Rifle of the Year: Benelli USA Lupo
Among the myriad of guns presented and tested by your American rifleman, Benelli United States and his Lupo rifle win the highest honor for 2021 as rifle of the year. The announcement came in 2020 that the Italian shotgun maker was planning to release a platform in the US market that would be markedly different from the previous guns on offer, a hand-operated repeating rifle called Lupo.
Fans of the Italian maker’s prestige shotguns will recognize the sleek lines of the Lupo rifle, but if you dig deeper, Benelli’s engineered DNA is apparent in the ingenious double-bridge receiver that resembles the top structure. / inferior found in AR type rifles. The design offers greater shot-to-shot consistency than the traditional coupling of a barrel action directly to the base material.
In his cover story on the Benelli Lupo captioned “A Lone-Wolf Approach To A High-Tech Bolt Gun” (September 2020, p. 50), Editor-in-Chief John Zent wrote about the latest offering. from the Italian company: “Unlike many newcomers who have focused on heavy gun, tactical storage, 1,000 yards. conductors of tack, Benelli decided to do more than put his seal on an established model. Instead, he went all-out on a well-balanced 7 lbs. sporter that emphasizes driving ergonomics, complemented by a fresh and modern style.
To test the extreme capacities of Benelli’s Lupo American rifleman employed Andy Massimilian and his piercing eyes to assist Outdoor Solutions Corp. (OSC) Long Range School with Italian made latch action. Massimilian said, “In what I thought was the most impressive wind-calling demonstration in the class, instructor Ryan Pettis read a mirage at two places downstream to give me an accurate 1.5 moa correction. on a target of 800 meters. Looking through the telescope after two almost perfect shots… ”
“The action is smooth, relatively quiet, and has a 60-degree bolt travel for faster cycling. I have found that the contours of the butt make the rifle comfortable to shoulder and carry, but they are by no means ideal for the bench shooting we did at the start and end of the course; Not surprisingly, considering its intended use. Like most Benelli shotgun barrels, the Lupo’s barrel is cryogenically treated, which can improve accuracy and floats freely. The trigger can be set between 2.2 and 4.4 lbs, and mine broke cleanly and steadily at a weight that seemed to be just under 4 lbs, ”explained Massimilian.
Noting his two-piece receiver, smooth-sliding three-lug bolt, and hammer-forged barrel, Zent recounted his field tests and precision tests with the Lupo, the first of which resulted in the successful harvest of a white-tailed deer that fell snapshot in a cornfield in Nebraska and the latter registering groups of five shots under one minute of angle with three different .30-’06 Sprg. hunting charges. “With Benelli playing a key role, another renaissance is underway, but like so much Italian art today, it is neither ornamental nor rooted in the past, but rather manifests itself through industrial design, where the aim is to create works of functional beauty, ranging from architecture and furniture to Ferraris and firearms. Genius occurs when stylistic elements directly contribute to improved performance, ”Zent wrote.
There is no doubt that success was facilitated by the gun’s Progressive Comfort recoil pad system and a set of shims and spacers that pride themselves on a “perfect fit”. Such features and capabilities, expressed in a unique style, modular design, excellent ergonomics and fine precision, have made the Benelli Lupo more than deserving of the rifle of the year title.
Are you interested in more Lupo content? To concern American rifleman Editors shoot and discuss the Benelli USA Lupo rifle live on the shooting range in this NRA Gun of the Week video.
So what does it take to make the cut?
Winners are selected by a seven-member committee of senior editors, graphic designers and NRA Publications staff, representing over a century of collective experience in the shooting and hunting industry. The criteria required to qualify for consideration for a Golden Bullseye Award include: being presented and available to consumers prior to selection for the Golden Bullseye Awards; used / tested by a staff member or regular contributor to the magazine and / or affiliated media; reliable in the field, meeting or exceeding the evaluator’s expectations; innovative in design and function; easily perceived as value to the buyer; and designed in a way that befits the shooting and hunting industry and, perhaps more importantly, its enthusiasts.