A trip to Las Vegas in January for the 39th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show – better known as SHOT Show – gave us an opportunity to examine and shoot many of the new firearms heading to market in 2017.
Some 1,600 companies showed their wares to more than 65,000 industry and media members at the show, which has seen an expansion in tactical and law enforcement gear for the last 15 or so years. Increasingly, items made for the tactical side are becoming “crossovers” to the sport shooting and outdoors market; the number of tactical-styled rifles and assorted bling had some pundits quipping that maybe it’s time to change the name to the “SWAT Show.”
Long range hunting rifles aren’t immune from the trend, as they are steadily adapting tactical looks and features. The changes won’t hurt your wallet, though: Price points seem to be on the downswing, at least compared to the costs of some chassis rifles debuting just a couple years ago.
These new rifles typically weigh a couple more pounds than standard bolt-action hunting rifles. While some are light enough to carry on hunts, the extra heft likely means you won’t be humping up too many mountains with them. They are ideal, though, for hunts where you have access, solid rests and good shot opportunities out to several hundred yards.
Also new this year are a couple classic-styled hunting rifles priced well below $1,000.
As we first noted in early 2015, the 6.5mm Creedmoor cartridge is the hottest new round. Almost every manufacturer is, unsurprisingly, chambering for this cartridge with dozens of line extensions debuting this year.
Finally, air rifle innovations continue to roll.
Here’s a look at this year’s new rifles, in alphabetical order:
BERGARA B14 HUNTING AND MATCH RIFLE
Built at Bergara’s Spain facility, the B14 HMR is one of the new hunting rifles loaded with features tactical shooters love. It has a nicely-textured, molded synthetic stock with a built-in, machined aluminum mini-chassis. This lets the builders fully free float the vertically honed, button-rifled Bergara Barrel, helping to ensure accuracy.
The ambidextrous stock has easily adjustable components, including the cheek piece and length of pull. It has multiple flush cup mounts for quick-detach items, plus multiple sling swivel studs for traditional bipod and sling attachments.
What else: B14 series adjustable trigger; Magpul PMAG Accuracy International Chassis System ( AICS) magazine; sub-1.0 minute-of-angle ( MOA) groups, or less, at 100 yards using factory match-grade ammunition guarantee
Variants: Initially offered in .308 Win and 6.5 Creedmoor
Barrel basics: The .308 barrel is 20 inches, two inches shorter than the 6.5. It’s threaded 5/8-inch-by-24 to accept most compatible muzzle devices and suppressors.
Weight: 9.15 pounds without the scope
MSRP: $1,150 (without scope), making it a price leader in this category
CZ 455 AMERICAN STAINLESS SYNTHETIC
CZ’s first stainless rimfire replaces the popular CZ452, an attractive tack driving rimfire. The 455’s modular design will allow for more consistent production and repair, but rimfire fans will miss the hand engraving and styling of the 452.
Only a few hundred of the 452 models remain for sale. The 455’s modular system makes it easy to swap barrels, chamberings and stocks. The bolt and bolt handle are finished in black nitride.
Variants: .22 LR, .17 HMR and .22 WMR
Barrel basics: The 20.5-inch barrel and action are finished in a matte bead blast.
Weight: 5.94 pounds
MSRP: $339 to $451
GAMO SWARM MAXXIM
Gamo makes great air rifles, and this new offering features a 10-round Quick Shot rotary-style magazine. Handloading individual pellets for each shot has long been the slowest part of the break-action, air rifle experience; with this rifle, you load the magazine and each time you break it to re-cock the gas-piston power plant, it precisely loads a new round. Shots are possible in just a couple seconds.
Gamo Whisper sound suppression knocks back the noise. It comes equipped with a 3-9x40 scope.
What else: Plastic, ambidextrous stock with vertically adjustable cheek piece; adjustable trigger factory set at 3.2 pounds; five-year limited warranty
Variants: The .22-caliber version delivers 975 feet per second velocity with PBA platinum pellets, while the .177-caliber achieves up to 1,300 FPS.
Barrel basics: 19.9 inches long
Weight: 5.6 pounds
According to company representatives at SHOT Show, this new semiautomatic air rifle can deliver an amazing 80 shots with .177 pellets between recharges. The .177 pellets consistently leave the muzzle at 1,050 feet per second.
Each rifle comes with three magazines and sports carrying slots in the stock for storing spares. The BullMaster has a 500cc air bottle mounted to the forearm. Two air cylinders are included. The adjustable bullpup-style stock has an “Easy Adjust" Elevation Comb.
What else: Built-in pressure gauge to monitor cylinder pressure; Weaver-style rail for both 11mm and 22mm scope mounts; blued finish with black anodized receiver; sling swivels
Variants: Comes in .177 and .22 calibers – the detachable rotary magazine has 14-shot capacity with .177 and 12-shot with .22.
