When he found out that I was taking a shooting school organized by Outdoor Solutions and that the rifle I would use was the Benelli Lupo in 6.5 Creedmoor, FS Editor-in-Chief John B. Snow asked me to rate the Lupo as a longer hunting gun.
Over the two-plus days I spent in class, a good part of my attention focused on answering the question: how effective would the Lupo be in taking deer and other big game 400 meters away? ?
Benelli Lupo at 400 meters
The magazine-fed bolt-on Lupo, I concluded, was quite capable of killing the first shot in one shot over 400 yards on big game. It was very precise, the lock was securely locked, and the five-round magazine was stowed in the receiver and out of the way. The Lupo is also threaded for a suppressor, and Benelli’s progressive comfort system built into the butt effectively reduces recoil.
One caveat, however: Benelli placed the Lupo’s trigger system in the butt’s wrist at an odd angle. In some shooting positions, this angle forced me to twist my hand and wrist in a way that made it difficult to shoot, especially when shooting from a flat platform like a shooting bench. Little hunting is done on a bench. Nonetheless, it will take a bit of practice and adjustment for the hunter to get used to this different trigger angle and the location of the trigger guard.
Take the Benelli Lupo to 1,000 meters
The class was held near Coalville, Utah, last June, and was attended by 15 people, including myself. Three instructors, all with impressive military and civilian marksmanship credentials, guided us through two days of intensive shooting, starting with 3 MOA steel targets up to 1000 meters.
Then on the second day we traveled to the nearby mountains and shot from positions we might encounter while hunting, like big boulders and tree stumps, from shooting sticks and lying on top of the hills rocky.
Obviously the course was designed to make us better long distance shooters. But the goal was for us to find out how far we could ethically shoot a big game. Most of the participants I spoke with hadn’t shot a game beyond 125 yards, and they wanted to acquire the skills and knowledge to know how and when to shoot 300 yards or more.
Benelli Lupo rigged
Each shooter was fitted with a Benelli Lupo chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor and topped with a Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24 × 50 rifle scope. We fired point blank, spiked rifles with Jaeger 30 AACs. Barnes Precision Match in 6.5 Creedmoor ammo firing a round 140 grain boat tail bullet or platforms.
We zeroed our guns on paper 100 yards, then fired more paper 200 yards, taking turns firing and spotting with a partner. Then we stretched up to 3 MOA steel targets at 300 yards, and more steel at every 100 yards up to 1000 yards.
Our second day of shooting was really a much better test of the Lupo as a long range hunter and the rifle performed really well. My first hits included:
- Within six inches of the middle of the target, 650 yards shooting a log with my backpack under my chest, and a 10mph wind moving right to left
- Neutral twice in a row, lying at 480 meters, bag under my chest and small shooting bag under my shooting elbow, with the target displayed upstream of me
- Two out of three shots easily in an area equal to the vital zone of a swing at 610 yards, the rifle resting on a short, bushy tree, with me holding back 2.5 MOA to the right to compensate for the wind
- And, at 710 yards, my butt on the ground and my rifle on short shooting sticks, two shots in a row, and my spotter put them half a foot apart and straddling the central target. .
A longer range hunter? With that kind of precision, the answer should be “Hell yes! ” And even…
Those direct shots from positions much less stable than the shooting table on day one made me wonder: How come I’m drilling damn close to everything when shooting logs and brush, first shot in all cases except one, yet I had so many problems the day before hitting a target 100 yards?
That’s when I started paying attention to my trigger hand placement on those day two shots and realized that all of my shots were going uphill or downhill. And with the rifle tilted at these angles, my hand and wrist were quite comfortable.
I also remembered that during the first day my accuracy improved as the shot extended for 500 to 1000 meters. At the time, I thought I got used to the rifle as the day wore on and my accuracy improved. But it occurred to me that maybe the improvement in shooting was due to these targets being placed up the slope from my shooting table and had to place the Lupo at a set angle to take these shots.
The 100 and 200 meter targets that I struggled so much with were essentially straight and level with me and the shooting bench. In this position, my hand was forced back and it twisted my wrist at an awkward angle to my forearm and shoulder; Stabilizing myself with my hand and wrist in this position was very difficult.
The Lupo’s trigger system looks a lot like the one found on Benelli’s Super Vinci, but the Lupo is pushed up and into the wrist or grip of the butt at an even more extreme angle.
The trigger itself broke 2 pounds 4 ounces very clean according to my Lyman digital trigger pull gauge. The bolt operated smoothly and easily, even with the dust and dirt blown in action during two blustery days in a very dry Utah landscape. The recoil in this caliber was minimal.
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But the design of trigger placement, in my shooter’s opinion, is off. Hope Benelli can adjust this in future models, maybe a Lupo II? It is a rifle that I would gladly take for a hunt where I might expect to shoot a deer or moose over 400 yards.