September 22, 2010
By Dick Metcalf
There's something fresh in firearms for everyone, from varmint hunters to deerslayers to waterfowlers.
By Dick Metcalf
Things change, but they also stay the same. One of the new trends in hunting firearms in 2007 is semi-automatic military-origin rifles being used in ever-greater numbers in ever-wider areas of hunting. At the same time, we are seeing a continuation of the trend toward ever-lighter, ever-quicker, and ever-more-comfortable tools. Centerfire rifles with more compact actions, and with the most crisp, user-friendly trigger pull available, continue to surge. In the rimfire world, new compact and premium-grade rifles are emerging. Shotguns are lighter every year, with continuing advances in recoil-management features. Even muzzleloaders have jumped on the convenience and speed wagon, with recoil-compensating stocks and easy-maintenance systems. Here are some top hunting gun picks for 2007.
ARMALITE AR-10(T) ULTRA .300 RSAUM
All sporting and hunting rifle designs in the world had their beginnings as military weapons. The proven AR platform is now rapidly moving into the same arena, as semiautomatic AR-type rifles become increasingly popular in the hunting fields, from varmint shooting to predator hunting to trophy game. ArmaLite is now offering a true big-game version of the classic AR design, the Model AR-10(T) Ultra. It's chambered in .300 Remington Short Action Ultra Magnum (RSAUM), with ballistics equivalent to a long-action .300 Winchester Magnum. The 24-inch match grade barrel and two-stage match trigger make this a superb long-range elk rifle. Minute-of-angle accuracy is guaranteed. The AR-10(T) comes with one five-round magazine, owner's manual and limited lifetime warranty, and is available with black or green stock and forend.
BENELLI SUPER BLACK EAGLE II
As the original 3 1/2-inch semiautomatic shotgun, the Super Black Eagle was on the cutting edge of shotgun development. Now, Benelli has followed it with the newly designed Super Black Eagle II featuring the innovative recoil-reducing ComforTech stock. The Super Black Eagle II uses the Benelli Inertia Driven bolt mechanism that allows it to shoot 2 3/4-inch, 3-inch and even 3 1/2-inch magnum ammunition without adjustments. In addition, it incorporates some basic improvements, such as a drilled and tapped receiver.
The new ComforTech system reduces recoil up to 48 percent when compared with the competition, without adding any moving parts or weight. Next to competing brands, the Benelli weighs 13 to 15 percent less -- on average, that's more than a pound less! The ComforTech system also reduces muzzle climb by 15 percent, allowing for fast follow-up shots. The buttpad, made of a shock-absorbing gel originally developed for the medical industry, works with the ComforTech system to soak up recoil. Benelli engineers created an ergonomic design so refined that left- and right-handers have entirely different recoil pads.
BERETTA AL391 URIKA 2
Beretta is introducing an enhanced version of the award-winning AL391 Urika shotgun that has sold over 1.5 million units worldwide since its introduction.
The Beretta gas system is faster than any other operating system, and it's been improved by the addition of a spinning and self-cleaning action. As gas pressure is fed into the gas cylinder, a series of expandable fingers on the piston expand outwardly to clean the gas cylinder as the action cycles.
Additionally, the gas piston is imparted with a spinning motion and "scraper teeth" to ensure carbon deposits are thoroughly dislodged and removed from the gas system. This improved cleaning action greatly contributes to enhanced reliability.
In addition, selected models of the Urika 2 are available with Beretta's "Kick Off" technology, a Beretta patent that far exceeds the claimed performance of the competition in similar systems of recoil reduction. This technology has been carried over from the success of the Xtrema2. It is a true hydraulic recoil reduction borrowed from proven automotive technology.
BROWNING BLR TAKEDOWN LEVER-ACTION
Since Bruce Browning designed the Browning Lever-Action Rifle, better known as the BLR, this workhorse has gone through numerous configuration changes. Now you can add a new configuration to the impressive list of Browning BLRs. For 2007, the BLR will be offered in two takedown models, one with a pistol grip and one with a straight grip stock. With the flip of a lever, storage and travel now becomes a non-issue. A scout-style scope mount is available as an accessory, which puts the scope directly on the barrel, where it is not affected by any variations caused by taking the gun apart or putting it back together.