Barrel basics: Fully shrouded, precision rifled and choked
MSRP: Not cheap – $1,399.99
HOWA LONG-RANGE RIFLE (HLR)
This rifle is built upon the HOWA 1500 Precision Barreled Action. It has a textured Bell and Carlson stock in green with black, or tan with black.
Legacy Sports International Inc., the brand owner, says this is the only rifle/optic combination to offer a first focal plane scope as part of the package. The combo version features the Nikko Stirling Diamond FFP 4-16x44 riflescope with matching MIL/MIL turrets and reticle.
What else: Raised cheek piece; dual front sling studs; Pachmayr Decelerator Recoil Pad; two-stage Howa Actuated Control Trigger (HACT)
Variants: 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win.
Barrel basics: 26-inch, heavy, threaded barrel
Weight: 11.4 pounds (with scope); 9.5 pounds (rifle only)
MSRP: $1,299 (with scope); $1,015 (rifle only)
LITHGOW ARMS CROSSOVER
This Australian rifle maker is selling both the rimfire LA101 and centerfire LA102 crossover rifles through Legacy Sports International. Both models are hunting, varmint and target tools with modern tactical styling.
The synthetic stock has an integral molded trigger guard, textured pistol grip and forend, and is made from the same injection molded nylon as the Australian Defence Force’s new F90 rifle. Both versions are also available with laminated stocks. The military grade, cold hammer forged steel floating barrel is Cerakote-treated.
What else: 60-degree bolt lift; flush-fitting, adjustable length of pull; five-round magazine
Variants: The LA101 comes in .22 LR, .22 WMR and 17 HMR. The LA102 line features .223 Rem., .243 Win and .308 Win.
Barrel basics: The LA101 barrel is drilled and tapped for a scope while the LA102 has a Picatinny rail. Both are Cerakote-treated.
Weight: 6.6 to 8.2 pounds, depending on model
MSRP: LA101 – $1,079 (synthetic), $1,215 (laminate). LA102 – $1,255 (synthetic), $1,390 (laminate)
MERKEL MHR 16
This is a renamed, production model of a rifle Merkel debuted in limited fashion last year. It’s an affordable bolt-action rifle with a classic hunting look.
Merkel offers the MHR 16 in two versions: a Grade 1 walnut-stocked version and a fiberglass-reinforced, black synthetic-stocked version.
What else: 60-degree bolt; detachable box magazine; optics mounted with standard Savage mounts
Variants: Both versions are available in standard and magnum calibers: .243 Win., 6.5x55mm, .270 Win., .308 Win., .30-06 Springfield, 9.3x62mm, .300 Win. Mag. and 7mm Rem. Mag.
Barrel basics: Standard calibers have a 22-inch barrel; 24 inches for magnums.
Weight: 7 pounds, 4.4 ounces (walnut); 6 pounds, 9.8 ounces (synthetic)
MSRP: $899 (walnut); $799 (synthetic)
MOSSBERG PATRIOT PREDATOR
Mossberg launched its affordable, highly-shootable Patriot hunting rifle in 2015. This line extension adds some tactical features including a Picatinny rail.
The synthetic stock is a “Flat Dark Earth” finish.
What else: Polymer, flush four-round box magazine; Lightning Bolt Action trigger adjustable from 2 to 7 pounds; oversized bolt handles; spiral-fluted bolts; sling swivel studs
Variants: 6.55mm Creedmoor, .243 Win. and .308 Win.
Barrel basics: Contour, free-floating 22-inch, threaded (includes protective cap), blued barrel with straight-edge fluting
Weight: 6.5 pounds
MOSSBERG PATRIOT REVERE
Another expansion in the Patriot lineup is this hunting rifle. It was a well-kept secret until SHOT Show. Mossberg uses the term “handsomely appointed” to describe the gun – and that’s accurate.
It’s an attractive firearm with a beautiful Grade 1.5 European walnut stock with nice forend and grip checkering. The forend and grip cap are rosewood tipped with maple accents.
What else: Lightning Bolt Action adjustable trigger; streamlined bolt handle; spiral fluted bolt; Weaver-style scope bases
Barrel basics: Blued, 22 inches with recessed crown
MSRP: $825, but looks like it should cost more
Savage partners with Ashbury Precision Ordnance in this long-range chassis gun line expansion. It features a factory-blueprinted Model 10 barreled action paired with an APO SABER MRCS-AR folding chassis.
