Review: Benelli Lupo Bolt-Action Rifle

Benelli takes a bite into the rifle market with the new Lupo.

Review: Benelli Lupo Bolt-Action Rifle
Not suprising on a gun coming from Benelli, the Lupo has modern lines and innovative design features.

I’ll admit I was confused when I received the invite from Benelli to join them on a plains game hunt in South Africa. I’ve long been a Benelli shotgun customer and am a fan of the company’s products, but I couldn’t see myself chasing sable and roan with a slug gun. Things quickly became clearer when I was informed that Benelli would be introducing its first bolt-action rifle: the Lupo. The rifle was released at the 2020 SHOT Show, but I was fortunate to be among a small group of writers who were able to shoot and hunt with the rifle many months before its release.

“Lupo” is Italian for “wolf,” Italy’s most fearsome predator. The Lupo spent at least four years in development. Rather than rushing an inferior product to the market, in typical Benelli fashion they took their time to get it right. The Lupo combines traditional big-game rifle styling with some unique and modern twists. The rifle is a bolt-action repeater that feeds from a detachable box magazine and wears a two-piece synthetic stock. Even though it is an entirely new product, with one glance you can tell it is a Benelli.

At the heart of the Lupo is an aluminum chassis that provides a stable and lightweight framework for the rest of the rifle. The chassis extends beneath the forend to ensure the barrel is free-floated, and it provides a rigid mounting surface for the steel receiver. The best part about the Lupo’s chassis is that it doesn’t look like a chassis, providing all of the benefits with none of the ugly. The overall weight for this rifle is right at seven pounds unloaded.

The bolt is a three-lug design that requires a 60-degree bolt throw. The bolt body is chromed for easy maintenance; carbon and other deposits can simply be wiped off with a paper towel. The bolt’s profile narrows significantly in the center, which allows the magazine to sit higher in the receiver, thereby creating a more compact vertical dimension while maintaining a four-plus-one capacity. The bolt handle is unique and was part of the rifle’s original concept sketch. It is comfortable to operate and sits right where your mind wants it to be. I’m not completely sold on detachable box magazines for hunting rifles, but the Lupo allows the user to top-load the magazine through the ejection port, which offers the best of both worlds.

The Lupo will be offered initially in three cartridges: .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and .300 Winchester Magnum. Our test rifle was chambered in .30-06, which is pretty hard to beat for the varied plains game we were after on the rifle’s maiden hunt. All three chamberings use 22-inch cryogenically treated and matte-blued chromoly barrels with 5/8-24 threads at the muzzle. Rifling twist rates will be 1:11 for the .30-06 and .300 and 1:10 for the .270. Using Hornady’s 180-grain GMX Outfitter load, my test rifle had a muzzle velocity that was as advertised, coming in at 2,600 feet per second.

If there’s anything on this rifle that screams “Benelli,” it is the stock. The Lupo uses the black synthetic ComfortTech3 two-piece stock, which is packed with features and options. For starters, the stock is adjustable in length of pull from 13.8 to 14.75 inches, using the included spacers, and an optional large recoil pad is available that extends that to 15.2 inches for the giants among us. Drop and cast can also be adjusted.

The soft CombTech cheek pad softens the blow to the face, and a highly effective Progressive Comfort recoil-reduction system makes the rifle very comfortable to shoot overall by distributing the forces of recoil laterally through the stock. The technology of this system is very impressive and has a significant effect on recoil—I fired the Lupo hundreds of times both on the range and afield and found it to be quite pleasant.

The final adjustment point is the trigger reach, which can be altered using a series of spacers. The net effect is a rifle that can be custom-fit to the shooter without a trip to the gunsmith. The stock also has sling swivel attachment points molded-in, and the forend is tapped for installation of a bipod stud.

The trigger on the Lupo is adjustable from 2.2 to 4.4 pounds, and our example came set from the factory at just over three pounds of pull. The trigger break was very clean and certainly went a long way in increasing the practical accuracy of the rifle. The ambidextrous safety sits at the comb where the thumb can easily access it, pushing the lever forward put it into the “fire” position. The detachable box magazine locks into the receiver securely and is removed by actuating a lever at its forward edge.

Our Lupo came with a Steiner H4Xi 3-12x56mm scope, mounted to the rifle’s included Picatinny rail. Equipped with the rifle, optic, and an ample supply of ammunition, I was excited to get the rifle to the range. I was pleasantly surprised when the first three-shot group landed at the center of the 100-yard target and measured well under an inch. I adjusted the zero to 200 yards and immediately abandoned the bench to better prepare for my upcoming safari. Firing the Lupo from my homemade African-style shooting sticks as well as from the seated position produced hit after hit on steel targets out to 325 yards. Things were looking promising.

August came and it was time to give the Lupo story a proper beginning. After two full days of travel, our group arrived at the Port Elizabeth Airport in the Eastern Cape of South Africa where we met our PHs from Africa Anyway Safaris. Our first stop was to the range where, despite rides on UPS trucks, multiple aircraft, and safari vehicles, it was determined that all eight identical rifles and scopes had maintained their zeros throughout their respective journeys.

