Best Guns & Gear for 2023

Which pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, accessories, and ammunition were our picks in the past year? We look back at the previous 12 months to highlight the various winners.


Toward the end of each year, I survey the work R.K. Campbell, Roger Eckstine, Robert Sadowski, Tracey Taylor, and Joe Woolley 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 recommendations for readers, who often use them as shopping guides. These choices are a mixture of our original tests and other information I’ve compiled during the year. After we roll high-rated test products into long-term testing, I keep tabs on how those guns do, and if the firearms and accessories continue performing well, then I have confidence including these firearms in this wrap-up.

  • Best In Class Revolver: Ruger Bisley Hunter 0862 44 Magnum
  • Best In Class Pistol: Langdon Tactical LTT Beretta 92X LTT-92XC Compact 9mm Luger
  • Best In Class Rifle: CVA Cascade SB CR3914R 300 Blackout
  • Best In Class Shotgun: Mossberg 590 50674 12 Gauge

Langdon Tactical LTT Beretta 92X LTT-92XC Compact 9mm Luger, $1184


The Langdon Beretta is easily the most improved compared to the original pistol. The trigger action is superb, and all parts fit correctly. Accuracy in both double-action and single-action trigger modes is excellent.

See full review: February 2022

ActionSemi-auto, double action to single action, locked breech
Overall Length7.75 in.
Height5.25 in.
Maximum Width1.5 in.
Weight Unloaded28.5 oz.
Weight Loaded35.0 oz.
SlideSteel, Vertec style
Slide Retraction Effort14.6 lbs.
FrameSteel, compact Vertec with rail; flush mainspring cap
Front Strap Height2.0 in.
Rear Strap Height3.0 in.
Barrel Length4.25 in.
Grip Thickness Maximum1.2 in.
Grip Circumference5.7 in.
Magazine(3) 15 round
Rear SightDovetailed square notch, serrated
Front SightDovetailed post, fiber optic
Sight Radius5.6 in.
Trigger-Pull Weight Double Action8.5 lbs.
Trigger-Pull Weight Single Action4.5 lbs.
Trigger Span Double Action2.6 in.
Trigger Span Single Action2.4 in.
SafetyNo manual safety
Warranty2 years, optional extension
Telephone(571) 385-2979
Made InU.S.A.

Ruger Bisley Hunter 0862 44 Magnum, $1149


The recoil impulse on the Bisley model was more comfortable than the standard Super Blackhawk and it was noticeably more pleasant to shoot. Our middle fingers on the shooting hands were actually in pretty good shape even after several hundred rounds through the Bisley.

See full review: January 2022

Action TypeRevolver, single action only
Overall Length13.0 in.
Overall Height6.0 in.
Maximum Width1.73 in.
Weight Unloaded3.4 lbs.
Weight Loaded3.7 lbs.
Receiver MaterialStainless steel
FinishBrushed stainless
Front Strap Height2.3 in.
Back Strap Height4.25 in.
Barrel Length7.5 in.
Grip Thickness (Maximum)1.47 in.
Grip Circumference5.0 in.
Cylinder Capacity6 rounds
Rear SightAdjustable
Front SightFixed ramp with red insert
Sight Radius9.25 in.
Trigger-Pull Weight2.6 lbs.
Trigger Span3.0 in.
SafetyHammer bar
WarrantyNone written
Telephone(336) 949-5200
Made InU.S.A.

CVA Cascade SB CR3914R 300 Blackout, $621

Gun Tests Grade: B+ (BEST-IN-CLASS RIFLE)

The most accurate of the three rifles tested, the CVA Cascade handles well and shoots well. The bottom of the receiver on the Cascade matches the common Remington 700 pattern, allowing this rifle to accept almost endless aftermarket triggers and stocks.

