Taming the Italian Wolf: Benelli’s Bolt Action Lupo
When a powerhouse gunmaker shifts gears, the industry takes notice, and so it goes when shotgun specialist Benelli moves into the rifle market with their first-ever bolt action. Debuted to a packed house at the 2020 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Benelli Lupo targets hunters.
Though the Lupo, Italian for wolf, is Benelli’s first crack at the bolt-action hunting rifle market, from the looks of things, this animal has been a long time in the making. It intends, as the company advertises, to “dominate the land the way Benelli’s Super Black Eagle dominates the skies,” per company advertising.
Guns.com finds out if the Lupo is a legit predator in a packed hunting rifle market.
Meet the Wolf
From a distance, the Lupo looks unassuming with its black synthetic furniture and matte metalwork, but closer inspection reveals sleek lines and modern innovations. The Lupo makes use of seven Benelli patents, drawing from such things as the durable Crio barrel technology and Progressive Comfort recoil reduction system at the buttstock.
The physical layout is rather complex. A cryogenically-treated, free-floating, threaded barrel is mated to a hardened steel barrel extension. The barrel is then bedded to a steel block in the alloy receiver. Speaking of receivers, the Lupo is unique. The receiver has somewhat of an “upper” of hardened steel, and the “lower” is a chassis-like aluminum housing. Like many companies going the route of lightweight production rifles, aluminum alloy helps shave weight, putting the Lupo at 7 pounds bare.
Details and Specs
The medium-contour hammer-forged barrel is threaded at 5/8x24 to allow easy suppressor or brake mounting. Black synthetic stocks utilize molded sling mounts and AirTouch grip “checkering” that feels more like fish scale.
Benelli’s detachable five-round double-stack magazine is uniquely designed with a partial center divider. The mag fits flush with the base of the rifle because the sides of the receiver are machined for its seamless inclusion. There is an adjustable trigger and ambidextrous two-position tang safety. What the company calls a “two-piece Picatinny rail” actually resembles two-piece bases and allows for standard scope mounting. Benelli advertises sub-MOA 3-shot group accuracy from the Lupo’s chassis-style design.
The Lupo’s 2020 launch lists only three calibers – .270 Winchester (Win), .30-06 Springfield (Spfld), and .300 Winchester Magnum (Win Mag). Given the early success of the Lupo, other chamberings are likely to join the wolf pack. MSRP on the new Lupo is set at $1,699 and comes backed with a seven-year factory warranty.
Reminiscent of the wildly successful Savage AccuFit stock system – which allows for both comb and length of pull customization by way of interchangeable inserts – Benelli introduces their shotgun CombTech cheek pads to the rifle world. CombTech pads can be swapped to achieve custom riser height for the perfect optics-eye alignment.
Unlike Savage’s rigid comb pieces, Benelli’s CombTech inserts also serve double duty in recoil reduction. The Lupo ships with a single CombTech pad. Additional comb inserts, as well as several LOP spacer extensions, can be purchased from Benelli. The company also includes a set of shims that allow the shooter to tailor cast, drop, and lengths of trigger reach.
Benelli has ample experience in building shotguns that both fit comfortably and reduce recoil, and those design innovations are on display here. The soft-feeling comb is a nice touch, as is the option to customize with additional inserts, though we do wish they had followed Savage’s lead and included all the pieces.
The unique angle on the bolt handle may appear unconventional, but it runs surprisingly well on the glassy action. Benelli’s three-lug bolt, with its 60-degree throw, is like speed shifting a sports car.
Our test rifle came as the .30-06 with a 1:11-twist, 22-inch barrel. While it’s difficult to judge the degree to which the Progressive Comfort recoil system actually works, it is still a .30-06 chambering with some recoil. But it was more than manageable.
The magazine holds five rounds of .30-06. Speaking of mags, this one is about as exceptional and noteworthy as it gets when waxing poetic about magazines. The magazine itself is a double stack that loads as a single stack and can be topped off with the magazine locked into the rifle. It is lightweight, incredibly easy to load, and feeds flawlessly.
The tang safety is easy to operate and quiet in the field. The trigger is also quite nice and adjustable from 2.2 to 4.4 pounds. It breaks crisp and clean. Length of pull is adjustable from 13.8 to 14.75 inches.
This is where rifles define themselves as either serviceable, miserable, or exceptional. After firing a nice mix of some of our favorite .30-06 hunting ammunition, it’s safe to say the Lupo lands squarely into the latter category. We topped the Lupo with a 3-9x40 Zeiss Conquest optic and headed to the range.
All brands and weights of our test ammo performed very well – Sierra GameChanger 165-grain Tipped Game King (TGK), Federal Fusion 150-grain BRN, 180-grain Norma BondStrike, and Hornady Custom Lite 125-grain SST. Every type of ammunition exceeded the Lupo’s 3-shot MOA guarantee. The best performer was Sierra’s new GameChanger TGK, with a best group that left little more than a single ragged hole. Believe it or not, Hornady’s Custom Lite was not far behind, proving the Lupo’s .30-06 barrel would stabilize even the lightest projectiles.
Though we approached the Lupo with skepticism, given its rather unassuming looks and rather high MSRP – when much less costly rigs also offer a 3-shot MOA guarantee – its performance on the range was the hook. While the Benelli bolt action will immediately win favor with those who hunt the company’s inertia shotguns, the Lupo’s innovation will likely impress a much wider audience – present company included.