As the introduction of new rifles goes, there have been better years than 2010, but there are more than enough to keep us all busy for the next 12 months. Here are a few that caught my eye.
Browning X-Bolt White Gold, ArmaLite SPR Mod 1, Bushmaster ACR.
The SPR (Special Purpose Rifle) has been in the AR lineup at ArmaLite for quite a few years, and the new Mod 1 version is said to be even more of a good thing. Side and bottom rails on its forged, one-piece upper receiver/rail system can be switched around to position sights, lights, laser grips, sling swivels, and other accessories in whatever arrangement the owner of the rifle prefers. Also featured are a 16-inch, chrome-lined barrel, a Picatinny gas block, and a two-stage tactical trigger. Weight is 6.5 pounds. ArmaLite gives the SPR an accuracy rating of 1.5 to 2.5 inches, but my guess is it will do better with match ammo. MSRP: $1,439.
The Tactical Recon and Tactical Varmint are two new bolt-action rifles from Les Baer Custom, and as we would expect from a company that makes some of the world's finest and most accurate 1911 pistols and AR-15 rifles, they are upper drawer. Built around the Stiller Tac 30 action and an LBC match-grade, 24-inch, stainless-steel barrel, the two bolt guns differ mainly in the styles of their black Bell and Carlson synthetic stocks. Whereas the TR has a fully adjustable buttstock, the stock of the TV is more conventional in design. Other specified items include a Timney trigger; a Wyatts steel floorplate and detachable magazine; a Picatinny rail atop the receiver; socket-head action bolts; and a nonreflective, DuPont S finish. Calibers are .243 Winchester, 6.5-284 Norma, 6.5 Lapua, .260 Remington, .308 Winchester, and .300 Winchester Magnum. Both rifles come with Harris folding bipods and are guaranteed to shoot inside half-MOA with match ammo. MSRP: $3,560 (Tactical Recon), $3,410 (Tactical Varmint).
Big Horn Armory
Available only in .500 S&W Magnum, the Model 89 lever-action rifle is pretty much a copy of the Winchester Models 86 and 92 rifles, but the size of its receiver is somewhere between those two. The barreled action is stainless steel with either a natural satin or black finish. Barrel length options are 18 and 22 inches, and nominal weight is 7.75 pounds. Sights consist of a fully adjustable, aperture-style rear on the receiver and a plain blade up front. The barrel is drilled and tapped for mounting a long-eye-relief scope. Stock options are A-grade American black or maple walnut, both specially treated to reduce moisture absorbance in the field. Depending on the load used, velocity of the .500 Magnum in a 22-inch barrel is said to be 200 to 400 fps faster than in a revolver. Just as important as all the rest, the Model 89 is built in Cody, Wyoming. MSRP: $1,889.
X-Bolt variations continue to multiply like weeds in the turnip patch. Latest is the White Gold with its stainless-steel barreled action and checkered walnut stock replete with recoil pad and rosewood grip cap and forearm tip. Other features include a 60-degree bolt lift, fully adjustable trigger, detachable rotary magazine, and a bolt lock release that allows the bolt to be rotated with the safety engaged. Fourteen different calibers are available in barrel lengths of 22 inches for the standards, 23 inches for the WSMs, and 26 inches for grown-up cartridges such as the 7mm Remington Magnum and .338 Winchester Magnum. MSRP: $1,439-$1,469, depending on caliber.
The gas-operated ACR (Adaptive Combat Rifle) from Bushmaster is an updated version of the Masada Adaptive Combat Weapon System that some consider to be today's most advanced combat rifle. Among its more interesting design features are a quick-change barrel, an adjustable gas regulator, a nonreciprocating charging handle, and several storage compartments in its synthetic grip and buttstock. Three quick-switch stock designs include a collapsible version that also folds forward. Several barrel weights are available, and all fire controls are ambidextrous. MSRP: $2,685-$3,061, depending on configuration.
Big Horn Armory M89.
CZ-USA 455 American, FNH SCAR 17S, Kimber Caprivi. (top to bottom)
The CZ folks describe the new 455 American as the next generation of .22 rimfire bolt-action rifles from the Czech Republic, and it will eventually replace the 452. Improvements include more modern manufacturing technology, closer dimensional tolerances, and smoother operation. Due to a new barrel-attachment design, barrels can be switched between the .17 HMR and .22 WMR by removing the stock and turning out a couple of retention screws at the front of the receiver. It is also available in .22 LR. Other features include 22.5-inch barrel, five-round detachable magazine, and nominal weight of 6 pounds. Walnut and blued steel give the rifle the look many hunters and shooters still prefer. One look at the styling of the stock will tell you why they named this rifle the American. MSRP: $463-$504, depending on caliber.
Even though the soft spot in my heart will always be for blued steel and beautiful walnut, I will have to admit that I enjoy shooting the latest in rifle designs. One at the top of my fun-to-burn-up-ammo list is the Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle, more commonly known as SCAR. Of short-stroke piston design, the 17S gas gun is chambered to .308 Winchester and has an ambidextrous safety and magazine release, left-hand/right-hand adaptable bolt handle, 16-inch quick-change barrel with hard-chromed bore, birdcage-style muzzle brake, folding rear and front sights, four integrated sight and accessory rails, and a side-folding stock that adjusts for comb height and pull length. Depending on whether the stock is folded or extended, overall length is 28.5 or 38.5 inches, and weight is 8 pounds. Detachable magazines hold 10 or 20 rounds. MSRP: $3,195.
