This rifle is about more than just looks — with seven patents on board, it is innovative, accurate, comfortable and has teeth, says Bruce Potts in Shooting Times
I have a high regard for the Italian firearms maker Benelli as its shotguns always buck the trend and it follows its own path in design and handling concepts. The 828U over-and-under shotgun is an eye-catcher, as are the famed Benelli semi-automatics.
Now Benelli has designed its first bolt-action rifle, the Benelli Lupo, and it’s a cracker. We were lucky to get our hands on the first Lupo in the country back in February and, true to form, Benelli had excelled itself with a radical-looking and great-handling sporting bolt-action rifle.
Benelli Lupo – key features
The key feature of the Lupo — Italian for wolf — is the futuristic but elegant design. Benelli has not held back with this modern-day fast-operating bolt-action rifle with detachable five-shot magazine. The Lupo stalking rifle handles superbly and the flowing lines of the synthetic stock are impervious to the weather thanks to Benelli’s BE.S.T surface treatment.
This finish has two functions: it gives a traditional blued appearance but in a superb hard format to resist corrosion and scratching. And best of all, tests have proved its reflective nature is less than on a standard blued barrel. Other great touches include the soft wrapover Combtech cheek pad inlay and the excellent recoil-softening Progressive Comfort system, one of the seven patents of this Lupo, along with the BE.S.T finish.
It’s not just all looks either, as field testing soon revealed.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Benelli
- Model Lupo
- Action Bolt action
- Barrel length 22in
- Overall length 41.75in
- Calibre .308 Win on test
- Stock Two-piece black synthetic
- Weight 3.2kg
- Trigger Single stage
- Magazine Five-shot polymer
- Price £1,650
- Contact GMK, 01489 579999
Benelli Lupo features
- The BE.S.T surface treatment gives a traditional blued finish but in a superb hard format to resist corrosion and scratching. It is also non-reflective
- The Combtech cheek pad and the Progressive Comfort system absorb much of the recoil before it reaches the shoulder, enhancing shooter comfort and accuracy
- The top of the action is drilled and tapped for scope mounts
- The eye-catching black synthetic stock can be adjusted for drop, cast and trigger reach with included shims for a customised fit
The Lupo’s stock really catches the eye. Seamlessly flowing from front to back, it is in fact a two-piece construction secured to the central action section. This allows inserts for 12 drop and cast positions with shims and optional combs, as well as additional spacers to alter the length of pull and crucial finger reach to the trigger via spacers between the action and the stock. Made from a tough black polymer with a satin finish and moulded-in dimple-type chequering for extra grip, the stock has a pleasing pistol grip profile. It is thin at the top then has palm swells to each side and really fits the hand well, as does the soft, neoprene-feeling cheekpiece insert.
Best of all is the rear-mounted Progressive Comfort recoil system, which neutralises recoil in a controlled manner and made this .308 feel like a .243.
This stock blends seamlessly into the central aluminium action chassis with Benelli’s trademark distinctive trigger-guard profile. The action is bedded strongly to the stock and a large steel inset recoil lug keeps it perfectly positioned, maximising accuracy.
This central chassis houses the five-shot detachable magazine in double-stack configuration, with a release lever pivoting in front of the mag. The way it forms part of the chassis sidewall has been well thought out.
The top of the action is drilled and tapped for scope mounts and the bolt itself is a real creation at 6.75in long with a waisted midsection and left side bolt-guide groove for non-binding. There are three locking lugs, which give that all-important low 60-degree bolt lift, enabling the inset extractor and plunger-type ejector to flawlessly do their job. It’s a very slick bolt system with a great dog-leg-type bolt handle — a little finger is all that is needed to operate — all with the BE.S.T finish.
The safety is conveniently tang mounted for thumb operation, and the trigger is a clean-breaking single-stage unit with a factory weight of 2.75lb in tests. I like the barrel, too, its large headspace collar with stock recessed for access and its Sporter profile of 0.6740in at the muzzle and 22in length.
The muzzle has a good 11-degree crown, is threaded for a moderator and is totally free floated in the fore-end for consistent accuracy in all weathers.
I love the way Benelli puts two fingers up to convention and does things its own way. The Lupo rifle is deadly accurate, handling is really natural and fatigue free with a good solid synthetic stock and I adore the BE.S.T finish.
- Accuracy: Perfect with the lighter to mid- weight bullets 18/20
- Handling: A rifle with great handling characteristics 18/20
- Trigger: Precise, predictable and reliable 18/20
- Stock: Tactile feel with excellent recoil absorption 18/20
- Value: Great value considering all the innovations 18/20
- Overall score: 90/100
Testing the Benelli Lupo in the field
I went to town, testing both factory and reload ammunition for the Lupo, but have chosen only the best results here. Unashamedly first are the Winchester Subsonic, which I love for discreet fox control if I have the deer rifle with me.
At 1,099fps and 496ft/ lb they were nearly supersonic but punched lovely 1.25in groups. Best accuracy, unsurprisingly, went to the Hornady SST 150-gr loads, with 0.95in groups and a high velocity of 2,947fps and 2,893ft/lb energy — a good all-rounder.
The Sako 123-gr Gamehead is always accurate, achieving 0.85in three-shot groups at 100 yards with velocity of 2,955fps and energy of 2,386ft/lb.
The lead-free option, the Norma 170-gr Ecostrike, yielded 1.25in groups and 2,568fps and 2,490ft/lb. The 180-gr PPU was 2,529fps and 2,557ft/lb – both with 1.25in groups, so it is best to stick to 165-gr bullets and below.
Reloads really help gain accuracy and the best loads were the new Nosler lead-free E-Tips with 41.0 grains of Swiss RS36 powder for 3,107fps and 2,358ft/lb and 0.5in groups. Similarly accurate at 0.65in was the Sierra Gameking 150-gr with 45.0 grains of RL15 powder for 2,734fps and 2,490ft/lb.
I started testing the Lupo during the Chinese water deer season and shot several bucks and does. I was instantly impressed with its great handling, the non-reflective qualities of the BE.S.T finish and the rifle’s ability to have that natural point of aim, rather like a shotgun. It had to go back before roe season, but we helped mop up several foxes around the pheasant pens and feeders using both the Winchester Subsonics and the excellent Sako 123-gr loads.