Buyer's Guide 2003 - Handguns

The top 3 for '03.

1. Savage | Sport Striker .17 HMR
This year, Savage smartly introduced the 503FSS Sport Striker, a very cool bolt-action stainless-steel pistol, to shoot the popular .17 HMR. The pistol has an ambidextrous synthetic stock, a five-round detachable magazine, and Weaver-style scope-mount bases. It shot with great accuracy in tests and, with the proper optics, is a legitimate 150-yard varmint gun. $321; 413-568-7001; www.savagearms.com

2. Beretta | .22LR U22 Neos
The Beretta U22 Neos is a .22 for the new century. The combination of a lightweight polymer frame and a steel-alloy slide gives the gun great handling and just enough heft. It comes with an excellent set of fully adjustable iron sights and an ambidextrous safety; the Weaver sight rail makes it a snap to mount optics. In tests the gun was extremely accurate and utterly reliable. $265; 800-636-3420; www.berettausa.com

** 3. Walther | P22 .22LR**
The polymer-framed P22 is a superfun target pistol. Nicely balanced and comfortable in the hand, it weighs a mere 17 ounces with a 3.43-inch barrel. A 10-round magazine feeds the traditional double-action operating system. The sights are adjustable for windage and elevation in a well-defined, three-dot pattern. _$241; 800-372-6454; www.waltheramerica.com _