Gunmakers almost always reveal their latest new firearms at the beginning of the year. But just recently, our editors caught up with top manufacturers to check again and uncover any late-year surprises. Here are three very cool firearms that were secret, until now.
RUGER | American Rimfire
You've seen the Ruger American Rimfires. Game & Fish readers actually voted them their favorite rimfire in our Readers' Choice Awards this year. But you weren't satisfied with just two dozen or so models.
"People ask all the time for new variations of our guns," Ruger's Jeff Willson told Game & Fish Magazine. "We can't make them all, but this one makes sense."
After a lot of requests, Ruger just added to the line with the new American Rimfire Stainless. This is a smart-looking bolt-action that will come in .22 LR, .22 WMR and .17 HMR calibers. The stock is synthetic and shaped just like the other Americans. The 18-inch barrel is 416 stainless steel, is threaded to 1/2-28 and comes with a thread-protector.
It's a good-looking gun that shot and cycled extremely well at the range. The rifle is so accurate that friends and I had a fun competition to hit dandelions at 100 yards. That's saying something.
READY FOR ANYTHING. The 416 stainless-steel barrel makes this the most weather-proof of all in the American rimfire line. That's tailor-made for hunters. The barrel is 18 inches and hammer forged.
BEDDED. This isn't new to this American model, but the barrel is pillar-bedded via aluminum pillars into the composite forend. This solution has proven to be very accurate and economical.
ADJUSTABLE COMB. We love that the comb is adjustable to accommodate the iron-sight shooter or the optics guy. It comes raised high for the open sights, but we'd definately put a 4X scope on that Pic rail.
SIGHTS Picatinny rail
BARREL 18-inch stainless
CALIBER 17 hmr, 22 wmr, 22 lr
WEIGHT 5.3 LBS
SMITH & WESSON | M&P-10 SPORT
If you're looking to get into a .308 for around $1,000, then you might want to give a second look at Smith & Wesson's M&P-10 Sport. If you saw these on your gun store racks last year, you saw a longer gun with a few different features and a much bigger price tag. Smith shaved $600-plus bucks off this gun by reducing the barrel length from 18 to 16 inches and adding a basic flash suppressor instead of an upgraded version. Most everything else is the same.
I shot several three-round groups at 100 yards in the 1 1/4-inch and 1 1/2-inch range on a Lead Sled. The best groups of the day were tight 1-inchers.
The gun, like all AR-10s, is on the heavy side at 8 pounds without optics and ammo. It comes with a 10-round P-Mag, but check regulations where you live and hunt. You might consider changing it out for a 5-round magazine; you likely won't be taking more than five shots at a time, and the shorter mag stays out of your way.
BARREL. Same great M&P barrel with its 5R rifling but a little shorter at 16 inches. Armornite finish.
RIGHTEOUS RECEIVER. You get a proven receiver in the M&P line. You won't get chambering issues for sure. You also get the ambi mag release, ambi safety and chrome firing pin.
ADJUSTABLE STOCK. As of this writing, there is no California-compliant version of the gun, but one is expected in 2018. Where legal, the five-position stock and 10-round magazine makes us realize why we love the AR platforms.
M&P-10 SPORT SPECIFICATIONS
SIGHTS Pic rail
BARREL 16-inch, 4140 steel
WEIGHT 8 LBS
SAVAGE | B-SERIES HARDWOOD
Savage introduced a new bolt-action rimfire series in 12 calibers earlier this year, but added a new model just recently. The B-Series Hardwood is one of the few wood-stock bolt rimfires on the market. It has a classic look yet fits right into the modern-looking B-Series line. All of these B-Series guns have a high Monte Carlo-style stock, which makes them useful for iron sight or mounted optics.
The B-Series Hardwood shot well, and was hitting torso targets center-mass at 200 yards out with a Bushnell Rimfire scope attached. The bolt cycled well and had a quality feel. The 10-round rotary mag is the one Savage has used for a few years now in their semi-auto A Series. It's proven quite trouble-free, is easy to reload and snaps in flush to the bottom of the receiver. Each has an AccuTrigger, which is user-adjustable and crisp.
ACCURATE. The rimfire has a 21-inch sporter-style barrel and comes with front and rear sight, as well as bases. We admire the rich mix of modern and classic from stem to stern in this bolt-action rifle.
TOP TRIGGER. If you haven't shot Savage's AccuTrigger...actually, of course you have. They are one of the best factory triggers around.
TAKING STOCK The stained walnut stock and blued barrel give this firearm the look and feel of something from the way-back machine. There really aren't many rimfires like this on the market.
SIGHTS IRON, TWO BASES
BARREL 21-inch sporter
CALIBER 17 hmr, 22 LR, 22 MAG
WEIGHT 5.44-6.22 LBS