Right from the SHOT Show floor, here are the best new handguns, long guns and shotguns you’ll see in 2012.
The Success Lives On
The Next Generation
Benelli’s Ultra Light set the shooting world on its ear, with many labeling it as the greatest semi-auto ever produced for upland hunting. With success such as that, it’s no surprise Benelli is looking to maintain its domination with the introduction of the Ultra Light in a 28-gauge model. The Ultra Light 28 weighs a paltry 5 pounds, comes standard with choke tubes and, like its larger-gauge companions, features a magazine tube that has been limited to two rounds. Also as a weight-saver, the Ultra Light 28 features a lightweight carbon fiber rib atop the 26-inch barrel. The Ultra Light’s walnut stock is protected by Benelli’s premium Weathercoat finish. MSRP $1,800.
Beretta A400 Xplor Action
Green Technological Beast
When Beretta first announced the A400 Unico, it came with the moniker “Green Technological Beast.” For 2012, Beretta’s follow-on is the A400 Xplor Action that features a copper-bronze-colored receiver. Weighing in at 6.75 pounds, the A400 Xplor Action will handle 2¾- and 3-inch loads. Gauging the A400 Xplor Action by previous experience, it should handle most any load, from the lightweights to heavy goose or turkey loads, without a problem. The A400 Xplor Action also has the option of Beretta’s Kick-Off recoil-reducing system, which is well worth the few extra dollars it costs. Unique to Beretta’s A400 is the Grip Pod, which makes it the first semi-automatic field shotgun to be equipped (standard) with an electronic counter that keeps track of the rounds fired, relative recoil and temperature. MSRP $1,625.
Not Your Grandpap’s A5
Hidden inside the new A5 is an awesome recoil-reducing inertia system — anyone else thinking Benelli here? The new Humpback is offered with a 3-inch chamber and comes decked in black, walnut or camo. The new A5 breaks from its predecessor with more conventional stock dimensions that are adjustable with shim kits. The all-new Browning A5 is built to be the most reliable, fastest cycling, best performing and softest shooting recoil-operated autoloader on the planet. Browning is so confident in the A5, it is standing behind it with a 100,000-round or five-year guarantee that this shotgun will work come hell or high water. MSRP $1,560.
Browning Citori 725 O/U
Browning’s Liveliest Citori
Browning’s 2012 Citori 725 now features a lowered receiver profile and lighter, slimmer barrels for a lither, sleeker look and feel. In fact, the new 725 shaves close to 3/4 of a pound from the standard Citori. The most notable feature on the new Citori has to be the trigger. Browning replaced inertia triggers with mechanical models, a noticeable change in feel which should translate into improved accuracy potential. The Citori 725 comes is offered Field and Sporting models. The Sporting models will now chamber 3-inch shells — a nice option for individuals who want to use the same gun on the clays range and in the field for hunting. MSRP $3,530.
Colt Mustang Pocketlite
Power in Your Pocket
Colt seemed to drop off the civilian radar in recent years, concentrating on military contracts. However, with the wars overseas winding down, Colt is back in a big way. In the past, the Mustang — and many other mouse guns — received little respect. That being said, would you stand still simply because it was a sub-9 mm caliber? I wouldn’t either. The Colt .380 Mustang is a single-action pistol, so if you’re familiar with a 1911 your transition training will be minimal. The Mustang Pocketlite’s aluminum-alloy receiver, stainless-steel slide and barrel are all CNC-machined from solid bar stock. With a loaded magazine, the Mustang weighs less than 1 pound and measures 5.5 inches with a 2.75-inch barrel. The Mustang will pack six in the mag with another up the pipe. MSRP $600.
Fabarm XLR5 Velocity
Adjustable for Trap or Sporting Clays
A new marriage in the firearms industry came when Caesar Guerini partnered with Fabarm. Neither of the Italian gunmakers are strangers to owners of fine firearms. The first result of the new marriage was introduced for 2012 as the Fabarm XLR5 Velocity semi-auto. The Fabarm XLR5 Velocity is a fine-looking semi-auto that would be as at home on the trap range as it would be for a round of sporting clays. The comb on the XLR5 is adjustable and can be set to a flat 50/50 point of impact when shooting a round of sporting clays, then easily and quickly changed to an aggressively high setting for the trap range. Fabarm’s XLR5 should hit the street with a sizeable price tag (over $3,000), but it truly is in a class of its own. No MSRP available.
FNH USA FNS-9
With the right trigger and a little practice, exposed hammer spurs are about as necessary as udders on male bovine (to keep it P.C.). With that being said, FNH USA took its rugged and reliable FNP/X pistol and adapted it to create the FNS-9 — a striker-fired model. The beauty of this system is that all your current holsters’ mag pouches and X-Series magazines will work well with the FNS-9. It’s probably a no-brainer to predict that .40 and .45 models will follow in short order. Built on a black polymer frame and chambered in 9 mm, the striker mechanism of FNH USA’s FNS-9 is preloaded to ensure a short, light, easy trigger pull from shot to shot. Other notable features include a rail for lights and lasers, interchangeable back straps and ambidextrous controls, including a slide stop, mag release and manual safety. No MSRP available.
Franchi Instinct Series
Quality Without the Frills
For those who felt a great over/under (O/U) wasn’t in the budget, or those just unwilling to part with greenbacks, it’s time to look again. Franchi O/Us underwent a complete makeover, including redesigns and lower pricing. Franchi’s Instinct line includes the L and SL models. Franchi eliminated much of the frill and overdecoration, including the less than popular recoil pad it offered in the past. The new versions have a more restrained aesthetic that includes a classic recoil pad, little engraving and a rounded Prince of Wales grip. The L version has an unadorned, case-colored steel receiver and weighs just 6.4 pounds (12 gauge) or 6.1 pounds (20 gauge). The SL, with a bright, silver-finished receiver, comes in under 6 pounds in 12 gauge and about 5.4 pounds in 20 gauge. Minus the frills, this is one of the best deals you are likely to find on a quality O/U. MSRP $1,349.