The timeless Browning BLR is available in all the popular short- and long-action calibers from .22-250 to .300 Winchester Magnum, including the tough .450 Marlin, .358 Win. and the entire WSM family.
CVA ELECTRA ARC MAGNUM SERIES
Featuring the patent-pending ARC Electronic Ignition, CVA's new Electra rifles are like no other muzzleloaders. This ignition is completely sealed from the elements -- there's not even a flash-hole. No parts other than the barrel have to be cleaned of fouling -- ever! Ignition is instantaneous. The trigger pull is incredibly clean, because the "trigger" is really an electronic switch. Since there is no pressure explosion, as there is with primer ignitions, there is no accuracy-robbing displacement of the charge, allowing full and consistent burn of the powder charge at the bottom of the barrel. One 9-volt battery will reliably fire the rifle at least 500 times, and the battery will last 600 hours (25 days) -- and that's if it is left turned on! All Electras are equipped with a premium Bergara barrel for unmatched accuracy.
CZ-USA MODEL 452 AMERICAN COMPACT .22
The new CZ 452 American .22 rimfire follows the trend toward ever-more-compact and handy shooting tools with a 16-inch compact barrel. The stock has a straight comb and is made without open sights. The top of the receiver is fitted with a 3/8-inch-wide dovetail groove for mounting a scope. As with all CZ rifles, the stock is Turkish walnut.
The CZ 452 American is a high-quality rimfire rifle designed for the U.S. market, true to the lines of the classic American sporter style rifle. Made without sights, the top of the receiver is machined with a 3/8-inch-wide dovetail groove for mounting standard rimfire dovetail rings. The CZ 452 American is shipped with a five-round magazine. The safety is located above the rear of the bolt and provides a positive firing pin block. Single-shot adapters, five-round magazines and 10-round magazines are available for this line of rimfire rifles.
FRANCHI HIGHLANDER SIDE-BY-SIDE SHOTGUN
The name Franchi is not new to a side-by-side shotgun, as Franchi produced a top-quality side-lock gun called the Imperial Monte Carlo back in the early 20th century. For 2007, Franchi has captured again the spirit of fine Italian gun making with its introduction of the Highlander. Available in both 12 and 20 gauge, the new Highlander features A-grade oiled walnut stocks with a Prince of Wales grip, a single trigger, ejectors, automatic safety and interchangeable screw-in chokes. Upland game scenes and scroll engraving grace the metal work to provide a beautiful, yet traditional style of side-by-side shotgun.
HENRY REPEATING FIREARMS 'GOLDEN BOY' .22
The Henry Golden Boy's 20-inch blued octagonal barrel, American walnut stock, brass buttplate and gleaming Brasslite receiver will transport you back to the wild and woolly days of America's Old West, when company founder Benjamin Tyler Henry designed the original Henry lever-action rifle. Small-game hunters and plinkers will appreciate its substantial 6 3/4-pound heft. It balances well and makes for highly accurate offhand shooting. The smooth action associated with Henry rifles opens and shuts with the effortless slickness lever lovers long for. Get one in your hands and take aim. See what a natural pointer it really is. Adding to the historic authenticity is the adjustable buckhorn-type rear sight. The .22 LR version holds 16 rounds. The .22 Magnum and .17 HMR both hold 12 rounds.
KIMBER MODEL 8400 CAPRIVI
Kimber has introduced the Model 8400 Caprivi, a spectacular rifle designed for hunting Africa's dangerous game. The Caprivi Strip, from which the rifle takes its name, is a piece of wild Africa known for abundant wildlife -- a place as rugged as it is beautiful.
