When you want to find out what kind of deer-hunting gear to buy for the upcoming season, you ask the people who know. Our readers are hardcore deer hunters who take a lot of deer and have a lot of experience behind rifles, shotguns, bows and crossbows.
So we asked them, “What’s the best new deer gear?” We asked manufacturers to nominate their new products; that is, gear that has been in the retail market for less than three years. We set up an online survey and invited magazine readers and our web-site surfers to comment on their favorite gear in 18 categories, from guns and bullets to optics and trail cams.
More than 2,800 responded! Many left comments and uploaded photos. We thank you all for your opinion.
Without further ado, here are the results of our 2013 hunting Readers’ Choice Awards.
Longtime names in the hunting industry dominated the Rifle category. Browning’s X-Bolt Hunter and Remington’s 50th Anniversary 700 ended up in a statistical tie. The X-Bolt has many features of the A-Bolt but a lighter price tag. David Haggard, one of our more than 2,800 voters in the survey, said he likes the X-Bolt gun for several reasons. “Wide ammunition choices. Short, crisp trigger. Light weight but not too light to control recoil.” Favorite 18.8%
Winchester Model 70 Featherweight, 10.1%
“You cannot go wrong with this Model 700,” said James Kilonsky. “It’s accurate right out of the box, and it will not let you down.” The BLD 700 is a fine tribute to the 1964 release. Winchester’s classic Model 70, which weighs 6-pounds, 12-ounces and has a pre-’64 controlled round feed, was the next most popular. Favorite 18.7%
Winchester Model 70 Featherweight, 10.1%
Benelli added a few new accoutrements to their SBE2, like the recoil-reducing ComforTech system. Favorite 27.3%
Remington 870 Express, 23.5%
Mossberg 500, 11.7%
Richard Sisilli is a believer in the Ultralight. “One of my best shots using my Tradition UltraLight was at 224 yards.”
Thompson/Center FireStorm, 21.9%
CVA Accura MR, 21.3%
Mathews devotees are passionate. We received 254 comments about this bow alone in our survey. Favorite 38.8%
Hoyt Carbon Element G3, 18%
BowTech Insanity CPX, 12.6%
“TenPoint’s Titan Xtreme is a rock-solid sledge hammer of an xbow,” said Chris Stormann. “It’s got the right combo of essentials and technology that makes it real mule kicker and straight shooter.”
Horton Havoc, 23.6%
Excalibur Matrix 380 Xtra, 18.2%
“I love the camo finnish and the size and power suits my type of hunting,” said Mark Cooper when he chose the Ultra HD.
Nikon Monarch 7, 22.5%
Nikon Monarch 5, 16.8%
Bushnell Scout DX Realtree Xtr, 23.8%
Nikon 1000, 20.4%
Zeiss DiaScope, 28.7%
Nikon EDG VR 85 Fieldscope, 26%
The Nikon ProStaff is an economical scope that comes in four magnifications and several retical options. “For the money, the Nikon ProStaff is very high-quality,” said Kyle Cortiana.
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD, 17.2%
TruBrite Xtreme Illuminated, 7.2%
It’s hard to argue with Jon Buchanan’s opinion on his M80. He sent us a photo from his cam as proof! “Crisp pictures in every light and good battery life,” said Buchanan when he chose the Moultrie cam. Still, voting was close between the Moultrie and Cuddeback’s Ambush IR.
Cuddeback Ambush IR, 18.8%
Bushnell Trophy Cam HD, 13.7%
Cuddeback Carbon Express Maxima Blue Streak, 20.1%
Easton Carbon Injexion 2, 17.3%
Carbon Express XB Maxima Hunter, 27.6%
Excalibur FireBolt, 17.8%
“The MX3 is solid, well-designed and hits like a ton of bricks,” said Rusty Lear. Many other hunters agreed. The MX3 had one of the highest votes of any product.
NAP Thunderhead, 16%
Readhead BlackOut, 10.3%
But it was nearly a tie as Parker’s new broadheads came in a very close second.
Parker Broadheads, 21.9%
NAP Spitfire Maxx, 17.8%
G5 T3, 31.7%
NAP Spitfire, 17.3%
Designed for fully rifled barrels, the Hornady SST slug has a sharp polymer tips designed for accuracy at long distances. Want a reliable 200-yard slug? Not a problem. Dan Hill took a trophy buck at 60 yards last season. “One shot and he dropped right in his tracks. I was using Hornady slugs,” said Dan.
Remington Premier AccuTip Bonded Sabot, 30.2%
Federal Premium Vital-Shok TruBall Rifled Slug, 13.5%
Federal’s Trophy Bonded Tip comes in great deer calibers, from .270 to .308. Velocities reach 3,280 fps. Travin Robinson said he is a big fan of Federal Premium. “This bullet has never let me down when it counts,” he said. “I use this ammunition on every game animal that I hunt, from small to large game.”
30 Remington AR, 22.5%
Winchester PowerMax Bonded, 21.8%
“Leans against a tree for stability,” said Jen Fogle when she voted for a Rivers Edge relax. “It’s much easier to put up” than others.
Hunter’s Elite System, 21.4%
Summit Viper SD, 17.3%