hunting gifts
Double Haul: The Montana Rifle Co. Prairie Runner (top, with the Meopta MeoPro 6.5–20×50 HTR) and Browning A5 Sweet Sixteen. The Voorhes

Sportsmen, despite their many benevolent (and totally gift-deserving) qualities, make Christmas shopping a major chore. They’re picky, opinionated, and often already well supplied. Rather than spoil your yuletide goodwill trying to find them the perfect present, defer to this foolproof grab bag of gear. And if you’re feeling extra generous, we’ve included 13 items we consider to be the Best of the Best.


Rinehart Hogzilla $800 • That Rinehart makes the best, longest-lasting foam targets on earth is nice, but what’s really cool is that the company has a sense of humor about it—the 3D lineup includes foam dinosaurs, frogs, a jackalope, and a mosquito. Its latest must-have model is Hogzilla, a hulking wild-hog target that replicates a 600-pound porker. The target is hyperrealistic—and could even double as lawn decoration. —Dave Hurteau Rinehart

Simms Riprap
Simms Riprap $90 • Wet wading in old sneakers is a slippery experience, but wearing wading boots without waders often equals ankle pain and rocks in your toes. Here’s the happy medium. As comfortable as sneakers, Ripraps have rubberized outsoles capable of receiving studs, and felt pads down the center of the sole that stick to rocks like glue. —Joe Cermele Simms

Reactor Gryphon $350 • Newly available in camo, the Gryphon is as tough as it looks. How tough, you ask? The company has run over the watch with military trucks and used it for target practice—and it keeps ticking. Designed to be indestructible, the Gryphon features a watertight 316L marine-grade stainless-steel core wrapped in a Nitromid polymer case. It isn’t cheap, but it may be the last watch you ever need. —D.H. Reactor

Nikon Monarch Fieldscope
Nikon Monarch Fieldscope $1,400–$1,600 • This new spotting-scope series comprises four body styles and three eyepieces (shown in 82mm). This summer I scouted beanfields with a 60mm model, and it had the quality glass you’d expect from Nikon. As spotting scopes go, the Monarch series is compact. Plus, the bodies are waterproof, and the eyepieces accept Nikon cameras for digiscoping.—Will Brantley Nikon

Igloo Trailmate $300 • Expanding further into territory Yeti pioneered, Igloo has introduced the Trailmate, a robust wheeled cooler with a convenient telescoping handle. The cooler boasts four-day ice retention, to keep food and refreshments (or bait, if you desire) cold. It comes with built-in drink and fishing-rod holders, as well as a pair of strategically placed bottle openers. —Slaton L. White Igloo

Montana Rifle Co. Prairie Runner
Montana Rifle Co. Prairie Runner $1,415 • They could have called it “Coyotes’ Despair,” since this is a varmint rifle for the 21st century. All stainless, it has a laminated thumbhole stock and features a standard muzzle brake for virtually recoilless shooting. The Prairie Runner doubles nicely as a beanfield rifle and is available in .22/250, .243, and 6.5 Creedmoor. —David E. Petzal Montana Rifle Co.

CRKT Homefront $150 • Columbia River Knife and Tool Works’ newest is a first-class hunk of cutlery that’s fine for all-around use but especially well suited for working on game. It is, by all accounts, the only folder designed to be disassembled for cleaning and general maintenance in the field. The knife has a 31⁄2-inch drop-point AUS-8 steel blade and a high-strength aluminum handle. —D.E.P. The Voorhes

Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II
Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II $739 • This base MSR mimics the Colt M4 ­carbine issued to troops with its collapsible stock and 16-inch pipe. Chambered in 5.56, it’s got all the necessities, including forward assist, a corrosion-resistant finish, an aftermarket Magpul Pmag, and a folding rear sight. Best of all, since it’s less than $800, you can afford to accessorize it. —Jeff Johnston Smith & Wesson
Kuiu Icon Pro 5200
Kuiu Icon Pro 5200 $475, full kit • Thanks to a carbon-fiber frame, this pack weighs a mere 5 pounds 9 ounces, but it has all the space and muscle needed for a backcountry hunt. I’ve been especially impressed with the internal lashing system, which allows you to secure heavy items—optics, water—­toward the top of the pack for easier carry. Since Kuiu sells gear direct, the price isn’t bad, either. —W.B. Kuiu
Cabela’s XML Bass Rods
Cabela’s XML Bass Rods $150 • Touted as Cabela’s best bass rods to date, XML Bass is a 12-rod series that’s ultra high-tech at a very reasonable price point. All models are ­technique-​­specific—from jerking, to flipping, to frogging—and their high-modulus carbon blanks make these graphite sticks some of the most sensitive and durable on the market. You’d be hard pressed to find a better series of bass rods for the money. —J.C. Cabela’s
Under Armour Women’s UA Chase
Under Armour Women’s UA Chase $150 • This water- and windproof jacket is cut for a woman’s curves and allows plenty of mobility. It has an internal draft guard that fits snugly to maintain heat, and for tree­stand hunters, there’s a back vent for a harness attachment. I wore the jacket to chase elk through some of Idaho’s coldest country and never shivered. —Kris Millgate Under Armour
Savage 11/111 Lightweight Hunter
Savage 11/111 Lightweight Hunter* $991 • Most long-range rifles are heavy, long, expensive, and chambered for a .30-caliber magnum cartridge. The Lightweight Hunter is none of these things. By pairing a pared-down Model 11 action, chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, and a lissome American walnut stock, Savage has created the antithesis of such guns. At less than a grand, this 51⁄2-pound rifle gives you more reach, with less strain on your back and wallet. —R.M. Savage


