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Traditions Introduces Vortek Muzzleloader

Traditions Performance Firearms has added the Vortek unit to its muzzleloader line.

Best-In-Class Firearms 2008: Handguns, Rifles, and Shotguns

Every December I survey the work Ben Brooks, Roger Eckstine, Ray Ordorica, Joe Syczylo, Gene Taylor, Randy Wakeman, Kevin Winkle, and Ralph Winingham, have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns the magazines testers have endorsed without qualification. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full years 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 Ive compiled during the year. After the magazines FFLs sell high-rated test products to readers, I keep tabs on how many of those guns do over time, and if the firearms continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up. This is our second year of letter-grade scoring, and all the guns in this compilation are 'A' or 'A+' choices-the Best in Class.

Best-In-Class Firearms 2008: Handguns, Rifles, and Shotguns

Every December I survey the work Ben Brooks, Roger Eckstine, Ray Ordorica, Joe Syczylo, Gene Taylor, Randy Wakeman, Kevin Winkle, and Ralph Winingham, have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns the magazines testers have endorsed without qualification. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full years 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 Ive compiled during the year. After the magazines FFLs sell high-rated test products to readers, I keep tabs on how many of those guns do over time, and if the firearms continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up. This is our second year of letter-grade scoring, and all the guns in this compilation are 'A' or 'A+' choices-the Best in Class.

Albanian SKS 7.62x39mm

After two solid hours’ disgusting labor removing all the packing grease (we hesitate to call it Cosmoline) from all the parts and wood, which required complete disassembly of the greased-up rifle, we found we had an attractive rifle on our hands.The bore was pristine. The wood was attractive, orange-hued hardwood (we suspect it was European walnut) that carried an honest dent and gouge here and there, but not so many as to be disastrous. The metal was well blued, not Parkerized, though the metal appeared to have been rebuffed, presumably an arsenal refinish. Many of the rifle’s parts bore five-digit numbers, and they all matched.

Ruger 77 Mark II .243 Heavy Barrel

This was an attractive $685 rifle, with a blonde-colored laminated stock sporting an extremely nice and well-done matte finish. After our initial negative experiences with the electronic Remington, the entirely conventional Ruger, with no gizz-whizzes or batteries or insulators needed to make it go bang, was most welcome. Besides .243, the same rifle is available in .223, .22-250, .220 Swift, 25-06 and .308.

New England Arms Handi-Rifle on GunBroker.Com

Simple products, such as single-shot rifles, have a wide following because of their utility, simplicity, and low price. One gun of this type is the New England Arms Handi-Rifle, which Gun Tests magazine tested in the January 2007 issue.

Buying a Plinker 22 LR? Try the Marlin Model 60

Buying a Plinker 22 LR? Try the Marlin Model 60. When our sister site Gun-Tests.com tested the Marlin Model 60 with tubular magazine and hardwood stock, the Gun Tests writers cited $179 as the gun’s MSRP. Actual offers are far below that price on GunBroker.com, we found. More than two dozen Model 60s are listed, with auction dates closing today through the middle of August.

New England Firearms Sportster SS1-217 .17 Mach 2

As of November 2000 the company names and assets attached to New England Firearms and Harrington & Richardson became the property of Marlin Firearms. This makes Marlin Firearms, marketing its products under the brand names of Harrington & Richardson and New England Firearms, H&R 1871 LLC, the largest manufacturer of single-shot shotgun and rifles in the world.

Our NEF rifle was about as simple to operate as any rifle can be, but it did have some up-to-date features. The black synthetic stock was backed by a thick ventilated rubber pad. The comb met the shooter’s cheek with a Monte Carlo–style contour. A pebble finish covered its entire surface. We found the grip end of the stock mated flush to the right-hand side of the flat-black colored receiver, but the left-hand side was slightly offset.