The AA French walnut stock with hand-rubbed oil finish, ebony forend tip, 24-lpi wrap checkering and pancake cheekpiece set the Caprivi well above all other production rifles. A barrel band swivel stud, Howell-style rear swivel stud and three-leaf rear express sight speak to the rifle's true purpose. The heart of a rifle is the action, and the Caprivi does not disappoint. The Mauser claw extractor ensures positive feeding and extraction regardless of hunting conditions. The safety is a classic three-position wing. The match grade barrel, chamber and trigger ensure accuracy. Four .375 H&H cartridges ride in the magazine.
KNIGHT RIFLES KP1 UTILITY GUN
Knight's all-new KP1 utility gun is the only gun that can be transformed from a muzzleloader to centerfire rifle to rimfire rifle in the blink of an eye. This new utility rifle comes in three rifle configurations: The Knight KP1 Whitetail series starts as a .50-caliber muzzleloader that accommodates a 209 primer ignition system, and consumers can choose from several combination packages with three additional centerfire calibers, two barrel finishes and two stock finishes. The Knight KP1 Varmint series combination package features a rimfire/centerfire caliber option. The KP1 Magnum series interchangeable gun system starts as a .50-caliber muzzleloader that accommodates a 209 primer ignition system in three stock finishes and two barrel finishes. Knight offers seven additional popular caliber options to choose from, ranging from .17 HMR rimfire to .300 Winchester Magnum.
MARLIN FIREARMS .308 MARLIN EXPRESS
The new .308 Marlin Express cartridge was developed by Hornady in conjunction with Marlin, and is chambered exclusively in two new Marlin lever actions. It has enabled Marlin to create the first traditionally styled lever-action rifle that is chambered for a true "flat shooting" big-game cartridge. Ballistics for the .308 Marlin Express is virtually identical to the .308 Winchester, resulting in enough accuracy and energy to be lethal on game out to 400 yards.
This previously unheard of lever-action performance is made possible by Hornady's development of LEVEREVOLUTION ammunition technology, using new powder formulations and its exclusive Flex-Tip bullet design. The two Marlin models chambered for this round are the blued 308MX with a 22-inch barrel and walnut stock, and the stainless steel 308MXLR with a 24-inch barrel and laminated stock. Both rifles will be available during the second quarter of 2007.
MOSSBERG '4X4' BOLT-ACTION RIFLE
Based on the overwhelming success of the 100 ATR, Bolt-Action Rifle introduced in 2005, the new Mossberg "4x4" bolt-action is built with the "lines of a Ferrari and the chassis of a Hummer." The new 4x4s will be offered in eye-catching, space-age polymer, specially contoured American black walnut, and laminated stock models, each featuring Monte Carlo-style cheek pieces, slim line grips and soft, recoil-absorbing buttpads. A detachable box magazine, smooth, quick-handling bolt, free-floating, button-rifled barrel, sling swivel studs, and factory-installed Weaver-style scope bases round out the features.
With a full lineup of the most popular calibers, from the hulking .338 Winchester Magnum to the all-around .25/06 Remington, the 4x4 offers the opportunity to hunt any big game North America has to offer. Barrels are free-floating and button-rifled with a recessed muzzle crown for superior "out-of-the-box" accuracy. Factory-mounted, bore-sighted scoped combos are now available, featuring a 3-9x40mm variable centerfire rifle scope. It is available in a total of 48 configurations.
REMINGTON MODEL 798
Remington is bringing one of the most trusted bolt-actions of all time -- the Model 98 Mauser -- back into mainstream production. Long revered for its superior strength, smooth, reliable cartridge feed and inherent accuracy, the 98 action is now available from Remington in a wide range of modern calibers, both short and long action. The Model 798 has been reworked from butt to bore to meet the aesthetic and performance demands of today's hunter and shooter. The long-action Model 798 (square-bridge Mauser 98) features a richly blued barrel and receiver and American-made brown laminated stock. Barrels are clean, and receivers are drilled and tapped for standard Mauser 98 (long- and short-action) scope mounts.
Expect silky, ultra-positive feeding and ejection, rock-solid durability and exceptionally fast lock time. It's available in nine short-action and long-action chamberings from .243 Winchester to .458 Magnum.
