Benelli’s BE.S.T Lupo Bolt Action Rifle isn’t new for 2023. Still, in true Benelli fashion, the manufacturer has added a pair of tried-and-true new calibers — the .308 Win. and .30-06 Springfield — to this ultra-impressive bolt-action line. We put the .308 to the test, which proved a winner, as expected.
by Jace Bauserman
I’m a Benelli shotgun fan. I love the design, engineering, and rugged, no-doubt reliability. While my go-to series over the years has been the SBE3, other models like the M2 Field and Super Nova have found their way into my hands.
No, this is not a shotgun review, and I’m not here to regale you with tales of feet-down mallards on frigid mornings and a shotgun that still, after being dropped in an ice-choked river, cycled shells flawlessly.
I only tell you the above so you know what you’re getting when you buy a shotgun or rifle of the Benelli persuasion. You get a field companion that will last you a lifetime and always meet the demands of any hunt.
Last fall, while hunting with my buddy and owner of Full Draw Outfitters, Fred Eichler, I tinkered with and tested Benelli’s BE.S.T Lupo Bolt-Action chambered in a 6.5 Creedmoor. I put the time in on the bench and had the out-of-the-box stunner ringing steel to 500 yards.
Fred and I couldn’t stop laughing when, after sending all that Fiochhi Hyperformance downrange, I shot my buck at 62 yards. The bowhunter mindset in us just couldn’t help but keep slipping closer.
It wasn’t a test of the rifle’s accuracy but its grit. Heavy rain had beaten the Colorado prairies for three days. The ground was muck, and during the stalk, when I went to chamber a round, the action and bolt were covered in mud.
It didn’t matter. All working parts performed as advertised. After cleaning the pronghorn, Fred and I got distracted, as we often do. I’m confident we both suffer from ADHD. We ran off to chase sandhill cranes and left the rifle on the prairie in the pouring rain.
Five hours later, the BE S.T. (Benelli Surface Treatment) proved its salt. The proprietary finish resisted corrosion like a dream, and after semi-wiping the rifle down, it never developed a single spot of rust.
Naturally, I was thrilled to get Benelli’s newest BE.S.T Lupo bolt-Action caliber in my hands. I love the .308 Winchester caliber — we have a rich history — and I couldn’t wait to put it through the paces.
The rifle is an out-of-the-box champ. The rifle looks and feels compact, with a 22-inch barrel and an overall length of 44.25 inches. At first glance, I saw myself toting it high into the backcountry, but the next image in my brain was me sitting with it on a Midwest whitetail stand.
The trigger guard is perfectly angled, and I love the design of the bolt. Of course, the throw is short and quick, but the bend of the steel, as it goes into the egg-shaped bolt, is perfect. I prefer to work a bolt-action rifle by using the padded area of my palm below my pinkie finger to push the bolt upward, and the distance from the trigger to the bolt is short, which means quick reloading. I also applaud the small rubberized pad Benelli added to the bottom of the bolt handle.
The stock’s narrow throat features Benelli’s no-slip AirTouch — a gridded checkering pattern that promises a secure grip. AirTouch is on the rifle’s forearm as well.
Dual Picatinny rails — one in front and above the action and the other above the bolt allow quick scope mounting. I also cheer the raised Combtech cheek pad. We will get into the recoil mitigation of this pad later. For now, know that it promotes excellent cheek weld and ensures ideal eye-to-reticle alignment.
The Progressive Comfort recoil reduction system is present on the rifle. I love it. Benelli uses three patented interlocking flexible buffers that absorb recoil at different stages to prevent shoulder and body abuse.
The 5+1 magazine sits flush with the receiver. A rearward press of the magazine’s button and a slight tug free it. I appreciate the click when the magazine is re-inserted. I was also impressed with how quickly the magazine could be loaded. The springs weren’t at all sloppy, but they weren’t too stiff, either.
Swivel sling attachments are present, and the barrel is threaded for a suppressor.
At 6.9 pounds (without a scope), this rifle shouldered like a dream and felt deadly in hand. I like the position of the push-button safety — right behind the receiver at the front of the stock. I couldn’t wait to attach a scope and head to the range to start slinging lead.
Benelli wants every Lupo shooter to have the best shooting experience possible. For this reason, Benelli created the rifle in the increasingly popular chassis-style that includes a separate stock, receiver, and forend. The design gives the shooter 36 drop and cast stock positions via the included shims. Included length-of-pull spacers mean an even more customized fit.
I attached the RMEF-branded Weaver Grand Slam Rifle Scope 4-16x44mm Side Focus, and after a quick bore-sight to get the rifle on paper at 50 yards, I started having fun.
First, I want to point out the trigger. I could have added this feature to the First Impressions category, but I had to shoot before I did too much raving. Wow! This is one of the crispest, right-now factory triggers I have ever shot. Its slender design falls into the first pointer-finger knuckle like a glove. Then it’s a steady squeeze, and the rifle thunders. There is no creep; this trigger filled me with confidence.
I have tested Benelli’s ability to reduce felt recoil many times, and it always impresses me. The Combtech cheek pad comes off the stock and creates ideal eye-to-reticle alignment. When the trigger is squeezed and the rifle thunders, you can stay in the scope and make quick follow-up shots if needed.
With every shoot I took, it was also apparent that the Progressive Comfort system did its job. Over two days, I shot 75 rounds through the rifle, and shoulder abuse was nil. This is the type of rifle you want to take to the range — the type you want to practice with.
Benelli’s Crio-treated free-floating barrel is attached to a hardened-steel barrel extension bedded in the alloy receiver. Benelli engineers claim the design ensures maximum accuracy. I can’t argue with that.
Using Federal’s Barnes TSX 308 Win 150-Grain factory rounds, I shot sub-2.5-inch groups repeatedly out to 400 yards. Three of the groups were off a bench, but after building confidence, I shot three groups, which widened a bit, using my Primos Trigger Stick Gen3 Tall Bipod Shooting Stick. Not to mention, there aren’t many trees in my little slice of Colorado heaven, and the prairie winds always make shooting an adventure.
The 22-inch barrel length combined with the rifle’s 44.25-inch overall length proved maneuverable and felt great when fired standing, kneeling, off the bench, from sticks, and prone.
Wanting to test and tinker with ammo choices, I also shot Hornady’s American Whitetail 150 gr SP Interlocks, and as expected, there was some slight variation in impact from the Federal ammo, but not by much. The rifle seemed to crave both ammo choices, and after touching a pair of rounds at 150 yards with the SP Interlocks, I made a scope adjustment and then put a pair of rounds through the same hole. This rifle is remarkably accurate.
A few Colorado prairie dogs tempted me during the testing process, and using both ammunition types, I splatted several pasture destroyers at distances between 100 and 506 yards.
As mentioned, this rifle is a joy to shoot. It will work for mountain and flat-land hunting and chambered in .308 Win., there are plenty of ammo options. The .308 Win. is an excellent caliber that will handle deer-sized big game with ease, and when bullet grain weight is upped to 160- to 180-grains, elk don’t stand a chance.
Benelli has done a remarkable job with its BE.S.T bolt-action line. If you haven’t added one to your collection of bolt-action killers, now’s the time.
Benelli BE.S.T Lupo Bolt-Action .308 Win. Specifications
- Caliber: .308 Win.
- Barrel Length: 22 in.
- Stock Configuration: Progressive Comfort
- Twist Rate: 1:111
- Magazine Capacity: 5+1
- Action: bolt
- Threaded Barrel: yes
- Overall Length: 44.225 in.
- Weight: 6.9 lbs.
- MSRP: $1,899