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Arsenal Inc. SLR-106FR 223 Rem.

This is the best AK-style gun we have seen. Though it has its flaws—the trigger is too heavy, the button in the buttstock was distracting, and we would prefer the action lock open—we would still buy this gun ahead of the others.

H&R 1871 Ultra Hunter No. SB2-808 308 Winchester

The concept of a single-shot rifle for modern usage goes back quite a few years. Despite the advent of repeating firearms, the single-shot rifle has always held its own, from the Sharps down to the H&R Ultra rifle tested here. Many makers have put together some very fine and also some not-so-fine single shots on a great variety of actions. We acquired one of the U.S.-made H&R 1871 Ultra Hunters in 308 (SB2-808, MSRP $374).

Best Guns and Gear for 2010

Every December I survey the work Ben Brooks, R.K. Campbell, Roger Eckstine, Robert Sadowski, and Ralph Winingham have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns, accessories, and ammunition the magazine's testers have endorsed. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full year's worth of tests and distill summary recommendations for readers, who often use them as year-end shopping guides. These "best of" choices are a mixture of our original tests and other information I've compiled during the year. After the magazine's FFLs sell high-rated test products to readers, I keep tabs on how many of those guns do over time, and if the firearms and accessories continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up.

Best Guns and Gear for 2010

Every December I survey the work Ben Brooks, R.K. Campbell, Roger Eckstine, Robert Sadowski, and Ralph Winingham have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns, accessories, and ammunition the magazine's testers have endorsed. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full year's worth of tests and distill summary recommendations for readers, who often use them as year-end shopping guides. These "best of" choices are a mixture of our original tests and other information I've compiled during the year. After the magazine's FFLs sell high-rated test products to readers, I keep tabs on how many of those guns do over time, and if the firearms and accessories continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up.

SKS Standard Type 56 w/Fiberforce Stock 7.62x39mm

All available SKS rifles are either used or surplus. The exception would be companies that offer 'new' guns that are weapons assembled from spare parts. We are beginning to see AK-47s made in the USA, so as import lines dry up perhaps new production SKS rifles will be offered in the future. In the meantime, our listed price represents a common if not the higher end cost for an SKS Type 56 in very good condition, plus the cost of the stock. Advanced Technologies (www.atigunstocks.com) offers six different replacement stocks for the SKS ranging in price from $59 to $139, with options ranging from AR-15 style buttpads with adjustable length of pull to traditional rifle stocks with camouflage finish. List price for the Dragunov-style Fiberforce stock No. SKS3000 was $69. This includes an adjustable-height cheekpiece (removable), which becomes necessary for sight alignment after mounting a scope.

Ruger SR-556FB 5.56x45mm NATO 223 Rem.

Ruger makes some well-known semiauto rifles, including the 10-22 22 LR and the Mini-14. But when the company rolled out the SR-556 in May 2009, it was the company’s first foray into an increasingly crowded and competitive segment. And just looking at the feature set, including the two-stage piston-driven action, shows us the company put a lot of careful thought into the initial build.

To begin: The SR-556FB had a heavy contour, 16.12-inch chrome-lined barrel forged from Mil-Spec 41V45 chrome-moly-vanadium steel. The 0.700-inch-thick barrel had a 1:9 twist rate and was capped with an AC-556 flash suppressor. Our testers preferred the closed-bottom design of the other two guns’ hiders because they’re less likely to kick up debris if the shooter is on the ground. Chambered in 5.56mm NATO, the Ruger SR-556 also fired 223 Rem. ammunition.

Bushmaster XM15-E2S Super-Light Carbine 5.56mm NATO/.223, $1020

There was a detachable carry handle that held the fully adjustable, mil-spec, two-aperture rear sight, and that handle added $90 to the Bushmaster’s price. This weapon was very similar to the “Shorty” Carbine we tested in June of this year, but its lighter stock, thinner barrel and short forend got the weight down to 6.1 pounds without sights. By comparison, the “Shorty” Carbine weighed 7.0 pounds without sights.With the carry handle attached, the weight of this Bushmaster rose to 6.7 pounds, which was our test weight.

Arsenal USA Model SSR-85B 7.62 x 39mm (Russian), $550

GunReports.com finds a test of the Arsenal USA SSR-85B, $550, that Gun Tests magazine approved of. Per the company website, the gun was the result of the marriage of a Polish PMKMS parts set with a Hungarian-made FEG SA-85M stamped-steel receiver.