RUGER M77 HAWKEYE
The New Ruger M77 Hawkeye rifles offer shooters enhanced ergonomics, improved checkering of the walnut stock, and the new LC6 trigger. In addition, these bolt-action rifles contain all the value-added characteristics of yesterday's Ruger rifles -- positive floor plate latch, integral scope mounts, three-position safety, and hammer forged barrels. The newly designed, slimmer walnut stock on the Ruger M77 Hawkeye has wrap-around checkering on the foregrip. The stock has more rounded contours along the barrel, on the bottom of the stock, and on the top of the pistol grip. The stock also features an all-new red rubber recoil pad with the Ruger logo, designed to absorb the most punishing recoil. Both versions of the M77 Hawkeye rifle -- walnut with matte blued finish, and the synthetic with stainless finish-- feature a new and improved trigger. The smooth, crisp Ruger LC6 trigger delivers improved out-of-the-box trigger pull for increased accuracy on the range and in the field. The steel floor plate has a patented floor plate latch for easy unloading without having to chamber each cartridge. The design eliminates accidental release or "dumping" of your ammunition. Like the Ruger M77 Mark II rifles, the new M77 Hawkeye features a Mauser-type controlled feed extractor for reliable performance and a three-position safety that allows the bolt to be locked, or the rifle to be loaded and unloaded with the safety on. Free scope rings (a $60-$80 added value), which mount on the integral scope bases, machined into each receiver, are included with every M77 rifle.
SAKO QUAD HUNTER/COMBO
The Sako Quad Combo is one rifle that has four barrels available to shoot -- .22 LR, .17 HMR, .22 WMR and .17 Mach2. Its easy barrel switch takes less than 20 seconds. Rimfire enthusiasts have come to appreciate the fun and the versatility given by the quick-interchangeable Quad barrel system. Now, the Sako Quad and Quad Combo are available with an attractive walnut stock that will please even the staunchest traditionalist. The stock features a tasteful but new checkering pattern that retains the "shark-gills" design typical of the Quad line. In all other respects, the Sako Quad Hunter is just as versatile and high tech as the synthetic version, with its detachable magazine, adjustable trigger and minute-of-angle accuracy.
SAVAGE RIMFIRE MARK II CLASSIC ACCUTRIGGER
Savage continues to expand its AccuTrigger-equipped bolt-action rimfire rifle line. New rimfire package guns include the AccuTrigger as a standard feature, plus a scope, rings and bases. All scopes in this series will now be mounted and bore-sighted just like the Savage Centerfire package rifles. Easily adjustable, the rimfire AccuTrigger will adjust from approximately 2 1/2 to 6 pounds. As far as availability, the rimfire AccuTrigger is now available in all Savage bolt-action heavy barrel rimfire rifles and in sporter models. New for 2007 is the .22 LR Rimfire Mark II Classic, with American walnut Monte Carlo stock with black forend tip featuring wraparound checkering, swivel studs, high-luster blued 24-inch barreled action, no sights, and Weaver-style bases installed.
STOEGER P-350 PUMP SHOTGUN
The Stoeger P-350 pump shotgun is a no-nonsense, ultra-rugged hunting gun designed to fire any and all types of 12-gauge ammunition -- 2 3/4-inch, 3-inch, 3 1/2-inch magnum, target loads, steel shot, lead shot or slugs, they're all on the P-350's diet. With rotating lugs similar to a high-powered rifle, the P-350 locks up secure as a vault and is designed to hold up to the most powerful 3 1/2-inch magnum loads, year after year after year. In addition, to cut down on the punishing recoil of 3 1/2-inch magnums, Stoeger has designed an 11-ounce mercury recoil reducer that screws right onto the stock bolt and can be quickly installed with no special tools. The P-350 is offered with 24-inch, 26-inch or 28-inch ventilated rib barrels or with a special 18 1/2-inch plain barrel for home defense. It's available in black synthetic, Advantage Max-4 HD or Advantage Timber HD camo.
