April 08, 2011
Fill your coffee cup, raid your spouse's stash of hidden chocolate, and settle into your favorite chair by the fireplace to peruse the following glimpse of 2011's new rifles.
Intriguing, interesting, captivating, and eyebrow-raising--there's something for everybody. We don't have space to do every model justice, so in typical self-satisfying fashion we'll give details on our favorites and just brush on others, but watch for meaty, in-depth reviews in issues to come. Please note that prices shown are suggested retail; in most cases street price will be much lower.
In alphabetical order, may we present:
A couple of issues ago J. Guthrie reviewed a new Leupold tactical scope mounted on a Les Baer Ultimate Match rifle in .308. Les is now building a version of that rifle with a monolithic upper receiver/handguard: the Monolith .308 Swat model. It features a Geissele trigger; chromed carrier, bolt, and extractor; stainless, 20-inch, benchrest-grade Les Baer, 1:10-twist barrel with DuPont S coating; and is guaranteed to shoot 1/2 MOA. Factory targets are included with each rifle to prove it. Price: $3,090.
The most eye-catching new models are both rimfires: a .22 LR Semiauto Grade II with a lovely polished-blue octagon barrel, satin nickel finish on the scroll-engraved steel receiver, and typical handle-like-a-wand ergonomics. At a retail price of $869 it's not cheap, but this is the sort of rifle that your great-grandkids will covet. Barrel length: 19¾ in.; weight: 5 lbs., 3 oz.; overall length: 37 in.
Also of interest, and perhaps more practical for those weekend camping trips, is the BL-22 Micro Midas--a scaled-down version of the popular BL-22 that's sized just right for kids. With a weight of only 4 lbs., 12 oz.; 16¼-in. barrel; and total length of 31½ in., it should prove popular with kids who display a taste for fine guns. Price: $480.
There is also a plethora of new high-power big-game rifles from Browning in both the A-Bolt and X-Bolt lines. Get on the website and check 'em out.
Branching into the semiauto rimfire market, CZ has introduced the Model 512 semiauto in both .22 LR and .22 Magnum. Utilizing an aluminum-alloy upper mated to a fiberglass-reinforced polymer lower action, it provides versatility by using magazines from the company's well-established bolt-action rimfire line. Dual guide rods provide smooth, reliable function, and a hammer-forged barrel gives good accuracy. Price: $449 (.22 LR), $479 (.22 Magnum).
Addressing the need for an economy big-game rifle, the CZ-557 Sporter is built on a forged receiver and hammer-forged 20.6-in., .30-06-chambered barrel, but utilizes a different extractor/ejector system than the Model 550. In addition, the metal is finished in matte blue rather than the polished blue of the 550 line. The 557's trigger is adjustable for weight, creep, and overtravel. Weight: 7 lbs., 12 oz. Overall length: 42.5 in. Price: Not available at press time.
There are also some interesting developments in the Model 550 lineup that utilize Kevlar stocks on short-barreled actions to provide fast-handling carbines for big-game hunters. Pick up a catalog or check 'em out on the website.
The big news from Kimber this year--as far as rifles are concerned--is the new 84L Montana, a 5 lb., 8 oz. stainless, composite rifle built on the sleek 84L action platform, which is pillar and glass bedded for accuracy. Intriguingly, not only is it chambered in most popular standard calibers, it's also offered in .280 Ackley Improved--one of our all-time favorite high-performance cartridges. The barrel is a 24-in., pencil-profile, match-grade tube; the trigger is adjustable; and magazine capacity--even for such a light, slender rifle--is five rounds. Overall length: 43¾ in. Price: $1,312.
So cool that we immediately ordered one, the model 1894 CSBL lever action has a stainless, 16¼-in. barrel with Ballard-type, 1:38-twist rifling; laminate stock; XS ghost-ring rear peep; XS scout scope mount; and enlarged lever loop. It's chambered for either .44 Mag./.44 Spl or .357 Mag./.38 Spl. Overall length: 33¾ in. Weight: 6 lbs. Price: $1,062.
Other notable introductions from Marlin include an all-new XT rimfire bolt action, a stainless version of the X7 line, and an X7 Varmint Hunter.
Among Mossberg's new-for-2011 rifles are Tactical .22s and a 7mm-08 Model 100ATR. But most appealing to us are the new short-action 4x4 bolt guns. Four chamberings--.22-250, .243, 7mm-08, and .308--are now offered in the 4x4 line. They come with 24-in., fluted barrels; synthetic stocks; and the Lightning Bolt Action adjustable trigger system. Length of pull is 13.25 in., and weight is 6.75 lbs. Price: Not available at press time.
