Off Duty

2015 Rifle Roundup: New products for hunters & more

My expectations were tempered in terms of new sporting rifles as I anticipated the 2015 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoors Trade Show, better known as SHOT Show, in Las Vegas in January. Firearms sales were slow in 2014, and the pre-show marketing buzz was relatively quiet.

Hence, I was happily surprised as a number of manufacturers created entirely new rifle lines or retooled existing products with substantial improvements.

Also interesting was the array of newer cartridges finding widespread favor. For example, Hornady's 6.5 Creedmoor is steadily working its way into the mainstream, evolving since 2011 from a round employed mainly in match shooting to one increasingly available in hunting rifles.

"What's not to like about the 6.5?" said retired Marine Master Sgt. Dan Hanus, who now runs the Bergara company's custom rifle shop. "It has a higher ballistic coefficient than the .300 Winchester Magnum with a fraction of the recoil. It's a great hunting round for medium-sized game."

Bergara is among the companies chambering for the 6.5 Creedmoor, adding it to the new line of production rifles. Other companies such as Kimber, Savage, Ruger, Howa (Legacy Sports) and more also have added the 6.5 to product lines.

Here's a look at some of the new, interesting rifles available for hunters and sport shooters:

Bergara B-14

Bergara, a BPI Outdoors brand best known for quality barrels, got into the custom rifle business a couple years ago, hiring mainly retired and former military gunsmiths for its new shop. This year, the company introduces two lines of bolt-action production rifles, "Premier" and "Performance," designed to complement the one-builder custom guns. The idea is to offer consumers a "good, better, best" product segmentation. The Premier line has some features comparable to the custom rifles, but standardizing some features and dimensions helped price the rifles in the middle of the market ($1,500 to $2,000). The Premier rifles feature the smooth, fluted-bolt Bergara Premium Action. The rifles also have Bergara barrels and Timney triggers. A tactical model (BPR-17) and a hunting model (BPR-16) are in the initial lineup. All Premier Rifles are built at the Bergara USA facility in Duluth, Georgia. The Performance line is expected to sell for less than $1,000. The first rifle, the B-14, is built entirely at Bergara's barrel factory in Spain. It sports Shilen triggers and an action based on Remington's Model 700. Stocks are available in both oil-finished walnut and lightweight synthetic. Initial calibers for both lines are .30-06 Sprg., .300 Win. Mag., .308 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor and .270 Win. (Premier, $1,500-$2,000; Performance, less than $1,000) www.bergarausa.com

Weatherby Mark V RC (depicted “Outfitter”)
Weatherby Mark V RC (depicted “Outfitter”)

Weatherby Mark V RC "Outfitter"

Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Weatherby Mark V RC

Weatherby adds "Range Certified" accuracy guarantees to its Mark V rifle custom shop line with the new Outfitter RC (shown) and Arroyo RC, which come with a sub-minute-of-angle guarantee (a three-shot group of. 99-inch or less with specified Weatherby factory or premium ammunition). The Outfitter standard-action model is a light 5.5 pounds, while the magnum-action edition is 6.75 pounds. Features include a lightweight aluminum-bedded raised comb and Monte Carlo carbon fiber stock with a desert camo finish. The stainless steel fluted barrel comes in 22-, 24- and 26-inch lengths, depending on caliber, and has a recessed target crown. Ten chambering options range from .240 Wby. Mag. to .300 Wby. Mag., which comes standard with an Accubrake. The heftier Arroyo RC has a hand-laminated, raised comb, Monte Carlo composite stock sporting the Kuiu Vias camouflage pattern. The stainless steel fluted barrel comes in 24- and 26-inch lengths depending on caliber. The barrel has a two-tone finish: Cerakote Desert Tan with Flat Dark Earth flutes. Caliber options include those available with the Outfitter RC plus the addition of potent .30-378 Wby. Mag., .338-378 Wby. Mag., .340 Wby. Mag and .338 Lapua Mag. The big magnums weigh in just under 9 pounds. ($2,800, or $3,000 for calibers with Accubrake) www.weatherby.com

Howa Alpine Mountain Rifle
Howa Alpine Mountain Rifle

Howa Alpine Mountain Rifle

Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Howa Alpine Mountain Rifle

Howa long has been a reputable brand and has built some fine, dependable actions. This lightweight, 6.7-pound rifle with a package-deal Vortex scope features Howa's two-stage trigger, three-position safety detachable magazine, and Pachmeyer Decelerator recoil pad. It has a 20-inch barrel and a high-tech epoxy resin OD-colored stock with sling swivel studs attached. Metal parts are treated in a Cerakote gray finish. This short-action powerhouse is available in .243 Win., .308 Win., 7mm-08 Rem. and 6.5 Creedmoor. The Creedmoor model comes in a traditional steel floorplate magazine option only. With a matte black Vortex Viper 3-9x42 scope and Talley rings. ($1,121 for the rifle; $1,577 for the scope) www.legacysports.com

