Benelli Super Nova shotgun
Confirmed Benelli enthusiast Mark Stone tries the Italian manufacturer’s Super Nova for himself and discovers a pump action as hard-core as he is
The instant you open the Super Nova’s red and white box you’re fully aware this matte black pumper means business. A Benelli that has carved out a reputation for itself in a whole variety of roles since it was unveiled in 2005, whilst the company’s legendary inertia driven semi-autos have lead the world in terms of innovation, repute and nigh on unrivalled ability, the Super Nova has become the no-frills shotgun of choice for numerous wildfowlers, keepers, practical shotgunners, police and military users. Why I hear you ask?
Well I’ll tell you. The Super Nova is a serious 12 bore that is genuinely harder than you will ever be, a fact certainly not lost on Steve Long from importer’s GMK and a confirmed Super Nova aficionado whose idea the format of this particular test was. After you’ve allowed it to digest and discharge large quantities of some of the most potent, devastating ammo currently available you’ll understand why the Super Nova is deserved of its awesome reputation in both civilian and military circles.
All you’ll need
Even before you unpack the Super Nova you’ll be congratulating yourself for having bought a brand new Benelli for less than £700. Yes, budget Benellis do exists and here’s one of them. Likewise, dependant on your exact needs you’ll also have realised that there’s a whole host of Super Novas and accessories that’ll allow you to tailor the gun to your own specific requirements so the fact that the basic kit is the gun, a selection of stock shims, a stock adjuster, three flush – fit choke tubes and a huge choke key is actually neither here nor there. However, there is one interesting accessory if you can possibly call it that, and it’s the innocuous looking pip that extends from the end of the magazine cap.
Designed to be field stripped in case of emergencies, by removing the cap and turning it through a hundred and eighty degrees, the pip allows the user to remove any and all receiver pins, the Super Nova intended as one of the few practical shotguns that can be taken apart without the need of any other tools. What I will say is that although this ‘in-the-heat-of-battle’ facility is great for those who know what they’re doing, don’t try it yourself until your fully au fait with the gun. If not you could end up with a large collection of parts, a Benelli that doesn’t work and an embarrassed look on your face.
Apart from these small facts the Super Nova to a degree looks remarkable like most other business like Benellis. The 3½” chambered, 28” anodised style barrel is topped off with a short, high visibility bead and a smaller chrome bead that sit on a vented 7mm smooth surfaced and stepped rib. Moving rearwards the bolt is Benelli’s familiar two-piece rotating affair with the usual large single extraction claw that almost mercilessly drags the spent case out of the chamber and jettisons it out of the large port before the long lifter positions the next round in readiness to be slammed into battery.
What most Super Nova users tend to overlook is the receiver itself, a unit that’s currently as advanced as it gets. Based around an internal metal skeleton the housing is encapsulated in an injection moulded technopolymer reinforced with glass fibre. In other words no matter what you do to it you won’t damage it, apart from the occasional scratch. The outer surface is impervious to solvents, heat, moisture, humidity and all other known potential hazards. Within the receiver also sits the trigger mechanism, a large angular guard housing a broad, non-adjustable trigger-blade with the cross-bolt safety in the front and just behind the short bolt-release lever that releases the slide and bolt when in the forward or battery position.
Furniture wise, the Super Nova stock and forend make no concession whatsoever to aesthetics, practicality being the order of the day. The sculpted forend slide has two large depressions either side to ensure even gloved hands retain a firm grip, the deep serrations almost locking the forward hand into position. Within the forend also sits the large, square magazine ‘stop’ button. By depressing this when the gun is loaded, it allows the user to pull the forend out of battery, eject the round that is currently chambered and replace it with one more suitable all the while the shells in the magazine remaining where they are.
Moving to the stock, the Super Nova now employs Benelli’s excellent ComforTech recoil reduction system. To the rear of the large semi-pistol grip that shares the same deep striations of the forend, a series of twelve gel chevrons, a soft gel comb and a deep honeycombed recoil pad ensure the bulk of the recoil is rapidly and efficiently dissipated before it gets to the shooter’s shoulder. This is achieved by the fact that physical compression of each chevron then deforms sideways, so forcing the excess energy outwards and away from the shooter.
Simple in both theory and practice it’s extremely effective even with heavy loads, the gel comb and recoil pad adding to the cushioning effect. Whilst the ComforTech system doesn’t dial out all recoil its ability to diffuse and minimise the recoil usually associated with heavy magnum loads is impressive.