See full review: March 2022

Action TypeBolt
Overall Length37.0 in.
Barrel Length/Twist16.5 in., 1:8 in.
Overall Height w/o Scope Mount7.1 in.
Weight Unloaded6.5 lbs.
Weight Loaded6.75 lbs.
Sight RadiusNA
Action FinishGraphite black Cerakote
Barrel FinishGraphite black Cerakote
Magazine Capacity5
Magazine TypeDetachable box
StockFiberglass-reinforced synthetic
Drop at Comb0.75 in.
Drop at Heel1.0 in.
BeddingMetal pillars
ButtplateCrushzone recoil pad
Buttstock Length of Pull13.75 in.
Receiver Scope-Base PatternSavage, 2-piece Picatinny rail attached
Trigger Pull Weight2.2 lbs.
Safety2-position thumb rocker
Telephone(770) 448-4687
Made InSpain

Mossberg 590 50674 12 Gauge, $568


We thought the M-Lok fore end was a great idea, but it was just a bit too slick, which slowed the times during our speed drills. The rest of the shotgun worked perfectly. It has almost the full list of features as on the 870 and is about half the price of the tricked-out Remington.

See full review: October 2022

Action TypePump
Overall Length41.0 in.
Barrel20.0 in. long, matte-black steel, removable Accu-chokes
Overall Height8.5 in.
Weight Unloaded6.9 lbs.
Weight Loaded (#8 Buck, 8 rounds)7.8 lbs.
Sight Radius24.5 in.
ActionMatte black aluminum alloy
Magazine Capacity7
Magazine TypeTube
Stock Drop at Comb0.5 in.
Stock Drop at Heel1.0 in.
Stock ButtplateSoft rubber
Stock Length of Pull14.3 in.
Trigger Pull Weight5.5 lbs.
SafetyTang, 2 position
Warranty10 years limited
Telephone(800) 363-3555
Made InTexas

Colt Anaconda Anaconda-SP8RTS 44 Magnum, $1499

Gun Tests Grade: A

It has a lot of weight forward to help with recoil. The quality of the trigger surprised us.

See full review: February 2022

Action TypeRevolver, double action or single action
Overall Length13.6 in.
Overall Height6.4 in.
Maximum Width1.74 in.
Weight Unloaded3.7 lbs.
Weight Loaded4.0 lbs.
ReceiverSemi-bright stainless steel
Front Strap Height2.5 in.
Back Strap Height4.5 in.
Barrel Length8.0 in.
Grip Thickness (Maximum)1.3 in.
Grip Circumference Maximum5.2 in.
Cylinder Capacity6 rounds
Rear SightAdjustable, w/locking screw
Front SightFixed ramp with red insert
Sight Radius10.2 in.
Trigger-Pull Weight Double Action6.5 lbs.
Trigger-Pull Weight Single Action3.9 lbs.
Trigger Span3.5 in.
SafetyHammer bar
Warranty1 year limited
Telephone(800) 962-COLT (2658)
Made InConnecticut, U.S.A.

SIG Sauer P320 AXG Pro 320AXGF-9-BXR3-PRO-R2 9mm Luger, $1200

Gun Tests Grade: A

The pairing of the X-Series flat trigger with the all-metal AGX grip module makes this variant of the P320 an easy-to-shoot pistol. Recoil was smooth and manageable. We like this variant of the P320.

See full review: March 2022

ActionSemi-auto, short recoil-operated locked breech, striker fired
TriggerDouble action only
Overall Length8.1 in.
Overall Height5.7 in.
Maximum Width1.5 in.
Weight Unloaded35.4 oz.
Weight Loaded42.7 oz.
Barrel4.7 in.; 1:10-in. twist
SlideNitron, steel
Slide Retraction Effort16.0 lbs.
FrameHard coat anodized, stainless steel
Frame Front Strap Height2.6 in.
Frame Back Strap Height3.6 in.
GripsTextured G10, black
Grip Thickness Maximum1.2 in.
Grip Circumference Maximum5.6 in.
Front SightX-RAY3 3-dot night, green dot
Rear SightWhite two-dot notch; optics ready
Trigger Pull Weight4.5 lbs.
Trigger Span2.7 in.
Magazines2; steel w/aluminum base pad
SafetyStriker safety lock; disconnect safety
Telephone(603) 610-3000
WarrantyLimited Lifetime
Made InU.S.A.

Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Model H002C 22 LR, $349

Gun Tests Grade: A

The AR-7 is fun to shoot and packs up into a small, sealed package. The camo finish was starting to wear from multiple disassemblies. It ran flawlessly with different bullet weights and types.

See full review: January 2022

Action TypeSemi-auto, hammer fired
Overall Length 35.0 in.
Overall Length Disassembled 16.6 in.
Barrel Length/Twist Rate16.1 in.; 1:16 RH twist
Overall Height 8.5 in.
Weight Unloaded 3.5 lbs.
Weight Loaded 4.4 lbs.
Sight Radius20.5 in.
BarrelBlued steel
ReceiverMatte black polymer
ButtstockBlack, serrated plastic buttplate
Buttstock LOP14.0 in.
Magazine (2) 8-round detachable box
Front Sight Polymer orange post
Rear SightAdj. peep aperture
Trigger-Pull Weight 4.3 lbs.
Safety Manual hammer block
Warranty100% satisfaction guarantee
Telephone(866) 200-2354
Made InU.S.A.

Springfield Armory SA-35 9mm Luger, $699

Gun Tests grade: A

If you’re not looking for a collectible, then choose the Springfield Armory SA-35 over a stock Browning Hi-Power. The SA-35 is less expensive, has a better trigger, better sights, and is completely modern.

See full review: May 2022

Action TypeSemi-auto single action
Overall Length7.8 in.
Overall Height4.8 in.
Maximum Width1.32 in.
Weight Unloaded1.84 lbs.
Weight Loaded2.41 lbs.
SlideBlued forged carbon steel
Slide Retraction Effort17.2 lbs.
Receiver MaterialForged steel
FinishMatte blue
Front Strap Height2.4 in.
Back Strap Height3.4 in.
Barrel Length4.7 in., 1:10 twist
Grip Thickness Maximum1.32 in.
Grip Circumference Maximum5.4 in.
Magazines(1) Mec-Gar 15 round
Front SightWhite dot, drift adjustable in dovetail
Rear SightBlack serrated tactical rack rear,
drift adjustable in dovetail
Sight Radius6.4 in.
Trigger Pull Weight4.8 lbs.
Trigger Span2.6 in.
SafetyManual thumb safety
WarrantyLimited warranty for original purchaser
Telephone(800) 680-6866
Made InU.S.A., Illinois

Ruger Bearcat Shopkeeper Model 0915 22 LR, $575

Gun Tests Grade: A-

We liked the accuracy and size of this diminutive stainless revolver. It was easy to shoot and carry in a coat pocket. We thought the sharp edges and ill-fitting grip panel were misses.

See full review: May 2022

Action TypeRevolver, single action
Overall Length8.0 in.
Overall Height4.2 in.
Barrel Length3.0 in., 1:16
Sight Radius4.0 in.
Maximum Width1.2 in.
Weight Unloaded22.0 oz.
Weight Loaded22.7 oz.
Cylinder Gap.004 in.
Frame Material/FinishSatin stainless steel
Cylinder Material/FinishSatin stainless steel/unfluted
Frame Front Strap Height1.9 in.
Frame Back Strap Height2.9 in.
Grips Smooth laminated hardwood
Grip Thickness Maximum1.0 in.
Grip Circumference Maximum4.0 in.
Front SightBlade
Rear SightFixed groove
Trigger Pull Weight 4.1 lbs.
Trigger Span 2.7 in.
WarrantyNone stated
Telephone(336) 949-5200
Made InU.S.A.

EAA AKKAR Churchill 612 111375 12 gauge, $320

Gun Tests Grade: A

This shotgun has a comfortable pistol grip stock. While all three shotguns are reliable, the Akkar Model 612 is the smoothest. The trigger is crisp; it is the only trigger of the test that could be called nice. Plus, disassembly was easier with this model.

