August 30, 2018
By Steve Gash
The past year has been tumultuous, with ups and downs across many business segments. While the general economy is booming, the gun industry traditionally “lags behind” in both upturns and downturns. Thus, while the new wares introduced for 2018 are somewhat restrained, there is nonetheless plenty of new iron to tempt those of us who worship at the altar of the rifled steel tube.
The ascendancy of “long-range” and “chassis” rifles continues. Just about every manufacturer offers some variation on this theme: bolt actions that look like ARs are heavy enough to be a boat anchor with barrels as long as tomato stakes. And if it isn’t chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor, well, it just isn’t hip. Here is a brief compilation of new rifles for 2018.
Our friends at Brownells have recreated what they call “a piece of history” with the BRN-10 .308-caliber battle rifle designed by Eugene Stoner. The BRN-10 is built to modern standards on high-tech machinery, which results in a superior product. The distinctive lines of the ArmaLite AR-10 are faithfully reproduced, including the slab-sided lower receiver with the traditional straight-sided magazine well. A 20-round magazine is provided. The receiver is fully machined, not forged, from a 7075 T6 aluminum billet. Authenticity carries even to the takedown pins, selector lever, and magazine and bolt releases that have the horizontal serrations like the originals. There is no forward assist or shell deflector. The charging handle is the original trigger style. The rear sight is the adjustable A2. The 20-inch barrel has a 1:10-inch twist, a 0.750-inch gas block, and 5/8-24 threads at the muzzle. Weight: 9 pounds.
Browning X-Bolt Pro
The Browning X-Bolt continues to evolve, and new this year the X-Bolt Pro offers custom rifle features at a production rifle price. The stock is constructed with a 360-degree carbon-fiber wrap over a compressed foam core with textured gripping panels, a palmswell, and a lustrous Burnt Bronze Cerakote finish. The action is stainless steel, and the bolt has spiral flutes. It has the Feather Trigger, free-floated barrel, bolt-unlock button, tang safety, 60-degree bolt lift, detachable rotary magazine, Inflex Recoil pad, and sling-swivel studs. The X-Bolt Pro is available in 6.5 Creedmoor, .270, 7mm Rem. Mag., .308, .30-06, .300 Win. Mag., 26 Nosler, and 28 Nosler. Barrel lengths are 22 inches for standard calibers and 26 inches for magnum rounds, except for the 26 Nosler, which sports a 22-inch tube.
Price: $2,069 (standard calibers), $2,099 (magnum calibers), $2,129 (Nosler calibers)
Cimarron U.S. Marshal
Everybody knows that the classic Winchester Model 1873 is the “rifle that won the West.” Now western buffs can own a piece of history in the form of the new Cimarron U.S. Marshal. While the original was chambered for the .44-40 black-powder round, today’s version shoots the .44 Magnum. The Marshal has an 18-inch round barrel, a carbine buttstock, and a barrel band. The stock and forearm are of nice walnut, and the fit and finish are top drawer. It’s a step back into American history.
CMMG Mk4 DTR2 .224 Valkyrie
The folks at CMMG make high-quality ARs chambered for a host of different cartridges, and they are quick to seize upon a good opportunity. The latest addition chambers the new .224 Valkyrie cartridge from Federal. This little gem is the 6.8 SPC case necked down to .22 caliber, and it gives exceptional long-range performance out of an AR rifle. The new Mk4 DTR2 has a 24-inch, medium-taper barrel with a fast 1:7-inch twist, so it will handle the heavy bullets Federal is loading in the cartridge. The rifle has a CMMG SV muzzle brake, a Magpul MOE pistol grip and PRS stock, and the excellent Geissele trigger. It has a RML 14 M-LOK handguard and an all-new CMMG-designed ambi charging handle. The upper and lower receivers are of 7075-T6 aluminum, and the rifle comes with a 10-round 6.8 SPC magazine and CMMG’s lifetime guarantee. I have not fired a CMMG .224 yet, but I have in 22 Nosler and 6.5 Grendel and can state that they’re the real deal.
