The Lupo is Benelli’s first venture into the bolt-action centrefire field. It is a new breed of rifle that’s not only different and innovative, but just as performance oriented as the company’s legendary shotguns.
The Lupo’s ergonomics are reinforced by the stock’s unusual contours, shaped to create finger rests and handholds in strategic locations. The angled trigger guard alone would make it stand out, but the Lupo wasn’t designed simply for any aesthetic appeal; it is a high-tech bolt-gun designed purely for functionality and performance in the field.
You name it; the Lupo’s got it!
Contemporary rifles can be classical or tactical. Long range fanaticism has resulted in many bull-barrelled, heavy-stocked target bolt rifles. Hunters who stalk still have a wide choice of conventional rifles. Benelli seems to have taken the best features of each design and combined them in the high-tech Lupo.
The Lupo, Italian for “wolf” is a fresh approach, a balanced, modern styled 7lb sporter with ergonomics that deliver fast handling characteristics.
The Lupo’s Italian lineage is clear, but the rifle has workmanlike lines never seen before on any European long gun, contributing to its utility.
What may appear to some to be embellishments are actually purposeful features.
You’ll notice the two-piece stock, and the way the butt is squarely attached behind the trigger guard, as well as a separate forend that closely abuts the angled front face of the receiver. This feature, borrowed from a Benelli shotgun, is common to many straight-pull, single-shot and semi-auto rifles, but rarely seen on a turn-bolt.
The Lupo has a chassis-style construction — a two-piece receiver, probably derived from the upper/lower structure found on AR-type rifles — providing greater stability and shot-to-shot consistency than bedding a barrelled action directly into a timber or synthetic stock.
Benelli calls the alloy lower section a chassis, working as a bridge between the mini-chassis or bedding blocks found in many rifle stocks and a full-on chassis. This functional construction is sleeker in profile and helps minimise weight.
The distinctive white letters ‘BE.S.T.’ on the right side of the Lupo’s receiver ring stand for Benelli Surface Treatment, a proprietary coating which debuted on Benelli’s SBE 3 and Ethos shotguns. It imparts an attractive shiny black surface to all exterior metal surfaces, and also forms an armour over steel.
It uses nanotechnology and diamond-like carbon particles to resist the rust and corrosion problems that plague hunters who go afield in all weathers. Treated parts have been tested by immersing them in saltwater for three months without the slightest sign of any rust or corrosion.
To enhance accuracy the cryo-treated, free-floating barrel mates with a barrel extension, into which the locking lugs interface directly. It is securely bedded (steel-to-steel) into the sleek cylindrical chassis receiver. Benelli’s cryo barrel technology freezes the barrels to reduce stress in the steel that results from manufacturing. The process is claimed to make the bore easier to clean as well as giving increased accuracy.
The barrel has a 0.66” sporter contour. Calibre choices are .243, 6.5CM, .270, .308, .30-06 and .300 Win Mag. My .30-06 test rifle had a 1:11” twist. The barrel is threaded (5/8×24 TPI).
The front of the action beds metal to metal, while the tang and rear sections sandwich the rear portion of the polymer trigger housing. Additionally, the rear action screw inserts from the top rather than the bottom, and threads into the aluminium block. With the bolt in place, it’s not even visible.
The innovative barrel-receiver attachment relies on an hexagonal-shaped barrel extension which has a full diameter of 1.205” where it is threaded into the receiver, a system that Bennelli says creates an unaltered chamber and perfect alignment in every Lupo.
In development the Lupo underwent rigorous military quality and safety testing while precision accuracy was assured by testing a wide variety of ammunition.
Made of matte-blued steel, the sculptured bolt boasts three large locking lugs with 60-degree bolt lift.
At least half of the BEST-coated bolt body is a close fit in the cylindrical receiver where it slides forth and back as smooth as silk.
A section at the rear is sculpted into four flat faces for a very practical reason — to make more space in the receiver cavity and allow the magazine to be a flush fit. The detachable five-round polymer box magazine interfaces with the aluminium chassis portion of the stock.
The curved, swept-back bolt handle is uniquely shaped, with a football-shaped knob to allow quick action without interference from the ocular lens housing of larger scopes. The dogleg bolt handle harks back to the M-17 Enfield and Remington 600, but it wasn’t until I shouldered the Lupo and worked the bolt that I realised how readily accessible it was and, when raised, how easy to grasp for fast, smooth operation, particularly when shooting offhand.
While the minimised port adds rigidity to the action, unlike other guns of similar design it’s possible to top-load the Lupo quickly and efficiently.
Loosen two action screws and the upper receiver, bolt-and-trigger housing and barrel lift out, revealing a transverse steel recoil lug embedded in the forend, which engages a matching slot under the front of the receiver.
The Lupo’s chassis-style configuration of a separate stock, receiver and forend features almost unlimited modular adjustability to provide the perfect fit between shooter and rifle.
The stock is a blend of machined aluminium chassis and composite. The middle, around the action, is aluminium which serves as a stable, accuracy-enhancing bedding block. In front of the trigger guard (which is machined integral with the chassis), the stock is synthetic.