The Model 7 Synthetic and Model 7 Synthetic Compact are a fresh take on Remington's favorite quick-and-handy bolt action. The Synthetic has a 20-in. barrel; the Compact's is 18. Both are available in popular short-action cartridges. Weight: 6.5 lbs (average). Overall length: 36¼ and 39¼ in. Price: $681.
There's also a camo version of the popular M700 SPS, and of interest to long-range shooters, the M700 XCR TLR is being chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum.
Rock River Arms
Rock River's new ATH (Advanced Tactical Hunter) carbine has a .223 Wylde chamber for 5.56 and .223 Rem. ammo; 18-in., heavy match, cryo-treated barrel with 1:8 twist and RRA Tactical Muzzle Brake; low-profile gas block; RRA two-stage trigger; ERGO SureGrip pistol grip; RRA advanced half-quad free-float handguard with three rail covers; and RRA Operator CAR buttstock. Price: $1,300 (standard configuration).
Also, the company's LAR-8 Predator HP rifle line has been extended with upper receivers in new chamberings. Caliber choices now include .308/7.62mm, 7mm-08, and .243. The uppers feature 20-in. heavy match barrels and flattop receivers. Price: $950.
Rossi's line of Curcuit Judge long guns is growing by leaps and bounds. Along with several new shotgun versions (see the shotgun section in this special report), there's a new .22 LR/.22 Magnum Circuit Judge as well as a new .44 Magnum Circuit Judge.
The .22 LR/.22 Magnum gun has two interchangeable, nine-round cylinders; a thumbhole-grip, synthetic stock; a scope mount base; a hammer extension; and a Picatinny rail built right into the forearm. Barrel length is 18.5 in. Price: Not available at press time.
The .44 Magnum Circuit Judge comes with a wood stock, 18.5-in. barrel, scope mount base, hammer extension, and fiber-optic sights. Price: Not available at press time.
Also new this year are the .45-70 Rio Grande and .22 LR M92 El Jefe lever actions.
Built on Jeff Cooper's idea of a great all-around rifle, the new Gunsite Scout rifle has created a buzz among gun writers. A 16.5-in., hammer-forged barrel is fed by a detachable 10-round magazine; sports a scout-type scope rail forward of the receiver; and has a tough, protected front sight in place. A detachable, adjustable, ghost-ring rear sight comes fixed to the rear of the receiver. The black/gray laminate stock has a soft recoil pad replete with spacers to allow length-of-pull adjustments. Overall length: 38 to 39.5 in. Weight: 7 lbs. Price: $995.
For lovers of classic looks and real muscle, the No. 1 Tropical is being chambered in .458 Lott this year, and for aficionados of all things military or British, the No. 1 Light Sporter comes in .303 British flavor. Also, three versions of Rugers SR-556 piston-driven AR-type upper receivers are being offered for those who wish to retrofit an existing lower. Not to mention the very cool bolt-action 77/44 rotary-magazine .44 Magnum rifle, three new versions of the 10/22, and too much more to mention.
In collaboration with David Morris of Bucks of Tecomate, Sako introduced the A7 Tecomate. It features a Bell and Carlson Medalist stock; match-grade, hammer-forged, stainless barrel; three locking lugs; secure "Total Control" magazine latch; and an upper-crust adjustable trigger. Capacity: 4 rounds. Available in .270 WSM (22.5-in. barrel) and .300 WSM (24.36-in. barrel). Price: $1,410.
The Sako M85 line also has new members: a Classic Deluxe with drool-worthy walnut and polished bluing, an M85 Black Bear that's too cool to describe--get on www.sako.fi and look at it--and an M85 Brown Bear designed for just what it sounds like.
Did you know that the second most hunted big-game species in the U.S. is black bear? In collaboration with noted bear hunter Dick Scorzafava, Savage designed the dedicated Model 16 and 116 Bear Hunter, featuring a stainless, fluted barrel with Savage's twist-on/twist-off muzzle brake; camo synthetic AccuStock; and AccuTrigger. It's chambered in such authoritative bear calibers as .300 WSM and .325 WSM (short action) and .300 Win. Mag. and .338 Win. Mag. Weight: 7.5 lbs. Price: $973 (short action), $939 (long action).