Long-Shooter Showdown: We Test a Trio of Good Bolt Actions

Tactical bolt-action rifles are pretty easy to spot. Typically, they utilize a composite stock with pronounced pistol grip, oversize bolt handle and fire from a heavy barrel. The military models are camouflage or earth tone in color, and the law-enforcement models are usually black. Accuracy, strength, and simplicity are key attributes. Can a tactical rifle serve as a hunting rifle? Were not saying one cant. Its just that a tactical rifle typically weighs more than a hunting model. The heavy barrel enhances the ability to maintain accuracy throughout repeat fire and excessive heat. In addition, tactical rifles tend to be more suitable for longer distance shots and offer ergonomics that favor the prone position or other means of support. Compared to hunting rifles that feature adornments such as engravings or fancy wood, the tactical rifle is stark and businesslike. In this test we evaluate three rifles chambered for 308 Winchester aimed at the law-enforcement market. Our three test rifles are the $1315 Kimber 84M LPT, the $1899 Steyr Arms SSG69 PII, and Rugers $1172 Hawkeye Tactical No. HM77VLEH. All three rifles featured full-float barrels and black synthetic stocks. Our test procedure was straightforward. Shooting from bench support we fired groups at paper targets placed 100 yards downrange. Beyond accuracy data, we judged each rifle as a total package after taking careful note of characteristics displayed by the trigger and the bolt. We also wanted to know how willingly each rifle took to the shoulder and related to a variety of support. Each rifle was fired from sandbags, a mechanical rest, from prone position and seated with bipod support.When it came to choosing optics for our test, we weighed the advice of one staffer who had taken the position that he would rather own one good expensive scope than have several lesser optics, so we shot all the guns with a $1783 Nightforce 5.5-22X50mm NXS scope (www.nightforceoptics.com). Fitted with an illuminated mil-dot reticle, this scope has been in use by one of our long-range specialists for more than two years. The open-face mil-dots, which appear as small loops, have proven helpful when determining elevation for targets at an undetermined distance. We mounted the 31-ounce scope using 30mm Nightforce rings fit with half-inch bolts. The use of a 65-inch-pound torque wrench made fast work of swapping the scope from one rifle to another.Test ammunition included three selections of factory ammunition. We recorded five-shot groups firing Remington 180-grain Nosler Partition No. PRP308WB, Remington 168-grain Boat Tail Hollow Point Match No. R308W7, and 175-grain Boat Tail Hollow Point rounds from Black Hills Ammunition. Making use of the powerful Nightforce scope, we were able to use small target dots from Birchwood Casey measuring little more than 1 inch across. We also fired three-shot groups of some of our favorite handloads developed for lower recoil and accuracy at moderate distance. Our handloaded ammunition consisted of filling each cartridge case with an identical charge of IMR 4064 powder atop Winchester Large Rifle primers. We then seated three different bullets from Sierra (www.sierrabullets.com). They were the 165-grain Spitzer Boat Tail bullets No. 2145, 165-grain boat tail hollow points No. 2140, and the 150-grain Spitzer bullets No. 2130. Each rifle was fired to produce a single three-shot group with each handload. Weather conditions varied during our 9 a.m. to noon sessions, with calm winds in the morning and gusts exceeding 10 mph toward midday. Each rifle was treated to a break-in regimen of one shot and clean; two shots and clean; three shots, clean; four shots, clean; and finally five shots and clean. With little interference from the weather, we think we were able to accurately assess each of our test rifles. We think each of our test rifles was exceptional divided primarily by shooter preference. Lets shoot each rifle and see which one might be your favorite.

Browning X-Bolt Medallion No. 035200227 7mm Rem. Mag.

Gun Tests Magazine has named the Browning X-Bolt Medallion as the publication’s “Best in Class” Rifle for 2009. The bolt action joins a Taurus wheelgun, a 9mm pistol from S&W, and a 12-gauge shotgun from Benelli as the magazine’s “Best in Class” 2009 honorees.Gun Tests Editor Todd Woodard said, “Every December, I survey the work of the testing staff to select the best guns of the year. These ‘best of’ choices are a mixture of the original Gun Tests evaluation and other information the staff compiles during long-term testing.”The “Best in Class” Rifle for 2009 was the Browning X-Bolt Medallion No. 035200227 7mm Rem. Mag., $1019. It was originally reviewed in the November 2009 issue of Gun Tests.

Gun Tests Test Inventory Available for Purchase: August 24, 2009

Houston-based B.A. Brooks Sports is a Federal Firearms License dealer who supplies firearms for Gun Tests evaluations. B.A. Brooks Sports sometimes has guns acquired for Gun Tests evaluation that readers might want to purchase. The following list describes those firearms and accessories. B.A. Brooks Sports is solely responsible for any firearms transactions, and there is no set update frequency of the inventory list. To ensure you receive notification of updated inventory lists when test guns become available, we suggest you set up an RSS feed for this site. All interstate sales require FFL-to-FFL transfers and local NICS checks. Unless otherwise noted, the goods are in at least Excellent resale condition, and in many cases they are Like New. Most of the products have their original packaging and warranties or warranty cards enclosed. In almost all cases, the magazine article about each gun recounts all the rounds shot through the guns. B.A. Brooks Sports won't sell products that were defective in Gun Tests evaluations. We don't always get great deals on test guns, so we can't always offer you a great price. IF YOU CAN BUY A GUN CHEAPER ELSEWHERE, GO FOR IT. Once you receive the product, the magazine will not be held responsible for any damage that occurs from use.

Guncrafter Industries 50 GI Kit: Great Conversion for Glock 21

Alex Zimmerman has a great idea. We first experienced it a while back in our review of one of his Guncrafter Industries' 50-caliber 1911s, which we found to be a well-made handgun, if a bit on the costly side. Zimmerman's idea is to give the shooter something more without the cost of broken hands. Rather than a bang-up, hot and heavy blaster, the 50 GI is a throwback to older times when big bullets traveled at low velocities and got the job done at least as well as any small-caliber, high-velocity round. Some 200 years ago the norm was single-shot or occasional double flintlock pistols, which commonly threw balls of up to 12-bore in size at velocities in the low- to middle-hundreds of feet per second. But wait!, cried the 'engineers.' Those low-velocity rounds are all wrong, they said. They don't develop the muzzle energy of these new-fangled, higher-speed rounds, which depend on velocity squared to get their (largely misleading) high numbers. Thus, in today's terms, a 9mm high-velocity round can equal the 'power' of a 45 ACP, at least on paper. In the real world, those with experience know this is not quite the whole picture. Many experts always go for the bigger bore with heavy bullets.

News Nuggets

You may not have seen the very odd news that the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published an Interim Final Rule...