The Surgical Tactical Option: Remingtons 11-87 Police Gun

Many of the advantages of a tactical shotgun are the same as that self-defense shotgun you might have propped in the corner of your bedroom: devastating firepower, mechanical reliability, ease of use. But your bedroom shotgun and working tactical shotguns do have differences: beefy tactical guns are ready to go on the offensive to serve warrants, root out armed bad guys, and break stuff with either lead or steel.We recently had the mixed blessing of handling three tactical or police shotguns we purchased from Fountain Firearms in Houston (www.fountainfirearms.com). We know they were guns of that type because their names told us so. The players were the now-discontinued HK Fabarm Tactical 12 Gauge 3-in., $999, a similar version of which will be available from Fabarm in 2008; the $875 FN Self-Loading Police 3-inch 12 gauge No. 3088929010; and Remingtons 11-87 Police 12-gauge 3-inch No. 9861, $850. We say it was a mixed blessing because the heavy 2.75-inch buckshot, slug, and birdshot loads we used delivered a wallop at the line, and made us wonder why the guns came chambered for 3-inch shells. The 2.75-inch shells were plenty.Nonetheless, we banged ahead, because though these guns are built to handle more offensive tactics if need be, they also would be fine self-defense shotguns for the home or trunk. Their big magazine capacities, good sights, and autoloading actions make them good house-clearers, whether from the master bedroom or through the front door.

.17 Mach 2s: New England Firearms Sportster Is An Affordable Blast to Shoot

If the last time you tuned in to the world of rimfire ammunition the .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (HMR) was all the rage, then you probably missed the arrival of Hornady's .17 Mach 2 cartridge. The year was 2004, and the difference between the two rounds is this. Just as the .17 HMR can be described as being descended from the .22 Magnum, the .17M2 is related to the .22 Long Rifle—the .17M2 is based on the .22 LR case, slightly lengthened and necked down to .17 caliber. Photographed close up, the .17M2 looks remarkably like a full-size centerfire round, but it's nearly small enough to be hidden beneath a quarter. The .17M2 round does not develop the velocity of .17 HMR ammunition (by about 350 fps on average), but it still offers a very flat trajectory and the advantage of the modern .17 caliber bullet is touted as being more accurate than traditional rimfire slugs.

To experience shooting .17 Mach 2 rounds from behind the trigger, we acquired three rifles. They were the $169 New England Firearms Sportster SS1-217, Marlin's $232 917M2, and the $228 Savage Arms Mark II F. The Marlin and Savage Arms rifles were magazine-fed bolt actions, and the NEF worked from a single-shot break-top design.

Each rifle arrived ready for the mounting of a scope, and we tried several in our initial range session. Considering the low cost of our test rifles, we preferred not to choose a scope that cost more than our most expensive model. We lucked out with the $100 Konus Pro 1.5-5X32mm No. 7249 (konusscopes.com). The Konus Pro offered an etched glass-reticle that gave us plenty of light, and it featured fine crosshairs centered inside of a diamond pattern. We liked this because we didn't want the crosshairs to obscure any more target mass than necessary. In the field we thought the diamond helped us get on target more quickly, and variable power offered added flexibility to our field of view.

We tested with the only three .17M2 rounds we could find. They were Remington's AccuTip V Boat tail, CCI's V-Max and Hornady's V-Max. All three were sold in 50-round boxes and were topped with 17-grain bullets. Prices ranged from $7 for the CCI to $11 for the Hornady in our local store.

Our targets were 6-inch Target Spots by Birchwood Casey. These orange adhesive circles featured a diamond-shaped bull that matched well with the diamond reticle of the Konus Pro scope. Shooting at American Shooting Centers in Houston (amshootcenters.com), we began our benchrest session by recording five-shot groups from a distance of 50 yards with each test round. Next, we tried printing groups from 100 yards with whichever round proved the best in each individual rifle. Each gun was tested under conditions that varied from calm winds and bright sunlight to 25-mph winds that periodically moved clouds in front of the sun. For support, we used a heavy Caldwell Tack Driver bag up front and a bean bag underneath the stock. Here is what we learned.

Gun Tests Guns Of The Year 2007

Every December I survey the work Ray Ordorica, Roger Eckstine, Ralph Winingham, Jennifer Pearsall, Ben Brooks, Joe Syczylo, Dave Henderson, and Kevin Winkle have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns the magazines staffers have endorsed wholeheartedly. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full years 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 Ive compiled during the year. After the magazines FFLs sell high-rated test products to readers, I keep tabs on how many of those guns do over time, and if the firearms continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up.This year we introduced letter-grade scoring, so to keep the results consistent, I made previous "Our Pick" and "Best Buy" choices conform to our current grading scale. All the guns in this compilation are "A" or "A+" choices.

