Archive for the ‘Benelli Super Nova’ Category

As I had mentioned in my first shotgun upgrade post, the most important upgrade for a tube-fed shotgun is to increase the amount of ammunition in and on the gun. To be fair, there are not many options for side mount shell carriers on the Super Nova, but conveniently, the Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell carrier is one of the nicest units around.

I had previously read an excellent review of this carrier on this website, but the review is a few years old now, and there’s mention of a newer version of the carrier designed a little differently around the front so to prevent cutting and abrasion when pumping the action.  I wanted to be sure to get a current unit so I ordered online from CMC Government services and, despite some back-order issues, I received the carrier two months later.

In the box are the carrier itself, four mounting screws that go through the picatinny rail section and into the top of the Super Nova receiver. To install, you have to remove the barrel and loosen the stock (if you have the pistol grip stock). Then it’s just a matter of punching out four screws, and screwing the new unit in. The whole process only took 10 minutes.

Fit and finish are superb and the carrier looks of the same quality as if it was made by Benelli themselves. You can see in the pictures how they have removed some of the material in front of the shell carriers so there is a nice rounded curve where the shells and rail meet.  Additionally, there are holes drilled into the carrier to reduce weight. This is particularly important as this relatively small shotgun has become increasingly heavy with each ‘upgrade’.

The section of rail feels very sturdy and doesn’t interfere with the sights, but adding an optic would likely not allow for a co-witness because of how low the ghost rings are compared to where a red dot would end up. Even still, I think I’ll eventually put a red dot sight such as the Insight MRDS mini-red dot or Burris Fast Fire.

The shell carrier securely holds all of the shells that I tried in it including some bird shot, buck shot, managed-recoil slugs, and Hornady Critical Defense shells. Some of the shells were very easy to slide in and out, others required a bit of twisting and a conscious effort to remove.  Overall, I think it’s a pretty good balance across the range of shells that I tried.  Mesa Tactical does offer different elastomer inserts to try out if you aren’t happy with the standard, but I’m going to trust their testing and judgment on this and stay with what came out of the box.

On the topic of capacity, this carrier holds 6 shells.  There are other models by Mesa Tactical in 8 and 4 shell configurations, I felt that 6 was perfect for providing the capability to hold a few shells for buck or bird shot and two slugs as needed for side matches or defensive needs.  The 8 shell carrier holds the shells closer to the front and I was concerned that it may interfere with the pump action of the firearm.

Last week I purchased a wearable camera aka helmet-cam to record my mountain biking adventures and shooting matches.  I thought this would be very handy for showing a better view of my grip while shooting and I won’t have to ask folks to record me as much.  I had done some research online previously and had decided to go with the Contour HD vholdr 1080P camera.  I had found that I could use my 20% off dividend coupon at REI on this camera, which seemed like a good deal because these are almost always full price.

So, the first question, how does it perform? Very well. I am very pleased with how easy it is to operate the camera when it’s mounted to the side of your head.  The camera makes little beeps to let you know when it’s going on/off or recording start/stop.  The instructions weren’t great, but it’s pretty quick to figure out. I used the video on a 720p setting with 60fps frame rate, check out an example below from last week’s Front Range IDPA match (note that youtube will show the 360p unless you specify otherwise).

Check out the fish-eye affect on the shotgun shells at the end of the video. I dig it.

To be honest, the camera got uncomfortable after awhile, I had it on the whole time I was at the match which was about half of the day.  I mounted it via Velcro cable ties and two scrunchies to my Peltor Tac-Sport electronic hearing protectors. Perhaps another method would be better, it wasn’t too heavy, but I could feel the mount pressing against my head.  Not a deal breaker though, and I’ll probably mount it the same way again, though I may go back and forth between this and ear plugs if it’s going to be a long day. 

Ever since I got my Benelli Super Nova tactical, I’ve been looking for a good sling solution. I’ve spent a lot of time researching options and am happy to have found a good solution.

The biggest challenge with the Benelli is the pistol-grip stock.  I really like the feel and fit of this stock, but it does present obstacles when it comes to sling mounts.  Most of the after-market sling attachments are designed for the M4,M3, etc and won’t work on the SuperNova.  I decided to take advantage of the built-in attachment point that will fit a 1″ wide sling.

The front mount is a quick-disconnect swivel on a barrel and magazine tube clamp made by CDM Gear. I found out about this mount on the excellent rem870 blog.  It has completely lived up to my expectations with superb fit & finish. I debated for some time over the MOD-C mount with a 1″ diameter light, but ended up with the BMT clamp with a section of rail instead.  It cuts down on my light options, but I figure that many times I’ll be using this gun without a light attached and this keeps things nice and clean.

I added the optional sling-swivel kit to the mount that includes the QD socket and a single 1.25″ QD swivel.

The rail section appears very study and should allow for easy mounting and removal of a weapon light while keeping wieght near the muzzle to a minimum.

