This year’s SHOT Show is mobbed with people who walk the aisles, breathing a collective sigh of relief that Hillary Clinton is screaming and throwing things in Chappaqua rather than in Washington joyfully exterminating the Second Amendment. Perhaps because of all the inhalation and exhalation, there are fewer fart fogs than last year, but I digress.
This is the year that Tactical has triumphed over hunting. I think if you made a count, you would find more military/police/MSR guns than you would anything else. The mood of the populace is changing. That will be reflected in the seven rifles that I’ve picked to write about. They are not, as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman pointed out, your daddy’s squirrel rifle. With two notable exceptions, they are dual-purpose guns, or triple-purpose guns. You can hunt with them, or shoot them in competition, or use them socially, if you get my meaning. They are all exceedingly accurate. I’d be surprised if you couldn’t get sub-half-minute groups from every one. So here we go, in alphabetical order.
BERGARA B-14 HMR
BERGARA B-14 HMR Bergara
Bergara has a whole raft of new models out, but this is the one that is pulling down all the thunder. The B-14 HMR is a chassis-stocked bolt-action produced entirely in Spain. It has a nice, stiff No. 5 contour barrel, but is not a terribly heavy gun. The light weight is achieved by a full-length bedding girder that’s glued into the stock. The thing to remember about the HMR is its impeccable pedigree. Bergaras shoot, as in really shoot. Right now, the only authentic quarter-minute rifle I own is a Bergara. The price is $1,150, and I’m told that by the time this goes to dealers, it might be a bit lower than that. Bergarausa.com
McMillan is known primarily for its terrific fiberglass stocks, but it also makes terrific rifles. The TAC-308 is a super gun with a medium heavy barrel, a wonderful trigger, and a considerable price tag of $4,880. This is stiff, generally speaking, but not a ton of money as these guns go, and consider that the TAC is a handmade rifle; you need only handle it and behold its glassy perfection to understand that. It’s worth remembering that the late Chris Kyle, of American Sniper fame, used a McMillan .338 Lapua for his social engineering in Iraq, and he could have used any rifle he wanted to. If you’re determined to put them all through one hole, look no further. Mcmillanfirearms.com
MONTANA RIFLES ALR
If by now you’re sick of all the military stuff and yearn for a more genteel time, here’s your smokewagon. Montana Rifles ALR (American Legends Rifle) was sold last year on a very limited basis, but this year, it’s available to that portion of the general public that is worthy. It comes blue or all stainless, right or left hand, in all of the usual calibers, and with a very pretty AA black-walnut stock, complete with nice checkering. The Montana bolt action is one of the few infallible machines created by man, and if you want a new rifle that will slay beasts with style and still looks pretty damn wonderful, this is the one to get. The price is $1,502, and how they make so nice a rifle for that kind of dough is beyond me. Montanarifleco.com
Rather than leap panicked into the MSR wars, Savage took quite a few pains to come up with something more refined. There are four rifles in their new MSR series, this one being the dedicated hunting rifle. Upon picking up the 10 Hunter, you are struck with how light and compact it is. Savage has done some ingenious modifications to the standard AR frame and mechanism to achieve this. It’s a very easy gun to shoot accurately. I put 10 rounds through it firing right-handed and got ten hits. It comes in .308 or 6.5 Creedmoor, has a 16-inch barrel for the .308 and 18 for the Creedmoor, 5R rifling, and a clean top for whatever kind of sights you want to mount on it. The price is $1,481. Savagearms.com
SIG 716 DMR G2
DMR Stands for designated marksman rifle, and means that this is the gun you give to the guy in the platoon that can really shoot. This .308 is the second-generation SIG DMR, and has been put on a diet, and then some. It’s a full 3 pounds lighter than the first generation, and has a 16-inch barrel instead of 18. The G2 is not a cheap rifle—the list price is $1,800 depending on what you hang on it—but it’s still a lot less than the original. I own one of the first generation guns, and I can tell you that it very accurate and has never malfunctioned no matter what I ran through it, not once. With it, using Federal Gold Medal 175-grain ammo, I shot 1-inch 10-shot groups at 100 yards. The bullets just keep going through the same hole. This rifle should be no different. SIG does not cut corners. Anywhere. Ever. Sigsauer.com
Camilla was Roy Weatherby’s wife, and Ed Weatherby’s mother, so when the company built the first dedicated woman’s bolt-action it seemed only right to name it after her. The Camilla is built on a Vanguard barreled action with a wood stock that is distinctly shaped for females. I couldn’t shoot it, but then I can’t walk in heels, either. It’s very light, very handy, and was designed by a committee of women who kept yelling at the pattern makers to take off more wood. They did. This is a distinctive rifle that female shooters will love. The MSRP is $849. Weatherby.com
This is a bolt-action rifle with a fully adjustable chassis stock. The barrel is pretty hefty, and threaded for a muzzle brake or a can. According to the Winchester people, the XPC is very, very accurate. I shot one with a can on it, and mixed types of ammunition, so I really couldn’t tell, but I think it would turn out to be a star. The recoil is negligible due to the weight and the straight-line design. There are all sorts of refinements, including an M.O.A. Trigger System, Cerakote fully machined alloy frame, and MagPul PRS Gen III adjustable butt stock. The MSRP is $1,599, but the real-world price will almost certainly be less. The rifle is so new that at press time it hadn’t been announced. Is this the Model 70 of tomorrow? Could be. Winchesterarms.com