If there is a more desirable factory rifle than Kimber's Caprivi, I have yet to see it, and if there is a better dangerous-game cartridge than the .416 Remington Magnum, I have yet to use it. Combine the two as Kimber has done for 2010 and you have a combination you'd want to have in your hands if a trophy brown bear or Cape buffalo were closing fast in your direction. MSRP: $3,196.
The new Trophy Grade version of the Model 48 rifle from Nosler Custom is available in a number of popular
standard and magnum chamberings. Built around Nosler's own match-grade action, it has a fully adjustable trigger, a chrome-moly barrel, and a Bell and Carlson synthetic stock. A Cerakote coating protects the barrel and action from rusting. It weighs 7.5 pounds and is guaranteed to shoot three bullets inside an inch at 100 yards with Nosler Custom ammunition. MSRP: $1,745-$1,895.
During each of the past few years Remington has made a limited run of Model 700 CDL SF Limited Edition rifles, and the one for 2010 is in .280 Remington. Like those in years past, it has a checkered walnut stock and a stainless-steel barreled action. Also new from Remington is a new camo pattern called A-Tacs, and it makes its first appearance on the Model 597 VTR, which is Remington's answer to an AR look-alike chambered to .22 LR. MSRP: $1,178 (700 CDL SF), $618 (597 VTR A-Tacs).
A new-for-2010 carbine from Rock River is built around what the company called its new Performance Piston System (PPS), and among its many features are a two-position adjustable gas regulator, over-the-barrel spring and guide rod arrangement, injection-molded handguard with operator safety flange, Hogue grip, side-folding tactical CAR stock, and 16.5-inch chrome-moly barrel with 1:9 twist. MSRP: $1,685.
Ruger has added one of my favorite cartridges, the .300 H&H Magnum, to the list of caliber options for the No. 1-S rifle. A combination of walnut and blued steel, it has a 26-inch, six-groove barrel with 1:10 rifling twist. Measuring 42.25 inches long, it is about the same length as a bolt-action rifle with a 22-inch barrel. MSRP: $1,182.
Nosler M48 Trophy Grade Rifle, Rock River PPS Carbine, Remington 700 CDL SF Ltd. Edition. (top to bottom)
Stag Arms M8, Ruger No. 1-S, Taurus Circut Judge, Savage Model 110 BA.
Savage continues to introduce high-performance rifles at lower than custom rifle prices and the Model 110 BA is an excellent example. Designed by a team headed by Steve Danneker and with input from highly successful F-Class team members, the new rifle is on a modified and beefed-up version of the Model 110 action and is available in .300 Winchester Magnum and .338 Lapua Magnum. The buttstock, extended grip, receiver bedding area, and fore-end are formed separately and then joined together to make a modular stock with adjustments for length of pull and comb height. Other specifications include a five/six-round, single-stack detachable magazine by Accuracy International, a 29.5-inch barrel, and a weight of 15.75 pounds. MSRP: $2,267.
The bolt carrier of the new short-stroke, piston-driven M8 from Stag Arms has been designed to eliminate tilt commonly seen in the AR rifle, thereby preventing excessive wear at the rear of the lower receiver and at the buffer tube threads. A tough manganese phosphate coating on the carrier reduces wear, and its design assures that its key does not loosen when subjected to thousands of rounds fired. The one great thing about piston drive is it dumps propellant gas up front and away from the shooter rather than into the receiver. As a result, the M8 action runs cleaner and cooler than an AR with the original direct impingement gas system. MSRP: $949-$989.
Add a walnut buttstock and an 18.5-inch barrel replete with forearm to the wildly popular Judge revolver and you get the new Circuit Judge carbine. Just like its cousin, it shoots the .45 Colt and 3-inch .410 and can be fired either single or double action. It has fiber-optic sights and comes with a scope mount and a hammer extension. It weighs 4.75 pounds and measures 38.5 inches overall. They will sell lots of this one. MSRP: $618.
I hate to use the word "cute" when describing any firearm, but I found myself guilty of doing so when first handling a new rifle from T/C called the HotShot. Available in .22 LR only, it looks just like a scaled-down version of Dad's Encore rifle. It weighs 3 pounds, and its 19-inch barrel wears a fully adjustable, aperture-style sight at the rear and a plain blade up front. The barrel is also drilled and tapped for scope mounting. At 11.5 inches, length of pull is short for short arms, and with an overall length of 30 inches, it is perfect for a youngster's first rifle. Finish options are blued steel with a black synthetic stock, blued steel with camo-finished stock, and just for the little girl shooters is blued metal and pink stock. MSRP: $199.
Newest addition to Weatherby's successful Young Hunters line of firearms is the Vanguard Synthetic Youth with its 20-inch barrel in .223 Remington, .22-250, .243 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington, or .308 Winchester. Weight is 6.5 pounds, and an included spacer system allows adjusting pull length of the synthetic stock from 12.5 to 13.625 inches. MSRP: $529.
New from Winchester for 2010 is the return of the Models 94, 92, 95, and 86 lever-action rifles. For now the Model 94 is available only in rather pricey Custom Grade and High Grade editions, whereas the Model 92 is offered in three versions: standard, takedown, and John Wayne 100th anniversary edition. The Model 95 Grade 1 will be offered in .30-40 Krag, .30-06, and .405 Winchester; the Extra Light Grade version of the Model 86 is in .45-70 Government. MSRP: $1,469-$1,959 (Model 94), $1,069-$1,999 (Model 92), $1,179 (Model 95), $1,269 (Model 86).
T/C HotShot, Weatherby Vanguard Youth, Winchester Model 86.