New rifles for 2008 abound. Here are some of the hottest new models and the most-interesting new variations that were turning heads at the SHOT Show.

ArmaLite AR-10T

Once again, hundreds of cool new products were unveiled at the SHOT Show. I can't say I saw anything earthshaking, but there were some very nice new rifles. Some were cool or useful variations of popular, established models, and others were brand-spanking new. The following are a few of the highlights.

ArmaLite's latest introduction is not a new gun, but the addition of the .338 Federal cartridge to the line of AR-10 T precision rifles. The addition of .338 Federal ups the ante, making the popular AR-10 more suitable for hunting big game like elk and bear. A forged upper- and lower-receiver; Picatinny gas block; 22-inch, stainless-steel, match barrel; two-stage National Match trigger; and Armalite's free-float target handguard are all standard.

Barrett's REC7 is an AR-style carbine chambered for the powerful 6.8mm SPC cartridge. The heart of the REC7 is its reliable gas-piston system, which vents gases and unburned power out the front, rather than back into the action. The result is an ultrareliable gun that runs cleaner and cooler than conventional AR designs. Other features include forged upper and lower receivers, M-4 feedramps, flip-up iron sights, and an A.R.M.S. 50 M-CV mounting system.

Browning's new X-Bolt rifle turned a lot of heads. The new rifle retains the A-Bolt's short 60-degree bolt lift but improves on the design with a sexy, redesigned stock; a detachable, rotary magazine; a bolt unlock button; and the new X-Lock scope mounting system, which employs four screws, one at each corner, to secure the scope bases.Browning's new X-Bolt Feather Trigger is the X-Bolt's most noteworthy feature. The user-adjustable trigger uses three levers to minimize perceived creep and to provide a crisp, clean trigger pull. The trigger is factory-set at approximately 31⁄2 pounds but is user-adjustable from 3 to 51⁄2 pounds. The X-Bolt will be available in wood- and synthetic-stocked versions.

CZ-USA has announced an improved version of its classic Model 550 American rifle. The new rifle combines classic CZ features like a controlled-round feed, Mauser-style action; integral scope-mounting bases; single-set trigger; hammer-forged barrel; and a totally redesigned stock. The new walnut stock is trimmer and sleeker with a more modern checkering pattern, offering improved looks and handling.

DPMS wasted no time chambering a rifle for the new 6.5 Creedmoor round. The Panther 6.5 Creedmoor was designed to make the most of this long-range cartridge, as evidenced by its 24-inch, stainless-steel, heavy barrel; flat-top upper; and Koelbl single-rail gas block. Like all DPMS offerings, the Creedmoor's upper and lower receivers are milled from solid billets of T6 aluminum.

Ed Brown
Ed Brown's new A5 Tactical was designed with long-range, pinpoint precision in mind. It is built around Brown's own controlled-round-feed action with a 26-inch, stainless-steel, match barrel by Shilen. The stock is McMillan's A-5 model with an adjustable comb, beavertail fore-end, and removable buttstock spacers to accommodate shooters of all sizes. The A5 Tactical is offered in .308 Winchester or .300 Winchester Magnum and with either a Badger Ordinance detachable-magazine system or a hinged floorplate.

FNH USA's new line of PSR precision rifles have free-floated, fluted, match barrels for utmost accuracy and reliable Pre-'64 Model 70-style actions. Each barreled action is bedded in a McMillan fiberglass stock that is available in black or OD green, and it comes with a standard floorplate or with a detachable, five-round magazine. It is available in .308 Win. and .300 WSM.

Browning X-Bolt

Henry has announced its first .30-30 lever-action, and it's sure to draw a lot of attention. The new model, called the Lever .30-30, is available with a blued-steel receiver and a 20-inch round barrel or a brass receiver and a 20-inch octagonal barrel. Receivers are drilled and tapped for scope mounting and feature Henry's easy-to-load tubular-feed design. Other features of the new Lever .30-30 include straight-grip, American walnut stocks and Marbles reversible white-diamond semibuckhorn fully adjustable rear sights and brass-bead front sights. The magazine capacity is six rounds, the overall length is 39 inches, and the weight is 8.3 pounds. The Lever .30-30 is Hornady LEVERevolution compatible.

Kimber has several exciting new offerings this year. The heavy-barreled Sonora will appeal to hunters tasked with making long shots in wide-open spaces, and the lightweight, stainless Talkeetna will find favor with hunters who need a packable big-bore rifle that will withstand the inclement weather of the North Country.