CZ-USA Model 557 American Left Hand
A few years ago, CZ replaced its controlled-feed Model 550 with the new Model 557 push-feed action, with a spate of new versions and chamberings. The Model 557 has a machined receiver, a short extractor, and a plunger ejector, and the push-feed design makes loading and unloading a single cartridge easier. The Model 557 line expands again this year with the addition of dedicated left-hand models in both short and long actions that are available in .308, .30-06, and .300 Win. Mag. Barrel lengths are 24 inches, except for the .300, which has a 26-inch barrel. The big news for southpaws is the addition of the 26, 28, and 30 Nosler cartridges. These also have 26-inch barrels and are about tops in power for their bore sizes. Right-hand Model 557s are available in numerous popular calibers with Turkish walnut or synthetic stocks. The metal is nicely blued.
Price: $832 to $865
Franchi is well known for its fine shotguns, but this year the company is offering its first rifle. Called the Momentum, it has several features that enhance accuracy and ergonomics, and it’s chambered for six of today’s most popular hunting cartridges: .243, .270, .308, 6.5 Creedmoor, .30-06, and .300 Win. Mag. This, of course, requires short and long actions. The Momentum is available with or without a threaded muzzle and can be had with a Burris Fullfield II 3-9X 40mm scope in Burris steel rings. The cold hammer-forged barrels are 22 inches long for all cartridges except the 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 Win. Mag., which have 24-inch tubes. The most distinctive feature of the Momentum is its revolutionary black synthetic stock. It has raised pads of “checkering” at strategic places that provide a good grip and are good-looking, too. The sling-swivel studs are built in, and it has Franchi’s highly effective TSA recoil pad with integrated contours that absorb about 50 percent of the recoil. The scoped packages are a tremendous value.
Price: $609 (rifle only), $729 (scoped package)
Henry Repeating Arms Patriot Series
Henry has three new lever-action rifles in the Golden Boy line. Called the Patriot Series, they celebrate America, patriotism, and the Second Amendment. All have ornate receivers with scroll engraving or Cerakote finishes with iconic images highlighted in 24-carat gold. Stocks are also engraved and hand painted with patriotic scenes. The “Stand for the Flag” and “God Bless America” editions are available in .22 rimfire, and the latter model is also available in .44 Special/.44 Magnum.
Price: $1,208 (Golden Boy), $1,503 (Big Boy)
Howa BRAVO Precision Rifle
One of the many brands imported by Legacy Sports International is the Howa. New this year is the Howa BRAVO Precision rifle. This is a sort of “hybrid” design that combines traditional looks with modern chassis features that should appeal to a multitude of shooters. It is available with a black or a flat dark earth finish and is chambered for the .308, 6mm Creedmoor, and 6.5 Creedmoor. The threaded barrel lengths are 20, 24, and 26 inches, depending on the chambering. It carries Howa’s sub-MOA accuracy guarantee and lifetime warranty, and it provides conventional target/varmint ergonomics, as the stock is adjustable for length of pull and has an M-LOK-compatible fore-end. The bedding area is precision machined for consistent accuracy, and the stiff full-length aluminum backbone will not let the fore-end flex upon firing. This is essential for good accuracy. The BRAVO comes with a 10-round AICS-pattern magazine.
Price: $1,279 to $1,339
Kimber Open Country
Kimber fleshed out its bolt-action sporter line with a model made for hunters who move and call. The Open Country is available in 6.5 Creedmoor and .308; weighs a hair under 7 pounds; and has a 24-inch, four-groove barrel. The controlled-feed action is stainless steel with a Mauser-type claw extractor, and the magazine capacity is four rounds. It has a three-position Model 70-type safety, and the adjustable trigger is set at 3 to 3.5 pounds. The metal is finished in gray KimPro II. The stock is a reinforced carbon-fiber that has sling-swivel studs, a 1-inch recoil pad, and pillar bedding. The stock finish is either granite or Optifade Open Country Pattern.
Mauser has been producing hunting rifles for about two centuries, and the latest is called the M18. The new M18 incorporates good performance, ergonomics, and durability at a great price. The steel receiver carries a three-lug bolt and has a cold hammer-forged barrel. The rifle will be available first in .308 Win. and .30-06 and later this year in .243 Win., .270 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm Rem. Mag., and .300 Win. Mag. Capacity of the removable box magazine is five rounds. Barrel lengths are 22 inches for standard calibers and 24.4 inches for the magnums. The trim M18 weighs less than 7 pounds without a scope. The classic-styled stock is a synthetic compound with soft gripping inlays and is flat black in color. The metal is “black burnished.”
