Benelli Lupo

This Lonewolf Puts The Bite On Big Game
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The Benelli LUPO .30-06 paired with a Steiner 3-12x56 scope served Mark well
in Africa while taking a range of plains game.

When I first heard Benelli was introducing a new firearm, I automatically assumed it was a semi-auto shotgun of sorts as the name Benelli is synonymous with premium shotguns. From their ever-popular Super Black Eagle and Super Sport to a variety of Performance Shop models, Benelli has produced some of the finest scatterguns available.

When I discovered their newest addition to the lineup was actually a bolt-action rifle, it was quite the surprise. Benelli is introducing the LUPO, a bolt-action rifle dedicated to the serious hunter. By the way, LUPO means wolf in Italian.

The LUPO exhibited superb accuracy with Hornady’s 180-gr. GMX ammo.

Wolf On The Hunt

I had the opportunity to field-test one of their prototypes on an African safari. If there is a better way to fully test a dedicated hunting rifle than an African safari, I’m not familiar with it. Upon receiving the test gun, I found the new LUPO appeared somewhat utilitarian. The rifle came with a black synthetic stock, blued receiver and barrel, topped with a Steiner scope. At first glance, it doesn’t look anything out of the ordinary — a practical, functional hunting rifle perhaps.

However, once I began scrutinizing the many features it became evident there was more to this rifle than meets the eye.
The LUPO is full of features making the rifle adaptable to a variety of shooter needs. The synthetic stock incorporates the company’s soft Combtech cheek pad, allowing the shooter to custom fit the rifle to particular needs. I threw the gun to my shoulder and had trouble looking through the scope. No problem — the LUPO comes with interchangeable cheek pads with three options. When a higher pad was installed, the scope was perfectly aligned when the stock hit my shoulder. The soft cheek piece is a nice touch too.

Benelli has also designed a soft recoil pad with an integrated recoil reduction system they call Progressive Comfort. It works! The length of pull can also be adjusted for a wide range of adjustment from 14.2″ to 15.2″ with standard stock spacers. You can adjust the length of pull and the comb height for a custom fit but there’s more — you can even adjust the trigger reach with a stock extension system. Benelli includes spacers to provide optimum finger position on the trigger. This adjustable drop and cast feature makes for a near-custom fitting.

The stock features textured checkering around and underneath the wrist while the sleek, slender forearm is checkered with Benelli’s Air Touch Grip, textured checkering for a solid grasp. Integrated swivel mounts make sling installment painless. You can’t see the tapped hole in the forend but it’s there and ready for bipod attachment if desired.

The unique bolt curvature allows easy manipulation with a 60-degree bolt-throw
while the two-position ambidextrous safety is conveniently positioned directly behind the action.

Technical Details

The LUPO launched initially in .30-06, .270 Win. and .300 Win. Mag. The .30-06 and .270 both come with a 22″ cryogenically treated barrel while the .300 Win. Mag. will support a 24″ tube. It also features an exclusive barrel attachment system with rigid steel recoil lug. My test gun came in .30-06 with a free-floating Crio barrel having a 1-11″ twist. The barrel is threaded and ready for muzzle accessories with a 5/8×24 threads.

The LUPO features a two-position, ambidextrous tang safety conveniently located directly behind the action and the rifle can be loaded and unloaded with the safety on. The trigger guard is integrated in the aluminum chassis and there is enough room to pull the trigger while wearing gloves. My rifle had a sweet trigger with no creep, breaking around 3 lbs. Like other features on the LUPO, the trigger is adjustable from 2.2 to 4.4 lbs. and can be adjusted for position as well.

The prototype came with a one-piece Picatinny rail and I’ve been informed future models will be supplied with two-piece mounts. There were six holes drilled to accommodate the Picatinny rail. This would be my first experience peering through a Steiner optic and I wasn’t disappointed. The LUPO was fitted with an H4Xi 3-12×56 scope with illuminated reticle. The compact design, wide field of view and incredible light gathering capabilities made this a superb choice for the African adventure. The LUPO weighs 7 lbs. without optic and once the scope was mounted, the rifle tipped the scales a little over 8 lbs.

Another interesting feature is the sculpted 60-degree throw bolt with three large locking lugs. The unique curvature of the bolt makes for smooth and flawless manipulation. This distinctive curvature allows the shooter to run the bolt several different ways. The LUPO is supplied with a detachable magazine holding five 30-06 rounds.

The Steiner 3-12x56 was a perfect match. The wide field of view, light gathering
capability and compact design proved to be the ideal optic for the African hunt.

Right Out Of The Box

While it is obvious the LUPO is designed with a ton of practical features, I was interested to see how well she performed on the range. After all, if the gun is not accurate, all of these features are nothing more than window dressings.

With a box of Hornady’s new Outfitter Ammunition utilizing their 180-gr. GMX load (2,530 fps), I hit the range with fingers crossed. Not wanting to waste ammo, I first shot the rifle from 50 yards, hoping it would be on paper. The first shot hit inside the bullseye so I moved out to 100 yards. The first three shots were well inside an inch with two holes touching. I was more than pleased and it turns out the LUPO was sighted-in from the factory. With the African hunt approaching, I practiced shooting steel out on the farm and was confident when we touched down on the Dark Continent.

Mark took this beautiful sable antelope with one well-placed shot from 110
yards with a Hornady Outfitter 180-gr. GMX.

Out In Africa

Our group of three writers, along with Benelli and Hornady personnel, made it to the shooting range for sight-in and were happy to find all rifles endured the rigors of travel and were still hitting. The other writers all commented on the superb accuracy they experienced during initial range sessions.

We were hunting with Wolma Kemp’s Africa Anyways outfit. The first couple of days I had the honor of hunting with Hornady’s Jayden Quinlan. I watched Jayden take his first head of African game, an impala, with one well-placed shot from a little over 100 yards. Later in the day we sneaked up on an old warthog. The pig stayed around too long as Jayden placed a 180-gr. GMX bullet in his ribcage. Shortly after lunch I was fortunate to take a nice impala. We finished the day by taking two really big roans. Not only did Jayden and I have a great day, the others did as well. Gathering around the skinning shed confirmed the LUPO combined with Steiner optics and Hornady ammunition was off to an incredible safari.

Tough Luck

The gusty winds hampered our second day of hunting and all game was exceptionally spooky. I guess after enjoying such success on the opening day, we were due to slow down a bit. Neither of us fired a shot.

The morning of day three turned out to be a repeat of day two so we all loaded up and drove to another concession. Before the sun set I watched Jayden take a monster springbok from 517 yards. It was an amazing shot but Jayden shoots a lot at long-range competitions and knows his stuff.

As the days wore on — far too quickly — I had the opportunity to take a magnificent sable bull. The shot was just a tad over 100 yards and the bull went down quickly with one shot. The last day of our safari a huge eland bull was taken. These brutes are massive, weighing over 1,500 lbs. and the GMX ammo performed perfectly — just like the LUPO.

Winning With The Wolf

The African safari had been very rewarding and the new Benelli LUPO proved to be an ideal companion. There were eight prototype rifles on the hunt and they were exposed to a lot of dust and some abuse. Not one malfunction was encountered.

If you’re serious about hunting, Benelli is serious about rifles. The LUPO is inextricably linked to Benelli’s legendary firearms and it’s a genuine hunting rifle loaded with features.

www.benelliusa.com

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