Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Super Nova©

I said I was going to post this last night, with pictures, but personal issues got in the way and I had to beat them into submission first.

I put my kinda-new Benelli Nova Tactical through its paces. First, we went to the range to see how well the ghost ring sights worked.

I tried 3 different kinds of slugs. Aguila 7/8oz. 1.75"minislugs as well as Brenneke and Wolf 1oz rifled slugs. The factory settings for the ghost ring sights had me on paper already, but a couple of clicks had me consistently in the black. Accuracy was about what you'd expect (or a little better) from a smoothbore - just outside 2" from center to center at 50yds off a rest. The Brenneke "Rottweil" performed the best. The Aguila performed the worst, with a 5" group, but thats still acceptable to me as a home-defense round.

I wanted to see how my buckshot options would print, so I moved to a 15yd pistol lane with permission from the RO. I tried Hornady TAP, Wolf, Winchester Low Recoil, PMC and Fiocchi. All of them were respectable at that distance, with the TAP putting 8 of 9 pellets inside the 8" target and the Winchester coming in 2nd place with 7 and a half pellets in the black. The Winchester also were the easiest on the shoulder - go figure, huh? By far, the Fiocchi sucked the worst. I think one shell was underloaded as there was no noticable impact to target and a very light recoil.

We left the range and headed for my buddies property in the San Diego backcountry to shoot some clays. 250 rounds and close to 3 boxes of clays later, we left very impressed with the Nova. For one thing, the throw is very short and cycles very fast, much better than the Mossberg and Remington we took out with us as a "control group." I was able to reengage thrown clays very quickly when I missed, but once I got used to leading with the ghost rings, I didn't miss too often.

We set up static clays in an ad-hoc course of fire on the foundation of a burnt out house. I was able to engage 4 clays, reload from a belt pouch, and engage 5 more in under15 seconds. Not great time, but it was fun, and I got to practice pieing the corners and hallways with a shotgun that feels shorter than it actually is.

We wanted to try something a little different when we got down to our last box or so of shells. We tried a "space invaders" scenario. We set up three static clays between 8 and 20 yards away with the middle distance one behind cover. The goal was to engage a thrown clay, take out all three ground clays and be ready to engage a low, fast flying clay moving away from the shooter. Like shooting space ships and invading aliens, right? It was fun, but that last clay was hard to get. I tried it three times before I was able to get it. Thats where the rapid cycling of the action on the Nova really came into play - being able to get reloaded and back on target quickly.

Overall, I'm very impressed with the Nova. The sights are easy to use and easy to pick up, though I wish the rear ring were mounted a little further forward. The stock and forearm are easy on the hands. The recoil pad helped alot with the 340 rounds I sent downrange. One of the things I ended up liking a lot that I didn't think I would if the polymer outer shell over the receiver. With temps in the 80's and the sun beating down, it was nice not to have to wear gloves because of the metal heating up. I need to try it with 3" and 3.5" shells, just to see how it handles them.

I also need to work on the trick I saw Tom Knapp do - firing at a clay, turning the shotgun and ejecting the hull downrange, then turning and shooting the hull, over and over. When I finally get it, maybe I'll try to post a video.

If I could change anything about it, I would move the sights a little bit forward, move the safety to the tang (but thats just because I'm used to Mossbergs), and add a mag tube extension. Otherwise, this is a damn fine shotgun and I'm glad I bought it.