With our fall hunting season right on us in most parts
of the country, very few new products are hitting the shelves these days. Most
new items were introduced right after the SHOT SHOW back at the first of the
year and by now are well on their way to being excellent sellers or pitiful
This year for the first time in several we are seeing a
large amount of lower priced rifles and shotguns aimed at the blue collar
hunter. From all that I can see they are doing very well too.
Remington started it last year with their model 710
which was a light grey polymer stocked rifle with many of it's internal parts
including the action being either polymer or polymer coated lightweight steel.
The actions on the Remington 710s seem to be a bit rough, probably due to the
polymer parts but I am sure that will wear in fairly quick. The 710 comes in
several calibers from 243 to 300 Winchester magnum and the gun comes with a
scope in the package. Most of them I have seen range in price from $370 to
$380 and is a bargain at that.
Next down is the new Mossberg model 100 ATR which is a
full camo rifle. The stock is a polymer one, like the Remington and the gun
has a very smooth action straight out of the box. The trigger is a very decent
trigger also. The model 100 ATR comes chambered in the standard calibers and
is priced to sell at around $320 to $330.
The third rifle I have played with considerably is the
new Stevens model 200. It is good seeing some of the older gun companies
coming back into the field. Stevens was absorbed by Savage many years ago and
with the new model 200 are again back on the dealers shelves. The new model
200 is also a light grey colored polymer stocked rifle and comes in the
standard calibers, 223 to 300 magnum. Supposedly it is coming out with a nice
wooden stock soon but I haven't had the option of playing with one of them
The new model 200 is a very smooth rifle. It is very
lightweight and will please all except those that are recoil shy. In the
lighter gun the recoil will be a bit more than some like. The trigger is very
reasonable and doesn't really need any fancy tuning. The Stevens model 200 is
the least expensive of the three being just a few pennies under $300.
If I were to have to rate these 3 new rifles as to
carryability, action smoothness and trigger pull along with overall finish and
feel, I would have to rate the Mossberg and Stevens almost even with the
Mossberg slightly ahead due to the camo finish. The Stevens would be a very
close second and the Remington a distant third. I did not like the feel and
rough action of the Remington. As I mentioned it will probably smooth up with
use but right off the shelf the Mossberg and Stevens have half the weight of
bolt pull and trigger pull.
I also got to handle one of the new Weatherby Vanguards
in 257 Weatherby. It has been a long time (if ever) since we have had a 257
Weatherby available in anything other than the very expensive Mark 5 deluxe
model. The Vanguard is a bit over half the price at around $785 or so. This is
with the deluxe stock very much like the old Mark 5s had. It also comes in a
black polymer stock at a bit under $600.
Some of the new handguns that we were promised back in
January are beginning to show up in the dealers shelves. One of these is the
new Taurus Tracker in 44 magnum. This revolver is built on the medium frame
and sports a 5 shot cylinder. The cylinder will barely hold the standard
factory 240 to 250 grain JHPs and I have had 2 guys complain to me that the
cylinder wouldn't hold the 300 grain Cor Bon ammo. In my very subtle way, I
mentioned to them that the small 5 shot cylinder wasn't meant to hold a big
300 grain Cor Bon round and if it did it would probably crack the cylinder or
at best come back and hit the unsuspecting moron right between his beady
little bloodshot eyes. The gun is meant for a lightweight pocket size packing
gun, not a grizzly slayer holding 320 grain LBT bullets. You can lead a horse
to water, but he probably won't dance with you.
Well, Winchester announced a last minute deal with
Browning in that Browning will now produce and sell the Winchester guns. They
announce it like it is a great surprise. That is like Chevrolet saying the
Camaro will be made by GMC. It's the same company. Winchester and Browning are
both owned by FN, who is owned by the huge conglomerate GIAP. The plant will
be moved out west to the Browning plant and incorporated into their facility.
It is not known yet if all the guns will be picked up by Browning or just some
I am glad to see that the Winchester line up of guns
will continue to be produced. I just think they didn't need to play word games
with the public. Browning has been making certain Winchester guns for a long
time now and this just means they will be making more models or maybe even all
the Winchester models. The other thing that makes me happy is that all the
crooks that jacked up the prices on the Winchester guns to scalp the public
will hopefully be caught with a lot of stock they have to eat.
Ruger's new model 345 is out and this new lightweight
polymer framed 45 auto is one of those that you either love or hate. It has a
radical grip design that I rather like. I have, for over 20 years , been
rounding the butt of the guns we build as has Kase in his 1* series of 1911s.
The new model 345 has a semi rounded butt that I like the feel of. I have
handed it to several people in the last few weeks and the acceptance factor
was about 50-50. About half really liked it and the others said it felt odd to
them. Personally I think the gun will do well.
Speaking of Rugers, our new El Diablo Classic which is
mainly built on the old model 3 screw Ruger revolver, is doing exceptionally
well. We are getting old models in just about every day from customers all
over the country. I will mention this while I am at it. We can build our El
Diablo on the new model Blackhawk also. It doesn't have to be the old model
although most are. We take the new or old model 357, 30 carbine, 41 mag, 45 or
44 and install a new cylinder and barrel in 44 special, fit a steel gripframe
with our Gunfighter Grip and ivory Corian grips, fit a steel housing to it,
put gold bands on the barrel and cylinder, do a bit of engraving and then our
high polish Black Chromex finish on it. The end result is a very nice and
extremely attractive revolver and a good shooter to boot. The El Diablo is for
sure going to turn into one of our all time best sellers.
We bought out an estate recently and most of the stuff
in there was sort of ho hum, but one rifle was sort of like an old friend. And
I say sort of like an old friend as it would be an old friend that punched you
in the nose every time you saw him. The rifle is the older H&R Shikari in
45-70. It is a lightweight rifle with a 28 inch barrel on it chambered in
45-70. It has a cleaning rod under the barrel that makes the package look like
a black powder rifle. It also has a hard plastic buttplate.
Many years ago I bought one of these rifles in 45-70 as
that caliber was and is one of my favorites. The only problem with this rifle
was that when I would shoot it with a fairly stout load I would end up looking
all over the ground for my nose after the shot. The recoil would drive my
thumb knuckle back into my nose every shot. No matter how I held it, my nose
got bashed. I grew to love that gun, even with the nose bashing. I installed a
scope on it after having it drilled and tapped and hunted deer with it in
Tennessee for years, way back before I switched totally to handguns.
Somewhere along the line I sold that rifle and regretted
it ever since. That Shikari is sitting on the shelf at our gun shop calling my
name right now. I have absolutely no use for the gun, but if someone doesn't
beat me to it (and I really hope they do), I may have to bring it home.