Benelli Lupo Italian Precision In Rifle Form
Benelli is a brand most associated with premium shotguns, so it strikes some as odd to see their name on a bolt-action rifle. I welcome the development because Benelli is a name associated with quality manufacturing and elegant design. Who wouldn’t want a bolt-action rifle that possesses copious amounts of both?
Benelli wasn’t content to do a “me too” rifle and just build another bolt-action with a Remington 700 footprint. We have enough of those already. Benelli started from a clean sheet and built a highly original rifle that feeds beautifully and can be tailored to fit the shooter like a fine suit.
NEW AND ORIGINAL
The LUPO is a customizable bolt-action rifle that feeds from a detachable-box magazine. The barreled action attaches to an aluminum mini-chassis to which the forend and stock attach. The test rifle has a 24-inch cryogenically-treated barrel that has a threaded muzzle and a trigger that adjusts from 2.2-4.4 pounds in pull weight.
Benelli might not be known for making bolt-actions, but you wouldn’t know it from taking a close look at this one. Benelli built a unique three-lug action that offers a variety of performance enhancements not available on many other factory actions. Three-lug actions generally offer a few advantages over two-lug actions. The first is the bolt lift only requires 60 degrees of movement. This keeps the bolt handle away from the increasingly corpulent ocular housing found on scopes, especially if that scope has a throw lever on the power magnification ring. It’s important to mount scopes as low as possible on rifles with limited adjustment on combs, so the likelihood of contact between the shooter’s hand and the scope increases the higher they have to lift the bolt before pulling it rearward to cycle the action. Additionally, the bolt lugs are the same diameter as the bolt body, so it is harder to get the action to bind than a two-lug that uses protruding lugs riding in raceways. I couldn’t get the action to bind, even when deliberately pushing up and down on the back of the bolt when cycling the action.
Benelli was wise to place one lug at the 6 o’clock position when the action is open and traveling. Placing a lug in that location allows that lug to have lots of contact with rounds in the double-stack magazine. This is important because pushing the bolt forward causes the cartridge case head to drop down into the magazine when the nose lifts up to move into the chamber. If the bolt face is just barely touching the case head, it can slip off and cause a bolt-over-base malfunction. Benelli completely eliminates any chance of this happening with their lug placement. Another advantage of placing a bolt lug at 6 o’clock is it creates a corresponding opening in the breech face where that lug enters before being rotated and locked into place. That opening acts like a scoop that directs rounds into the chamber. Combine those features with a five-round, flushfit, double-stack magazine, and the LUPO feeds smoothly and trouble-free.
The LUPO also has toolless removal of the firing pin assembly by simply depressing a lever on the bolt shroud and rotating the two pieces apart. Once the firing pin assembly separates from the bolt body, the bolt shroud slips off the back for detailed maintenance. The LUPO is one of the slickest feeding and most easily maintained factory actions available on the market. It’s like they took all the best features from custom actions and rolled it into this one.
Aside from the original action, the stock is where Benelli’s engineers show their shotgun-shooter roots. The LUPO has one of the most adjustable stocks to ever grace a factory rifle. Prior to creating the stock for the LUPO, Benelli measured a number of shooters’ hands and found that the average distance from wrist to thumb’s tip was 5.64 inches, plus or minus .52-inch. Additionally, the distance from wrist to the tip of the trigger finger was 7.39 inches, plus or minus .57- inch. Benelli took this data and created a stock that has 36 potential configurations, allowing the shooter to fit the rifle to them.
Fitting the stock requires some tools and patience, but it’s worth the effort. After removing the screws that hold the buttpad and recoil reduction system to the stock, there is a nut buried deep inside. Removing that nut allows the buttstock to slide off the rifle. Benelli includes a number of shims that fit between the buttstock and mini-chassis that adjust the stock’s position for cast-on and -off as well as drop. The process is tedious, but the end result is a stock that can be made to comfortably fit almost any shooter. I chose to bring the rifle butt up as high as possible and to bring it closer to the centerline of my body. This made recoil management much easier than I expected from a 7-pound 6.5 Creedmoor.
The LUPO’s stock also adjusts for length of pull and comb height by spacer and insert, respectively. The LUPO’s length of pull comes set at 13.8 inches from the factory, but there are two, half-inch spacers included in the box and there is a thicker buttpad available from Benelli, should the shooter desire it. The buttpad available from Benelli is about .4-inch thicker than the one that ships on the rifle.
Each LUPO stock has a recoil reduction system integral to the stock. Pulling the buttstock apart shows that the recoil reduction device is a rigid piece of polymer that functions like a shock absorber. I’ve never much cared for these types of devices in the past because they are usually springy and make it hard for the shooter’s head to move in conjunction with the rifle. When the shooter’s head begins moving rearward, the internal springs usually push the rifle forwards, leaving no possibility of spotting the round’s impact. The Benelli design doesn’t have that issue, because it dampens recoil without aggressively rebounding into the pre-recoil position.
The combination of the original action and supremely tailorable stock make the LUPO a hunting rifle unlike any other. These features pair well for almost any hunting scenario and, with rifles now chambered in .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Winchester — in addition to the earlier rifles chambered in .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and .300 Winchester Magnum — the LUPO would make a good fit for hunting everything from coyotes to elk.
Content courtesy of Outdoor Sportsman's Group