The fit appears very solid.  The kit came with some small rubber spacer/shims to help protect the barrel, but I found it fit better without them.

The sling is a Viking Tactics / 5.11 padded 2-point sling. I picked this because it was one of the very few options out there in a 1″ diameter.  In retrospect, if I purchased this again I would have gone with the “upgraded model” that has a different pull tab and some elastic to cover the buckles.

I personally prefer a single-point sling attachment so I am using the 1″ IWC 2-to-1 tri-glide that adds a QD swivel into the sling itself.

This sling does have a nice quick-adjustment feature, but it was a challenge to get the adjustment just right for use as both a 2-point and single-point sling. At this point my only complaint is that there is a lot of plastic buckle pieces on each end of the sling and I still don’t have a quick disconnect from the butt-stock attachment point. Noveske just released a QD rear sling mount that should fit this stock; I have one on order and will try that out shortly along with a VCAS sling and see how it compares.

So, how does it all work? Pretty well. To make the sling work in both a single and 2-point method, I’ve had to adjust the sling length so that it extends just enough to cover both cases, it’s a little quirky, but I finally got it just right. In a 2-point configuration, the padding of the sling fits comfortably over the shoulder and the gun has very little movement.  In a single-point, the gun hangs at rest just where you would want it to be, and from either scenario it’s easy to bring the gun up to a firing stance.

One of the most common proverbs around shot gunning is that “in a gun fight, you will only have the ammunition in or on the gun.” Shotgun shells are a bit bulky, heavy, and unwieldy. In a home defense situation, you are not going to have time to grab a bunch of accessories like shot shell caddies or bandoliers – you’ll be lucky if you end up wearing any clothes.

My first upgrade to my Benelli Super Nova is to add capacity to the number of rounds I can store “in the gun”.  There are a number of magazine tube extensions out there for any shotgun, and they range in price and quality anywhere from $30 for an el cheapo Tac-Star to $90 for the extension I’m reviewing here.  When you consider it is basically a section of pipe with a nut attached it seems quite the rip-off, but I wanted to get the best equipment available, and a few hours of researching my options and opinions in various forums, suggested this was the best option available.  (For a nice round up of some other extension tubes check out this review on a Remington 870 blog).

I ordered the magazine extension directly from Nordic Components on their website and asked in the comments if they could have it to me by Friday so I could install it before a match.  The order shipped the next day and I had it in time.  For comparison, I also ordered a side-saddle shell carrier the same day and two weeks later it still hasn’t showed up.  I called the reseller and they have told me I can expect it sometime in the next month (maybe).

As I had already learned online, all extension tubes ship with the same ridiculously long spring so there’s some trimming required to make everything fit. Here’s an image of the +2 shot extension tube with the spring so long it doesn’t fit in the picture. Also there’s two stickers if you like that sort of thing.

When you remove the barrel you can see that the stock spring only extends slightly further than the end of the barrel.  I tried to keep this in mind with the new spring, but the coils are a bit tighter on it and so it really became a matter of trial and error.  You will need some needle nose pliers to remove the factory spring retainer, and you will absolutely need wire snips if you plan to get the full capacity in the tube. I’d also advise wearing your shooting glasses when you do this as the spring will be under a lot of pressure when you try to screw the extension tube on.

Here you can see the factory spring (on top) compared to the amount that I had to trim off the new spring. You will need to have some 2-3/4” shells or snap caps around to confirm if you can fit the advertised capacity.  On my second try, I was still 1 round short of my advertised capacity so I took a few more lengths off until I could just fit all rounds.  This makes for a little more effort loading shells, but should resolve any potential feed issues.

The fit & finish of the extension tube is great.  The nut that screws it in easily matches the Benelli aesthetic and the anodizing looks like it came straight from the factory.  The +2 tube length is just shy of the barrel length which I am fine with, a +3 sticks out a little too far for my tastes and can be an issue if you ever shoot a 3-gun stage that requires you stow the gun in a barrel or otherwise put too much pressure on an extension tube.

There is not much to report as far as it’s function. It works exactly as advertised increasing my round capacity to 7+1. I’ve only had a chance to use the shotgun in two IDPA side matches but both times it’s worked great and I’m glad to have the extra capacity.  Plus it just makes the gun look complete, I feel like it was looking a bit bare in the stock configuration. Here’s a picture of my IDPA + Side Match setup:

  • Beretta 92G Elite II with Dawson Precision Fiber front sight/Novak rear, Hogue grip, MecGar Optimum magazines with Beretta Rubber base-plates shooting 124gr Federal American Eagle.
  • Benelli SuperNova Tactical shooting Winchester Reduced Noise/Reduced Recoil #8 Target Load and Remington Managed Recoil “Slugger” 12ga slugs.
  • Peltor TacSport Electronic hearing
  • ESS CrossBow Silencer eye protection.