Best New Guns and Gear of the 2020 SHOT Show
F&S picks the hottest new guns, knives, ammo, accessories, and more for hunters and shooters
The next time you’re browsing the racks of your local gun shop and having a tough time choosing just one new toy to take home, consider this: The SHOT Show is a gun show that’s about 217 times bigger than my hometown of St. Charles, Kentucky (population 277, last I checked). That’s a bunch of the kind of stuff—guns, knives, ammo, decoys—that puts a smile on my face. It’s all, in a word, distracting. But along with the rest of the F&S staff, I’m doing my best to stay focused and update you on only the best of the cool new stuff each day.
Wait a minute. Check that out… —Will Brantley
Sig Sauer CROSS
Maybe you knew it was inevitable that Sig Sauer would introduce a bolt-action rifle, but I’ll bet you never envisioned this. The new CROSS was designed with input from hunters, military snipers, and top long-range shooters—folks who know how a rifle should perform. It was also created to especially appeal to backcountry hunters who wear out their boots faster than you wear out truck tires. The rifle weighs less than 6.5 pounds, has a folding stock, a one-piece receiver, and is chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Winchester, and Sig Sauer’s new high-pressure cartridge, the .277 Sig Fury. It does not look like your granddad’s deer rifle. Hell, it doesn’t even look like your daddy’s deer rifle. But the Sig Cross might just be the future of deer rifles. $1,799; sigsauer.com —Richard Mann
Nightforce NX8 2.5-20 F1
The newest family of riflescopes from Nightforce is the NX8 series, which have evolved from Nigthforce’s classic NXS series. These riflescopes have a remarkable 8X zoom range, and the resolution is razor-sharp at every magnification setting. If you’re looking for a scope with a never-changing zero and adjustments that are always spot on, the NX8 2.5-20, with its first-focal-plane reticle should be the ideal, do-anything-at-any-distance, riflescope. It includes an advanced Digillum reticle, Nightforce ZeroStop technology, and your choice of MOA or Mil-Radian adjustments. A 4-32X50mm version is also available, but for a one-scope option for everything, the 2.5-20X50 would be my choice. Price not yet available; nightforceoptics.com —R.M.
Federal Premium Terminal Ascent Ammo
Federal’s new Premium Terminal Ascent loads use a bonded bullet to penetrate deep on close targets and a polymer tip initiate expansion at velocities 200 fps slower than comparable designs at extended distances. The new bullet has a variety of new and advanced features such as a SlipStream Polymer Tip, external jacket skiving, bonded construction, nickel plating, Accuchannel grooving, and a solid shank. What that all means is that the new bullet delivers enhanced terminal performance far and near, while also shooting extremely flat and accurately. In short, a better big-game bullet. The new Terminal Ascent loads will initially be available for the for the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, .270 Winchester, .270 WSM, .280 Ackley Improved, 28 Nosler, 7mm Remington Magnum, .308 Winchester, .30/06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum, and .300 Winchester Short Magnum. $42.95 to $53.95; federalpremium.com —R.M.
SOG Aegis AT Blue
Known for its mission-oriented tactical blades, SOG hits the reboot button with a strong move into the general outdoors category in 2020. With a clip-point blade, ambidextrous assisted opening technology, and a nicely textured and contoured, glass-reinforced nylon handle, the SOG Aegis AT is bound for crossover hit status. The cryogenically treated D2 stainless steel is a tough steel, and the black titanium nitride finish is a handsome nod to SOG’s tactical roots. I prefer a seriously-sized folder, and the 3.7-inch blade feels perfect, especially since SOG shaved enough bulk and weight to keep the knife at a relatively lightweight 5.15 ounces. A deep-carry reversible pocket clip is tucked next to a lanyard loop for multiple carry options. The Aegis AT comes in four color options: Indigo/Acid, Forest/Moss, and a pair of Blaze/Tan layups. $94; sogknives.com —T. Edward Nickens
Remington 870 Express Trap
Remington has introduced a dedicated trap version of the venerable 870 Express for 2020. As an SCTP youth trap coach, I used to plead with a succession of Remington shotgun product managers for a bare-bones, affordable trap gun for the growing number of kids who participate in scholastic trap leagues. I have no idea to what degree I convinced them, but there is now such a gun, and it looks like a winner. The new 870 Express Trap has a hardwood Monte Carlo stock, a 30-inch barrel with front and mid bead, and three chokes to cover singles and handicap distances. And at this price, it’s within reach of almost everyone. $609; remington.com —Phil Bourjaily
Traditions NitroFire and Federal FireStick
Traditions and Federal worked together to create something truly innovative in the muzzleloading world. To look at the NitroFire rifle you’d initially think it’s no different than a regular Traditions Vortek inline, but you’d be mistaken. Break it open and you’ll find no breech plug. Shine a light down the bore, and you’ll see a small shelf instead. The NitroFire is designed to work with the Federal FireStick ignition system, which is an encapsulated, pre-measured charge of either 100 or 120 grains of Hogdgon’s new Triple 8 powder. A No. 209 primer is added to the charge, which can then be loaded or unloaded, same as a shotgun shell in a break-action single barrel. Because it is still a muzzleloader, the bullet is tamped down the barrel as normal, where it rests against the shelf in the chamber.
