Petzal’s Picks: The New Best Rifles, Scopes, and Binoculars of 2010

A few days ago in a Gun Nut blog post I complained about New Stuff displacing Old Stuff. However, some New Stuff is so terrific that it causes me to emit little shrieks of joy, not unlike a buck rabbit in heat. Here are eight examples of that. If you find yourself shrieking uncontrollably, ask someone to snap you with a wet towel, or better yet, rush right out and buy some of it. The Blaser R8 Rifle
This is the third generation Blaser, and it is as unlike conventional turnbolt rifles as a Blackberry is unlike a landline rotary-dial phone. It’s a true modular rifle that you can have built to your specs. I got to shoot one briefly in January, and the thing is simply astounding. Nor is it cheap. I will be getting one to try at length and will let you know how it does.
Nosler Trophy Grade Rifle
This is a less costly version of the Nosler Model 48, which is the very cutting edge of modern rifle-building, and also $3,000. By using a Bell & Carlson stock instead of the 48’s handmade Kevlar stock, and a less expensive barrel, Nosler is able to get the price well below $2,000 and still guarantee sub-moa accuracy.
Savage Model 11 Long Range Hunter
Savage ventures further into the exotic with this new rifle, which is built expressly for shooting Way Out There. The LRH you see on the website has a fluted barrel and muzzle brake; however, the guns Savage had at SHOT had round barrels and no muzzle brakes because this configuration shot better. In addition to all the usual long-range cartridges, this rifle is chambered for the dynamic and trendy 6.5/284 Norma. Hot stuff! It’s about $930.
Schmidt & Bender Summit riflescope
Schmidt & Bender is a small company that makes nothing but riflescopes, and until now has made nothing but German-style scopes. The Summit is its first 100 percent American-style scope. It’s a 2.5X-10X with a 1-inch tube. It is neither bulky nor heavy. I used one, and can tell you that S&Bs very likely have the best optics of any scope on the market. The Summit is the top of the heap, and is priced accordingly.
Swarovski Z3 Riflescope
Here is a jewel among riflescopes. It’s a full size 3X-10X (it comes in other power ranges) with all the weight and bulk boiled out of it. I tried one and can tell you that it is optically sumptuous, and that the adjustments are notably accurate even for a scope of this quality. Plain friggin’ wonderful. Not cheap, either. Swarovskioptik.usa.
MInox APO HG Binoculars
Minox has been in the binocular biz only a comparatively short time, but they are very, very serious about it. Their new APO HG glasses are the top of their line. They are light and compact for full-size binoculars, and Minox pointed out to me that while they are not cheap, they are comparable to L***a and Z***s and cost a hell of a lot less money. Their optical opulence is blindingly wonderful.
Zeiss Conquest 3X-9X Riflescope
This is not a new scope, but the price is sure new–$399 during 2010. You hear me? A brand new Zeiss scope way down in the lower tier of the medium-price bracket? Get your lazy ass out of the house and buy half a dozen.
Nikon Monarch African 1X-4X Riflescope
This little scope has a colossal field of view, a huge exit pupil, lots of eye relief, and a German No. 4 reticle that gets you on target very fast. It’s a highly useful scope for any kind of close-range hunting, African or not. (I have a Monarch on my .416 Remington, which has already broken a scope of a different brand. The Monarch sits there serenely, untroubled by the shoulder-busting recoil.) The real world price is around $280.