Mossberg MVP LC
Mossberg is America’s oldest family-owned firearms company, and this year, the popular MVP line includes the new Light Chassis (LC) version. Checking in at 7.5 to 7.75 pounds, the rifle has a lightweight aluminum chassis that is tan-finished aluminum, and the barrel is matte blue. The medium-weight bull barrels are fluted and are threaded 5/8-24. Chamberings are 5.56 NATO, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 7.62 NATO, and all feed from AR-type magazines. The rifle features a Magpul CTR adjustable stock, MOE grip, and a 10-round PMAG. The stock has a modular base that makes contact with the receiver only on its V-shaped bedding and recoil lug areas. This promotes consistently good accuracy. The trigger is user adjustable from 3 to 7 pounds.
Remington Model 700 PCR
The bread and butter rifle of America’s oldest gunmaker is the Model 700, which has been made in dozens of configurations. For 2018 the Model 700 comes out in Big Green’s version of the chassis rifle: the PCR. This rifle has an aircraft-grade aluminum chassis and is based on Remington’s experience with sniper rifles in use by our armed forces all over the world. The PCR is chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor, .260 Remington, and .308, and it has a 24-inch threaded barrel. The stock is a Magpul Gen 3 with a wide range of adjustments that allow the user to customize the fit. The lightweight aluminum handguard is free floating. The barrel has 5R rifling that fouls less and is said to deliver sub-MOA accuracy. Weight: 10.5 pounds.
Rigby Highland Stalker
The latest creation from London gunmaker John Rigby & Co. is the Highland Stalker. In these days of rifles with bolt-on gizmos and plastic parts, this Rigby is a refreshing reminder of the past. It recreates the classic British “Best” game rifle that evokes memories of foot safaris and dusty tent camps on the veldt, with lions roaring in the distant mist. It is inspired by Rigby’s small-caliber rifles that were used by such luminaries as Karamojo Bell and Jim Corbett. The stock has Grade-5 wood; nice, conservative checkering; a solid red rubber recoil pad; and a rounded pistol grip. The traditional shortened fore-end places the front sling-swivel stud on the bottom of the barrel. Of course, there are the traditional Rigby open sights. It is available in versions for both men and women and is chambered for the .275 Rigby (7x57mm Mauser), .308, .30-06, 8x57mm Mauser, and 9.2x62mm Mauser. It’s a gem.
Rock River Arms Fred Eichler Predator2
Rock River Arms is well known for slick ARs, and the latest is, well, just plain cute. The Fred Eichler Series Predator2 features a Ghost Camo Cerakote finish with little paw prints on it. It is chambered for .223 Remington with a Wylde chamber and has a 16-inch, cryo-treated, fluted barrel with a 1:8-inch twist. The A4 upper and A2 lower are forged, and the rifle includes a 30mm high-rise scope mount. The trigger pull is a crisp 3.5 to 4 pounds. Rock River says this is a serious predator rifle that is capable of 0.75-MOA accuracy.
Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target
Ruger’s new Long-Range Target Hawkeye blends the traditionally stocked bolt-action rifle with features dear to the long-range crowd. The cold hammer-forged barrel is 24 inches long and has 5R rifling and Ruger’s new Hybrid Muzzle Brake, which is said to reduce both noise and side blast. The chambering is an old-timer of proven long-range accuracy, the .300 Win. Mag., but with a 1:9-inch twist instead of the 1:10-inch standard for the round, making it better suited for today’s long, skinny bullets. The synthetic stock is sturdy and adjustable, and the weight is 10.7 pounds. While the action has the Hawkeye’s integral scope mounts, a 20-MOA Picatinny rail is secured with larger 8-40 screws. The rifle ships with one, five-round standard AI magazine, and it has a two-stage target trigger. All of this adds up to a nice-looking “compromise design” that should appeal to a broad spectrum of folks who are interested in long-range shooting but aren’t comfortable with the pseudo-ninja image.