Consistency is the Achilles’ heel of muzzleloader accuracy, but with this system, there is no doubt as to whether the bullet is seated or the powder charge is correct. You can quickly take the charge out of your gun while getting into and out of the tree—and it’s likely as weatherproof as you can make a muzzleloader. It should be legal for hunting in most eastern whitetail states where inline muzzleloaders are allowed. $550-$700 for the rifle, $27 for a 10-pack of FireSticks; federalpremium.com —W.B.
The longest line I saw at Range Day was comprised not of people waiting to shoot the latest striker-fired autoloader, but of folks hoping to get their hands on the newly reintroduced Colt Python. Double-action revolver aficionados have been eagerly anticipating this one since Colt stepped back into the wheel-gun market a few years ago.
Many consider the original Python to be the smoothest-shooting double-action ever made, and used ones have always commanded a premium. But their prices have become downright stupid in the past decade, thanks in part to Rick Grimes, the lawman turned zombie fighter in The Walking Dead. Rick used the big wheel gun to battle the undead and mean-ass southerners alike—all while faking a pretty good southern accent of his own.
I put a couple cylinders full of .38 Special through the new Python and can unequivocally say it’s the smoothest revolver I’ve ever fired. It’d make a fine gun for handgun hunting or defense, but were I to buy it, I think I’d have to set it somewhere where I could just look at it and think of how pretty it is. It strikes me as an heirloom. $1,500 (4-inch); colt.com —W.B.
For a trail gun, a full-sized pistol that sports adjustable sights, weighs just 2 pounds, and holds 20 chances worth of flat-shooting, high-velocity ammunition gets my attention. Ruger’s new 57 might remind you of the FN Five-seveN, which has been around long enough (since the ‘90s) to become a modern classic. Both are high-capacity polymer autoloaders built around the 5.7x28mm round, which was developed for military use but is a standout in the woods too. From a pistol barrel, the 5.7x28mm has ballistics a tad punchier than a .22 WMR rifle (like a 40-grain V-Max at 2,000 fps.+), and the Ruger 57 comes drilled and tapped for a reflex-style optic of your choice. If you want to pack a pistol for coyotes, there may not be a finer option.
I ran a magazine through the 57 yesterday on the range, where it cycled flawlessly and was easy to hit with. Maybe best of all, the Ruger retails for $800, which is just a little more than half of its primary competitor. ruger.com —W.B.
Grizzly 10mm 220-Grain Hard Cast
The 10mm Auto resurgence continues, with more handgun options on the market than ever. A number of guys who live in serious bear country have traded their magnum revolvers for lighter-weight but higher-capacity autos. Still, revolver fans have a key argument in their favor: Their guns are bigger, and their bullets are better.
This new heavy, hard-cast load from Grizzly won’t make your 10mm handgun any bigger, but it might make it a little better by improving the penetration potential. That’s something to be appreciated by hunters and for backwoods bear defense alike. This 220-grain hard-cast bullet reportedly clocks 1,200 fps out of a 4-inch barrel. $20 for 20; grizzlycartridge.com —W.B.
Here are a few to get started with for today.
Brantley also sent me a few that I’ll forward over to you.