Also new is the feathery Lightweight Hunter, which you'll read about in this issue's cover story, a stainless-steel version of the Axis, a Model 12 Long Range Precision, a Model 25 Walking Varminter, the American Classic Stainless, and several others.
SIG has new rifles in the 516, 522, 556, and 716 lines as well as a new .50-caliber bolt gun.
Among the several new 516 variations (7-, 10-, 14.5-, 16-, and 18-in. barrels), we think the new Precision Marksman version is most compelling. It features an 18-in. heavy barrel with 1:7 twist, two-stage match trigger, fixed MagPul PRS stock, and MIAD grip. Price: $1,734.
Also interesting is the new .50 BMG SIG50 bolt action. It comes with a 3.5-lb. match trigger, adjustable cheek rest, adjustable buttplate, 29-in. heavy barrel with flutes and muzzle brake, and full-length M1913 rails. It weighs 23.5 lbs. without the five-round magazine. Price: $9,325.
Smith & Wesson
S&W has a bunch of new M&P15 rifles this year, including four modern rifle versions with factory-installed bullet buttons for the California market plus a Realtree APG HD camo version of the .22 rimfire M&P15-22. But most interesting to us is the brand-new M&P15 Sport model.
The 5.56mm Sport features a 16-in. barrel with 5R rifling (1:8 twist), Melonite coating, flash suppressor/compensator, adjustable sights, single-stage trigger, six-position buttstock (fixed stock also available), polymer handguard, and 30-round MagPul magazine. Price: $709.
The Taurus Carbine CT G2 is now available in the U.S. in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP.
The Carbine CT G2 features a hybrid aluminum/polymer, reinforced-steel frame and high-strength polymer lower receiver reinforced with steel; a flat-top aluminum upper receiver with built-in Picatinny rail; two-position safety/fire selector; adjustable rear sight; fixed front sight; ambidextrous slide catch; and a 16-in. barrel. Price: Not available at press time.
Chambered in .22-250, .308 Win., 7mm-08, .270 Win., .30-06, 7mm Rem. Mag., and .300 Win. Mag., the Venture Weather Shield comes with a composite stock with Hogue overmolded inlaid traction panels that provide a positive feel in wet weather conditions. Guaranteed to put three shots in 1 inch at 100 yards, the Venture is made in America and backed by Thompson/Center's lifetime warranty. Price: $610.
Also new to the Venture line are five additional chamberings in the standard model. The new chamberings are .25-06, .270 WSM, .280 Rem., .300 WSM, and .338 Win. Mag.
As if that wasn't enough new stuff, T/C also has the new .50-caliber Encore ProHunter XT Muzzleloader.
Designed to be a gun for all seasons, the Encore Pro Hunter XT has interchangeable barrels and features the Weather Shield finish, the patented Speed Breech XT breech plug, a 28-in. fluted barrel with a 1:28 twist rate, fiber-optic sights, and either a black or Realtree AP camo FlexTech stock and fore-end. The stock has four Energy Burners inside and a Sims recoil pad outside to allow the stock to compress slightly when firing, thereby reducing felt recoil. Price: $834 to $1,124 depending on configuration.
The new Traditions Pursuit Ultralight muzzleloader weighs in at only 5.15 lbs. Featuring the Accelerator breech system, alloy frame, dual-safety system, Fast Action release button, and Speed Load system, it's both durable and ergonomic. Two choices of finish are offered: blued or Premium CeraKote. The 26-in. barrel is rifled with a 1:28 twist. Standard or thumbhole stocks are available. Overall length: 42 in. Price: $199 to $296 depending on options.
New for 2011 from this well-respected name is the Vanguard Series 2 (S2), which carries an accuracy guarantee of 0.99 inch or less for a three-shot group with premium ammo. The S2 rifle features Weatherby's new two-stage, adjustable, match-quality target trigger; a new Griptonite stock with nonslip panels and palmswell; a three-position safety; and a 24-in. barrel. Blued and stainless versions will be available, and 15 chamberings will be offered, ranging from .223 to .338 Win. Mag. Price: $450 (blued), $600 (stainless).
Without question the most intriguing new rifle from Winchester is the reintroduced Model 71 lever action in .348 WCF. The rifle comes with 24-in. round barrel, oil-finished walnut stock, Marble's gold-bead hooded front sight, and buckhorn-style rear sight. The receiver is drilled and tapped for a receiver sight. Overall length is 431/8 in. Weight is 8 lbs. Price: $1,469.
Other additions to Winchester's rifle line include new variations of Models 1885, 1886, 1892, 92, 94, and 70.