Test: new 12/76 competition shotgun Benelli Nova Speed – With comparison to the Nova and Supernova models

Benelli from Urbino, Italy, has been offering two extremely successful pump-action shotguns in 12 ga with 89 mm chamber for years with the Nova and Supernova models. Both models have proven themselves with both hunters and sport shooters worldwide and enjoy great popularity. Particularly in dynamic disciplines such as sporting shotgun, but also in IPSC, a strikingly large number of shooters with these Benelli shotguns can be found in the top ranks.

So what's the point of another sporty Nova variant? This becomes clear when you look into Benelli's pump-actions a bit.

Included with the Nova Speed are various muzzle-length interchangeable choke inserts, as well as two extended chokes: Ampliator Short Shot and Ampliator Long Shot. Also included, a choke key and various shims for stock adjustment, as well as a detailed instruction manual. 

Benelli not only gave the Nova Speed an extended magazine. The aluminum receiver is completely new, as is the BE.S.T. coating.

The Nova Speed has a steel shot choke, but of the chokes included, only the ½-choke and the ¼-choke are approved for use with steel shot. The ¾-choke and the two long Ampliator chokes may only be used with lead shot – Please, be sure to note! Since the new Nova model, like the Supernova IPSC model, is obviously intended primarily for IPSC competitions, the Nova Speed also lacks receiver holes for a mounting rail. This is not a problem for IPSC: all shotguns equipped with optical sights compete there in the Open Division or in the Modified Division. However, since there is no differentiation between pumps and autoloaders in these classes, you would have to compete with a pump-action equipped in this way against correspondingly modified autoloaders, a competitive disadvantage. For this reason, many pump-action shotguns made for IPSC use are not even intended by the manufacturer to be equipped with a red dot. For those interested in competition disciplines other than IPSC, this is unfortunately less pleasing. Subsequent drilling and tapping by a gunsmith would not be a problem here, but would cause extra costs. The particularly long magazine tube for ten cartridges, which protrudes from the 61 cm barrel by around four centimeters, also gives a clear indication of the intended IPSC use. 

Benelli Nova Speed – Technical details and differences to the Nova and Supernova models 

Benelli Nova Speed is visually and technically very different from the well-known models Nova and Supernova. The maximum 12-ga shell length that can be used with the new model is 76 mm (3”) and no longer 89 mm (3.5”) as in Nova and Supernova. Thanks to the shorter chamber, the pump movement of the forend can also be shorter, which should ensure faster firing. There are also differences in material and construction: on the Nova, the buttstock and receiver form a single unit made of technopolymer plastic, while the interior of the receiver is metal-reinforced. The forend is also made of technopolymer. In contrast, Benelli manufactures the receiver of the Supernova from plastic-coated steel.

If the target has to be hit particularly quickly, the rear sight, which is recessed deep into the ventilated barrel rib, can simply be folded down and the Benelli Nova Speed then uses only the rib and front sight as an aiming aid.

The Benelli Nova Speed breaks with the proven use of plastic for the receiver: gray anodized aluminum is now used, while the newly designed Comfortech stock, which can be adjusted, and the completely redesigned forend are made of technopolymer. The forend and buttstock feature an extremely grippy surface texture in the grip area. In conjunction with the non-slip butt plate, this results in a first-class and extremely stable aiming. The removable buttstock of the Supernova and Nova Speed, which can be adjusted by means of shims, is an important feature, since the usual open shotgun sights in the form of a fiber-optic front sight or a combination of front sight and folding rear sight usually can't be adjusted. However, by adjusting the stock to fit the shooter, the point of impact can be influenced accordingly. Here, the old, "one-piece" Nova is at a clear disadvantage. Benelli coats the barrel, the bolt and the inside of the receiver of the Nova Speed with the new, particularly high-quality surface BE.S.T. (Benelli Surface Treatment) coating. This coating is said to give the metal parts treated with it long-term protection against corrosion, scratches and wear. The barrel carries a sturdy barrel rib with integrated folding rear sight and a high-visibility front sight, a very good and high-contrast shotgun sight. The barrel and magazine tube are connected by an eye-catching X-shaped retaining clip.

Benelli's pump-actions in comparison: a Nova above, Supernova and Nova Speed below, the latter with safety in the rear of the trigger guard.

The trigger group of the new Benelli Nova Speed has been completely revised. The cross-bolt safety is now no longer located in front of the trigger as on the Nova and Supernova, but behind the trigger, as has long been customary on Benelli's autoloading shotguns. The forend has also been completely redesigned. In the Nova and Supernova, it is exceptionally long, which is an advantage that should not be underestimated, especially for small shooters with a correspondingly short arm length. The forend of the Nova Speed is considerably shorter. This now eliminates a minor point of criticism of the older models. 

The loading port of the Benelli Nova Speed is milled extremely deep on one side, which makes loading much easier. Once pressed down, the lifter remains in the receiver with all pump actions from Benelli.