Keith Wood with roan bull

I wasn’t the first hunter to use the Lupo on game. I was paired with Benelli engineer Marco Vignaroli, who had led the rifle’s design team. Knowing that Marco had spent years on this project, I deferred to him when the first trophy animal was spotted. I didn’t have to wait long for my chance, and I was soon sneaking up a hill, following PH Mark Hudson toward an old roan bull we had spotted. Mark placed the sticks gingerly on the reverse slope of the hill, and I peeked over the crest and put a single GMX through the bull’s shoulders at 60 yards, dropping him instantly.

That afternoon found me on the sticks once again, where I took an impala ram on a riverbank at 220 yards. Like the roan, the impala didn’t take another step. After a few days hunting on the high hills overlooking the Indian Ocean, we traveled several hours by land to a second camp near the town of Graaff-Reinet in the Great Karoo.

The Karoo is a high desert with wide-open plains scattered with scrub brush bordered by steep rocky red cliffs. I’d long wanted to hunt in this region, and this gave us a change in scenery and species as well as an opportunity to stretch the Lupo’s legs a bit. Mark knew where a stud of a sable antelope bull was spending much of his time, and we began combing the area. The tracker’s sharp eyes kept lookout from the high seat in the bed of the Hilux. A bachelor herd of bulls was spotted, and we stalked along a mountainside to close the distance. A few minutes later, my dream of taking a sable became a reality.

My longest shot of the trip came when a wary zebra mare gave me my only opportunity after several days of trying at 375 yards. That’s a long shot from the sticks, and my hit was slightly lower than I would have liked. We sprinted 100 yards forward to a hilltop overlooking the draw the zebra had galloped into, and I sent a second bullet through her heart, ending the ordeal within a few seconds. After some springbok culling due to the unprecedented drought conditions, it was time for our journey to come to an end.

I’d used the Lupo on seven total animals representing five different species, which provided me with a great deal of insight about how the rifle would perform in the real world. Needless to say, I came away very impressed.

Unremarkable at first, the subtle design features of this rifle quickly grew on me. In the field, when things mattered, the rifle performed flawlessly. The controls worked without conscious effort, and the rifle continued to function despite the dust and dirt. The rifles, optics, and ammunition all stood up to the abuse of hunting and travel with no one in camp experiencing any issues whatsoever. After spending several weeks with this rifle, I am confident that longtime Benelli customers and newcomers alike will appreciate the form, function, and quality of the Lupo.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Fare Game: Stuffed Elk Backstrap

Fare Game: Stuffed Elk Backstrap

Take your venison loin to a whole new level with this delicious reverse-seared stuffed elk backstrap. Smoking the backstrap on a Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grill first, then finishing it on a blazing-hot skillet or flattop, creates a perfectly cooked, medium-rare steak with a crispy, seared exterior. The filling of diced mushrooms and creamy Boursin cheese adds a whole new level of amazing flavors to an otherwise classic smoked venison loin.

B&C Typical Mule Deer

B&C Typical Mule Deer

Doug Burris Jr's typical mule deer taken in 1969, could just be one record that will never be broken.

Fare Game: Venison Cheeseburger Bites

Fare Game: Venison Cheeseburger Bites

If you're tired of the same old jalapeno and cream cheese poppers, here's a completely different take on the popular party appetizer. Easy to make, and incredibly delicious, these mini cheeseburgers, wrapped in bacon, make the perfect one-bite-fits-all snack for your next tailgate party or hunting camp.

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Kevin Steele sights in his CZ .557 carbine rifle that he plans to use on a Colorado elk hunt.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

We're deciphering new deer data for rut success. Whitetail

Daylight Deer Movement During the Rut

Jeff Johnston

We're deciphering new deer data for rut success.

Are you leaving some of the best parts of your turkey in the woods? Recipes

Don't Waste the Best Meat: Wild Turkey Leg & Thigh BBQ Recipe

Michael Pendley

Are you leaving some of the best parts of your turkey in the woods?

Is lever action dead? Not by a long shot. Guns

The Return of Lever Action Rifles

Craig Boddington - May 26, 2020

Is lever action dead? Not by a long shot.

These trail cameras feature the latest wireless technology. Optics

The Best Cellular Trail Cameras for 2020

Tony J. Peterson - July 09, 2020

These trail cameras feature the latest wireless technology.

See More Trending Articles

More Guns

Consider skinning a small-frame six-gun. Guns

Why You Should Carry a Rimfire Handgun

Keith Wood

Consider skinning a small-frame six-gun.

Despite a death knell, the 16 gauge is enjoying newfound popularity. Guns

The Comeback of the 16 Gauge

David Draper - December 02, 2019

Despite a death knell, the 16 gauge is enjoying newfound popularity.

Check out all the top brands from SHOT Show 2020! SHOT Show

New Predator Rifles for 2020

Mark Kayser - January 27, 2020

Check out all the top brands from SHOT Show 2020!

This rifle offers the features of higher-grade guns without all of the cost. Guns

Bergara B14 Wilderness Ridge .300 PRC: Rifle Review

Keith Wood - July 13, 2020

This rifle offers the features of higher-grade guns without all of the cost.

See More Guns

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now