Savage MSR 15 Recon LRP
Savage makes well-designed ARs, and new for 2018 is one chambered for the brand-new and red-hot .224 Valkyrie from Federal. Based on the 6.8 SPC case necked down, the Valkyrie delivers high velocities with heavy bullets and superior downrange performance without the recoil of larger cartridges. The MSR 15 has all the goodies of the genre, a mid-length gas system, and an adjustable gas block so the shooter can fine-tune the gun to his load. The MSR 15 is also chambered for the 22 Nosler and 6.8 SPC. All have 18-inch barrels, 1:7-inch twists, and a tunable muzzle brake.
Springfield Armory SAINT Edge
Springfield Armory has another iteration of its popular SAINT AR called the Edge. This feature-packed AR has a 16-inch barrel with a 1:8-inch twist that has a Melonite finish inside and out. I have a SAINT, and this finish absolutely resists bore fouling. There is a multi-port muzzle brake. The trigger is a single-stage short-reset design that is a delight to use. Gone is the “F-style” front sight of the original SAINT that made shooting with a scope a pain. The Edge’s upper receiver and free-floated handguard are flat-top all the way, so mounting scopes, lights, lasers, or what have you is a snap. All in all, it’s a great gun.
Steyr Mannlicher Zephyr II
This lovely little rifle is a rebirth of the original Zephyr, which was produced from 1955 through 1971. Classic in style, yet thoroughly modern, it is a solid bolt-action rimfire hunting rifle. The Teutonic-styled European walnut stock has a Bavarian cheekpiece and fish-scale checkering. It has a tang safety, a five-round detachable box magazine, and a 19.7-inch barrel with Mannox finish. A threaded muzzle is available. Weight is only 5.8 pounds, and it’s chambered for the .22 Long rifle, .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, and .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire rounds.
Tikka T1x MTR
From Finland comes the Tikka T1x MTR (Multi Task Rimfire), a thoroughly modern rifle that shares the same bedding surfaces, inlay footprint, and trigger as Tikka’s T3x centerfire rifles. The T1x barrels are either 16 or 20 inches long and are hammer forged in the SAKO plant. The T1x is chambered for the .22 Long Rifle and the .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire, and the twists are 1:16.5 and 1:9 inches respectively. The detachable box magazine holds 10 rounds. The synthetic stock can be adjusted by swapping out the pistol grip insert or fore-end panels, and the length of pull can be changed with spacers.
Uberti 1873 Limited Edition Short Rifle Deluxe
Serious rifle buffs will get a case of the vapors over this limited-edition 1873 from Uberti. This ornate replica is a fully functional work of art. The buttstock and forearm are of A-Grade walnut with a satin finish. As befitting a “short rifle,” it has the standard crescent buttplate and a steel forearm cap. The 20-inch blued octagon barrel is chambered for .45 Colt, and the tubular magazine holds 10 cartridges. This 1873 has a case-hardened steel frame and lever that are extensively hand-engraved by the renowned Atelier Giovanelli after an original pattern from the 19th century featuring game and scroll. Thus, each rifle is wholly unique. The pièce de résistance is the “John Wayne” loop. This feature was actually available on the originals, as it allowed a gloved hand to operate the lever smoothly.
Weatherby Vanguard First Lite
The Vanguard First Lite is Weatherby’s answer to those wanting a spiffy long-range hunting rifle. The Monte Carlo stock has a modest right-hand palmswell and textured gripping panels on the pistol grip and fore-end. The stock finish is Weatherby’s First Lite Fusion Camo. The metal finish is a flat dark earth Cerakote. The Fusion Lite is chambered in Weatherby’s .240, .257, 6.5-300, and .300 Magnums, as well as the .270 Win. and .308 Win., .30-06, and .300 Win. Mag. The safety is a three-position unit, and the trigger is a match-quality adjustable two-stage part. The #2 contour barrels are cold hammer-forged and are 26 inches long in most magnum calibers and 24 inches long in standard and .240 Weatherby calibers.
Winchester XPR Sporter
Winchester debuted the XPR chassis rifle last year, and this year the company offers the XPR Sporter. It has a Grade-1 satin-finished Turkish walnut stock with 18-lpi laser checkering. Sling-swivel studs and a 1-inch recoil pad are provided. Chambered for the .243, the XPR has a slim, free-floating 22-inch contour barrel that is button rifled and stress relieved and has a recessed target crown and a matte black finish. The box magazine is detachable. Several composite parts contribute to the delightful weight of 6.75 pounds. The XPR Sporter looks like a fine companion for the field.