Five handy (and affordable) stocking stuffers for every outdoorsman

1. Savage Gear 3D Suicide Duck $17–$20 • The Savage Gear 3D Suicide Duck is the year’s hottest piece of tackle, and for good reason. The topwater lure mimics a duckling with its lifelike design and propeller feet, which create tons of convincing surface commotion. This lure is sure to entice crazy strikes from monster pike, muskies, and bass.—M.M. The Voorhes

SOG MacV Tool
2. SOG MacV Tool $13 • This TSA-compliant gadget fits in your palm, yet manages to contain 12 different tools, including a carbide blade sharpener, a cord cutter, three screwdrivers, three wrenches, and a bottle opener. The MacV is ready for quick repairs on the fly, and it makes a perfect key ring. Its price tag is nice, too.—Brett Puryear SOG

3. Steiner Miniscope $80 • A good optic can eat up your entire gift budget. The Steiner Mini­scope, however, costs less than a Benjamin and boasts clear, high-contrast 8X magnification to boot. The 2×2-inch monocular is perfect for stuffing in a pocket when you need to cover ground quickly, without having to lug around a big pair of binocs.—JR Sullivan Steiner

Alliant Powder Blue MZ and Federal Premium B.O.R. Lock MZ Bullets
4. Alliant Powder Blue MZ and Federal Premium B.O.R. Lock MZ Bullets $20, powder; $25, bullets • Alliant’s Blue MZ pellets and Fed­eral’s B.O.R. Lock MZ bullets are a hard-​hitting combo. Last fall, I shot a buck with the pair, and the bul­let broke both shoulders, expanded fully, and retained nearly everything. You can’t ask for more.—W.B. Alliant; Federal

5. Stanley Mountain Vacuum Switchback $35 • Stanley has a long history making vacuum bottles and mugs, but the new 16-ounce Mountain Vacuum Switchback is next-level. A flip-up grit guard covers the drinking surface, and the push-button lid disassembles into two easily handled pieces for fast, thorough cleaning. —S.L.W. Stanley

Penn Slammer III
Penn Slammer III $250 and up • Trust issues with your reel? Not with the Slammer III. Available in eight sizes with 60-pound max drag capacities, these reels are designed for punishment. Full-metal bodies, side plates, and rotors make them tank-tough, and the sealed drags and oversize power handles help you whip trophies fast. —J.C. The Voorhes
Beretta A350 Xtrema
Beretta A350 Xtrema $1,150 • A rebirth of the Xtrema series, the A350 represents a top value among 31⁄2-inch 12-gauge waterfowl guns. The soft-shooting, gas-operated semiauto will reliably cycle 23⁄4-inch target loads all the way up to 31⁄2-inch magnums. Spacers in the stock let you adjust length of pull to fit any hunter on your shopping list. —Phil Bourjaily. Beretta
Eddie Bauer 1957 Down Super Sweater
Eddie Bauer 1957 Down Super Sweater $129 • Eddie Bauer did something cool with its new Originals collection, by choosing a few of its original and most iconic pieces of outerwear and updating them for the modern sportsman. My favorite is the Super Sweater. You could wear it as a light jacket around camp, but it’s thin enough to work as an insulated mid-layer on bitter-cold hunts. —C.K. Eddie Bauer
Patagonia Rio Gallegos Zip-Front Wader
Patagonia Rio Gallegos Zip-Front Wader $599 • For 2016, Patagonia gave the Rio Gallegos waders a major overhaul. The improved design has a more athletic, streamlined fit; reinforced booties; and a heavier, yet still lightweight, neoprene fabric for improved durability. The Gallegos were already favorites—now they’re canonized. —J.R.S. Patagonia

Woolrich Men’s Reversible Hunting Vest $185 • Put this rugged vest on in October, and you’ll never have to take it off until spring—just flip it over when the hunt starts. One side is 80 percent wool, 20 percent nylon; the other is tear-resistant, color­fast blaze-orange cotton. It has seven pockets total, including a handy zippered back cargo pocket. —D.H. Woolrich

Yeti Hopper Flip 12 $280 • With the new Hopper Flip, Yeti fixed my one quibble with the original Hopper: accessibility. The Hopper Flip’s lid opens w-i-d-e, so you no longer have to struggle to get refreshments in and out. Other­wise, the Flip is just like the original: leakproof, crazy strong, and a veritable icy-air trap. If Yeti has yet to win you over, the Flip will do the trick.—C.K. Yeti

Glock 40 Gen4 MOS
Glock 40 Gen4 MOS $700 • My favorite gun from SHOT Show 2016, this 6-inch 10mm is probably the best autoloader option going for handgun hunters. The gun comes ready to accept reflex-style optics. It weighs 1⁄4 pound less than—and holds more than twice the ammo of—a full-size stainless-steel magnum revolver, making it a solid choice for bear-country carry. —W.B. Glock

Redington Predator $300 • From stripers to pike, redfish to salmon, these fly rods are designed to deliver the bugs big fish chew, and then beat them fast. The sticks fire the heaviest-grain lines with ease, yet they maintain a lightweight feel and stellar sensitivity in hand. The hard-wire snake guides and aluminum-oxide stripping guides are built to play rough all day long. —J.C. Redington

Camp Chef SmokePro STX $500 • Smoking meat no longer requires all your attention. Rather than obsessively tend a traditional smoker for hours, you can fill the compact SmokePro STX with wood pellets, set it to the desired temp, and then get on with preparing the rest of your meal. There are few pellet smokers at this price that will do the job as well as the SmokePro STX. —J.R.S. Camp Chef

  • An earlier version of this story featured the wrong photo for the Savage 11/111 Lightweight Hunter. The correct photo ran in the print magazine, however. The article also stated that the Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II has a folding front sight, when the rear sight is folding and the front sight is adjustable. We regret the errors.

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Best of the Best 2016