September 23, 2010
I am not sure if it was the struggling economy or Orlando's lackluster night life, but attendance at the 2009 Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show was definitely down. Fortunately, it seems the serious buyers still came because, according to the majority of the manufacturers in attendance, orders were up significantly. That's good news for shooters and hunters because it means they'll be able to peruse all the coolest new offerings in their local gunshops. The following are some of the new-for-2009 rifles that caught my eye at this year's SHOT Show.
ArmaLite's newest entries focus on more oomph for the AR platform. A new .338 Federal rifle should be perfect for hunters, and a new 6.8mm SPC carbine is aimed at the defensive market, but my pick of the new ArmaLite entries is the latest M15 A4 carbine in 7.62x39.
The carbine-length gun uses a mid-length handguard and gas system for the utmost reliability. A two-stage trigger, a collapsible buttstock, and a Picatinny-spec gas block are all standard. The forged upper receiver is a flat-top design with numbered rails. The forged lower accepts the supplied 10-round magazine or any Mil-Spec AR mag. The 16-inch, chrome-lined barrel is a stepped-down M4 design and is capped with an A2-style flash hider. MSRP is $1,107.
Barrett's latest offering, the 98B, is a futuristic-looking, long-range tactical rifle. The 13.5-pound .338 Lapua has a 27-inch, fluted, match-grade barrel and an ergonomic buttstock with adjustable cheekpiece and length of pull that allows the big boomer to fit users of all sizes. Feeding is via a 10-round, polymer magazine. The 98 Bravo's massive bolt silently glides on polymer guides. An oversized bolt knob provides enough leverage to make operation effortless and allows the user to maintain a solid cheek weld. A rear monopod and forward-mounted Harris bipod offer a solid rest, and an integral Picatinny-spec rail offers scope mounting flexibility. MSRP is $4,495.
Browning's latest introductions are extensions of the popular X-Bolt line that was introduced last year. The svelte, easy-carrying Micro Hunter is offered in .22-250, .243 Win., 7mm-08, .308 Win., .270 WSM, 7mm WSM, .300 WSM, and .325 WSM at an MSRP of $839 to $869. The heavy-barreled Varmint Stalker is every prairie dog's nightmare and is chambered for .223 Rem., .22-250, .243 Win., and .308 Win. It retails for $1,019. Of course, the new guns retain the X-Bolt's 60-degree bolt lift, detachable rotary magazine, Inflex recoil pad, Feather trigger, and X-Lock scope-mounting system.
I'm proud to say that the latest long gun from CZ-USA's custom shop, the Express Rifle, is an exact copy of a rifle I had the firm build for me late last year. The new rifle is built along the lines of CZ's Magnum Express Rifle with a barrel-band front sight and sling swivel; three-leaf island rear sight; dual crossbolts; and a sleek, sexy stock of nicely figured wood. It is built on the standard 550 action and features controlled-round feed and a claw extractor. Available chamberings include .270 Win., .30-06, .300 H&H, .300 Win. Mag., .300 Ultra Mag, 9.3x62, .375 Ruger, .416 Ruger, .416 Taylor, and .425 Westley Richards. MSRP is $2,600 before options.
The new REPR from DPMS is a 7.62x51 precision rifle. The REPR's lower is machined from a solid forging of 6061-T6 aluminum. Magpul's adjustable PRS buttstock and Hogue's pistol grip are standard. The thick-walled upper is extruded from 6066-T6 aluminum. It has an integral, A3-height Picatinny scope-mounting rail with 30 minutes of angle built in to allow the operator to dial in elevation corrections out to 1,000 yards and beyond. An 18-inch, button-rifled barrel; Gem-Tech flash suppressor/suppressor adaptor; free-floated handguard with four accessory rails; and coyote brown-colored Teflon finish are standard. MSRP was not available at press time.
FNH's new FNAR is a gas-operated semiautomatic rifle suitable for hunting or tactical applications. The .308 has a 20-inch, fluted, hammer-forged barrel and is available in heavy and sporter contours. The FNAR's black synthetic stock has a pistol-grip buttstock and Picatinny-spec rails at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. Scope mounting is via a receiver-mounted Picatinny rail. Polymer 10- and 20-round magazines are available. MSRP is $1,821.09.
Kimber has several new line extensions and a couple of pretty interesting new models for 2009.
Hunters will appreciate the new Model 84M Classic Stainless. The svelte, short-action rifle weighs in at just over 5.5 pounds and features a trim, 22-inch, match-grade stainless barrel and action. The stainless sporter also features a crisp, match-grade trigger; a three-position safety; a claw extractor; and a glass-bedded, hand-checkered stock of A-grade Claro walnut with a Pachmayr Decelerator pad. It is offered in .243 Win., 7mm-08, and .308 Win. MSRP is $1,156.
Kimber's new Model 8400 Police Tactical is built for law enforcement snipers. Chambered for .300 Win. Mag. and boasting a glass- and pillar-bedded stock and a Picatinny scope-mounting rail with 20 MOA of elevation built in, this model should appeal to civilian long-range shooters, too. Other features include a fluted, heavy barrel; an oversized tactical bolt knob; and a third sling-swivel stud to facilitate bipod mounting. MSRP is $1,476.
