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Benelli Supernova Souped Up And Ready to Run

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The Benelli Supernova pump gun is pretty good right out of the box. Here's how to improve the tactical shotgun to really make it sing.

Custom Benelli Supernova

The Heavy Metal division of three-gun competition requires the use of a .308 rifle, .45-caliber pistol, and 12-gauge pump shotgun. And one of the best pump shotguns on the market is the Benelli Supernova.

While it lacks the enormous diversity of aftermarket doodads available for other marques, the Benelli Supernova has been king of the hammers for the past couple of years. And for good reason.

Its combination of features overmatches anything offered by Remington, Mossberg, or even the Browning BPS that we previously tricked out for just this eventuality, but like any mass-produced consumer good, it can be made better with a little handiwork by the end user.

As a bonus, it’s about the easiest of the bunch to work on. Here’s what you can do in the comfort of your own garage to make it race ready.

Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

The Supernova disassembled. Cleaning and maintenance is a breeze on this Benelli.

The Supernova disassembled. Cleaning and maintenance is a breeze on this Benelli.

Slick Up That Benelli Supernova

Like every other pump out there, the Supernova’s action bars are stamped out of sheet steel, which leaves surface imperfections to mar their smooth operation. Smooth is fast, so the first thing we’re going to do after proving clear, is to detail strip the gun and polish them up.

To strip, simply remove the barrel and press out the two pins that retain the trigger group. Next pull the bolt carrier from the bottom of the receiver and set it aside. Run the fore end off the magazine tube and use a 3mm Allen wrench to unscrew the bolts holding in the action bars.

Note, the action bars are left and right handed, so they’ll only go back in one way, which is a nifty feature.

Use a flat surface and your choice of abrasive to polish the action bars and remove any roughness or burrs. We started out with a 400-grit diamond block and worked up through the range of Japanese water stones, but a glass plate and wet-and-dry paper works also. Next, use abrasive cloth to polish the magazine tube where the fore end makes contact.

Once the front end of the operating system is taken care of, it’s time to address the bolt and trigger group.

Fortunately, we don’t need to do much here apart from polish the rear of the bolt carrier where it makes contact with the hammer and carrier lock.

You may be tempted to alter the angle of the carrier lock, so that the fore end unlocks during recoil — if you do choose to go this route, discretion is definitely the way ahead — take too much off and you risk the gun firing out of battery, which will ruin your day.

Supernova Chop Job

Loading the Benelli Supernova.

Seeing as we have the fore end off the gun, it’s worth considering pruning it back a little if you use the “load two” or “load four” technique.

It seems Benelli gave the job of designing the fore-end to an intern with a sci-fi fetish, as there’s a Klingon-esque bulge close to the receiver that gets in the way of the paw that’s stuffing shells.

As it’s plastic, there’s an easy fix involving a hacksaw and coarse file — chop that sucker back and, while you’re at it, get rid of the plastic that covers the mag tube in front of the receiver. Once it’s reprofiled, we can turn our attention to the loading gate.

The Benelli Supernova benefits from a loading gate sized to accept 3.5-inch shells, which means that feeding normal 2.75-inch fodder is like, ahem, throwing a sausage down an alley.

But if big is good, then bigger must be better, right? Using a coarse file and sandpaper, we opened up the trigger housing, cutting a 45-degree chamfer around the edges, which allows fresh ammo to almost fall into the gun.

Running the Benelli Supernova in 3-Gun competition.

Running the Benelli Supernova in 3-Gun competition.

Mo’ Bullets, Mo’ Betta

Division equipment rules limit shotguns to eight rounds in the tube at the start of a course of fire, which is four more than a stock Supernova will swallow.

Fortunately, help is at hand from RCI, who will send you one of their excellent extension tubes for the not-so-princely sum of one Benjamin, complete with follower and spring.

(If you want to get a little more involved, their one-piece tube replaces the factory unit and offers more strength than an extension, but ours held up to being thrown in dump bins with nary a whimper.)

Reassemble the shotgun using the new tube in place of the old magazine cap, trim the spring to length, and run it like you stole it.

This article originally appears in RECOIL Issue 23

Note: Find the latest tactical shotgun reviews in Tactical Gun Digest: The World’s Greatest Tactical Gun Book.

Corey Graff contributed to this article.

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