THOMPSON/CENTER ICON BOLT-ACTION RIFLE
Thompson/Center Arms has introduced the Icon, its first bolt-action centerfire rifle. The initial models will be chambered in .22-250, .243, .308 and the new .30 TC cartridge. Featuring a 24-inch, button-rifled match grade barrel, the Icon comes standard with a 5R rifling design that enables long-term accuracy and consistency. At the end of the barrel, the Icon features a 60-
degree chamfered crown designed to increase accuracy and durability. The polished blue barrel has been fitted with a solid-top receiver with integral Weaver-style rails in front of and behind the ejection port.
Inside the Icon, the rifle features a uniform bedding block made possible by the innovative Interlok bedding system. The Interlok system provides a rigid and stable platform for securing the barreled action into the stock. At the rear of the CNC-machined receiver, the Icon features a polished steel cocking indicator, which provides the user with a visual and tactical reference that the firing pin is in the cocked position. Each Icon also comes standard with a full-diameter, three-lug bolt that incorporates an interchangeable bolt handleand a 60-degree bolt lift.
The rifle's two-position safety allows the user to load and unload the rifle with the safety on. Another key feature is the fully adjustable trigger that allows the user to adjust the trigger pull from 2.5 to 6 pounds without removing the rifle from the stock.
TIKKA T3 BIG BOAR RIFLE
The Tikka T3 Big Boar bolt-action is designed for hunters who pursue game in dense woods or from a tree stand, or for the rancher who likes to keep a versatile rifle handy in the back of his pickup. The T3 Big Boar Synthetic features a quick-handling 19-inch barrel, cold-hammer forged and free-floated. The stock is made of durable fiberglass-reinforced polymer, and it features a straight comb and ambidextrous palm-swell. The detachable magazine holds three rounds -- choose between .308 Win., .30/06 or .300 WSM. Overall, the rifle measures only 39.5 inches in length and tips the scales at 6.1 pounds. For whitetails, bears or boars, this is a serious rifle for close-quarters hunting.
TRADITIONS PURSUIT XLT EXTREME MUZZLELOADER
Traditions has combined its Pursuit XLT muzzleloader system with a Knoxx Compstock recoil system allowing up to a 75 percent reduction in felt recoil. The new XLT Extreme encourages better accuracy, allowing you to focus on your target, not the punishing recoil of magnum loads. The Knoxx CompStock, developed and patented by Knoxx Industries, LLC, has been received with enthusiasm by sportsmen, competitive shooters and law enforcement because of its ability to dramatically reduce recoil with light and heavy loads. Soft Touch stocks come standard on all Pursuit XLT and XLT Extreme Camouflaged stocks and forends. This feature is a rubberized coating that makes the stocks and forends impermeable to the elements while providing an ultra-sure grip and added comfort.
Also unique to Traditions muzzleloaders is a "Double Safety System." This allows you to cock the hammer and place the cross-block safety in the "on" or "safe" position. Then, when you are ready to fire, simply press the safety into the "off" or "fire" position and shoot. If the deer doesn't give you an opportunity, then you can put the safety back into the "safe" position, open the action, remove the 209 primer and safely lower the hammer down to the "at rest" position. No other break-open muzzleloader can do this.
WEATHERBY MARK XXII RIMFIRE
Weatherby's new Mark XXII offers an exceptionally accurate rimfire rifle for target shooters and small-game hunters who appreciate distinctive Weatherby craftsmanship. Available in .22 LR or .17 HMR, the Mark XXII boasts Weatherby features, such as the Monte Carlo stock design, along with certified accuracy demonstrated by a factory-shot target that comes with each rifle. Weatherby is partnering with Anschutz to manufacture the Mark XXII.
The key to the Mark XXII's accuracy is an eight-groove, target-grade, button-rifled barrel with target crown, built to exacting Olympic competition specifications. A fully adjustable single-stage trigger allows for precise adjustment of sear engagement and let-off weight from 2 to 4.4 pounds (factory set at 2.5 pounds). The result is a crisp trigger that breaks precisely. (Sear engagement adjustments must be performed by a Weatherby Service Center or qualified gunsmith.)