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Lupo Bolt-Action Rifle A First For Benelli

Italian gunmaker comes up with a winner!

urbina italy

Italy is a fascinating country where history and the present coexist in settings that afford enlightening glimpses into the future. And so it was this past Fall when the folks at Benelli invited a number of writers to visit their state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Urbino for a preview of the new Lupo bolt-action centerfire rifle.

It was a study in contrasts as Benelli officials unveiled the company’s first bolt-action centerfire rifle amid facilities that boast computerized machinery and robotic inventory controls, literally at the base of the hill upon which the walled city of Urbino sits. Although the city dates back to Roman times, it is most noted for its ties to the renaissance period.

In Italian, the word Lupo means wolf. Again, the subliminal anachronistic juxtaposition rang loudly on its silence. After all, a wolf played heavily in folklore surrounding the founding of Rome and the Roman kingdom itself.

Benelli, known mostly as a shotgun maker, has been producing R1 semi-auto centerfire rifles since 2002. The Lupo is their first venture into the bolt-action centerfire rifle world, and they have come up with a winner, right out of the gate.

The Lupo is loaded with innovative features—including seven exclusive Benelli patents—adding up to a hunting rifle that handles beautifully and provides a truly customizable fit. It makes its debut in three of the most popular bolt-action calibers (.30-06 Springfield, .300 Win. Mag., .270 Win.).

The Lupo features a chassis-style construction built from an alloy lower receiver and fitted with a synthetic stock and forend. The stock incorporates Benelli’s patented Progressive Comfort recoil-reducing system and Combtech cheek pad for comfortable shooting.

This sub-MOA rifle achieves repeatable, consistent accuracy thanks to a precision CRIO-treated and free-floating barrel, securely bedded (steel-to-steel) into the alloy chassis receiver. It features a crisp and adjustable trigger mechanism.

An innovative barrel attachment system creates an unaltered chamber and perfect alignment on every gun. The rifle was subjected to rigorous military quality and safety testing while precision accuracy was assured by testing across a wide spectrum of ammunition.

In addition to great accuracy, the Benelli Lupo’s design features modular adjustability to provide the perfect fit between shooter and rifle. The chassis-style configuration of a separate stock, receiver and forend allow the shooter to customize the Lupo to one of 12 drop and cast positions with the included shims. This is easily expandable to 36 positions by utilizing optional combs. Further fit adjustments can be made with included LOP spacers. Finger reach to the trigger is also adjustable with included spacers that can be placed between the receiver and the stock. Additional fit choices include two raised cheek pad styles and one optional length butt pad.

The Benelli Lupo tames recoil with a patented built-in Progressive Comfort system and a Combtech cheek pad. The double-stack box magazine is incredibly easy to load in or out of the gun. A two-position, tang-mounted safety offers ambidextrous manipulation. Airtouch Grip surfaces provide a safe and firm hold on the rifle. A threaded muzzle (5/8 x 24 thread) gives the option of adding a muzzle brake or suppressor. The short bolt throw quietly chambers and ejects rounds for quick and smooth follow-up shots.

Benelli Lupo Bolt-Action Centerfire Rifle

  • Stock/Finish: Black synthetic/black.
  • Trigger: Adjustable (2.2-4.4 lbs.)
  • Barrel: Free-floating CRIO/threaded (5/8×24 threads)
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Length of Pull: Adjustable 13.8 – 14.75 inches
  • MSRP: $1,699
  •  
  • .270 Winchester
  • Barrel Length: 22 inches.
  • Overall Length: 44.625 inches.
  • Overall Weight: 7 lbs.
  • Rate of Twist: 1:10 RH
  •  
  • .30-06 Springfield
  • Barrel Length: 22 inches.
  • Overall Length: 44.625 inches.
  • Overall Weight: 7 lbs.
  • Rate of Twist: 1:11 RH
  • .300 Win. Mag.
  • Barrel Length: 24 inches.
  • Overall Length: 46.625 inches.
  • Overall Weight: 7.1 lbs.
  • Rate of Twist: 1:11 RH

 Yet all of the fantastic design work and state-of-the-art manufacturing execution of that design don’t mean squat if the rifle doesn’t function properly and put bullets where they are supposed to go in the target, be it a piece of paper or a game animal.

Smooth, faultless function and accuracy defined the Lupo during an impromptu range session in the hills of eastern Italy where dead lighting from a dark, steel gray sky and intermittent rain didn’t dampen delivered performance.

author with target

Shooting from rests atop folding tables at targets either 100 yards or 100 meters away (I don’t remember which, and what is a few feet among friends?), the targets told the story.

The Lupo was fitted with a Night Force scope and the ammo was Federal’s Premium 168-grain match load. The rifles had been more or less sighted-in before the session, but even so, the object was to determine what size groups would be shot, not to fine-tune exactly where the bullets would go.

I loaded a single round into the detachable magazine, inserted the magazine into the rifle and then cycled it into the barrel. It was interesting how easily the round loaded into the magazine, how decidedly the magazine locked into the rifle and how smoothly the round pushed into the chamber. Felt good.

A first shot indicated that the rig was shooting a little low and slightly to the right, but near enough to the center of the target to serve the purpose of determining group size.

Slowly, I opened the bolt and drew it rearward, watching closely to see how the extractor pullet the empty back and how the ejector worked on the rim. Often, if there is a problem in this area, it can be spotted when the action is cycled slowly. No hiccups here.

While waiting for another shooter to pop off a round from the other end of the folding table, I had time to study the way the magazine fit into the magazine well and play with the magazine spring while inserting another round.

The second shot established what was the ultimate size of the group. The spotting scope showed that the second shot was close enough to the first shot to cause me to take a closer look and feel for how the free-floated barrel fit into the forend.

When the third shot split the difference between first and second shots, I figured I had the answer: this is one accurate hunting rifle. The folks at Benelli figured the three-shot group to be 0.3 minute of angle.

Enhancing the ability to put the bullet where it is supposed to go is the ergonomic design of both the stock and the trigger. The angles involved with the hand/gun relationship are deliciously unlike more classic designs.

The result is that the finger naturally is able to exert pressure directly rearward while the rest of the hand is anchored solidly to the pistol grip, which means the act of squeezing the trigger doesn’t tend to pull the rifle off-target. Very nice.

A quick look at the Lupo suggests that this ain’t grandpa’s hunting rifle. It has a distinct look, with stylized elements that identify it instantly as a Benelli.

The heft and feel are straight-forward, due to a natural balance, the type of which is really handy when shooting from the standing offhand position. In other words, this rifle is right, whether shot from a rest or any of the field positions. It carries well.

Benelli Factory

The more I studied the rifle, the more I appreciated the depth of thought put into it. For example, in recent times when much focus has been on long-range shooting, chassis bolt-action rifles have come to the fore. Typically, they are heavy and awkward looking because the attention has been toward function at the expense of form.

Interestingly, the Lupo is a type of chassis rifle in that the barreled action rests within an abbreviated metal chassis. What Benelli has accomplished here is to deliver the accuracy benefits of a chassis in a more standard hunting rifle configuration – the best of both worlds.

Just how will the Lupo do in the real hunting world? We already know because SCI’s Mark Hampton took one on safari this past year and reports his findings in a companion article, which begins on Page __ of this issue of Safari Magazine. The rifle worked great for him. ‘Nuff said. –Steve Comus

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