Bergara B14R22 Rimfire Rifle
Bergara’s first bolt-action rimfire, the B14R22 is built on a full-sized Remington 700 footprint, so it’s compatible with other Model 700 stocks, bases, and triggers. The rifle sits in the company’s excellent, fully adjustable, Bergara HMR stock with an integral aluminum bedding rail and takes a Bergara-designed ACIS mag converted to .22 LR. The first-class, Spanish-made barrels are cut with what Bergara calls a “proprietary match chamber.” At the range, I loaded and removed an Eley Match OSP, and saw that the lands were engraved on the soft lead bullet—a sure sign of a quality chamber. The two-lug floating bolt head can be spaced with a soon-to-come kit from Bergara, so shooters will be able to effectively headspace their rifle, something that normally requires barrel shims or custom gunsmith work with rimfires. The B14R22 comes in two models, one with a 4140-steel barrel, the another with a carbon-wrapped tube. The real-world price will run around $1,000, which may sound high for a .22 LR, but it’s a fraction of what others charge for Remington 700 actions alone. And unlike those custom builds, these Bergaras will be on gun store shelves across the country—bringing the rising tide of precision rimfire rifles to a whole new world of shooters. Starts at $1,150; bergarausa.com —Michael R. Shea
Rocky Pro Hunter Berber Apparel
In the age of $300 high-performance jackets, a lot of hunters I talk to still love their old-school fleece clothing. In that vein, Rocky has introduced a new line of fleece outerwear called the Berber ProHunter series. It includes a jacket and pants, plus gloves, a neck gaiter, and a beanie. The headwear has a microfleece, moisture-wicking lining, and the gloves have pigskin leather fingers. Best thing is, you can get this entire suit for under $300. I haven’t had a chance to wear it, but it looks to be an outstanding value in cold-weather gear. $100 for jacket and pants, $40 for gloves, $20 for beanie and gaiter; rockyboots.com —W.B.
Sometimes it’s handy to have a few tools around besides a pocketknife blade, but carrying a full-sized multi-tool isn’t always practical. That’s why I liked the Armbar, a nifty little pocket-knife-sized multitool that weighs just 3.2 ounces. It includes a knife blade, small pry bar, punch, scissors, and a driver that will accept standard quarter-inch bits. At only $40, why not have one? gerbergear.com —W.B.
T/C Compass II
Honestly, I couldn’t care less about expensive, heavy rifles built for long-range shooting. But I’m always on the lookout for guns like this new one from T/C because they’re proof that today’s hunters can get more bolt-action rifle for the money than ever before. I used this gun for a week in Wyoming last October, where I killed a nice antelope with it and a notable pile of prairie dogs. My rifle was a 6.5 Creedmoor, which isn’t the usual prairie dog round, but the prairie dogs didn’t know that.
The gun was topped with a Crimson Trace scope, which is part of a package option. It sports a sweet new Generation II trigger and 5R rifling, and it turned in groups that I did not measure, but could’ve probably been covered with a quarter. The Compass II has an M.O.A. guarantee, is available in popular calibers from .223 to .300 Win Mag, and has a starting price of $405. tcarms.com —W.B.
The Turkey Hooker
Skull Hooker makes a variety of mounts for displaying Euros—I have a moose-sized hooker at home—but this year they also had a pretty sweet turkey fan mount in their booth. The Turkey Hooker displays and protects your gobbler’s fan and beard, and it can be hung on the wall or used as a stand-up desk or shelf mount. It’s also compatible with the Skull Hooker Trophy Tree, which would make a cool way to display multiple fans at the end of a Grand Slam. $40; skullhooker.com —W.B.
AR47GAR in 475 Bishop
If big-bore ARs are your thing, this is the biggest one made. Merissa Bishop, president of Bishop Ammunition and Firearms and a disabled U.S. Military combat veteran, matter of factly told me that the .475 Bishop cartridge, “Produces 5,500 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. It’s the most powerful AR-10 available, and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong.”
Then she asked if I’d like to shoot it, and I sure did. There was some recoil, but the rifle was easily manageable, thanks in large part to the massive 8-port muzzle break, and it had a nice trigger of about 2.5 pounds. I put a couple rounds through it and would’ve liked to have shot it more, but seeing as how the price of ammo is $140 per box of 20, the gun is not really made for plinking.
