April 18, 2011

Benelli SuperNova No. 20115 MAX-4 HD Camo 12 Gauge Pump

(GunReports.com) -- Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1988, the last "new" production shotshell cartridge of any note was introduced by Federal Cartridge Company: the 3 1⁄2-inch 12 gauge. It was the Mossberg 835 slide-action that helped launch it, and it was the proliferation of the long shell that sealed the demise of the 10-gauge shotgun, as you can actually get more performance out of a 12-gauge 3 1⁄2-inch load, chambering it in a shotgun that is less bulky, more versatile, and less costly to shoot than a comparable 10-gauge gun. That’s not quite obsolete, but Federal Cartridge currently lists only five 10-gauge loads, while the company offers more than 75 different 12-gauge shotshells. Whether a 3 1⁄2-inch 12 gauge makes a lot of sense today is another matter. The preconceived notion is that a 3 1⁄2-inch shell is automatically a Roman candle—but that is far from the truth. The 2 3⁄4-inch "baby magnum" lead shotshell has always had a 1 1⁄2-oz. payload. Typical steel 3 1⁄2-inch shells are 1 3⁄8-oz. to 1 1⁄2-oz. payloads: no heavier than many older 2 3⁄4-inch lead loads, much less 3-inch 12-gauge shells.

But even though standard-length shells and the guns that shoot them can certainly get the job done, we cannot deny the appeal of shotguns that will shoot 3 1⁄2-inch shells, in part because they will shoot nearly any 12-gauge shotshell out there. Here, we look at the Benelli SuperNova No. 20115 MAX-4 HD Camo 12 Gauge Pump, $599. We should note that Benelli also offers a matte black version of the SuperNova at $499.


The Benelli shot flawlessly, comfortably, swung smoothly and steadily. Our only initial peeve was the trigger, promptly attended to by Benelli at no charge. It is an outstanding 3.5-inch slide-action waterfowl gun.

The SuperNova weighed right at 8 pounds unloaded and with a choke tube installed. Benelli is not known for its trigger quality, and the tested SuperNova is no exception—the trigger breaks at 7 pounds. Though not particularly crisp, it was noticeably crisper than the trigger of other shotguns we shot alongside it.

During a recent 20-gauge pump-action comparison, we chided the manufacturers for omitting a shim-adjustable buttstock on less-expensive guns. But on the SuperNova, the stock was shim-adjustable for cast and drop. Having the stock easily adjustable for drop and cast with the included shims is an excellent addition—and something included on no other slide-action shotgun made today that we are aware of. Where the original Nova pioneered an over-molded, one-piece receiver and buttstock, the SuperNova, with its shim-adjustable ComforTech stock, is far better. Elsewhere, the Benelli’s action was buttery smooth. Also, we found the Benelli to be far better balanced, smoother swinging, and notably softer shooting than others. The SuperNova had less muzzle jump and was quicker to get on that second bird, our testers said. Also, the Benelli shot to point of aim.

The more time we spent with the SuperNova, the more we liked it. If you want to remove the trigger group, the appropriate punch is built in to the magazine cap. If you want to unload your SuperNova without cycling all the shells through the magazine, the magazine cut-off is built into the forearm. What is so good about both of these features is that when you don’t use them you’ll never know they are even there.

Gun Tests September 2009


With the action fully open on the Benelli, it is easy to appreciate how well fitted the forearm is to the receiver. The molded in grooves on the SuperNova gave us a secure, comfortable gripping surface.

Our only little gripe was the 7-pound trigger; just too heavy for our tastes. We asked Benelli what the spec was for Nova triggers. The reply was "5-8 pounds." So, our trigger was well within factory specification—not remotely a warranty issue. Still, when we asked, Benelli Customer Service said they would see if they could lighten it a bit. We decided that we would take Benelli up on the offer. Benelli turned the gun around promptly; the trigger as received back from Benelli USA breaks at 6 pounds on the nose. Not as light as we would have liked, but still a noticeable improvement and an appropriate trigger for this class of gun. The response of Benelli customer service added to what we already felt was a superlative gun for the money.

Our Team Said: The Benelli shot flawlessly, comfortably, swung smoothly and steadily. Our only initial peeve was the trigger, promptly attended to by Benelli at no charge. It is an outstanding 3 1⁄2-inch slide-action waterfowl gun.

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Comments (4)

I'm 62 and yes, it is "softer" shooting. We shot clay all afternoon and I didn't suffer the usual pounding. Make sure it is adjusted to fit you.

Posted by: 3Dog | April 23, 2011 8:00 AM    Report this comment

I bought a Super Nova for an upland hunt. We had no time to stop for range time, instead we went straight to the field.The first three shots netted three pheasant. I was very pleased. In the field it is nine for ten. I give the credit to Benelli. Sweet gun!

Posted by: 3Dog | April 23, 2011 7:57 AM    Report this comment

I too, with older bones now, am looking for a softer shooter than the Rem 870 I've been shooting for 35 years. I was prepared to part with a safe queen SxS to fund a Benelli or other 'soft shooting auto', but I yield to the Benelli because it saved me having to have the stock fitted to me. Is this pump THAT much softer shooting ?

Posted by: J. G | April 22, 2011 2:55 PM    Report this comment

I am intersted in the 'softer shooting' point with regard to the ComforTech stock. When your sister publication compared the Benelli R1 COmforTech 308 to the Remington 750 308, there was no difference in felt recoil. Explanation?

Posted by: techfan | April 21, 2011 3:33 PM    Report this comment

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