See full review: May 2022

Action TypePump
Chamber Size3.0 in.
Overall Length38.5 in.
Weight6.7 lbs.
Weight Loaded7.5 lbs.
Barrel Length18.5 in.
ChokeUnspecified (Modified)
Stock Length of Pull13.8 in.
Fore endRailed synthetic
Front SightPost
Trigger Pull Weight6.0 lbs.
Warranty1 year
Telephone(321) 639-4842
Made InTurkey

Bergara B14R 22 LR, $950

Gun Tests Grade: A

The heaviest, most accurate and most expensive of the four tested, we felt the Bergara was ready to perform competitively right out of the box.

See full review: June 2022

Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 10mm 13389, $619

Gun Tests Grade: A

Slightly more accurate. We felt the S&W had the lighter recoil impulse and the shooting results testified to that. The grips would benefit from the light touch of some 600-grit sandpaper.

See full review: August 2022

Action TypeBolt
Overall Length37.75 in.
Barrel Length/Twist 18.0 in., 1:16
Overall Height w Scope Mount6.4 in., 30-moa Pic rail included
Weight Unloaded9.3 lbs.
Weight Loaded9.6 lbs.
Sight RadiusNA
Action FinishMatte Black
Barrel FinishMatte Black
Magazine Capacity10
Magazine TypeBergara proprietary detachable box
Stock MaterialHMR Molded, soft touch
Stock Drop at Comb0.5 in.
Stock Drop at Heel0.5 in.
Stock BeddingPillar
Stock ButtplateBergara soft rubber
Stock Length of Pull14.5 in., w/three 0.25-in. removable spacers
Receiver Scope-Base PatternRemington 700 pattern, 6-48 screws
Trigger Pull Weight1.8 lbs.
Safety2-position thumb rocker
WarrantyNone specified
Telephone(877) 892-7544
Made InSpain

Ruger Precision Rifle Custom Shop Model 18084 6.5 Creedmoor, $2419

Gun Tests Grade: A

There is a lot to like about the Ruger — except the cost — but that is the price required to get the bells and whistles to help you shoot comfortably. We like the rail, trigger, barrel, and muzzle device.

See full review: August 2022

Action Type Bolt, three lugs, 70-degree lift
Overall Length38.25 to 41.75 in. (30.6 in. folded)
Barrel Length 26.0 in. long, 1:8 twist, threaded
Muzzle DeviceAPA Muzzle Brake
Sights Optics ready, 20-MOA Picatinny rail
Overall Height 7.3 in.
Weight Unloaded 9.7 lbs.
Weight Loaded 11.5 lbs.
Capacity 10
StockRuger Precision MSR
Stock Length of PullAdjustable
Stock Drop at CombAdjustable
Stock Drop at HeelAdjustable
GripMagpul MOE K2+
Action Finish Matte black
Barrel Finish Matte black
Magazine Type Detachable polymer box
Trigger Pull Weight Adj., 2.25 to 5.0 lbs.
SafetyAR style
Accuracy GuaranteeNone stated
Warranty None written
Telephone (336) 949-5200
Made InU.S.A.

Henry Golden Boy Model H004 22 S/L/LR, $500

Gun Tests Grade: A

The Golden Boy Henry shines, in our opinion. It is heavy and has a very smooth operating lever. The angle of the stock was not as comfortable as some shooters would have liked.

See full review: February 2022

Action TypeLever-action, exposed hammer
Overall Length 38.5 in.
Barrel20 in. long; 1:16 RH twist
Overall Height 8.7 in.
Weight Unloaded 6.7 lbs.
Weight Loaded 8.6 lbs.
Sight Radius17.0 in.
Action FinishBrasslite
Barrel FinishBlued
Magazine Capacity16 LR
Magazine TypeTube
StockSmooth walnut
Drop at Comb3.1 in.
Drop at Heel4.3 in.
ButtplateSmooth brass
Length of Pull14.0 in.
Front SightBrass bead post
Rear SightAdj. semi-buckhorn rear; optic ready
Trigger Type/Pull WeightSingle-stage, 3.5 lbs.
Manual SafetyQuarter cock
Warranty100% satisfaction guarantee
Telephone(866) 200-2354
Made InU.S.A.

Ammo and Accessory Picks

Remington Express 158-grain Lead Semi-Wadcutter Hollow Point +P R38S12

We liked the consistent expansion of the Remington 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow point.

This load is very similar in appearance and performance to the Winchester loading. The Remington load breaks 869 fps and averages 18 inches of penetration. All recovered bullets measured 0.60 inch in diameter, the most consistent of the test. This is our recommended heavy-bullet loading in the test based on its consistent expansion and penetration.

Gun Tests Grade: A (Our Pick)

DeSantis Speed Scabbard, $83

The optics-ready DeSantis Speed Scabbard has the same build quality and stiffness as the standard Speed Scabbard.

This is a semi-pancake-type holster. The Speed Scabbard features three belt slots for cant or angle adjustment. The holster is molded for specific handguns and features slight variations in geometry for each handgun. This is a holster designed with care and which serves well for concealed carry. The opportunity to compare both standard and optics-ready holster designs was presented with the Speed Scabbard. In the standard version, the holster flows up around the triggerguard and fairly high on the slide. In the optics-ready version, the holster is cut down close to where the holster body meets the belt loops. With very nicely done double stitching, the Speed Scabbard offers a strong, rigid draw. There is also a tension screw to adjust tightness on the handgun and to tighten the holster up when it becomes worn. Available from

Gun Tests Grade: A

Safariland 126GLS Assent Holster, $91

Safariland and Bianchi are now branches of the same company. This holster is the most expensive tested. By the same token, you get your money’s worth. The leather work and stitching are excellent. Our example is the size 750. We used a Sphinx compact 9mm during the test program. The pistol worked much the same as the Safariland; however, due to the OTW construction, the draw was sharper. One of the raters felt that there is very little penalty in actuating the GLS switch — practice is the key, but the movement is natural. He felt the GLS lock moves the holster into usefulness when hiking or doing outdoors work. We like this holster very much. Unless you have a pressing need for ITW carry, this is a good choice for concealed carry. We rated the construction far above the paddle holsters for concealed carry. With price as no object for our testers, this is the top retention holster. Find it at

Gun Tests Grade: A (OUR PICK)

Tulster Contour, $80

The Tulster Contour is indeed as flat as claimed, with a high, close ride.

The Contour is an outside-the-waistband (OTW) holster. It rides high and offers an option for those who cannot find comfort with the inside-the-waistband (ITW) style. We tested two examples, one for the Glock 19 size and the other for a Smith & Wesson Military & Police 2.0 Compact. The holster is certainly low profile. The standard version is optics friendly. The pistol features asymmetrical wings that ride close to the body. The Tulster features a Retention Adjustment Slot. Simply adjust the slide vertically and then tighten the slot for added retention. The holster may also be adjusted for ride height. The Kydex material is .08 inch thick.

This holster is a good choice for those who want a bit more retention. The draw may be fast enough, but the movement requires a solid tug — still faster than detaching a security device. After setting the holster up for maximum retention, we used an unloaded handgun and jumped up and down, and one of the raters did a back flip, all without losing the gun. The Contour is a viable option for those looking to notch up a bit on retention without adding a retention device that requires additional movement to draw the gun. If you are not comfortable with an IWB type holster, consider the Contour. Available at

Gun Tests Grade: A

Winchester Super-X 158-grain Lead Semi-Wadcutter Hollow Point +P X38SPD

This is a lead hollow point molded or cast soft enough for reliable expansion. Average velocity is 861 fps from a 4-inch barrel. The Winchester load has probably seen more use than other lead hollow points because it was issued to peace officers decades ago. This appears to be the same load in use since the 1970s. Penetration is 20 inches in water. Expansion ranged from 0.51 to 0.54 inch. We recommend this Super-X load for personal defense.

Gun Tests Grade: A



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