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Brileys New Trans Pecos Rifles: Engineered For Accuracy

The business risks inherent in launching a new firearm are so sizable that many companies prefer to play it safe when it comes to new-gun production. As the auto industry knows, it's much easier and cheaper to change the sheet metal on an existing model than it is to re-engineer a product from the wheels up. Moreover, in regard to guns, even if the concept sells well and recoups its development costs, there's the additional worry that a new product has a lifetime of potential liability in front of it—such as when a customer leaves a cleaning rod in the barrel and proceeds to blow part of his face off. Thus, whipsawing caused by sales concerns, development difficulties, and the great unknown...

.223 Remington Bolt-Action Packages: How Do They Rate

CZ's 527 and the Savage GXP3 packages come with on-board scopes, but are they a steal or a bad deal?

Semiautomatic .308s: Pick L1A1s or M1As, not HK-91s

Shooters who have considered purchasing a semiautomatic rifle chambered for .308 (7.62 NATO) likely balk at the question of which rifle they should buy, bypassing completely the question of whether to buy such a gun. Unquestionably, self-loading .308s are coveted by nearly everybody, mainly because they can do so much. They can compete, they can plink, they can hunt, and, of course, they're made for self-defense, should such a situation arise.

Though there are many options if you care to search them out, there are basically three readily available rifle types in .308. They are the FAL, the M1A (M14 clone), and the HK-91. We did a several-years-long study of these three types, going to the...

Savage M111F: Common Hunting Gun, Uncommon Performance

Many hunters believe that one gun is as good as another, and that any old bolt action will kill a deer. In some extreme cases this may even be true, such as hunting in heavy brush or forest, where shots will almost always be under 50 yards. But a recent test of four bolt actions suggests that not all such guns are created equal; in fact, as informed Gun Tests readers know, performance among similar, and in this case very common, products can vary widely enough to ruin a season's worth of hunting effort.

Case in point: We recently bought and shot a quartet of the most prevalent centerfire bolt guns in the field today, all of them chambered for the .30-06 Springfield. According to ammunition makers, this round outsells all other centerfires, mainly because of its long-standing performance record and versatility. .30-06 cartridges are offered in bullet weights from 125 to 220 grains, the former a top choice for medium-size game at long range, while a 220-grain bullet traveling at 2,400 fps will take just about any North American game animal.

.22 LR Semiautos: Remingtons 597s Challenge Rugers 10/22s

The plinking/light-target .22 LR autoloader rifle market has long been one of the gun industry's mainstays; it seems there's an almost bottomless need for entry-level .22s that shoot well enough, function well enough, and don't cost too much. In recent years, Ruger has reportedly had the best of the segment, selling ten versions of its venerable 10/22 design, which was introduced in 1964, in the price span between $160 to $300. Likewise, at a slightly lower price point, Marlin's $100 to $160 Model 60s did almost as well, accounting for a good chunk of that firm's total business, a company source told us. But why wasn't the biggest name in the business—Remington—better represented in what was likely the most popular product segment?

Unquestionably, Remington hasn't had a hit in the autoloading .22 rifle market since the Nylon 66, introduced back when dinosaurs roamed the earth in 1959. Like the 10/22 that followed it, the 66's strengths were durability, reliability, and easy care, if not pinpoint accuracy. With those timeless attributes in mind, Remington went back to the well in 1997 and rolled out the 597-series rifles—which to our eyes were made to correct deficiencies that have gone long overlooked in the unchanged 10/22s.

We say this because of a recent four-way test we undertook to compare two basic 597 guns, the polymer-stocked 597 and wood-stocked 597 Sporter, with two of Ruger's better sellers, the polymer-stocked 10/22RP and the hardwood-stocked 10/22RB. In terms of price, weight, length, componentry, design, and options, these two lines look like twins separated at birth. It was as if Remington sales guys, a la Dilbert, asked the company's engineers to "make us a gun that looks like the 10/22, but different, and better."

Did they succeed? We think so, at least in part.

Hunting Rifles: We Cant Stand High-Dollar Mato .30-06

Interest in the bolt-action .30-06 never seems to dim, especially when hunting season rolls around. We recently tested (May 1999) a handful of similarly configured hunting rifles that all had composite stocks and 22-inch barrels, the rifles bearing the names Savage, Winchester, Remington, Howa, and Century. The winner of the test was the inexpensive Savage M111F, $395. Because you may be considering the purchase of a new hunting rifle for the coming deer-hunting season, this month we tested two more rifles whose reputations precede them, the Beretta Mato (which means bear in the Dakota Indian dialect) and the Browning A-Bolt Composite Stalker with BOSS, both with synthetic stocks and blued barrels. These are more expensive rifles than the $395 Savage. The Browning retails for $640 and the Beretta for $1,660.

The question: Does a higher price bring improved performance or greater pride of ownership? Does it give you more of a hunting rifle that even the more budget-minded hunter simply can't overlook?

Let's take a look at each gun and find out.

