Shotgun Assessment: Benelli Nova | Discipline & Stream

Slide actions nonetheless have a robust following amongst duck hunters and a particular place in a waterfowler’s battery. Even those that favor a semiauto as their primary gun want a pumps for the times when the climate that can choke an autoloader—or on any hunt the place you actually don’t care what occurs to your gun. Pumps can take abuse. Our duck gun test included the powerful, reasonably priced, uncommon, Benelli Nova amongst extra normal choices from Remington, Mossberg, and Browning.

The Nova is exclusive in a number of methods, beginning with the truth that it’s Italian. Pump weapons have all the time been nearly strictly an American preoccupation. We invented the pump gun, again within the Eighties. We perfected it a number of instances over—first with the Winchester Mannequin 12, later with the Remington 870. We hunted with pumps, shot clays, used them for dwelling protection, and brought them to struggle. Individuals love pumps as a result of they’re rugged, dependable, work in all climate, and don’t value a lot. Pumps swimsuit us.

Europeans, by and enormous, have all the time considered pumps with indifference and even disdain, which made the Italian-made Benelli Nova much more of a shock when it debuted in 2001.

When Benelli determined to make a pump, they did it in typical Benelli style: They made a pump in contrast to any pump anybody had ever seen. The inventory and receiver had been a single piece of polymer, which was extraordinary. It had typical Benelli concept-car styling. The Nova stays distinctive immediately, however 20 years in the past it regarded prefer it had come again from the long run. I had one of many early Novas, which a buddy dubbed “the Darth Vader gun” for its black end and menacing look.

In contrast to different Benellis, the Nova was cheap and it caught on amongst waterfowlers. A few of them all the time needed to personal a Benelli and now might afford one. Some who needed a gun that regarded completely different. Anybody who purchased a Nova for its sturdiness and {smooth} stroke.

The Nova initially debuted as a 3 ½-inch 12-gauge searching gun, and now there are tactical fashions in addition to a 20 gauge, and a Tremendous Nova—a 3 ½-inch 12-gauge gun that retains the Nova’s aggressive styling however has a standard two-piece inventory and receiver.

Nuts and Bolts of the Benelli Nova

Specs on the Benelli Nova

  • Gauge: 3 1/2-inch 12 (examined); 3-inch 20
  • Motion: Pump
  • Capability: 4+1
  • Chokes: IC, M, F flush mounted chokes
  • Barrel: 28 inches, stepped rib, pink entrance bead
  • Barrel Size: 24-, 26- and 28-inch (examined) barrel
  • End: Black (examined), camo out there
  • Size: 48 ½ inches
  • Size of Pull:  13.7 inches
  • Set off Pull: 7.14 kilos
  • Total Weight: 7.7 kilos

Benelli launched the Nova within the mid-Nineteen Nineties. It was made for legislation enforcement initially earlier than searching fashions had been developed for the U.S. market. The Nova’s one-piece inventory and receiver set it other than any shotgun ever made. The unit is molded round a metal cage that reinforces the body with out including extreme weight. Like Benelli’s well-known inertia weapons, the Nova has a rotary bolt. For the reason that rotary bolt locks immediately into the barrel, it requires neither a barrel extension nor a metal receiver, which is one motive the Nova can have its polymer inventory/receiver. The opposite benefit of the rotary bolt is that they contribute to a particularly slick, quick pump stroke. Mix that with a forend that extends all the best way again to the entrance of the receiver the place it’s simple for anybody to cycle, and also you get a really smooth-running pump.

The Nova had a few different distinctive options. It was the primary shotgun to incorporate a sling swivel stud molded into the inventory, which is now widespread. It additionally had {a magazine} cutoff button on the underside of the forend. Push it and work the slide, and the shell within the chamber ejects and the opposite two shells stay within the journal tube. It’s a useful function if you wish to shortly drop in a goose load—or for those who simply need to open the motion to maintain the gun protected as you cross a fence or impediment. A nipple on the tip of the journal cap doubled as a punch for coming out the set off group pins so you may disassemble the gun within the area if want be.

How We Examined the Nova

We examined the Nova on the clouds of teal on the Pintail Hunting Club within the mornings, and shot it on the lodge clays vary. We examined the gun for each level of affect and to see the way it patterned with searching masses at 35 yards. We weighed it, measured, and checked the set off pull. Our check gun shot barely excessive, and it recorded a 66-percent sample with 3-inch, 1 ¼-ounce Federal No. 2s with a Modified choke, which is about what you need to count on from that choke/load mixture. The gun weighed 7.7 kilos, and that weight is an effective factor in a fixed-breech gun that in any other case doesn’t supply any recoil discount. Some heft makes a gun just like the Nova simple to shoot, too. The set off broke at 7.14 kilos, which is on the heavy facet, however a particular enchancment over my previous Nova (one of many very early ones) that had a set off near 10 kilos.

Benelli Nova patterning sheet
We patterned the Nova at 35 yards. Stephen Maturen

Along with the checks we carried out at Pintail Looking Membership, I owned and shot that early Nova as my major duck gun for a number of years, and I took it turkey searching a time or two as nicely. Through the years I had it, I dropped it within the mud and, on one event, onto some giant chunks of riprap. That fall would have gouged or scarred every other gun. The Nova shrugged it off and was no worse for the damage save a slight street rash on the plastic receiver.

