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This is why France chose the Benelli SuperNova as its new shotgun

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A few months ago, Beretta, which owns Benelli, announced that the next service shotgun for the French military would be the Benelli SuperNova.

France has an interesting history of small arms, and admittedly shotguns aren’t a large portion of their arsenal. Seeing a European military force adopt a new shotgun draws attention, especially because it’s a pump-action shotgun. France currently uses small numbers of the Benelli M3 shotgun for its special operation troops, but that weapon is convertible from semi-auto to pump-action.

Christophe Bannier, the director of military and law enforcement sales for Humbert CTTS (a Beretta-owned French company), said of the deal,

The Benelli Supernova Tactical, after very severe evaluation tests from which it emerged as the winner, becomes the standard shotgun of the entire French armed forces in three different versions, 18.5″ Tactical, 14″ Tactical, and 28″ Anti-drone. The contract also includes the supply of accessories, tactical VIS/IR flashlights, shotshell holders, multipoint tactical slings, etc.”

Why the SuperNova 

A French soldier armed with a Benelli M4 Super 90 shotgun. (Guillaume Cabre/French Army)

In terms of pump-action shotguns, the SuperNova is a fairly impressive weapon.

It comes in a variety of configurations, the 18-inch barrel, 14-inch barrel, and the most interesting to me, the 28-inch anti-drone model. Anti-drone shotgun munitions tend to work well, and while fancy electronic options exist to fry drones, the Benelli SuperNova is one that can be easily taken on patrol and doesn’t rely on a battery as electronic munition does. 

The use of off-the-shelf drones has risen. We’ve seen everyone from ISIS to the Ukrainian military using simple DJI drones for recon and attacks. Its ant-drone capabilities likely helped the SuperNova get the nod from the French military.

The SuperNova has a 3.5-inch chamber, and most tactical shotguns tap out at three-inch chambers. This allows the SuperNova to use 3.5-inch shells, which could pack a larger net to take drones down. If the anti-drone model is just using shot loads, then the 3.5-inch chambering allows for more buckshot pellets per load to increase the chance of hitting a flying, moving target. 

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Skynet anti-drone munition.

The SuperNova uses a pump-action making it easy to cycle the drone-designed net shells. These shells would not cycle in a semi-auto gun. 

The long barrel will help increase the velocity of the net-style targets and increases sight radius while also making the gun easier to swing at moving targets. If you look at the guns used by professional trap and skeet shooters and upland bird hunters, you’ll see 28-inch barrels. And a drone is basically an unfriendly bird.

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Inside the Benelli SuperNova 

A shooter firing the Benelli SuperNova. (Photo by Brian Omura/ Wikimedia Commons)

Benelli made their name producing high-quality semi-automatic shotguns for sporting, tactical, and competitive fields. The SuperNova is an improvement on the Nova series; both are well-proven and respected pump-action shotguns. 

Interestingly enough, the SuperNova features a lot of polymers, including a polymer but steel-reinforced receiver. The SuperNova comes with a rotating bolt that helps ensure consistent extraction, even in nonpermissive environments.

The pump design is unique in two ways. First, it’s fairly long and provides a ton of space for the shooter to grip and rip. 

Second, beneath the pump sits a button called a magazine cutoff. If the user presses it as they cycle the pump, a round will not feed from the magazine into the chamber. This allows the shooter to directly load a round into the chamber, making it easy to swap buckshot to slugs, breaching rounds, or those aforementioned drone rounds.

A great modern shotgun

The Benelli SuperNova (Photo by Picanox via Wikimedia Commons)

Shooters praise the shotgun’s smooth action, and I can’t help but agree: The SuperNova might be my favorite, modern, pump-action shotgun. Its action is remarkably smooth and allows for quick and easy follow-up shots. The sights are fantastic, and the gun is optics-ready as well. 

Most pump shotguns are derived from 1960s designs, and while they can be great guns, the Benelli SuperNova embraces a modern design and a number of modern features.  

The SuperNova represents a very modern, lightweight, and very capable weapon that can tackle a variety of tasks. It can be a breaching gun, combat shotgun, anti-drone tool, or even riot-control weapon. The French made a great choice with the Benelli SuperNova.

Feature Image: French troops from the 2nd Hussar Regiment conduct short-range saturation firing training with the Benelli SuperNova Tactical shotgun. (2nd Hussar Regiment/French Army)

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Travis Pike

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.