The .475 Bishop round is loaded with either a 390-grain solid copper hollowpoint or a 390-grain jacketed hollowpoint, traveling at 2,500 fps at the muzzle. It is, according to Bishop, the largest case that will fit the throat of a standard AR10 chamber. The rifle that shoots it is a custom-fit work of art, with a 7+1 round capacity and a variety of Cerakote and other finish options available. It ships with a certificate for 100 cases and 100 projectiles, a set of Lee reloading dies and data, and a lockable hard case. $3,000; bishopammunition.com —W.B.
Spypoint’s new Cell-Link can turn any conventional trail camera that uses an SD card into a cellular camera that works with Spypoint’s mobile app. The system uses a cable to plug into the SD card port in your camera, and when the camera takes a photo, the Cell-Link is activated, storing the image and data on a micro SD card and then sending it to you. Various data plans are available and economical (like $10 a month for unlimited photos), and it works with either Verizon or AT&T service. The Cell-Link system costs about $60 and requires its own power source (AA or Lithium batteries), so buying a Spypoint cellular camera is still the cheaper way to go—but if you already have a bunch of conventional trail cameras on hand and would like to make a few of them cellular-capable, this is a pretty sweet option. spypoint.com —W.B.
Sig Sauer 277 Fury
To go with their revolutionary new rifle—the Cross—Sig Sauer has designed a new centerfire rifle cartridge, the 277 Fury. According to Sig Sauer, the new round will push a 140-grain .277/6.8mm bullet to 3000 fps from a 16-inch barrel. This is possible because of the unique two-piece case design, which utilizes a stainless-steel base and brass body. The case head is the same size as a 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Winchester cartridge, and the overall cartridge length is similar as well. But its stainless-steel construction allows for maximum average chamber pressures of up to 80,000 psi. That’s 15,000 more psi than the very popular .270 Winchester, which requires a long action. It will be offered in Sig’s Elite Match Grade and Elite Hunter Tipped ammo. Price not yet available; sigsauer.com —R.M.
Winchester XPR Stealth
Winchester has a new XPR this year, and it’s one cool little rifle. What makes it cool? Well, being and XPR, you know it’s well-made and you can count on it being accurate, plus it won’t break the bank. But what sets this Stealth model apart is the 16-1/2-inch button-rifled barrel that’s threaded for a suppressor, which means you can put a can on it and still have a pretty handy rifle. Barrel and receiver have a Permacote black finish and the latter is topped with a Pic rail for mounting an optic. Like all XPRs, this one has the same excellent M.O.A. trigger system you’ll find on the more expensive Model 70. Available in nine short-action calibers—including 6.5 Creed, 350 Legend, and 6.5 PRC—the 6-pound, 8-ounce Stealth promises to be a handy and fun-to-shoot rifle that might just save your hearing too. $619; winchester.com —D.H.
Savage B Series Precision
This year Savage has launched an impressive new line of rimfires based around their Mark II, 93, A22, and B22 actions, but one particular rifle is stealing all the chatter: The B Series Precision. With a $599 price tag, it’s set to take over this coming year of base class NRL22 competition, where rifle + scope can’t exceed $1,050 MSRP. The B Series Precision ships in a one-piece MDT chassis—buttstock to forend is one solid billet of aluminum—along with a heavy, threaded 18-inch Savage barrel, a B22 action, and a very nice AccuTrigger. Shooting CCI Standards, it was nothing to break clay pigeons with this gun at 108 yards during Range Day at SHOT. The Mark II and B22 have long been among the favorite rifles of winning NRL22 base class shooters. This model is only going to cement Savage’s standing in affordable match shooters. $599; savagearms.com —M.R.S.