The stock can be custom-fitted to one of 12 drop and cast positions using the included shims, but this can easily be increased to 36 positions by utilising optional combs. Other fit adjustments can be made with several thin length-of-pull spacers that fit between the action chassis and the front end of the buttstock. These have varying angle and tilt and enable the owner to set drop and cast, making a rifle that fits as near perfectly as possible.
The trigger and trigger guard are set at an unusual, distinct angle rather than in normal fashion, parallel with the stock. Benelli says this creates a “natural feeling fit”. It works just fine, positioning the hand and wrist at a very comfortable angle.
Finger reach to the trigger can also be adjusted for optimal feel and consistency using ‘trigger reach spacers’ inserted between the receiver and stock that make it possible to adjust the length of pull (LOP) from 13.8 to 14.75”.
Accessories include a thicker butt pad that enables LOP to be set from 14.2 to 15.2”.
In front of the trigger guard is a substantial magazine well. When the five-round, double-column magazine is removed, a large gap is left in the underside of the stock. Again, it’s purely functional; angles fore and aft creating a natural funnel that guides the magazine home for fast, fumble-free insertion.
The release catch is a flush-fit recessed into the forward end of the magazine where it is easy to access and difficult to release accidentally.
The stock’s forend is flattish on the bottom, but the edges are rounded, enabling a comfortable grasp. It allows plenty of space to free-float the barrel to hold a consistent point of impact and enhance accuracy.
Moulded-in panels of the maker’s textured Air Touch stippling together with broad full-length finger grooves provide a secure no-slip grasp. An integral sling swivel stud is molded into the forend tip, but the Benelli’s designers didn’t miss a trick.
For those who want to attach a bipod there’s a hole fitted with a plug which can be removed and an adapter installed to suit.
The butt has a high, straight comb and a slim, gracefully angled pistol grip with a barely discernible palm swell on the right side.
The rifle carries over from Benelli shotguns an optimised version of the Progressive Comfort recoil reduction system, using internal baffles. Inside the module are what looks like interlocking fingers of proprietary synthetics that flex and absorb rearward recoil. No matter what the recoil, charge of powder, or weight of projectile, felt recoil feels the same for every shot no matter which calibre.
Another system borrowed from Benelli’s hard-use shotguns is its interchangeable CombTech cheek inserts that soften felt recoil against the cheek and jawbone. The BE III and Lupo use the same comb pieces.
Three different comb heights are available as accessories. They are smooth enough to allow you to slide your face along the comb for increased comfort and eye relief.
The Lupo has Benelli’s proprietary Perfect Shot trigger, which can be set by the owner to between 1-2kg (2lb 4oz and 4lb 7oz). My test rifle’s trigger broke at a consistent 1133g (2½lb) and was crisp and free from any creep or backlash.
A two-position, composite safety behind the tang has a knurled button making it easy to manipulate and it locks the bolt closed when engaged (something I prefer). Depressing a small catch on the side of the bridge behind the bolt handle allows the bolt to be opened to remove a loaded round from the chamber safely.
There are three sets of two holes drilled and tapped to take 8-40 screws in the top of the receiver, ensuring secure scope mounting. The Lupo has two short Picatinny rails installed; the two extra holes allowing flexibility in scope mounting, while offering extra rigidity for an optional one-piece rail mount. The Lupo accepts two Remington 700 rear bases should one desire.
It didn’t surprise me that Lupo performed better than the factory’s advertised sub-MOA guarantee for five shots, not three! Five-shot groups with Sako’s Gamehead and Super Hammerhead ran from .55” to .75” at 100yd.
Sellier & Bellot’s load with 168gn HP went out to .82” as you can see from the table. The dark horse of the series was Remington’s 220gn Core-Lokt which planted five shots in .75” every time.
The angled trigger guard provided a very comfortable shooting hand position, the trigger couldn’t be faulted, and the soft CombTech comb insert and the Progressive Comfort recoil pad absorbed the .30-06’s recoil, making the rifle mild to shoot.
To test the Lupo’s handling dynamics, I shot it standing, sitting, kneeling, prone and from the bench, and was satisfied with the overall effectiveness of the outfit.
Benelli exceeded expectations with the Lupo’s handling. The big game hunter often takes shots close-up where the action is sudden and shooting fast, or at medium and long ranges. In my opinion, the Benelli Lupo is capable of handling any hunting situation or shooting opportunity that may crop up and guarantees you will bring home a trophy head, a supply of venison, or both if you do you part.
Benelli has successfully combined a number of shotgun features in a chassis rifle that can be configured to suit the individual shooter’s build and style.
- Maker: Benelli, Italy
- Type: bolt-action centrefire
- Calibre: .243, 6.5CM, .270, .308, .30-06 (tested), .300 Win Mag
- Barrel: Sporter profile 22″ or 24″
- Stock: two-piece polymer; adjustable for comb height and LOP
- Overall length: 113cm (44.63”)
- Weight: 3.2kg (7lb)
- Magazine: polymer, detachable, 5-round capacity in .30-06
- Finish: metalwork, highly-polished, blued
- Trigger: adjustable, 1-2kg (2.2 to 4.4lb)
- Sights: none, drilled and tapped with six 8×40 holes
- Price: From $2729 (2022)
- Distributor: Beretta Australia