What else: Adjustable AccuTrigger; Octagonal aluminum hand guard; Magpul MOE pistol grip and buttstock; one Magpul PMAG Accuracy International Chassis System (AICS) five-round detachable magazine
Variants: 308 Win. and 6.5 Creedmoor
Barrel basics: 24 inches long
Weight: 9.85 pounds
SAVAGE MSR 10 HUNTER
This is one of four new rifles in Savage’s new modern sporting rifle category; the others are a similar-caliber long-range model and two lighter-caliber patrol and recon models. The entire line has some common features, such as 5R rifling (supposedly easier to clean, among other benefits), application of Melonite QPQ to the barrel to harden and protect against corrosion, premium triggers and gas cycling systems tailored to barrel length.
Both the Hunter and Long Range versions benefit from an emphasis on shaving weight from the design, partly through a smaller, lighter chassis. The Long Range version of the gun has longer barrels.
What else: Blackhawk! AR Blaze trigger; Blackhawk! pistol grip and buttstock; 20-round Magpul P-Mag; flattop Picatinny rail
Variants: Both versions are chambered for either .308 Win. or 6.5 Creedmoor.
Barrel basics: 16 1/8-inches for the.308 Win. version of the MSR 10 Hunter; 18 inches for the 6.5 Creedmoor. Longer barrels for the Long Range versions (20-inch .308 Win., 22-inch 6.5 Creedmoor)
Weight: Hunter – 7.8 pounds (Win.); 8 pounds (Creedmoor). Long Range – 9.75 pounds (Win.); 10 pounds (Creedmoor)
MSRP: $1,399 (Hunter); $2,199 (Long Range)
Umarex touts this as the first inexpensive rifle to deliver 70 consistent velocity shots from a single air tank. The gun features a high capacity, 13-cubic inch, 3,000-psi air tank with a built-in regulator and pressure indicator.
Umarex says testing showed that a full load can deliver 70 shots at 1,000 feet per second in .177 caliber, or 60 shots at 900 FPS in .22 caliber.
The rifle is a bolt action repeater and uses an interchangeable 10-shot magazine. It comes with one magazine. Additional tanks and magazines are available for quick field replacement.
The Gauntlet has integral standard dovetails for scope mounting.
What else: Stock has integral studs for slings; a high pressure hand pump is available as an accessory.
Barrel basics: 28.5 inches
Weight: 8.5 pounds
WEATHERBY VANGUARD ADAPTIVE COMPOSITE
Weatherby’s entry in the tactical crossover class also has a highly adjustable stock allowing easy, fast tweaks to pull length, comb height and buttstock angle for a custom fit.
Rubberized grip panels are designed to provide comfortable, non-slip connections. Weatherby guarantees sub-MOA accuracy.
What else: Match-grade, creep-free, two-stage trigger; longitudinally fluted bolt reduces weight
Variants: .223 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Win.
Barrel basics: 20-inch, No. 3 contour threaded, cold-hammer forged with a flush thread cap (for easy addition of your favorite suppressor). The blued steel is matte bead blasted to reduce glare.
Weight: 8.75 pounds
WEATHERBY VANGUARD CAMILLA
The addition of 6.5 Creedmoor chambering to the Camilla line is a simple line extension, but these rifles designed for women by women merit a look. For one, they’re incredibly stylish and they’re smartly chambered, using short action cartridges that deliver downrange oomph with minimal felt recoil. The lineup was named after Roy Weatherby’s wife.
The high-combed stock is sculpted from A-grade Turkish walnut with a satin finish and rosewood caps. Everything is slimmed down, from the forearm to the narrow radius pistol grip with a subtle palm-swell.
The grip-to-trigger reach is shortened for smaller hands. Length of pull is 13 inches, down about an inch from a typical “man-sized” stock, but longer than some youth models.
What else: Match-quality, two-stage trigger
Variants: .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win. and 7mm-08 Rem.
Barrel basics: 20-inch contour barrel
Weight: 6.5 pounds
This bolt action rifle was another fun one to shoot, especially when we alternated between .308 Win. match grade ammo and low recoil hunting ammo, both with 185-grain bullets.
The low-recoil round probably had as much felt recoil as a .22 Magnum, but still did a fine job clanking the 10-inch plate at 100 yards. The hefty, button-rifled, free-floating barrel is threaded for suppressors or muzzle brakes and is nestled into a fully-machined, alloy chassis frame with a new Magpul PRS Gen III fully adjustable stock.
The rifle just made its public debut and should be available in fall 2017.
What else: Full-length Picatinny rail; QD mounts on the buttstock; Magpul MOE-K grip; includes a 10-round and five-round magazine.
Variants: .308 Win., .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmor
Barrel basics: Our .308 had a 20-inch barrel. Versions in .243 Win. and 6.5 Creedmoor will have 24-inch barrels.
Weight: 10 pounds