Pelican Cargo Boxes
If you spend a lot of money on gear, you’re going to want to keep it safe, and for doing just that it’s hard to beat Pelican products. Known for producing rugged weatherproof containers, Pelican is offering an entire line of rotomolded vehicle-mounted cargo cases this year. The cases are geared towards overlanding—which is basically backpacking in a 4×4 truck—and they are perfect for hauling camping, hunting, and fishing gear down bumpy dirt roads and four-lane highways alike. Just like other Pelican cases, they are weatherproof, dustproof, lockable, and crushproof. But what really sets them apart is the mounting system. Pelican partnered with Frontrunner to produce hardware to mount the cases both in truck beds and on the roof. You can also mount them on the rail systems of most popular truck beds without drilling or modifying your vehicle. Unlike boxes from competitors, Pelican Cargo Cases are just as functional off of the truck as on it, making them perfect for storing and moving gear around your truck, in the garage, and in camp. Available in Spring 2020 in eight sizes with a variety of mounting options. $199 to $399; pelican.com —Matthew Every
Winchester Ballistic Silvertip / 6.5 Creedmoor
Last year, I grudgingly accepted that the 6.5 Creedmoor may not be a fad, and went so far as to buy a 6.5 rifle of my own. Not surprisingly, I haven’t fed it much of anything that it won’t shoot pretty well. But next fall I’ll be excited to pair it with what has long been my favorite whitetail bullet: Winchester’s Ballistic Silvertip. It’s not the newest or most expensive thing around, but it’s always accurate and simply poison to whitetails. I’ve used it in .30/06, .308, and .243 to kill a trailer load of them. The Ballistic Silvertip is now available in 6.5 Creedmoor, featuring a 140-grain boat-tail bullet with the signature polymer tip and Lubalox coating, clocking in at 2,710 fps. winchester.com —W.B.
Pinteal Decoy Controller
The Pinteal remote controller lets you run several spinning-wing decoys with your smart phone. Compatible with almost any remote-capable spinner, it allows the hunter to turn the decoy on and off, adjust wing speed, and set a custom intermittent mode from up to 70 yards away. The Pinteal come in four different models, one of which will fit any of your spinners. All you have to do is connect the harness to the decoy and download the app. $65; pinteal.com
Benelli’s first-ever bolt-action rifle, the Lupo is one of the few truly brand-new rifles for 2020, and the company has gone all out to make sure it’s like no other. The rifle incorporates seven exclusive Benelli patents in order to provide next-level ergonomics and a custom fit. The black-synthetic stock accepts inserts in the comb to perfectly align your eye behind the scope while getting a proper cheek weld. The length-of-pull can also be adjusted, but on this stock, it’s done in the wrist area. This makes sense because if you are a larger-framed person, your hand is probably larger too, and this will help you position your finger properly on the trigger. The 7-pound Lupo also has a detachable magazine, integral sling swivel attachments, a sculptured bolt that enhances feeding reliability, and a recoil-reduction system built into the stock. And it’s a shooter, too, with a 3-shot sub-MOA guarantee. It will initially be available in .270 and .30-06 with a 22-inch barrel, and .300 Winchester Magnum with a 24-inch barrel. $1699; benelliusa.com
Browning Safe Builder
Anyone who’s shopped for a gun safe before knows that finding a place for a big, heavy hunk of metal in your house can be daunting. It’s hard to judge how a safe will fit or match your other furniture, and once you get it home, it’s difficult to move around and see where it looks best. For these reasons, my next gun safe will probably be a Browning. At SHOT Show this year, Browning unveiled Safe Builder, an augmented reality app that lets customers use their smartphones to build, price, and move a safe around in different rooms of their home. Using the camera function, the app creates a virtual model of a gun safe that appears on the screen alongside your existing furniture. Users can drag, turn, and place it in different parts of a room to see where it fits best. The Safe Builder App also allows you to customize the inside and outside of the safe with things like gun racks, graphics, locks, and colors. After you’ve found the perfect safe and built it to your specs, you’ll be able to send that information to a local dealer and purchase your safe. Safe Builder is free on the App Store and Google Play. —M.E.
Designed by jungle survival experts, the ESEE platform of hard-use survival knives takes a step into the hunting and outdoor world with the new Xancudo fixed-blade. In every way, it’s just enough. The 3D G10 handle has just enough texturing to stick to your palm like putty. The 3-inch full-tang blade is just long enough for opening up a deer or carving tent stakes. There’s just enough jimping on the handle spine to keep your thumb in place. And the S35VN steel is just high-tech enough to satisfy steel-lovers looking for high-grade blade materials. The Xancudo comes in two models, and I’d opt for the one with the hole in the handle so it can be carabiner-clipped to pack webbing or a shoulder strap. That’s just nifty and useful enough to take this knife to the next level without being gimmicky. $186; eseeknives.com —T.E.N.