Given how adaptable the Super Nova actually is, the off-the-peg dimensions should only be regarded as a guide. Weight wise the Super Nova certainly isn’t a lightweight at 9lbs 2oz although the mass goes a considerable way towards taming the big bang recoil. Taken from the stepped rib the drops and comb and heel measure 1 5/8” and 2 3/8” along with a length and weight of pull 14 1/8” and 6lbs 2oz. All good sensible measurements for a shotgun of this type and of the sort that ensures the Super Nova more or less fits any full sized adult that picks it up. The other physical feature that will require you to get a feel for is that although the Arrow Laser shot indicated the Super Nova was of a flat nature it does actually shoot slightly high, a trait common to most Benellis.
Heading up to Bond & Bywater’s evening clay shoot and already having forewarned them that I’d be discharging some heavy loads, a suitable site had already been arranged. Starting with a selection of Express game and clay loads ranging from 28g up to 36g all shot through ½ choke the Super Nova acquitted itself well although the sheer physical size of the gun immediately stamped itself on proceedings as did the fact that the ComforTech system meant little if any recoil was detected.
From there and after opening the choke to ¼, the loads were gradually increased to 40g, 50g, various magnums including BB, SSG, 50g Remington Heavy Magnums, 3½” non-toxic Remington Sportsman Hi-Speed Steel and Magtech slug. Whilst the recoil rose proportionally along with a slight increase in muzzle flip, at no time did the Super Nova become uncomfortable to shoot, even after an additional thirty such rounds were discharged in rapid succession - far more than the average wildfowler or keeper would possibly conceive of shooting over a twelve month period.
The gun balances well directly beneath the chamber; it moves with far greater ease than first impressions would suggest and handles with the usual Benelli pedigree. What you have to remember is that since the Super Nova has been built to shoot 3½” loads, although the slide is remarkably slick, it still has a long way to travel which means even when using shorter 2¾” rounds the cyclic distance remains the same to eject the empty case and re-cock the mechanism. That said, once you become fully acquainted with the gun, you can get subsequent rounds off only marginally slower than if the gun was a semi-auto, the fact the Super Nova isn’t a clay breaker adding to the pleasure and entertainment of using it as such.
Accuracy wise, in the case of slug, the slightly high shot placement can once again be quickly worked out and is of considerable use under more general conditions along with confirmation of the effectiveness of the short tube choke system. An aluminium plate with a large central target placed at eighty-five yards indicated that the slug hit four inches high after a precise aim along the twin bead rib. Moving the plate out to one hundred yards brought the point of impact down to an inch high to centre, a more than acceptable variation and a tangible indicator as to how the Super Nova went about its business.
Lock, stock & barrel
The one aspect of the Super Nova that sets it apart is that you can adapt it as your needs change. The gun as tested comes complete with the standard ComforTech stock and 28” barrel. However, 24” and 26” barrels are available as direct, no messing fits for an additional £270 whilst a 24” smoothbore, fixed Cylinder choke slug barrel can also be had for £210 that comes complete with open sights instead of a rib.
The standard stock can be swapped for a full pistol-grip version within a matter of minutes, the military orientated version costing £73.50p, and a four shot Section 1 magazine extension costs an extra £50 – 50p whilst you can add around £60 for the Max4 camouflage version. So there you have it, a genuinely versatile, fully adaptable Benelli pump-action that even if you heap on the extras is still going to work out cheaper than many other manufacturers’ standard models. The Super Nova shoots extremely well, is capable of delivering whatever charge you have in mind, has scant disregard for whatever conditions or abuse you care to throw at it yet still looks good.
Admittedly, even though it’ll make a more than passable attempt at it the Super Nova isn’t a clay breaker. But as a simple, practical, no nonsense 12 – bore that’ll serve the wildfowler, practical shotgunner or keeper as a valued, faithful, flexible companion for considerably less than you’d possibly imagine, I don’t think Benelli’s Super Nova has an equal.
|Name||Benelli Super Nova|
|Type||Single – Barrel|
|Calibre||12 – bore / 3½” Chamber|
|Action||Pump – Action|
|Capacity||3 x 3½” 12 – bore cartridges|
|Barrels||28 – inch multi – choke|
|Price||£645 srp as tested|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates