As President Obama declared war on “high-capacity magazine clips” and New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo (widely rumored to be Satan) rammed a truly rotten set of gun laws up the fundament of that state, the 2013 Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) in Las Vegas last January mostly ignored the whole sorry mess and throbbed and pulsed like an amok amoeba. Traffic was so heavy at times that I had to emit a racking cough and mutter “TB” in order to get through. But enough of this. There’s some very good new stuff out there.
[Remington Model 783 Rifle
The Model 783 bolt-action centerfire is completely new, the first truly modern rifle that Remington has built in many years. Synthetic-stocked, it feeds from a detachable magazine and bears a startling resemblance to at least three other state-of-the-art bolt guns. This is not accidental. As Remington engineer John Fink told me, “We took the best of what was already out there and combined it with our own ideas, and we make no apologies for borrowing.”
Thus, the Model 783, built around a massive receiver with a small ejection port: It has a two-stage adjustable trigger, and the barrel is pillar bedded into a reinforced, ultrastiff stock. It comes in the usual calibers, but with a twist. All 783 barrels, whether magnum or standard, have magnum contours, and the barrels are now button-rifled rather than hammer-forged. If you’re looking to build a rifle that really shoots, a nice stiff barrel is the place to start. The price is $481, real world. I’m told that test groups have been otherworldly, and I believe it. Remington is building a rifle that can only shoot accurately. Any point in its construction that might make it do otherwise has been eliminated.
[Winchester .17 Super Magnum Rimfire
The .17 Winchester Super Magnum is a bigger, meaner .17 rimfire created for varmint shooters who like the low price and recoil-free performance of smaller .17s but find them lacking in range, wind-bucking ability, and wallop. This round is based on a necked-down .27 nailgun (!) case and holds lots of powder, which propels either of two different 20-grain bullets at an honest 3000 fps, and a 25-grainer at 2600 fps. It is, I have on the highest authority, an honest 300-yard cartridge. As it presently stands, a box of 50 will go for $15.
[Savage B-Mag Rifle
And if you want to shoot these things, you need a rifle, right? So Savage has stepped up with the B-Mag, a completely new, ultrasleek, synthetic-stocked gun built specifically for the big .17. The barrel screws into the receiver, and the AccuTrigger can be adjusted by you yourself. MSRP is $349. These are bad times to be a varmint.
[Meopta Meopro and Meostar Scopes
Meopta’s optical gear has lurked in the shadows for the past few years; only the equipmentally attuned knew how good the company’s stuff is. That’s about to change. Meopta has two lines: Meopro, the components of which are made abroad and assembled here; and Meostar, which is made entirely in the Czech Republic. The former line is medium-priced; the latter high-medium. Both offer quality that is way out of proportion to what you pay. Notably new this year is the Meopro 3.5-10×44 RD, which has a new illuminated reticle that is about the best I’ve seen. The real-world price is $799.
[Ruger Guide Gun
In the beginning there was the Scout Rifle, and the people at Ruger saw that it was good, and delivered up unto us the Guide Gun, a compact thumper ($1,199) chambered for the serious cartridges from .30/06 through .338 Win. Mag. The Guide Gun is all-stainless, built on the Ruger 77 action, and has a 20-inch muzzle-braked barrel, good iron sights, and a front swivel stud that’s out on the barrel so the rifle carries low on your shoulder. Like the Scout Rifle, the Guide Gun has a laminated stock, but in brown and green rather than gray and black. I like this gun immensely. It fairly screams at you to take it into an Alaskan bog where the moose and the bears play.
[Montana Rifle Co. American Vantage
Often, the greatest bargains are not guns that cost the least, but those that offer the most value for the money. Such is the American Vantage Rifle, a dangerous-game rifle built on Montana’s refined Winchester Model 70 action, and retaining the original Model 70 trigger, still the best ever. It’s a plain gun that comes in blued steel and walnut for $1,200, and in all-stainless and synthetic for $100 more. The AVR is chambered in .375 H&H, .416 Remington, .458 Lott, .35 Whelen, and a couple of others.