.223 Varmint Guns: Winchester Wins Four-Way Accuracy Test

Many of us believe we can shoot tight, tight groups with our off-the-rack rifles, and we brag about how "small" we are—perhaps the only time other than when we compare cell-phone sizes that we make such a claim. But the reality is that unmodified guns we purchase over the counter rarely shoot inch-or-smaller groups at 100 yards, and those of us who take our medication regularly secretly know that.

But we've found a class of affordable factory-production guns whose accuracy out of the box would not embarrass us when chuckin' bullets at woodchucks or cutting cloverleafs on targets. A family of heavy-barrelled bolt guns, including Ruger's KM77VT MKII Target Rifle, Remington's Model 700VS Var...

Foreign vs. American .308 Rifles: Are Hunters Missing Something?

Tired of the same ol' hamburger in your rifle selections? Want to add something a little different to the gun menu, perhaps something exotically foreign to our jaded tastes? We thought it would be fun to sample a couple of foreign hunting rifles, one of them fairly common, the other seldom seen, and test them against typical U.S. offerings. Accordingly, we acquired a pair of European rifles, one from the Czech Republic and one from Germany, and two common U.S. makes, to find out if the foreign rifles offer desirable features or characteristics we might have overlooked.

7.62 x 39mm Field Rifles: Tough To Find, But Worth The Effort

These days one hears of the 7.62 x 39, also known as the .30 Russian Short or the Soviet M43, as commonly as one used to hear of the .30-30 a few decades ago. Even in out-of-the-way locales, the short Russian thirty pops up, and plays a major role in survival batteries and in hunting camps. Gun shops regularly stock ammunition for it, often at near-give-away prices. There are several good rifles made in the U.S. today for this cartridge, but the very inexpensive surplus semiauto rifles imported from China in stupendous quantities have started to dry up. A few years ago, they commonly sold for under $100. Today they bring about twice that. When they first appeared, they were new, fairly good guns, and there were so many of them that a significant aftermarket of stocks, scope mounts, high-capacity magazines, and other add-on parts appeared on the gunny scene, and many if not most of those parts are still available, if not everywhere still legal. Occasionally seen were the somewhat higher- quality Russian versions, complete with bayonet.

Along with the SKS types, the AK-47 clones in semiauto version also appeared, carrying names like MAC-90 and PolyTech Legend. There were, and still are in some areas, many rifles available for the Russian short thirty for not a lot of money. The proliferation of the cartridge and guns to shoot it made this generation of U.S. shooters very much aware of the cartridge, its potential and limitations. Many still wonder, however, about the 7.62 x 39. How good are the best pre-ban clones of the AK? Is the SKS, in any of its many variants, a good rifle? Are they reliable? How well do they shoot? And what about modern semiautomatic rifles chambered for this cartridge?

We thought it would be interesting to test some of the finest military-type versions of this cartridge alongside one of today's modern U.S. offerings, to give the reader some idea of where the cartridge came from and just how good the rifles are.

Precision Rifle Test: One-Hole Marvels With Tactical Tags

[IMGCAP(1)] The problem of reliably driving one bullet into the center of a target at long range has plagued riflemen ever since the first rifled arm was created. In the quest for this holy grail, thousands of shooters have fired millions of groups over the years, and from time to time these groups have achieved incredibility. Still, after generations of riflemen, the problem is still with us.

A group of products, generically called tactical rifles in their use by law enforcement and military sharpshooters, purports to solve this problem. Instead of tactical rifle, we prefer the moniker "precision rifle," for such a firearm is built to put one or two shots—precisely—into a very small targ...

Hot Proprietary Cartridges: Are You Ready for a Big .30?

[IMGCAP(1)]When the .308 or .30-06 isn’t enough, most gunnies turn to the .300 Winchester Magnum, and that’s probably a mistake. While the .300 Winchester Mag is a step above the ballistics of the .30-06, it’s not a huge step. There’s not a lot of practical difference between the two, at least not enough to be more than a few minutes’ discussion among knowledgeable riflemen. We’re talking 200 fps difference with 180-grain bullets. This makes very little difference in trajectory, though it would make somewhat of a difference in bullet performance at long range.

Rifle power may be succinctly defined by the velocity at which a cartridge can propel a given weight of bullet, and that’s a simp...

AR-15 Rifles: Colts, ArmaLite, and Bushmaster Shoot It Out

[IMGCAP(1)] Black rifles, mouse guns, great machines, useless junk — these are a few of the names given to our country's current military rifle and its semi-automatic civilian clones, which are commonly called AR-15 types. Let's first clear the air by stating they are certainly not useless junk. The design, which some consider fragile, is instead war-proven and more than adequate for its purpose. They don't have the punch of a .308, but ammo for them is lighter and cheaper. They work, last a long time, are easily maintained, and are in many ways delightful.

Moreover, these AR-15/M16 clones can be set up to be absolute tack drivers, and in that guise have made a serious name for themselves...

A Supreme Disappoinment

I was hopeful that the Supreme Court would take up at least one gun-rights case that had seemingly ripened enough for the justices to...