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Gun Test Benelli's R1 Rifle Mixes the Old and New

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Benelli's R1 Rifle owes some of its lineage to "Carbine" Williams--the guy who designed a groundbreaking autoloading carbine while in prison. His prototype led to the light .30-caliber Carbine of WWII and Korean War fame.

Benelli's new autoloading R1 Rifle, while generations removed from the old U.S. Carbine, utilizes the gas-operated "short punch" system pioneered by Williams. Whereas many gas-powered firearms--the M-1 Garand being a prime example--are cycled by a long operating rod connected to the bolt that travels the full length of the ejection/feeding cycle, the R1 Rifle's auto-regulating gas-operated (ARGO) system is cycled by a piston that makes only a short, punch-like thrust against the bolt. This motion compresses a spring, which returns the bolt forward, camming its three-lugged rotary bolt into a ready-to-fire position.

Whether or not you cotton to the R1 Rifle's futuristic lines, I'm sure you'll find that it's well-made and has a great feel. The walnut stock has the best machine-cut checkering I've seen. The bore is beautifully finished and nearly as slick as a hand-lapped target barrel. The magazine is easy to load and can be detached quickly.

Because of its stock design and innovative recoil pad, the R1 Rifle was easy to shoot and functioned flawlessly with three brands of factory ammo and bullet weights ranging from 150 to 180 grains. Autoloading rifles in general are not known for their accuracy, and the R1 was no exception. The best 5-shot group of the 100-yard accuracy test measured 1.735 inches.

The R1 comes apart easily for cleaning. With its barrel-receiver assembly detached, the bore can be cleaned from the chamber end. It is available in .30/06 Springfield and .300 Win. Mag. (301-283-6981; www.benelliusa.com)

BY THE NUMBERS

Manufacturer: Benelli Model: R1 Rifle Type: Autoloading rifle Caliber: .30/06 Springfield Weight: 7.1 lb. Finish: Blue Stock: Walnut Barrel Length: 22 1/4 in. Rate of Twist: 1 in 11 in. Overall Length: 43 7/8 in. Length of Pull: 13 3/4 in. Trigger Pull: 4 lb. 11 oz. Bore finish grading (out of 5): 4 Suggested Retail: $1,065 (Standard) $1,080 (Magnum)

HOW IT SHOT Test Rifle: Benelli's R1 Rifle Average Group Size: 2.89 inches* Ammo Used: Winchester 180-gr. Super-X Silvertips, Remington 178-gr. Extended Range ammunition and PMC 150-gr. Barnes X-Bullets

*Average of 5 five-shot groups

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