The new Extreme Ultimate Slam muzzleloader from Knight Rifles is built for long-range precision. The most notable feature of the new rifle is its fluted, 27-inch, Green Mountain barrel. The barrel is double-stress-relieved, quenched, and tempered for increased accuracy and greater strength with full-power charges of Triple 7 and Blackhorn 209 powder. Other features include a match-grade trigger; fiber-optic sights; and a solid, composite stock. The Ultimate Slam also features a redesigned 209 ignition system that uses a new bolt and breech plug to capture the primer and seal the breech tightly for reduced fouling and improved weather protection. MSRP is $499 to $630.
Les Baer Custom
The folks at Les Baer Custom say their new Police Special AR is the perfect patrol rifle. It is built on LBC's precision-machined, forged upper and lower receivers. The Picatinny-spec,
flat-top upper features a removable carry handle and a match-grade bolt. The lower houses a Timney match trigger and a five-position collapsible stock. The 16-inch, button-rifled barrel has a 1:8-inch twist so that it can maintain Les Baer's 1-MOA accuracy guarantee with a wide variety of bullet weights. The free-floated aluminum handguard has Picatinny rails at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock. MSRP is $1,690.
Marlin has added a short-action version of its XL7 bolt-action rifle for 2009. Dubbed the XS7, the new rifle will be available in .243 Win., 7mm-08, and .308 Win. with a black or a camo synthetic stock.
Marlin bills its new-for-2009 lever-action 1895 SBL as "the ultimate guide gun." In case you missed it on the cover of the March issue of Shooting Times, the stainless-steel .45-70 has a weather-proof laminate stock, an oversized lever loop, and a scope-mounting rail with integral ghost-ring sights. MSRP is $978.45.
Mossberg's new 100 ATR-based Night Train II is designed for extreme accuracy at long range and in low light. The Night Train II is available with a black or a digital-camo synthetic stock and comes with Mossberg's new LBA trigger system. The 22-inch, button-rifled barrel is free-floated and chambered for .308 Win. Other factory-installed options include a Harris bipod, a muzzle brake, a neoprene cheekpiece with interchangeable inserts, a Picatinny-spec scope-mounting rail, and a Barska 6-24X 60mm scope. MSRP is $913 to $949.
Nighthawk Custom's newest offerings are turn-bolt rifles built on the company's own CNC-machined actions. Two models--a hunting-weight gun and a tactical rifle--employ high-quality components, such as Broughton barrels, Manners stocks, and Jewell triggers and safeties, to deliver the utmost accuracy and reliability. A wide variety of metal finishes, stock patterns, and other options are available.
As usual, Remington has a number of new introductions, including several new hunting-specific AR-15s, such as the R-15 SS Varmint, but the big news on the semiauto front is Big Green's new .30 Remington AR. The new cartridge was designed to give near-.308 Winchester ballistics in a compact cartridge that would fit in a standard AR rifle. The first rifle chambered for the new cartridge has a fluted, 22-inch barrel and a crisp, single-stage trigger factory set between 4.5 and 5 pounds. The camo-clad rifle also has a fixed stock, ergonomic pistol grip, and a flat-top receiver. For more about the new R-15 .30 Remington AR, see the full-length shooting report on page 34.
Remington also has several new turn-bolts. Hunting rifles include a new Model 700 Varmint SF with a stainless, fluted barrel and the camo-clad, triangular-barreled Model 700 XHR (Extreme Hunting Rifle). The new Model 700 Target Tactical will appeal to long-range shooters, as it has a 26-inch, triangular barrel with 5R rifling; an oversized, tactical bolt knob; an externally adjustable trigger that can be set between 3 and 5 pounds; and a Bell & Carlson adjustable Medalist stock.
Ruger has enough new-for-2009 offerings to fill this entire article, including new Predator, Tactical, and Compact Hawkeye bolt guns. But one of my favorites is the Hawkeye Alaskan chambered for the new .416 Ruger cartridge that delivers a 400-grain projectile at more than 2,200 fps--perfect for busting big bears in the alders. The matte-stainless Alaskan has controlled-round feeding, a beefy claw extractor, and a Hogue OverMolded synthetic stock. Adjustable iron sights and Ruger's integral scope-mounting bases are standard. MSRP is $1,079.
The Model 77 Hawkeye is being offered in limited quantities in both stainless and matte versions chambered for the .300 H&H and the 6.5 Creedmoor. I am pleased to say that the 6.5 Creedmoor was introduced after I talked Ruger CEO Mike Fifer into chambering the sweet-shooting little 6.5 in a hunting-weight rifle. The trim, walnut stock and slim, 24-inch barrel are perfectly proportioned, making this one easy-handling package for deer and pronghorn hunting. MSRP is $803.