But the announcement that got me most excited was the addition of the .257 Roberts to the Kimber line. This fine little round is a perfect match for the diminutive 84M action and should be well-received by riflemen the world over. The .257 Roberts will be available in the 84 Montana and the 84M Classic Select.

The new KP1 utility gun from Knight Rifles can go from muzzleloader to centerfire to rimfire in the blink of an eye. The Whitetail series is a .50-caliber muzzleloader with a 209 primer ignition system. It is available in several combination packages with three centerfire calibers, two barrel finishes, and two stock finishes. The Varmint series combination package features a rimfire/centerfire caliber option, and the KP1 Magnum series interchangeable gun system starts as a .50-caliber muzzleloader in three stock finishes and two barrel finishes with a choice of seven popular calibers.

Les Baer
Les Baer Custom introduced two cool new ARs this year, both chambered for the 6.5 Grendel. The Super Varminter has a heavy stainless match barrel; a free-float aluminum handguard; a Jewel two-stage match trigger; and Les Baer's forged, precision-machined upper and lower receivers. [For readers who would like to know more about the 6.5 Grendel round, see the February 2005 issue of Shooting Times.]

The other new offering is an M-4 style rifle with a 16-inch, medium-weight, stainless-steel barrel and a free-float aluminum handguard with four Picatinny rails.


Baer also introduced three custom loads by Black Hills Ammunition loaded exclusively for Baer to go with the new rifles.

Marlin's new XL7 is a feature-packed, affordable rifle. Key features include Marlin's new Pro-Fire trigger, Soft-Tech recoil pad, and a pillar-bedded synthetic stock. The Pro-Fire trigger is user adjustable down to 21⁄2 pounds and is virtually creep-free. Other features include a fluted bolt, a checkered bolt handle, and a recessed target crown. The XL7 is available in popular deer-getters like the .25-06, .270, and .30-06 with black or Realtree APG-HD synthetic stock. [See the March 2008 issue of Shooting Times for more information about the new Marlin XL7.]

Mossberg's new lever-action Model 464 is turning a lot of heads this year. Its precision-machined receiver is designed for long life and a solid lockup. The receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounting, and the ejection port is positioned to allow empties to eject cleanly. Other features include a button-rifled barrel, a recessed muzzle crown, and a tang safety. The 464 is available in .22 LR and .30-30. [For a hands-on shooting review of the new Model 464, see Technical Editor Dick Metcalf's report on p. 39 of this issue.]

CZ 550 American

Nighthawk Custom
Nighthawk Custom, known for building high-quality 1911 pistols, has just announced that it will also be producing custom bolt-action rifles. The new rifles will be built on Nighthawk's proprietary action, which is made of 4140 chrome-moly steel that is heat-treated to 37 Rockwell. The new rifles incorporate a Winchester-style, three-position safety; a Sako-style extractor; Remington-style push feed; and a Jewell adjustable trigger. Other innovations include wire EDM bolt raceways, a bolt helix that is designed to provide a cam action for smoother bolt opening and closing, and a fire-control system that is engineered for reduced bolt lift. Stock options include carbon fiber, fiberglass tactical, and exhibition-grade claro walnut.

As usual, Big Green introduced a bunch of new guns this year. New offerings include some limited-edition guns and some nice hunting rifles, but the Model 700 XCR Compact Tactical is the one that caught my eye.

With a fluted, medium-contour, 20-inch barrel and a quality composite stock with integral aluminum bedding block, the Model 700 XCR Tactical is the perfect crossover rifle. Weighing just 71⁄2 pounds, it is light enough to tote on walking-and-calling expeditions or while still hunting through the deer woods, but it is heavy enough to help you stay on target on a busy prairie dog town. It is available in .223 and .308.

Rock River
Rock River's new Elite Comp rifle was designed to give users the best of both worlds--a fast-handling carbine with precision-rifle accuracy. Features include Rock River forged 7075 T6 aluminum upper and lower receiver, flat-top upper, flip-up front and rear sights, Magpul CTR stock, and Rock River two-stage National Match trigger. A 1:9 twist rate handles most bullet weights well, and the carbine's innovative mid-length, Half-Quad, free-floating handguard allows users to mount accessories and also offers a more comfortable, snag-free grip.

Savage's new Model 25 features a diminutive action built specifically for small cartridges like the .204 Ruger and .223 Rem. The trim new action is built around .223 bolt-head dimensions, which results in an action that is both shorter and thinner than competing short-action designs. For 2008, Savage is offering three versions of the Model 25: the Lightweight Varminter, the Classic Sporter, and the Lightweight Varminter Thumbhole. [See the May 2008 issue of Shooting Times for a full-length report on the Model 25.]