How the Gun Carried out

Dealing with and Ergonomics

Novas all the time dealt with nicely for me, and this one was no exception. It’s a simple gun to shoot, and that lengthy forend permits me to take the brief grip with my entrance hand that I desire. It additionally makes the gun simple to pump. And, like all Novas, this one cycles like butter. You’re barely aware of giving the forend a flick, and the gun is reloaded and able to shoot once more.

The heavy set off by no means bothered me, besides after I took the gun turkey searching, after I managed to fill a tag with it anyway. You could not just like the weighty pull, nonetheless, for those who’re delicate about triggers. What I disliked in regards to the Nova’s ergonomics was the tiny security button on the entrance of the set off guard. I can’t keep in mind the button ever costing me a shot, however I fearful about not with the ability to discover it with my finger on a regular basis.

Workmanship and Aesthetics

Even 20 years later, the Nova nonetheless appears modern, not dated, though a number of weapons have copied its look. Though the Nova’s strains aren’t for each style, I like the best way it appears—though you would argue that the plastic receiver is a bit cumbersome trying. It’s laborious to touch upon the “workmanship” of a gun that’s scarcely touched by human fingers on the manufacturing facility. However, like all Benellis, it’s a well-made gun aside from the slide launch, which is a cheap-looking stamped half.  Additionally, the forend rattles. Many individuals complain in regards to the Nova’s noisy forend. My feeling was all the time that something shut sufficient to listen to the rattling forend was already shut sufficient to shoot at, so I by no means paid it a lot thoughts.


To me, the Nova is a devoted waterfowl gun. With its heft, its sturdy plastic overlaying and its 3 ½-inch chamber, it matches proper into the blind. There’s even an elective stock-mounted recoil reducer you may add for severe 3 ½-inch magnum taking pictures. I did use mine for turkeys, with magnetic sights mounted to the rib, and it delivered the products, though it wouldn’t be my first decide because of its set off pull. A Nova would work for pheasant searching for those who didn’t thoughts the burden, and I all the time loved taking pictures skeet with mine because of the {smooth} stroke and the forend that permit me maintain it the identical approach I maintain a goal gun. The Nova might function a house protection gun, albeit a reasonably lengthy one, or you would purchase the tactical mannequin.

Additionally, the Nova isn’t a flexible gun within the sense that there’s not a lot you are able to do about it if the gun doesn’t fit your needs out of the field. Artificial shares are troublesome to elongate or shorten, and the one-piece inventory/receiver design means there’s no approach the Nova could be shimmed. It both matches you or it doesn’t.


We skilled no operate issues with the Nova, and mine labored nicely for years—though ultimately I had some bother with its journal latch. And, as I discussed, I dropped mine on giant rocks. It bounced, it clattered, and it stored proper on working. The Nova is sturdy, dependable gun. Though it’s made to be abused, for those who take that abuse to an excessive and break the inventory, you’re caught, because the inventory and receiver are one piece, and also you’d should new gun. If that bothers you, transfer as much as the Tremendous Nova.


At $449, the Nova isn’t the most affordable pump round, nevertheless it’s shut. And it’s a gun with a confirmed observe file. What it might lack in versatility as an all-around gun, it makes up for with ruggedness and shootability. If the one-piece inventory bothers you, it’s solely $110 extra to maneuver as much as the Tremendous Nova, which has a inventory that may be changed or shimmed, and the recoil-reducing ComforTech system, all for $110 extra.

What the Benelli Nova Does Greatest

What the Nova does finest is hunt geese and geese. It’s a tricky, no-nonsense gun with some uncommon options just like the cutoff button within the forend and the bulletproof (or at the least, riprap-proof) receiver. Chambered for 3 ½-inch shells, for those who care to shoot them, it’s a gun you can tackle any waterfowl hunt and never be under-gunned. With its very smooth-cycling motion, it’s simple to make followup pictures with, too. And, I all the time loved mine for skeet apply, though I wouldn’t shoot it in competitors.

What the Nova Does Worst

The Nova is a heavy gun, and never your best option for taking into the uplands. Its set off pull doesn’t utterly disqualify it for turkeys, and there’s a 24-inch-barreled mannequin that might work within the woods, nevertheless it wouldn’t be my first alternative. The steel-reinforced plastic receiver isn’t drilled and tapped however it may be executed by a gunsmith. And, for those who break your inventory, which might take some doing, you’re out of luck. Changing it’s the equal of shopping for a brand new gun, because the inventory/receiver is the half with the serial quantity engraved on it and you would need to purchase it via a licensed seller.

Closing Ideas

The Nova brought about a stir when it was first launched with its distinctive design and features. It has gone on to determine itself as a superb alternative in a low-cost pump to compete with the 870 and Mossberg 500. If imitation is the sincerest type of flattery, keep in mind that Remington provided a 3 ½-inch pump gun solely clad in plastic, barrel and all, referred to as the 887. Internally, Remington execs referred to as the 887 the “Nova Killer” however the Nova remains to be round and pumping, and the 887 is lengthy gone. The Nova—heavy set off, rattling forend and all—nonetheless makes an awesome alternative in a sturdy, reasonably priced duck gun.

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