CZ Ultimate Hunting Rifle
CZ Ultimate Hunting Rifle

CZ Ultimate Hunting Rifle

Photo Credit: Manufacturer

CZ Ultimate Hunting Rifle

The CZ brand is gaining fans. This new offering is a CZ 550-based production rifle in .300 Winchester Magnum. The selling point is a minute-of-angle accuracy guarantee out to 600 yards when paired with premium ammo. It has a 23.6-inch, cold-hammer-forged, heavy sporter barrel with a 1:10-inch twist rate, a mechanical, single-set trigger and two-position safety. The stock is Turkish walnut with a hinged floorplate and three-round magazine. The rifle weighs a manageable 7.8 pounds. It comes with a set of 30mm aluminum rings precision-machined to precisely align the scope and bore. ($1,361) www.cz-usa.com

Ruger AR-556 Modern Sporting Rifle
Ruger AR-556 Modern Sporting Rifle

Ruger AR-556 Modern Sporting Rifle

Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Ruger AR-556 Modern Sporting Rifle

Sturm, Ruger & Co. brought its new AR-556 semi-automatic, M4-style Modern Sporting Rifle to market last fall. This American-made product, the first rifle made in Ruger's Mayodan, North Carolina, plant, is designed to give shooters an affordable, easily customizable AR. Upper and lower receivers are made from forged aerospace quality 7075-T6 aluminum. The barrel is cold-hammer-forged chromoly steel with jam-reducing M4 feed ramp cuts. It's chambered in 5.56 NATO and configured with a Ruger Rapid Deploy folding rear sight, a milled F-height gas block with post front sight, forward assist, dust cover and brass deflector. It features a telescoping, six-position stock and comes with a popular 30-round Magpul PMag magazine. Standardized M4/AR components are used throughout, making the rifle simple to customize. Ruger says it fired more than 250,000 rounds through the rifle during final validation testing. ($749) www.ruger.com

Savage Arms A17 17 HMR​
Savage Arms A17 17 HMR​

Savage Arms A17 .17 HMR

Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Savage Arms A17

This new small rifle is generating considerable buzz for innovation. Savage touts it as the first high-performance semi-automatic rimfire specifically designed for the .17 HMR varmint-hunting cartridge. While Savage states any standard .17 HMR loads will work with the rifle, fellow ATK brand CCI designed the new A17 Varmint Tip ammunition, which leaves the barrel at 2,650 feet per second, specifically for the new rifle and its delayed-blowback action. A special lug locks the bolt in place for a millisecond, promoting more reliable cycling. The rifle has a case-hardened receiver, 10-round rotary magazine and button-rifled barrel, and adjustable AccuTrigger. ($465) www.savagearms.com

Mossberg Patriot Series
Mossberg Patriot Series

Mossberg Patriot

Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Mossberg Patriot Series

Mossberg rolled out several new rifles at SHOT Show. The company has high hopes for the new Mossberg Patriot bolt-action lineup, which features 63 models across 11 calibers ranging from .22-250 to .375 Ruger. A re-engineered twin-lug, push-feed, steel action that grabs cartridges from a lightweight polymer, flush box magazine with four- or five-round total capacity is the centerpiece. The button-rifled, standard contour, free-floating 22-inch barrels (20-inch barrels on Bantam/Super Bantam) are made of carbon steel and feature straight-edge fluting (.375 Ruger versions have non-fluted barrels) and recessed crowns. Metal finishes include a choice of matte blue or Mossberg's proprietary Marinecote protective finish. Mossberg's LBA (Lightning Bolt Action) Adjustable Trigger System is user-adjustable from 2 to 7 pounds. Other standard features include distinctive, spiral-fluted bolts; receiver-mounted, weaver-style scope bases; adjustable, fiber optic sights (select calibers); and sling swivel studs. "Stock options" include walnut, gray laminate, black or camo-finished synthetic. Scoped combos with Vortex 3-9x40mm riflescopes are also available. ($386-$584) www.mossberg.com

Mossberg Blaze 47 with wood stock
Mossberg Blaze 47 with wood stock

Mossberg Blaze 47 with wood stock

Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Mossberg Blaze 47 and Blaze Rimfire

Mossberg debuts a couple new, hot .22LR autoloaders. The Blaze 47 looks like the venerable AK-47 rifle. Weighing just 4.75 pounds, the Blaze 47 is available with a fixed-length wood stock (looks the most realistic) or a six-position adjustable black synthetic stock. It has 10- or 25-round spring-loading magazines, an adjustable fiber optic rear sight, raised front rifle sights and ambidextrous safety. On the synthetic stock model, the recoil pad is easily interchanged for other sizes of FLEX recoil pads. The receiver and action are crafted from molded polymer and paired with a 16.5-inch, free-floating, blued barrel with 1:16-inch twist rate. ($329 for adjustable, $375 for wood) The Blaze Rimfire weighs just 3.67 pounds and is available in four finishes plus a choice between adjustable rifle sights, a barrel-mounted rail or a scoped combo with Dead Ringer Monteria Green Dot sights. Barrel, receiver and action are the same as for the 47. The polymer stock comes in a choice of black or camo-dipped finishes, including Kryptek Highlander, Muddy Girl or Wildfire. A Bantam model, with a shortened, 12-inch length-of-pull, is designed for youngsters or smaller-stature shooters. ($187 to $252) www.mossberg.com

Mossberg MVP LC (Light Chassis) Bolt-Action Rifle
Mossberg MVP LC (Light Chassis) Bolt-Action Rifle

Mossberg MVP LC (Light Chassis) Bolt-Action Rifle

Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Mossberg MVP LC (Light Chassis) Bolt-Action Rifle

Mossberg amps up its MVP bolt-action rifle line with a lightweight, MDT (Modular Driven Technologies Inc.) aluminum chassis model. The rifle weighs 8 to 8.5 pounds, depending on the model. The free-floating, carbon steel, button-rifled medium bull barrel is threaded and comes with a SilencerCo Saker muzzle brake. The 5.56mm NATO (.223 Rem) version has a 16.25-inch barrel with a 1:7-inch twist rate, while the 7.62mm NATO (.308 Win.) sports an 18.5-inch barrel with a 1:10-inch twist rate. The stock is a Magpul Mil-Spec CTR adjustable with an MOE pistol grip. The rifle comes with an adjustable bipod. A combo package, equipped with a Vortex Optics Viper HS-T (Hunter Shooter Tactical) 4-16x44mm variable riflescope and rings, is also available. MVP-LC rifles come standard with Magpul PMag 10-round magazines but also accept most aftermarket AR-15, M1A/M14 and AR10-style aftermarket magazines (model dependent). The trigger is user-adjustable from 3 to 7 pounds. ($1,438; $2,102 with scope) www.mossberg.com

DPMS GII Hunter
DPMS GII Hunter

DPMS GII Hunter

Photo Credit: Manufacturer

DPMS GII Hunter

This AR-styled hunting rifle represents a complete overhaul of the company's previous sporting rifles. Field testers last year hailed it as a sub-minute-of-angle tack driver. DPMS has seven GII models in .308 Win.: the AP4; MOE; Recon; Hunter; Bull 24; Compact Hunter; and SASS. The Hunter models also are chambered for .243 Win., .260 Rem. and .338 Federal. These new rifles are among the sleekest modern sporting rifles I've handled. The Hunter weighs 7.75 pounds and handles comfortably with its Magpul MOE rifle stock, Hogue grips, and slimmed forend. An enlarged trigger guard makes it easier to use with gloves. The lightest rifle in the GII lineup weighs less than 7 pounds. Full specs for the series are available online, but what makes this rifle doubly cool is it offers .308-Win. knockdown in a platform that can accept most AR-15 parts and aftermarket M4-style accessories. ($1,699) www.dpms-gii.com

Remington Model 700TM Ultimate Muzzleloader
Remington Model 700TM Ultimate Muzzleloader

Remington Model 700TM Ultimate Muzzleloader

Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Remington Model 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader

There isn't much new in the muzzleloading world, but this new rifle cranks up the power, enabling shooters to load 200 grains of powder. Remington's ballistics data showed the rifle, when zeroed at 150 yards, still delivers knockdown power to 300 yards, albeit with about a two-foot drop in the round's trajectory. Remington says the key is cleaner, hotter ignition. Instead of the conventional 209 shotgun primer igniting the powder, this rifle uses a brass case with a Remington 9½ large magnum rifle primer that's push fed into the breech plug creating a gas seal in the primer's flash hole. Using 200 grains of Triple Seven Pellets in combination with Barnes' Spit-Fire T-EZTM 250-grain muzzleloader bullets, muzzle velocities exceeded 2,400 feet per second during testing. Spare primed cases can be stored in a compartment below the receiver. The rifle has a 26-inch, stainless steel fluted barrel, Bell and Carlson Medalist M40 Stock, externally adjustable X-Mark Pro trigger, and hard case. ($1,295) www.remington.com

Winchester XPR Bolt-Action Rifle ​
Winchester XPR Bolt-Action Rifle ​

Winchester XPR Bolt-Action Rifle

Photo Credit: Manufacturer

Winchester XPR Bolt-Action Rifle

It's been nearly 50 years since Winchester last introduced a new bolt-action rifle design. The XPR's receiver is machined from chromoly steel barstock and then heat-treated for hardening. The Nickel Teflon-coated bolt has a short 60-degree lift. The blued barrel is also chromoly steel, button-rifled and free-floated with a recessed target crown. The trigger housing and all internal trigger parts are made from polished, hardened carbon steel. The adjustable trigger is factory set at 3½ pounds. The rifle has a black polymer stock with textured grip panels. A flattened fore-end profile improves stability when shooting from sandbags or a benchrest. Other features include a two-position thumb safety; a bolt unlock button that allows the chamber to be unloaded with the safety engaged; and a detachable, polymer magazine. Four versions are available: .270 Win. and .30-06 Sprg. with 24-inch barrels; and .300 and 338 .Win Mag. with 26-inch barrels. Weight is 7-7.25 pounds. ($549.99) www.winchesterguns.com

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