SIG Sauer
SIG Sauer's new 556 SWAT carbine is the fully loaded version of the original 556. The SWAT version adds an aluminum handguard with accessory rails, a Magpul CTR stock, and a vertical foregrip with built-in tactical light to the rugged and reliable gas-piston design.

Smith & Wesson
Smith & Wesson's iBolt rifle is now available in stainless steel and in matte blue finish with a Realtree All Purpose camo synthetic stock. As with all iBolts, the new AP models come with S&W's innovative Tru-Set Trigger system, which is user-adjustable in 1-pound increments from 3 to 6 pounds. Other features include a T/C match-grade barrel and a one-piece, Weaver-style scope base.

Stag Arms
The new Model 6 Super Varminter from Stag Arms is the firm's first entry into the AR-15 precision-rifle market. With features like a 24-inch, stainless-steel bull barrel; free-float aluminum handguard; two-stage, National Match trigger; and 1/2 MOA accuracy, it should do well. As with all of Stag's rifles, a left-handed version--the Model 6L--is also available.

DPMS Panther 6.5 Creedmoor

Sturm, Ruger
Ruger's new Model 77 Compact Magnum rifles are chambered in two new cartridges: the .300 and .338 RCM (Ruger Compact Magnum). Based on a shortened .375 Ruger case, the .300 and .338 RCMs are said to deliver .300 and .338 Win. Mag. performance from short barrels. The nicely balanced, fast-handling Model 77 Compact Magnum is designed to make the most of that performance.

The new rifles come with Ruger's LC6 trigger for a crisp, light pull right out of the box and a trim stock with cut checkering and short length of pull. A soft rubber recoil pad, adjustable Williams sights, and a steel floorplate are also standard. The Model 77 RCM is also available in a stainless-steel, synthetic version.

Taurus had intended to discontinue the .357 Magnum/.38 Special version of its Thunderbolt pump-action rifle this year, but based on customer demand, the company has brought it back. The Thunderbolt .357 Magnum comes with a 26-inch barrel, an adjustable buckhorn rear sight, a hand-fitted hardwood stock, a crescent-shaped buttplate, and a hammer-mounted decocker button. It is available in blued, blued/casehardened, or polished stainless finishes. Magazine capacity is 14 rounds, overall length is 43 inches, and weight is 8.1 pounds.

The big news this year at Thompson/Center is the new Icon WS (Weather Shield). The Icon WS shares key Icon features like its match-grade barrel, detachable magazine, integral scope-mounting rail, and replaceable bolt knob. The new version features T/C's Weather Shield finish, which is virtually weather proof. The WS is available with a Hogue overmolded stock in black or Realtree's AP camo.

The new Outfitte

r from Traditions is a break-action platform that can go from muzzleloader to centerfire rifle to shotgun with a quick barrel change. Its 24-inch Wilson Arms rifled barrels come drilled and tapped for scope mounting. The 28-inch muzzleloader barrel is fluted and ported, and it comes with fiber-optic sights and a quick-release breechplug. It is available with standard and thumbhole stocks, both with soft-touch camo finish.

Weatherby has expanded its popular Vanguard line with a new custom model aimed squarely at hard-charging, high-country hunters. The Back Country was designed for hunts where weight is at a premium. Its stainless-steel, fluted barreled action is pillar-bedded into an Ultralight composite stock, and a recoil-reducing Pachmayr Decelerator pad is standard.

For many shooters, the return of "The Rifleman's Rifle" was the highlight of the SHOT Show. The new Model 70 will be produced at the state-of-the-art FN plant in Columbia, South Carolina. This modern facility should do a fine job of restoring this American icon to its former glory.

The new Model 70s have all the features riflemen have come to expect on a Model 70, such as controlled-round feed, a beefy claw extractor, a three-position safety, and a hammer-forged barrel. The only major change is the new M.O.A. trigger system, which uses three levers to make it feel like it has no take-up, creep, or overtravel. It will come from the factory set at 33⁄4 pounds, but it is user adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds.

Old favorites like the Featherweight Deluxe, Sporter Deluxe, and Super Grade will be back in production, and a new model, the Extreme Weather SS, will also join the lineup. The Extreme Weather SS has a stainless-steel, fluted barrel; a stainless action; and a Bell and Carlson composite stock.

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