January 28, 2023
Patriot Ordnance Factory Tombstone
Patriot Ordnance Factory is best-known for their AR rifles, but this year the company has created something unique: a lever-action 9mm rifle. Known as the Tombstone, this 36-inch, 5.75-pound lever-action utilizes either 10- or 20-round magazines and comes with POF’s non-adjustable trigger design that breaks at 3.5-pounds and is much smoother than most competing lever gun triggers. Even though the Tombstone incorporates design elements of the classic lever action it offers modern features that include a free-floated and fluted 16.5-inch threaded barrel with muzzle brake and a 10.5-inch rail with M-LOK attachment points and a Magpul SGA 870 polymer stock. Ghost ring sights come standard and there’s a top rail for mounting optics as well. I tested the Tombstone prior to its release and found it to be loads of fun to shoot and light recoiling. Tombstone rifles also make great hiking/backpacking guns, truck rifles and even home defense weapons. It truly is a lever gun for the next generation of shooters.
Browning X-Bolt SPR Series
The X-Bolt has been around for many years and has earned a spot as one of the top bolt-action target and hunting rifles of the modern era. But, during the X-Bolt’s lifespan the needs and tastes of rifle shooters has changed, and one of the most pronounced shifts has been widespread acceptance and use of suppressors on hunting rifles. To meet this need, Browning has introduced a new line of SPR rifles with shorter barrel lengths that make hunting with a can much simpler and more efficient. Four new SPR models debuted at SHOT 2023 including the SPR Pro ($2,400-$2,470) SPR Mountain Pro Burnt Bronze and SPR Mountain Pro Tungsten ($2,660-$2,700), and the Pro McMillan Long Range ($2,860-$2,900). All of these rifles come with fluted barrels ranging from 18- to 22-inches, short enough to accommodate a can without being unwieldy. Weights range from just 5 pounds, 12 ounces, to 7 pounds for the McMillian Long Range Pro version. Of course, they also come standard with features we’ve come to love on other X-Bolt rifles like Inflex recoil pads, Feather triggers, and the Recoil Hawg muzzle brake that cuts felt recoil by up to 76%.
Marlin 1895 Guide Gun
Since they were purchased by Ruger, Marlin has slowly started to unveil their next-gen lever-action rifles, the latest of which is the 1895 Guide Gun. A laminate wood stock with crisp checkering and bead blasted blued finish gives this gun a classic look and feel, as do the adjustable semi-buckhorn sights. Chambered in .45-70, the Guide Gun weighs in at 7.4 pounds and offers the feel and balance of a classic lever gun. The receiver, lever and trigger guard plate are all CNC machined from alloy steel forgings and the 19.1-inch cold-hammer-forged barrel comes with a 1:20 twist rate. Other key features include a six-round tubular magazine and gold bead hooded front sight. Despite its familiar design, the new 1895 Guide Gun offers features shooters will appreciate like an oversized lever loop (easy to operate while wearing heavy gloves) and a 11/16x24 threaded muzzle that allows you to easily mount a muzzle device to this rifle. A crossbolt safety comes standard, as does a hammer extension spur. Whether you’re hunting whitetails in a straight-wall-only state, hogs in the south, or you need a big-bore bear stopper in the north country, the reimagined 1895 Guide Gun is a superb choice.
If you’re looking for an affordable hunting rifle that offers everything you want without the high price, tag take a closer look at the 334. Available with either a black synthetic ($389) or walnut ($489) stock, the 334 is available in three popular calibers (.243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win.) and both versions come with a carbon steel receiver and carbon steel button-rifled barrel. Three-round detachable box magazines come standard on both rifles, as do two-stage adjustable triggers and a three-lug bolt that offers a short bolt lift for faster cycling. Other features shooters will appreciate is the three-position safety, enclosed shroud with cocking indicator, and the top rail that makes it fast and simple to mount an optic on this gun (hole spacing is the same as the Savage 110 if you’d prefer to remove the rail). The walnut version comes with a silver-colored bolt while the synthetic version’s bolt is matte black to match the rest of the gun. Both guns come with clean lines and a classic profile that hunters will recognize and appreciate, and thanks to the adjustable trigger and free-floated barrel you can expect good accuracy from this rifle. It’s a great option for hunters and a superb value.
Mossberg International SA-28 Tactical Turkey
The advent of ultra-dense shot has made subgauge shotguns far more lethal than ever before. Mossberg International understands this and that’s why they’re launching the SA-28 tactical turkey, a semiauto 28-gauge turkey shotgun with full camo and a pistol grip stock. This gas-operated shotgun sports a 22-inch barrel and weighs just 6 pounds, but despite its minimal mass the SA-28 is a very soft-shooting gun. An extended removable turkey choke and a top rail for mounting optics come standard. Iron sights come standard (fiber optic ghost ring rear, fiber optic front bead) in case you don’t want to mount an optic on the gun. Full Mossy Oak Greenleaf camo aids in concealment and makes this gun look great. Sling studs and a 4-round tubular magazine also come standard. With its synthetic pistol grip and 22-inch barrel (40-inches overall) the SA-28 Tactical Turkey is very maneuverable, a major benefit when hunting wary birds that notice excess movement. A dedicated 28-gauge turkey gun? What a time to be alive — unless you’re a tom turkey.
Winchester Xpert Rimfires
It’s good to see a new rimfire making the rounds at SHOT Show, and the Winchester Xpert is a gun that shooters will quickly learn to love. With its skeletonized polymer stock and 18-inch sporter barrel the Xpert weighs in at just 4½ pounds, perfect for small-statured shooters or those who walk long miles hunting squirrels in the hickory woods or kicking up brush-pile cottontails. A Bentz match-style chamber and precision button-rifle barrel with target crown make this rifle a real shooter capable of outstanding accuracy. Another accuracy-enhancing feature is the ultra-smooth adjustable MOA trigger, the same three-lever design that’s found in the XPR and Model 70 rifles. Xpert bolt-actions offer easy-to-operate controls including an ambidextrous magazine release. These rifles utilize the same 10-round magazine design as their Wildcat cousin, and they will also accept most aftermarket Ruger 10/22 mags. The stock design allows users to adjust length of pull up to 3/4 inch, and a cheek riser allows for comb height adjustments up to 1/2 inch. The molded stock features sling swivels and rail on the underside of the forearm, and there are multiple stock color options including gray, True Timber Strata, and Forged Carbon Gray. There’s also a suppressor-ready model that allows you to lower the volume on your plinking sessions.
Savage Impulse Mountain Hunter
Savage shocked the shooting world a couple years ago when they released the Impulse line of straight-pull hunting rifles. Straight-pulls have long been popular in Europe but had never been widely used stateside, but the Impulse changed that. One complaint levied against the otherwise outstanding original Impulse was that it was on the heavy side at around 9 pounds, but Savage had a plan in place to remedy that — the Impulse Mountain Hunter. With its Proof Research carbon-fiber-wrapped barrel the new Impulse Mountain Hunter weighs in at a more portable 7.3 pounds. The aluminum receiver is topped with an integral 20 MOA rail so mounting an optic on this gun is easy, and an adjustable AccuTrigger comes standard. The Impulse’s action is a modern marvel and utilizes the company’s patented Hexlock bolt design which locks six bearings into position when the bolt is pushed forward. This ensures that the gun is safe and the durable design promises years of service. The gray polymer stock is light and durable and features soft-touch inserts for improved grip and comfort. There are a variety of chambering options including 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 7mm PRC, 28 Nosler and others, all of which come with detachable box magazines and two-position safeties. The muzzle is threaded 5/8x24 so mounting a device is easy. Once you familiarize yourself with the design this is a rifle that you can shoot very quickly, and the rifle I tested posted groups smaller than 1 inch with various hunting loads.
Franchi Momentum All-Terrain Elite
Traditionlly, Franchi has been known as a shotgun company, but the arrival of the Momentum line of rifles has changed that. The newest member of the Momentum family is the All-Terrain Elite, which is a multi-purpose bolt gun that borrows design elements from other rifles to create the ultimate all-purpose centerfire. With its 18-inch barrel the All-Terrain Elite measures just 40-inches long and weighs 7.5-pounds, making it an ideal truck gun or timber rifles. The extended top rail allows you to easily mount traditional variable optics, red dot sights, or even Scout-style optics and modern magnifier-optics combinations. A flip-up windage adjustable aperture sight comes standard and there’s a blade front sight for rapid target acquisition. The threaded barrel comes with a muzzle brake but you could easily add a suppressor to this rifle while maintaining a reasonable overall length and a 10-round Magpul AICS magazine. Other key features include a three-lug spiral-fluted bolt, QD and M-LOK attachment points on the stock, a 2 to 4-pound adjustable trigger, a True Timber Strata polymer stock with elevated comb, and a Burnt Bronze Cerakote finish on the metalwork. Available in .223 Rem or .308, this is a modern take on the classic Scout rifle and one of the most versatile and desirable rifles to debut in ’23.
Howa HERA H7
Howa’s M1500 actions have a reputation for outstanding performance, which is one reason they are often used on custom rifle builds. This year, Legacy Sports International (importers of, among other firearms, Howa rifles) is offering a new Howa HERA 7 version of the M1500 rifle. This gun combines a M1500 short action (available in .308 Win or 6.5 Creedmoor) with your choice of a light- or heavy-contour steel barrel, or a carbon fiber barrel. The barreled action is then mounted in a lightweight HERA H7 chassis. The HERA H7 chassis is available in OD green, tan or black and is made from fiber-reinforced polymer with an aluminum V-block and aluminum forearm. The chassis is designed for AICS-style magazines. M-LOK and QD attachment points make it easy to add accessories like slings and bipods to the Howa HERA H7 rifle, and the adjustable cheekpiece allows users to customize the stock profile for a personalized fit. All three barrel options feature threaded muzzles. Howa HERA H7 lightweight barrels measure 22 inches while the heavy steel and carbon fiber barrels measure 24 inches. The two-lug action runs smoothly and the Howa HACT 2-stage trigger allows for precise shot placement and is one reason these rifles are so popular. Looking for a target bolt-action rifle with great features but don’t want to spend a ton of money to get there? Here’s your gun.
Here’s the lowdown, Benelli’s M2 has been around since the early aughts, and since that time the gun has remained largely unchanged while the Super Black Eagle family of shotguns has continued to expand and diversify. I’ve long been a fan of the M2, but with the arrival of the Super Black Eagle 3 with 20- and 28-gauge models, I thought that the M2 might ride off into the sunset. Thankfully, the folks at Benelli had no plans for that to happen. Instead, they’ve reinvigorated the M2 by adding some modern touches like a sculpted forearm — longer than the one found on the outgoing model — and an oversized bolt release. The bolt has been redesigned for smoother cycling and less noise, and the trim receiver has also been reconfigured with a large bevel for easier loading. Also new is the MicroCell recoil pad that works in conjunction with the stainless steel spring tube in the stock to reduce felt recoil. MicroCell pads are available in different thicknesses to adjust length of pull from 13 7/8 inches to 14 ¾ inches (14 3/8 inches comes standard). Benelli has also improved production efficiency on the M2 which has lowered the cost from the outgoing models: MSRP for the black version is $1,399 while the camo versions carry an MSRP of $1,499.
What new long guns are you most excited about? Let us know by emailing us at GAEDITOR@OUTDOORSG.COM, and use "Sound Off" in the subject line.
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