Petzal’s Best Rifles, Ammo, Glass and Deals from SHOT

From the pages of Field & Stream In a year that was otherwise economically putrid, the 2012 Shooting, Hunting and … Continued

From the pages of Field & Stream

In a year that was otherwise economically putrid, the 2012 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show was booming. Attendance last January in Las Vegas was so heavy that there were some aisles you could not walk through, and there was lots of great new stuff to drool over. Let’s get to it.
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Thompson/Center Rifles**

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So radical is the Dimension that T/C doesn’t even call it a rifle; they’ve labeled it an Interchangeable Bolt-Action Platform. Whatever it is, it allows you to swap bolts, magazines, and barrels (including heavy barrels) in calibers from .204 Ruger to .300 Win. Mag. I’ve shot it and hunted with it, and it works. The price for the rifle is $600. Each additional barrel is $199, and a new bolt (if required) is $49. tcarms.com

Ruger

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A completely new gun, the American Rifle is based on a piston-style bolt with a non-rotary extractor. Its synthetic stock has integral aluminum bedding blocks. The trigger is two-stage and adjustable, and the magazine is detachable. Right now it comes in .243, .308, .270, and .30/06. It weighs only 61⁄4 pounds and retails for $449. ruger.com

Forbes Rifles

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If you’ve lusted for a rifle made by New Ultra Light Arms but could not hack the $3,500-plus price, lament no more. Forbes Rifles is a brand-new company that’s building the Model 24B, a semicustom version of the NULA, for $1,500. Melvin Forbes makes the stocks, Forbes Rifles does the receivers, Timney supplies the triggers, and E.R. Shaw turns out the barrels. It weighs 51⁄4 pounds and comes in .270 and .30/06. I took a close look at the 24B, and I can’t tell it from a NULA. forbesriflellc.com
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Montana Rifle Co.**

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Montana’s new gun is the DGR, which stands for Dangerous Game Rifle, and it’s a heavy, super-reliable, no-frills bolt action that will allow you to mess with death in the long grass. This is a stopping rifle done right. You can get it in chamberings that include the horrifying .505 Gibbs, the cataclysmic .460 Weatherby, and the ever-so-pleasant-by-­comparison .416 Rigby. In blue steel it’s $2,399; add $100 for stainless. For what you get, that’s a bargain. ­montana​rifle​co.com
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Savage**

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Most women’s rifles are men’s rifles with an inch hacked off the stock, but the Savage Model 11 Lady Hunter is truly designed for female shooters. The walnut stock is shorter and the comb is much higher than standard because women have longer necks than men. Savage has also slimmed the pistol grip and fore-end and lessened the front-end weight. Calibers range from .223 to .30/06. It comes in long- and short-­action versions, for $819. ­savage​arms.com

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Winchester**

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Even though the Model 71 lever action was built for only a comparatively short time and only for one cartridge–the .348 Winchester–it earned a lasting place in the hearts of hunters. The 71 is a supremely effective rifle–fast-handling, fast-shooting, dead reliable, and powerful. This year it’s back in Standard ($1,470) and Deluxe ($1,660) grades, and it’s just as great as ever. The one weak point is its buckhorn rear sight. Ignore the silly thing and get a good rear peep sight. winchesterguns.com

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Norma

This Swedish ammo maker has been in the U.S. for a long time, but in a small way. Now it intends to be a major factor in the market, which is fine with me. I’ve been using the company’s loaded ammo, brass, and powder for years, and all are of the highest quality. Norma will be offering reloading components and ammunition in all sorts of calibers including metrics and British loadings. norma.cc/en

Meopta

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Reinhard Seipp, Meopta’s chief operating officer, says, “We’re not very good at publicizing ourselves, but we’re very good at making things.” Meopta is a Czech company that’s been in the optics business for 79 years and turns out riflescopes, binoculars, and spotting scopes of truly top quality and at very reasonable prices. I am in possession of a MeoStar R1 3-​10x50mm, a 30mm-tube model that is a paragon of perfection and carries a real-world price tag of only $600-$650.

Kenny Jarrett, who is as fussy about scopes as any human being I know, told me, “If you can’t afford a [here he named a very famous high-priced scope], get a Meopta.” If that’s not a solid-gold endorsement, it will do until the solid-gold endorsement comes along. ­meopta​sports​optics.com

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Carl Zeiss

Your binocular is your most important piece of hunting equipment, and a fine binocular is worth whatever you pay for it many times over. Unless you’re some kind of witless savage, you hardly need me to rave over Zeiss glasses, so I’ll simply state that the company’s new Conquest HD binoculars come in 8×42 and 10×42, are the absolute state of the art, and do not sell for $2,700, or $2,950, or $3,028.31. The real-world price is under $1,000 for either one. They are also covered by Zeiss’s new unconditional repair policy, which means that if they break, or you break them in the line of duty, Zeiss fixes them for free, period, no questions asked. www.zeiss.com/sports

From the April 2012 issue of Field & Stream magazine.