Competitive shooters will like the new competition-inspired Model 12 Palma rifle. The single-shot, right-bolt/right-port, .308 Palma rifle is built on a stainless action with a stainless, 30-inch barrel with 1:13-inch rate of twist. Its AccuTrigger is adjustable from 6 ounces to 2.5 pounds. A gray, laminated stock with a vented fore-end, integral bipod and hand-stop rail, adjustable comb, and three-way adjustable buttplate make this a real feature-packed piece. MSRP is $1,720.
Savage's new AccuStock is also big news this year. Consisting of an aluminum spine and bedding cradle molded right into the stock, the AccuStock is more rigid than conventional stocks. The bedding cradle securely holds the rifle's recoil lug in place with an adjustable wedge. Increased stiffness and a tight fit of the bedding lug make AccuStock-equipped rifles more accurate under the roughest conditions. The AccuStock is offered on several new and existing models. (For more about the AccuStock, see Layne Simpson's article in the April issue of Shooting Times.)
With its 6.8mm SPC Spec II chamber and 20.77-inch stainless-steel barrel, the new M7 Hunter from Stag Arms is ideal for the AR-toting hunter. The M7 is built on Stag's forged upper and lower receivers of 7075 T6 aluminum. The flat-top upper is ready for scope mounting. The lower receiver houses a two-stage match trigger and soft, ergonomic pistol grip from Hogue. The free-floated, tubular handguard is also by Hogue. The medium-contour barrel has a recessed crown and is finished in a nonreflective, corrosion-resistant desert tan. The Spec II chamber has .001 more freebore than the standard 6.8 SPC, and its barrel has just four rifling grooves and a slower, 1:11-inch twist. These factors combine to reduce pressure so the Spec II ammunition can safely be loaded hotter than standard 6.8 loads. MSRP is $1,055.
The folks at Thompson/Center are excited about the new Venture series. This value-priced rifle's round action has a fat bolt that has a short, 60-degree bolt lift. The stock is a black, synthetic model with textured, cushioned inlays in the pistol grip and fore-end. The new Venture has a 1-MOA accuracy guarantee thanks to a crisp, adjustable trigger; 5R rifling; and match-grade muzzle crown. A detachable magazine holds three rounds of .270 Win., .30-06, 7mm Rem. Mag., or .300 Win.
Mag. MSRP is $499.
The new Precision Hunter from T/C is designed for folks who shoot tiny targets from afar. The new rifle is built on the Icon action and comes with an adjustable trigger and an integral Picatinny scope base. T/C's Interlock bedding system secures the barreled action in its brown laminate stock, and T/C's new cooling enhancement system acts with the 22-inch, match-grade barrel's fluting to draw cooler air up and around the barrel to prevent overheating. A 1-MOA accuracy guarantee is standard, and a factory test target is included with every gun. Available chamberings are .204 Ruger, .223 Rem., .22-250, .243 Win., and .308 Win. MSRP is $1,149.
The new Buck Stalker muzzleloader from Traditions was designed for hunters who prefer to sneak in on their quarry. Its lightweight, alloy frame and 24-inch barrel make this an easy-carrying, fast-handling muzzleloader. 209 ignition provides reliability, and the ability to fire full-power, 150-grain powder charges provides bone-crushing power. The PAS (Projectile Alignment System) from Traditions ensures consistent bulletseating for increased accuracy. Truglo fiber-optic sights help put those .50-caliber projectiles right on target. It is available in blue steel with a black synthetic stock or in nickel finish with a choice of black or camo synthetic stocks. MSRP is $181 to $249.
Weatherby's new Vanguard Predator rifle is designed for predator hunters who do lots of walking and calling. The Predator weighs just 8 pounds and has a 22-inch, hammer-forged, number 3-contour barrel with a recessed crown. The barreled action and synthetic stock are dipped in Natural Gear camo. Its trigger is tuned at the factory to an average pull weight of 3.15 pounds with a minimum of creep, but it is user-adjustable from 2.8 to 3.15 pounds. Like all Vanguards, the Predator comes with Weatherby's accuracy guarantee of 1½ inches or better at 100 yards. MSRP is $789.
Winchester has been very busy trying to keep up with orders for its new Model 70, but the company has found time to update the existing line with a few additional chamberings and two new models for 2009. New offerings include .270 Win., .270 WSM, and .300 WSM versions of the Super Grade; .25-06 Rem., 7mm WSM, and .338 Win. Mag. Sporters; and .22-250, .25-06, and 7mm WSM versions of the Featherweight. The .243 Win., 7mm WSM, 7mm Rem. Mag., .300 Win. Mag., and .338 Win. Mag. have been added to the Extreme Weather stainless model.
The new Coyote Light Model 70 is a stainless-steel, synthetic-stocked varmint slayer. It is offered in .22-250, .243 Win., .308 Win., .270 WSM, .300 WSM, and .325 WSM. MSRP is $1,069 to $1,099.
The value-priced Ultimate Shadow is available in .243 Win., .270 Win., .308 Win., .30-06, .270 WSM, .300 WSM, .325 WSM, 7mm Rem. Mag., and .300 Win. Mag. It retains the Model 70's claw extractor, one-piece bottom metal, Feather trigger, recessed target crown, and hammer-forged barrel. MSRP is $739 to $769.