In rare cases, the long forend could cause fingers to get caught between the forend itself and the receiver during repeating. This can no longer happen with the new, shorter forend.

The Nova Speed's loading port also differs significantly from the Nova and Supernova. The opening has remained the same length despite the shorter shell chambering, but the receiver has been milled out very heavily in this area to make the loading process easier. As with the older models, the shell lifter on the Nova Speed folds away inward at the slightest touch and releases the opening to the magazine tube completely and without spring pressure. This makes the Nova Speed extremely fast and easy to load. Regardless of whether you load single cartridges, double load or quad load, the cartridges find their way into the tubular magazine almost by themselves – kudos! Even if the two older Benellis were not really inferior here, this shows the particularly sporty approach to the design of the new pump-action shotgun. The prerequisites for the use of the Nova Speed in dynamic competitions thus seem to be quite clear. But how does it compare to the older Nova and Supernova models on the shooting range? Tester Frank Flumm brought along his Benelli Nova, which has proven itself in many competitions, and co-tester Jan Böhringer provided his Benelli Supernova for comparison. Of course, the comparison of a brand-new pump-action shotgun with a competition gun that has become very smooth after thousands of rounds is not entirely fair. But the testers wanted to know if the Nova Speed would be a possible replacement for their own proven shotguns. Out of the box, the Nova Speed has no complaints about sluggishness. The action is very easy to operate, and the shorter travel is probably a contributing factor. The trigger is also impressive – crisp, without any noticeable scratching and with a weight of only 1,400 grams – respect!

Field test: with the sporty Benelli Nova Speed pump shotgun on the shooting range – is it better than the Nova and Supernova?

The magazine of the Benelli Nova Speed is significantly longer than that of a conventional Nova/Supernova, while the new forend is considerably shorter.

Of course, the Benelli Nova Speed also passed through the hands of several fellow shooters during the shooting range test. In each case, it was then also immediately compared with the Nova and Supernova models. We wanted to know: is there a clear winner among the Benelli pump-action shotguns? As already mentioned, the Nova Speed's significantly shorter stroke is a positive feature. In addition, the recoil after the shot opens the breech at least partially. When the forend is released, the recoil is even sufficient from 12/67.5 shells upward to fully open the breech and simultaneously eject the spent case automatically. The recoil thus actively supports the pump-action, which has a correspondingly positive effect on the action speed. This is a particularly important argument in dynamic disciplines. However, the two tried-and-tested models Nova and Supernova are not exactly known as lame ducks. Quite the opposite: a well-run-in Nova or Supernova can definitely still keep up in terms of speed, despite the somewhat longer pump action. The new Benelli Nova Speed, however, is already extremely fast from the factory, and it should probably become even faster with longer use. As one would expect, there were no malfunctions in test operation. The cartridges fed, fired, and ejected without a hitch, completely indifferent of shell length and/or load. Whether using weak 12/60 and 12/63.5 shells, or hard 12/76 magnum loads, the Nova Speed performed like clockwork. This also applies to the use of buckshot in a wide variety of finishes. As always, the accuracy test was performed by several shooters. Once again, the very powerful Brenneke Super Magnum Slugs with a five-shot group of 55 mm once again proved to be particularly accurate, closely followed by the GECO 12/67.5 Competition Slugs Black with a 60 mm group. A small drop of bitterness: the extra-long magazine tube showed heavy traces of powder burn at the front and also the first signs of wear. A pity, because the Nova Speed is visually a feast for the eyes. Here, a trick that tester Frank Flumm already practices on his Benelli Nova might be advisable: simply cover the protruding area of the magazine tube with black fabric tape. If the tape becomes unsightly after a while, it can easily be replaced.

Benelli Nova Speed sporting shotgun specs and price

Model:Benelli Nova Speed
Price:1,625 euro
Magazine Capacity:10 rounds
Overall Length:1,180 mm
Barrel Length:610 mm
Length of Pull:340 mm

Trigger Pull Weight:

1,400 g
Weight:3,300 g

Test conclusion on the Benelli Nova Speed pump-action shotgun

The Benelli Nova Speed is a technically excellent pump-action shotgun and also looks great. The new Nova concept is very well thought out and executed in high quality. For a pump shotgun from a renowned manufacturer at the proud price of 1,625 euros, this should of course be expected. However, considering the high design effort and the excellent properties of this shotgun, the price is quite justified and we give it a clear buy recommendation. Whether the Nova Speed is better than the Nova and Supernova models that have proven themselves over many years, however, is entirely in the eye of the beholder. Personal preferences and demands on a shotgun also play a major role here. On the whole, the three Benelli pump-action models do not give each other too much.

 What we liked: What we liked less:

- Lightweight, extremely fast loading, perfect for IPSC

- Gunshot marks on the magazine tube

- Shortened repeating action
- No holes for mounting rail
- Excellent trigger

- Very good, high-contrast sights

Thanks to Jan Böhringer, Michael Griesinger and Ralf Kunzmann for their support during the test. 

For more information please visit the Benelli website.

This article is also available in this language: