The SHOT Show threw up some exciting new guns and the big-game rifle market is turning into a warzone, with some great new additions to the fold.
Assault rifles have ruled the roost for years, but now the manufacturers are showing a bigger range. they have gone for increased power for the big game.
We’re seeing more subtlety, interesting combinations like the AR-10 from Smith & Wesson, 9mm carbines and even new ammo entirely.
Here are the rifles that stand out to us.
1. Wilson Combat .458 HAM’R
This is an AR15, in essence, that has been redesigned around the company’s own proprietary .458 ammunition.
It uses an AR10 bolt and barrel extension to create an AR15 that produces more ballistic power than a .450 Bushmaster and .500 Beowulf. It’s pretty much the hardest hitting AR in the world right now.
We have some of the most powerful rifles in the world right here to compare to.
That provides 3000lb of muzzle energy and it’s a better round than you’re used to. It is also hella expensive, like $2.50 a round, and you really do have to need it.
That said, the Wilson Combat will take down anything, literally anything, and this is a Modern Sporting Rifle that simply isn’t limited by the bullets it holds. It’s a big game weapon par excellence and it might just be the most efficient killer money can buy.
2 Ruger PC Carbine 9mm
- Price: $569.99
Some folks reckon this was the launch of the show and it is an intriguing firearm.
Ruger’s 10/22 Takedown rifle is a legend in the 22LR sector and essentially it has just scaled the rifle up to create a 9mm cabine rifle that could sweep everybody before it.
Now the 9mm rifle market isn’t the most hotly contested. But if a 22LR doesn’t quite do it for you and you don’t want to go for the full .308 or Creedmore on cost grounds, and for some reason you don’t want to rely on your AR15, then this is the gun for you.
As a SHTF gun that runs on standard 9mm handgun ammo, it could be worth its weight in something more precious than gold one day when the AR ammo runs out.
It uses Glock and Ruger mags, so basically you’ve got them at home. So it’s more or less as cheap to run as the best 22LR rifles, but it’s just better.
It comes apart so you can carry it in a bag and it’s just another tool, another focal length in photography terms, to get the perfect shot.
It costs $649.99, which isn’t super cheap but it is solid value.
3. Franklin Armory Reformation
Update: Turns out it did need ATF approval. The ATF has since banned this weapon…
Now this is intriguing. It looks like just another SBR, but in fact it doesn’t need ATF approval. It isn’t a pistol, it isn’t a rifle, it’s just a firearm and that skirts the regs.
So if you’re cursing SBR rules, then put in your order. Franklin Armory has checked and rechecked with the ATF. This is an SBR you can buy without problems.
It’s due to new barrel technology called NRS, which cleverly stands for ‘Not a Rifle or a Shotgun’. There are grooves and cuts in the barrel, but they are straight rather than spiralled and that’s what it takes to get round the rules. If the bullet doesn’t spin, it’s not a rifle…
Now there is a price to pay, the 300 Blackout rounds will yaw and it isn’t the world’s best when it comes to long-range accuracy. But it is a hell of a home defense weapon. The company has produced a prototype new bullet, too, which comes with a tail. That fixes the yaw issue and could make this gun a must-have for collectors. But it will be expensive to chew through ammo.
The retail price of the gun, though, is $1034.99. That’s not bad for new tech. For the best AR-15s for sale in February generally, check here.
4. Winchester XPR Hunter Compact
This simple, bolt-action rifle takes up to 308 Winchester rounds, although the 243 Win was on show at Shot 2018. That means you can take down all of America’s big game and pretty much everything else, too.
You can switch out the barrel for lesser calibers and increased accuracy, but this is a gun that will give you the serious firepower and long-range accuracy to boost your shooting. It will need a decent optic, but this is a straightforward weapon that you can hunt almost anything with.
It has an M.O.A. trigger system with zero uptake and zero creep, which should pay dividends in terms of long-distance accuracy.
It starts at $599.99, too, so it won’t break the bank.
5. Mossberg Precision MVP
- Price: $1,129.99
Ruger finally has a cut price rival it should really be worried about in the long-distance rifle sector. It’s a hunting rifle that has evolved into a target shooter, but you can still use it to take big game from a distance, using Creedmore ammunition.
It is also available as a 7.62 NATO weapon.
The MVP Precision is a total redesign to provide a more modular gun for serious shooters. It takes standard AR-style magazines and comes with a 10-round Magpul mag.
You get a 24 or 20-inch barrel, an adjustable stock, a trigger that ranges from 3-7lb, an oversized trigger guard to use with gloves.
It’s a 1000-yard gun and it costs just over $1000. So, if you want a long-range gun then the Mossberg might just be the best for the money right now. It certainly deserves a back to back test with the Ruger anyway.
6. Browning X-Bolt Pro Long Range
If you’re looking to take down predators, or seriously big game like moose, then the monstrous Browning X-Bolt Pro Long Range is the gun you want.
The X-Bolt has been with us for 10 years and you can see the full line-up for sale here.
This latest incarnation gets a rotary magazine, as well as a feather-adjustable trigger that means you can tailor the gun for the perfect trigger pull each and every time.
A muzzle brake offers reduced recoil and the 26-inch, fluted barrel will give you the accuracy you need. The rest of it is up to you.
Premium Touches Justify the High Price
It comes with a carbon-fiber stock, stainless steel receiver and a Cerakote finish. The whole gun weighs in at 6lb, so you can shoulder it all day, and it costs between $2,099 and $2,179, depending on the caliber you want.
Look at it close up and the engineering is obvious. This gun is worth the price of admission.
7. Smith & Wesson M&P10 Sport
Smith & Wesson is slowly moving into a lower price bracket with its Modern Sporting Rifles and is concentrating on the packaging and the price, rather than innovation.
It might be a good move.
This is an AR-10 platform for less than $1000 in real terms. The RRP is $1049.99, but we expect to see it in the shops just under the magic 1K figure.
It buys you a basic, but very functional AR-10 with a top rail for iron sights or optics, a barrel with 5R rifling and a 1 in 10 twist.
You can spec a 308 WIN round or 7.62 NATO and it’s a meaty hunting rifle for not much more than normal AR money.
We like it and think it will do well.
8. Weatherby V CarbonMark
The Mark V CarbonMark is a development of the Mark V that has been with us for a while.
It’s a surpremely expensive bolt-action rifle with a carbon-fiber barrel for even greater accuracy. It’s 64% lighter than similarly contoured steel and comes with a 9-lug Magnum action.
It has an LXX trigger set, an integral recoil lug and an eye-watering $4,100 price tag.
9. Tavor 7 Bullpup 308 WIN
It was a seriously busy show for the Israeli manufacturer and it might have stolen the laurels with its outrageous shotgun.
But the Tavor 7, an evolution of the X95, might be the most important weapon here.
It’s chambered for 308 Win ammunition and it’s clearly aimed at the military and urban warfare that is part and parcel of life in Israel. That makes it a serious proposition as a home defense weapon, though, and it just gets more and more convincing as time goes on.
You love the Bullpup design or you don’t, but the actual gun is turning into a work of art. You can switch it from left-right-handed with some quick changes in the field, it comes with a 16-inch barrel in there, somehow, and it’s a compact weapon that you can comfortably carry.
It also nestles on your shoulder or your hip, so you can go the gangster route for home defense or, you know, shoot properly.
10. Mossberg Patriot Synthetic Cerakote
At the other end of the price scale is the $440 Mossberg Patriot Synthetic Cerakote.
This is a budget gun, but you still get a coated 22 inch, fluted barrel that is wonderfully accurate. The whole gun weighs in at 6.5lb and Mossberg is known for building simple guns that work perfectly.
Franchi launched its first bolt-action rifle at the show and it’s a beautiful thing. That fluted bolt looks expensive and you wonder if they could have cut the costs. But Franchi has clearly taken aim at more expensive opposition and tried to create a work of art that can take the fight to them without simply undercutting them.
Franchi promises to reduce felt recoil by 50% thanks to TSA recoil pads. It also offers six distinct calibers that all give their own unique flavor.
It takes Remington 700 sights, if you’re wondering, and costs $609 and up.
Ready for the best pistols of the SHOT show 2018? Go here.