Italian design is known for its flair apparent than in the first bolt-action centrefire rifle from Benelli, one of Italy’s premium firearms manufacturers. The Lupo rifle from Benelli – better known for their excellent semi-automatic shotguns – was introduced in 2020 and has since deservedly carved out a secure niche in the market.

The Lupo is so much more than a standard bolt-action rifle. Benelli have torn up the rule book, radically redesigning and rethinking the rifle’s ergonomics. Some manufacturers just tweak of a few features on an existing rifle and call it a new model, the Lupo has been rebuilt from the ground up.

Test 1
The all-polymer double-stacked magazines can handle five shots, here in .308 Win                               


The Lupo stock is a joy, with its svelte flowing lines and distinctive look giving it a strong presence and appeal. The stock has a two-piece construction, with each piece secured to the central action/receiver section. This enables the use of inserts to give 12 drop and cast positions with shims, optional combs and additional spacers. These alter the length of pull and finger reach to the trigger via spacers between the action and the stock. This type of stock allows adjustments that do make a noticeable difference to shooter comfort and thus accuracy.

Construction is from a tough, hard polymer material that is injection moulded in two halves that are cemented together. It doesn’t feel cheap like some other moulded rifle stocks, and the combination of the tough satin finish and its moulded, dimpled chequering gives the rifle a quality look.

Benelli have a history of producing excellent pistol grips for their shotguns and the profiling of this feature on the Lupo is a triumph. The pistol grip is thinner at the top and includes palm swells on each side that widen at the base. This encourages a relaxed, comfortable and stable grip that works with hand of all sizes. The soft 6.25" long neoprene cheekpiece insert is a nice touch and included for its recoil deadening properties. I also enjoyed it for its warmth when it was -2°C.

The Progressive Comfort Recoil system fitted into the recoil pad acquitted itself well. Variants of this system are commonly seen on many shotguns and has the ability to neutralise recoil in a controlled linear fashion, making some of the stout 180gr loads in .308 Win feel more like a .243.

The forend is short and slender and does not contact the barrel. It attaches to the front of the aluminium chassis with a single Allen screw. The forend features a built-in sling swivel attachment, as does the butt end of the stock, as well as moulded dimpled chequering on each side. This chequering could have been more pronounced for improved grip.

Test 2

The stock blends seamlessly into the central chassis, which is machined from aviation-grade aluminium. The action is firmly bedded to the chassis with a large steel inset recoil lug. It keeps the action perfectly positioned without torquing or twisting and thus contributes to repeatable accuracy when firing.

The Lupo takes a five-shot polymer detachable double-stacked magazine with a release lever that pivots in front of the mag. The magazine quietly releases and inserts with no issues and proved reliable during field testing. The twin-stacked format reduces the depth of the magazine, allowing it to sit flush with the chassis and actually form part of the chassis side walls. It’s a nice touch and very Benelli.

The top of the action is drilled and tapped for scope mounts. The model I tested was set up with a twin set of icatinny bases and the excellent OA-adjustable Burris Signature rings. he Lupo allows a good degree of ccessibility to the chamber and agazine top in the event of a sticking case or jam. I experienced no such problems whatsoever.

This upper section, attached to the barrel, has Benelli’s new BE.S.T finish. This proprietary finish has the look of the best English bluing, with a deep black look and mirror finish that offers a tough exterior that is guaranteed for 25 years. This finish may worry hunters who might be fearful of its reflective qualities, but such fears are unfounded. Tests have proved that it reflects less than a standard blued barrel. The reflection of the BE.S.T finish tested at just 90.02 lumens, whereas a standard blued barrel was 131.95 lumens.

Test 3
The .308 subsonic ammunition proved its worth after dark with the Lupo                                      

The bolt is a novel creation at 6.75" long with a waisted mid-section. It has a guide groove on its left side to keep it from binding in bad weather or if excessive grease or debris finds its way into the action.

There are three locking lugs, so a 60° bolt lift with a dog-legged handle and oval bolt knob do a marvellous job to ensure effective and speedy manipulation. The bolt has the same BE.S.T finish as the chassis, and the extractor inset in one of the locking lugs is excellent. The plunger-type ejector is well designed and operates forcefully.

The lugs have very well profiled edges, with rounded tops and smooth sides that contribute to a really slick bolt movement. The wear lines suggest a near 100% lug engagement into the action abutments.

A small red cocking indicator emerges from beneath the serrated bolt shroud at the rear to indicate that the rifle is ‘live’.

As with many chassis-based rifle systems, the Lupo enables the safety to be convenient positioned at the rear of the tang section of the action. A simple thumb action is all that is needed to push the catch forward to reveal a red dot for ‘off safe’ or pull back for ‘safe’. It’s quick, silent and smooth to operate. Just what’s needed for hunting.

The trigger is housed in a very typical Benelli shaped trigger guard, which drops towards the front and is integral to the chassis system. There is ample space for a gloved finger. Its single-stage pull on the lightly curved blade broke perfectly cleanly at 2.35lb with no overtravel and a lovely fast lock time.

Test 4
: I really like the Lupo’s looks and extra-smooth bolt operation. Everything works in perfect harmony            

Clad in the BE.S.T finish, the barrel has a typical sporter profile in keeping with the hunting theme. The muzzle has a diameter of 0.675", is threaded for a 4mm/1 metric thread and comes with a thread protector.

There is a very large knurled headspace nut at the action end of the barrel that secures, tightens and maintains perfect headspace for safety and accuracy potential. The polymer forend is cut away at this point for access if needed.

