2020 GUNS & AMMO OF THE YEAR
GUNS & AMMO EDITORS, contributors and staff are set to declare the firearms industry’s award recipients for 2020. New for this year’s event are categories for technology and holsters. Only products made commercially available since the fourth quarter of 2019 (and were not considered for last year’s awards) qualified for nomination. Products were evaluated and discussed by G&A’s staff through the COVID-19 pandemic, while several editors and contributors managed to attend events held around the world during the last 12 months.
Nominees’ products that were deemed to be all-new designs, as well as those possessing the greatest potential impact to the greatest number of readers were given additional merit when scored. When having to decide between two otherwise equally important new products, the more affordable choice broke the ties in our voting. G&A acquired several samples of each nominee throughout 2020 to achieve a representative evaluation. Products that caused doubt in reliability or durability were eliminated from the list of candidates.
The winner for each category emerged from a point system once three criteria were met: First, the product must have been new and available for purchase in 2020. A line extension of an existing product didn’t earn as many points as one possessing innovative features and engineering. Second, it must have demonstrated quality and reliability to a degree that met or exceeded its design objective. Lastly, the winner offered the greatest appeal to the largest audience. G&A’s staff awarded points after surveying in-store availability and confirming retail pricing to ensure the product exists and offers great value.
To protect the credibility of the Guns & Ammo of the Year awards, no manufacturers, advertisers or sales representatives were informed during the selection process. What follows is the ultimate list of 2020’s best new products.
RIFLE OF THE YEAR
BENELLI LUPO isn’t another new rifle based on the Mauser 98, Model 70 or Model 700 platform, but it is Benelli’s first bolt-action. The Lupo, Italian for “wolf,” is a fresh approach to the bolt-action rifle designed around an alloy chassis and motivated by accuracy, artistic styling and proven felt-recoil- reduction systems to deliver impressive performance.
Guns & Ammo was on the scene for the unveiling of the Lupo in Italy during late-October 2019. There, Editor Eric Poole demonstrated its accuracy potential by shooting a number of sub-half- inch groups for an audience from 100 yards. There, they toured Benelli’s factory in the historic town of Urbino where they observed Italian Renaissance artist Raphael’s birthplace. Above Benelli’s state-of- the- art factory remains the Academy of Fine Arts Urbino within the city’s towering walls where several students shared their studies with the Lupo’s designers to shape a functional masterpiece.
The Lupo also benefited from the proven experience gleaned from Benelli’s hard-use shotguns such as the Super Black Eagle III. For having a chassis-based platform, Benelli was able to design a shim-and- spacer system for the Lupo that’s familiar to serious shotgunners who need to adjust drop, cast and trigger reach. The trigger is yet another aspect that can be adjusted for preference; it can be tuned between 2.2 and 4.4 pounds. Better fit translates to better control and increased accuracy.
The rifle also carries over the Progressive Comfort system and Combtech cheek pad, which was another modified element proven with Benelli shotguns. Inside the Progressive Comfort module are interlacing fingers of proprietary synthetics that flex and absorb recoil. Regardless of caliber, charge of powder or weight of the projectile, felt recoil feels the same from one shot to the next. As a result, there is more control of the muzzle.
Protecting the face from the uncomfortable vibrations of felt recoil, Benelli incorporated the Combtech cheek pad to reduce facial impact. Combtech is another system borrowed from Benelli’s hard-working shotguns. Raised and extra-high Combtech cheekpieces are optionally available to adjust height for use with high-mounted scopes.
The sculpted bolt sports three large locking lugs for a fast cycling 60-degree throw to drive cartridges positioned behind the chamber for direct feeding into the chamber. The handle is uniquely shaped to encourage quick action without interference with the ocular lens housing of large-bodied scopes. The barrel is threaded for muzzle devices and suppressors, free floating and Crio treated to ensure its consistent performance.
Built for comfort, the Lupo’s balance is perfectly centered in the hand at the magazine, while Benelli’s Airtouch Grip surface provides a tactile and comfortable grip to hold firm.
The Lupo possesses so many innovative features that, for its price, earns it high value. No other new production rifle offered this level of performance and personalization. ■
Content courtesy of Outdoor Sportsman's Group