08 March 2024

The Benelli SuperNova Tactical - Too Old to be Upgraded?

Thankfully, we live a world where we can purchase purpose driven, optics mounts for firearms. The Beretta 1301 and A300 along with other newer tactical shotguns are helping to drive that. While the Benelli M4 is arguably the king of the GWOT era tactical shotguns (is it though?), you would think that by having the same mount pattern, the Benelli SuperNova pump action, 12 gauge would be easy to setup. It's not.

I have had a desert camo Benelli SuperNova Tactical since around 2010. I have done almost nothing with it except add a Nordic Components +2 extension. Back then, picatinny rail and universal mounting was acceptable. Today, it's for people who don't care how they setup their gun. Well I care. Call me a snob if you want. I want dedicated, purpose driven solutions to how I do things. That includes attaching red dots and weapon lights. Both of those are things a home defense shotgun should have.

The goal I'm attempting to achieve is to update my Benelli SuperNova to use a red dot with a T1 footprint along with a good scout light.

Many of the Benelli shotguns, along with their sister brands, have the same hole pattern for attaching rails. They use 2 pairs of holes drilled 2.05 inches away from each other. The front pair are 0.86 inch apart and the rear pair are 0.6 inch apart. It's the same if you have a SuperNova, a Franchi Affinity 3 or a Steoger M3500. As it turns out, the dedicated rails that one would use in place of a picatinny rail, are unusable for the SuperNova. I will note that the M4 pattern has a fifth hole in between the pairs. 

The first company I spoke with about this said the screws their mount uses don't work with the SuperNova receiver. Another company said the rib line on top of the receiver prevented their mount from working. What's funny is the Benelli website sells a picatinny rail dedicated to the M4 and Supernova models. It's the same part between the two. Part number 70123B is a replacement screw for that rail and it's labeled for both models. I'm thinking the screws aren't long enough enough to match. 

I had seriously considered selling the gun because I couldn't set it up the way I want but couldn't get enough of an offer to justify selling. In the end what I did do though is kept looking for a solution. 

There is a company called Monstrum that sells really cheap mounts for guns and optics as well. I don't really trust their stuff. I have a few pieces from them and one is total junk. I did see on Amazon they have an Aimpoint T1 mount for the rest of the shotgun family but they don't list the SuperNova. For $30, I figured that maybe I could rig up a solution to mount a SIG Romeo5 or similar. In the end, the mount did match and it came with several bags of screws. I found that the #8 screw pack was the correct thread pitch but they aren't very long and didn't enter into the receiver hole very deeply. It holds but there is plenty of room for longer screws. Finding the correct screws could be tricky. Amazon did have a very similar looking screw; 8-40 with Torx head that could be had in a 1/4, 3/8 or 1/2 length. I tried the 3/8 first. Turns out my idea was correct and the 3/8 length did work. Those screws fit just under flush with the inside of the receiver. This means the bolt can pass without interference. 

The mount works even with a cheap Chinesium red dot

This setup is great as the aperture sights co-witness with the dot in the lower part of the window. The current dot is a cheap option off of Amazon. It should work for now until I can source a better unit.

The weapon light mounting was just as difficult. Normally, I would use something like an MLOK slot with an Arisaka Defense angle mount with a scout light. I like having the light tucked in closely. There are no MLOK slots and the forend can't be updated to have one. So far, the only light mounts are ring mounts that index off of the magazine tube or are a clamp system. Either way, they use a picatinny rail. 

If I want to use a pressure pad I have to find a way to mount that as well. The only thing I've seen is people directly screwing the tape switch into the thumb grove. Many of the solutions I have seen people use involve making a hole in the forend. Not exactly clean.

To be fair, while few, companies who make dedicated parts for the SuperNova do exist. The primary company seems to be GG&G. They make the light mount I ended up using but also have an RMR footprint red dot mount. If that's the direction I wanted to go, that would work great but I wanted the T1 footprint. I like the enclosed optics and the unit tend to be cheaper than the tiny pistol dots.

In this instance, I chose a ring-style mount that sandwiches between the magazine tube extension and the barrel ring. It has a picatinny mount out to the 9'o-clock position and a sling hole at the 11'o-clock.

I mounted a cheap scout light that uses the Surefire M600 pattern body with a knockoff KE2C head. The output isn't great but I can use a real head later on. It'll do. What I don't like is how far out the light sticks out to the left. That said, I do like having a clipping point for the sling. I used a sling I had already by removing the clip from one end and threading the strap though the sling loop on the right side of the stock. In this setup, the shotgun hangs nicely and is still quickly usable. Basically, I duplicated a setup similar to what you would see on a Beretta 1301.

I did end up using a tape switch I had and just coiled the wire up in such a way as to tuck it between the light and barrel. The switch is now stuck into the thumb pocket on the forend with hook and loop. I may just replace that with 3M tape. 

The whole build came out okay but I have a few things I don't like. First is that the Monstrum mount doesn't seem to actually have any recoil support for the red dot. Normally, the center lug on the T1 mount is supposed to provide a recoil lug but either the dot's pocket is too large or the lug is too small. Either way, their is no recoil support and only the cheap screws are what hold the red dot in place. 

If I was going to revisit this, I would replace the dot with a SIG Romeo5 or Holosun. I just don't trust the quality of the "CVLife" unit. Only time will tell if it actually lasts. Second is the mount. Now that I know the only issue with the other options is the screws, I would like to replace the Monstrum mount with the Scalarworks SYNC mount and just use my own screws. Scalarworks did confirm that I would need longer screws than what they provide. The other change would be to find a mount that relocates the scout light elsewhere. There are extensions one can buy or maybe a combination or adapters from Arisaka to push the light upward or forward.

In the end, the only thing left to do is run this shotgun hard and test it out. 

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