Importantly Benelli has kept this calibre’s barrel length to 22" for a good balance between ballistics, handling and portability. This length should allow manoeuvrability even when a sound moderator is fitted. 6.5 CM models have a 24" barrel, which does increase muzzle velocity, but I have found on my 6.5 CM rifles that 20 -22" is a perfectly good length. I appreciate the attention to detail that has gone into the muzzle design, which has an 11° target crown for a consistent and unimpeded exit of the bullet from the bore. The whole barrel is totally free floated in the forend, which should provide consistent accuracy in all weathers. The overall weight of the rifle is just 3.18kg.


I tested the Lupo exhaustively with a wide variety of ammunition, both factory and reloads. I thought it warranted this thoroughness as it was such an interesting new rifle. GMK Ltd supplied the very nice and optically clear Steiner Ranger 6 3-18 x 56mm scope and a Stalon sound moderator up front. Even with these fitted the Lupo still felt like a really well-balanced stalking rifle.

All the factory loads fed from the polymer mag without interruption and chambered without any hang-ups or distortion to the bullets. Sub-MOA is guaranteed for correct loads and most bullets, especially below the 165gr bullet weights, are within this figure.

The rifle performed very well with the factory ammunition. The best accuracy came from the Barnes TTSX lead free 168gr ammo, which achieved a muzzle velocity of 2679fps for 2678ft-lb and three-shot 100yd groups of 0.65".

Close behind was the Sako Game Head 123gr soft nose ammunition, which achieved a speedy 2955fps and 2386ft-lb from the 22" barrel and 0.85" groups. This was the same size as the Hornady ECX Lead free 125gr ammunition, which shot at 2965fps/2440ft-lb. These are both great small-species deer rounds.

The best performing mid-weight bullet was the Hornady SST 150gr, which performed just under 1 MOA at 100yd with 0.95" groups shot at 2947fps/2893ft-lb. I shot some heavier 170gr and 180gr loads but they were all just pushing over 1 MOA. I also shot some Winchester Subsonic rounds that use the 185gr hollow point projectile. These shot very quietly at 1099fps for 496ft-lb energy and fired very respectable 1.25" groups. That’s good for subs.

Trying out a range of bullets in reloads is a great way to squeeze out every bit of accuracy from any rifle. I ran some established favourites through the QuickLoad ballistics program and selected the 22" barrel option. When chronographed in the field for actual velocities the QuickLoad was only 35-50fps off, which was impressive.

I like lighter bullets and so did the Lupo. If you want a lead-free small- species deer load, then look no further than the Nosler 110gr E-Tip lead-free bullet loaded with 41.0gr of Swiss RS36 powder. The Nosler fired at 0.5 MOA accuracy with a stonking muzzle velocity of 3107fps/2358ft-lb loaded to 2.685" OAL.

The normal 150gr .308 weight bullets were best served by the good old Sierra GameKings, with 45.0gr of RL15 powder (hard to find now) for The best of the heavier were the Winchester Silver Tip 180gr, with a top load of 45.0gr of 2734fps and 2490ft-lb, firing three shots into 0.65".

RS50 at 2.800" OAL for 2573fps/2647ft-lb and sub-MOA accuracy of 0.90". I also tried some big old Nosler 220gr subsonic bullets for discreet fox control. The best load was
9.5gr of Vit N320 powder with a magnum primer for a very quiet 1003fps velocity and 492ft-lb of energy, producing lovely 0.85" groups.

As always I took this test rifle out after game to prove its versatility. As it was Chinese water deer season I prepared some Sako 123gr GameHead loads and headed off for the fields.
Slung over the shoulder when stalking and crawling along hedgerows and drainage ditches proved that the Lupo could take the strain and shrug off the wet and the mud. Off the sticks I found it straightforward to plant the Lupo firmly and steadily, making precise aiming and range compensation a doddle.

I found several does and young bucks crossing a wide-open field and elected to stalk the closest doe along the cover crop line. This resulted in a sub-100yd shot that dropped her instantly. I also fitted a Night Master lamp to the outfit and loaded up with some Nosler and Winchester subs for some discreet fox control after hours. I shot several around the pheasant pens, including a long shot at 125yd across a ploughed field.

Test 5
Fitted with a Night Master lamp, the Lupo transforms into an excellent foxing rifle


I love Benelli. They don’t care what the industry thinks and seem to enjoy departing from convention. They design and make guns they want and that their loyal customer base will appreciate. The Lupo is a bit unusual looking but it’s designed that way because it’s functional. Factory ammunition and reloads both shot very well in this rifle, with the lighter to mid-weight bullets performing with particular excellence.

The Lupo is a rifle that you must get your hands on to fully appreciate its wonderful handling characteristics. The trigger is precise and predictable and I really like the tactile feel and excellent recoil absorption of the stock. Considering all the innovations and the way the Lupo shoots, it represents great value for money.

Test 6


GMK Ltd 01489 579999

Norman Clark Gunsmiths 01788 579651
Reloading Solutions

Henry Krank 0113 2569163

Edgar Brothers 01625 613177

JMS Sporting 07771 962121


Type:  Bolt action
Barrel length:  22"
Overall Length:  41.75"
Calibre:  .308 Win on test
Finish:  BE.S.T surface treatment on barrel, bolt, bolt handle and receiver, guaranteed for 25 years
Stock:  Two-piece black synthetic
Weight:  3.18kg
Trigger:  Single stage
Magazine:  Five shot polymer