has a history of blasting shells through shotguns as fast as he can to see what survives. Some guns handled it well, some did not. I wanted to do something similar, but with 200 rounds due to scarce ammunition and high prices. I did the burndown toward the end of the review, with about 325 rounds through the gun already. If something was going to fail, it would be more likely to fail with preexisting wear and tear before the real pain commenced.
The burndown was pretty simple. Load up 5+1, fire as fast as I could, load up 5+1 more, and do it again. There also were some top-off single loads mixed in too when I dropped a shell or missed the count on a reload. This was a truly unreasonable sustained rate of fire. The Aksa S4 got so hot that it scorched the leather glove on my lead hand through the handguards. My wife asked if I had eaten barbeque for lunch that day because the burning smell was so pronounced.
How did the Aksa S4 fare? Excellent. It has one hiccup, a failure to feed at round 178 of 200. I pressed the bolt release button and the round fired and cycled normally. Once the gun cooled off a little, I fired the remainder of the buckshot, slugs, and turkey shells. All fired normally with no drama, including some 3″ magnum Ultra Turkey 1 3/4 ounce loads that damaged me, but not the gun. I was able to land a head shot on a 2/3 IPSC steel target at about 60 yards with a 3″ Federal slug as well.
A few sources had suggested that these guns were prone to parts breakage around the 500-round mark. I did not find that to be the case, but this is only one sample gun. What I can say from my totally non-scientific-definitely-not-an-engineer perspective is things look pretty good inside, and nothing looks like it is on the way to breaking.
The Aksa S4 includes 3 chokes (1 in the gun, two in a case), as well as a choke tube wrench. The wrench is pretty flimsy but it was able to remove the choke for the last few shells of the review. I did not see any marking on the chokes, so I used the age-old method of putting my finger in the front end to see how constrictive they were. I installed the most-constrictive one, and the patterns did shrink. Detailed patterning of shotguns is time intensive and beyond the scope of this review. What I can say is the chokes are there and if you feel like changing it up and looking at patterns, that option is available to you out of the box.
“Is it just as good?” is the wrong question. A clone that costs 70% less than the original Italian masterpiece will never be just as good. This is true with Italian guns, motorcycles, and food.
The real question should be “is it good when judged on its own merits?” and my answer is yes. It is a lot of gun for the money. Unlike many budget-oriented guns in its class, there is an aftermarket thanks to the M4 parts interchangeability. And it just might make you pick up a Benelli to round out the set some day.