Compact ARs: The Bushmaster Patrolmans Carbine Is Our Pick

The wildly popular AR15 platform is spurring modifications on over-the-counter guns that heretofore were the province of do-it-yourselfers who had a Brownells catalog and a credit card handy. Two modifications of the original design found on more and more ARs are the "tactical" forend, consisting of a four-sided Picatinny rail and flip-up sights that can be raised into position when needed. The tactical forend is especially useful when applied to a flat-topped receiver topped with a matching Picatinny rail. The forend rail can receive any type of laser or illuminating device that carries a clamp. These features were developed to answer the needs of military and law enforcement and action-riflecompetitors.The AR15 platform lends itself to fulfilling the needs of the user like no other design, which made our task of assembling four different carbines both a challenge and a pleasure. They are the $1554 Smith & Wesson M&P 15T No. 811001, the $1054 DPMS RFA2-AP4A Patrol Carbine, the $1150 left-side-ejection Stag Arms 15L Model 2TL Pre-ban, and a Bushmaster Patrolmans Carbine No. BCWA3F 16M4, which comes with options that bring the total suggested retail price to $1534. Each of these compact ARs offer the tactical forend and flip-up sights mentioned above and a flash hider, adjustable-length stock, and single-stage trigger. Also, the DPMS Patrol Carbine, the Stag Arms 15L, and the Bushmaster came with A2-style front sights that were adjustable for elevation. The S&W gun lacked that feature.All four were chambered for .223 Remington or 5.56mm rounds. For test ammunitions, we chose two premium rounds and the highest quality, most economical remanufactured ammunition we could find. The premium rounds were 62-grain Hornady TAP and 62-grain Federal American Eagle FMJ ammunition. To perform the bulk of the work, such as zeroing our scopes and performing rapid-fire drills that ate up hundreds of rounds, we chose 55-grain full-metal-jacket rounds from Georgia Arms http://www.georgia-arms.com/.Our test procedure was arduous. To collect accuracy data we fired five-shot groups from the 50-yard benches at American Shooting Centers in Houston http://www.amshootcenters.com/. Each gun was tested with the supplied open sights and with a Millet DMS-1 variable power scope set at 4X magnification. Mounting the scope with Zeiss rings upon a one-piece riser from Yankee Hill Machine (part number YHM-227A, $33 from yankeehillmachine.com) made the transfer from gun to gun simple.We chose Milletts new 30mm 1-4X scope because it offered flexibility of magnification and also a reticle that we felt was suitable for tactical as well as longer distance applications. The reticle featured a horizontal crosshair that stopped short of the circle that designated its center. The vertical line reached only from the six oclock border of the lens to just below the circle. We liked this reticle because the open field in the top half of the lens offered a less cluttered view for the operator. In addition points such as the bottom of the circle helped us visualize quick hold over positions for additional elevation. Inside the circle was a small black 1-MOA dot and the circle itself was backed by orange-colored illumination. The intensity of the illumination was controlled by an eleven-point dial found on the left side of the scope directly opposite the windage control.When shooting groups we were actually able to center the dot on the 0.75-inch wide diamond found at the center of our Birchwood-Casey three-inch target spots. For speed shooting we simply used [IMGCAP(2)]the black ring. We would have preferred that the orange illuminated ring was visible in daylight. That would have made target acquisition much faster. Hidden behind the black ring, the orange was only visible in lower light conditions. This was helpful for tactical entry, but the Gun Tests action rifle team was a little disappointed.For speed shooting and fast-action handling tests, we moved to Phil Oxleys Impact Zone in Monaville, Texas (theimpactzone.us). First, we recorded elapsed time from the draw. Start position was low ready with the muzzle about 45 degrees with the ground and the safety on, with buttstock pivoting on the shooters pectoral muscle. The stock was adjusted to the first position short of full-length. Target distance was 12 feet. This drill was performed ten times.For our rapid-fire test we added two more targets spaced 4 yards apart. In this drill the supplied open sights were used, and the trigger was shown no mercy. We hammered the IDPA-style cardboard silhouettes (measuring 30 inches high by 18 inches across) with one shot on each target, then two shots on each target; two shots to the body one to the head, four shots on each target, etc. Each gun was left smoking. Here is what we learned.

‘Background Check’ Rule Is Coming For You

On April 11, 2024, the Biden Administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives issued a new rule to expand background-check requirements for private...