Glock 21 Gen 4
A Step Down in Recoil
Although the Glock 21 Gen 4 (G21 G4) looks bulky compared to a G34, it does not feel that way in the hand. The G21 G4 uses the same grip profile as the G21SF, but can also be customized with the included additional back straps. The real story of the G21 G4 is the new recoil extractor, which significantly reduces recoil compared to previous Glocks. The reversible mag catch will be a plus for southpaws, and a .45 with a 13 + 1 capacity will pique any gun nut’s interest. Previous Glock mags won’t fit the G4, but that is just an excuse to buy something new. Besides, Glock has always done a great job of holding down the price on spare magazines. No MSRP available.
Economy Concealed Carry Option
If Kahr does not have a model to suit your particular requirements, it probably isn’t made anywhere. The latest addition to Kahr’s line is the CM40, built purely for business as a stainless-steel and polymer model, weighing in at less than 18 ounces empty and offering a 5+1 capacity. Given the size and weight, the CM40 may come with a less-than-sharp recoil, but this gun was built for go, not show. The CM Series is the economy version of the PM Series. The main differences are in the manufacturing techniques and design. Instead of the polygonal rifling that’s found on Kahr’s PM Series, CM guns have traditional rifling. CMs have MIM’d slide-stop levers instead of machined levers and simple engraving versus roll marking. Unfortunately, CM guns ship with only one magazine. With all the function and reliability in a gun you don’t plan to shoot on a daily basis, this is a great compromise for the money. MSRP $517.
Montana Rifle Company DGR
Go Big or Stay Home
If dangerous game is your passion, Montana Rifle Company’s Dangerous Game Rifle (DGR) should be your new boom stick. The DGR is chambered for the .416 Rigby (10.6 x 74 mm). Back in the day, anything less than .50 caliber (12 mm) was considered a small bore, but with modern powders and advances hunters gained a better perspective. That being said, for those still wishing for more than a .416 can deliver, the DGR is also available in a .460 Weatherby. When the game you are pursuing gives you absolute nightmares, look for a DGR in .505 Gibbs. If that isn’t big enough for your pursuit, just wait a couple of hours and you’ll wake up. MSRP $2,399.
Mossberg 464 ZMB Lever-Action Rifle
Time for a Zombie Lever
The latest craze in the realm of shooting competitions, zombie-themed fun shoots, has a new player on the field in 2012: the Mossberg ZMB Series, including a specialty lever-action .30-30 Win. rifle and 12-gauge pump-action shotguns. Initial offerings include the 464 ZMB lever-action rifle, 500 ZMB 8-shot pump-action shotgun and 500 Chainsaw ZMB 6-shot pump-action shotgun. All three guns have the lime green ZMB logo proudly emblazoned on the receiver and boast the most highly desired zombie-slaying features. Based on the time-proven Mossberg 464 lever-action platform, this rifle has a quick-adjusting, tactical-style six-position synthetic stock; Picatinny tri-rail forend with rubber ladder rail covers; durable black-oxide receiver; compact 16¼-inch barrel with removable A-2 style flash suppressor; adjustable 3-dot fiber optic sights; front and rear sling swivel studs; six-round capacity; matte-blue metal finishes; and drilled/tapped receiver with scope rail included. MSRP $468.
Mossberg 500 Chainsaw ZMB
Six-Shot Pump-Action Shotgun
This 12-gauge, 3-inch 500 Cruiser has a distinctive, chainsaw-style forend grip; ergonomic pistol grip stock; and tactical tri-rail forend with an integral full-length bottom rail and removable side rails. The pistol grip and forend are molded of durable synthetic with a matte-black finish. Better balance and ease of maneuverability are achieved with the compact 18½-inch standoff barrel topped with a single white-dot sight. Other standard features on the 500 Chainsaw ZMB include matte-black metal finishes, a drilled and tapped receiver, sling swivel studs, a padded sling and six-round capacity. Completing this full-featured package is a laser-and-light combo. MSRP $614.
Mossberg MVP Varmint
Blending the Old with the New
Many enthusiasts still hold to the belief that bolt actions are superior to modern — semi-auto — sporting rifles, but fast reloads and high-capacity magazines are a strong draw. Mossberg has taken the best of both and created the MVP Varmint, an ultra-accurate bolt action with a magazine feed. I don’t think anyone is surprised that it’s chambered for the .223. The MVP was actually introduced last year, but based on its success Mossberg is already expanding the line. The MVP Varmint boasts an 18-inch heavy barrel that offers several advantages from the bench and when the song dog action heats up. The MVP comes standard with a laminated stock and trigger that is user-adjustable. MSRP $649.
Nosler M48 Professional
By Hunters, for Hunters
From butt to crown, the M48 Professional leaves nothing to be desired. Given the hefty price that comes with an M48, the first thought is that it’s a showpiece. Nothing could be further from the truth. The M48 was built to endure the rigors of a hunter looking to push his or her limits and requiring a rifle worthy of the challenge. The M48’s stock is crafted from Kevlar and carbon fiber, resulting in a featherweight (1.5 pound) of hardcore toughness. The geometry of the cocking ramp complements the bolt for an extremely smooth action and fast cycling. The M48 also carries the majority of its weight toward the action — a feature to which all hunting-rifle designers should aspire. Completing the package are a box magazine and a host of calibers to suit your needs. No MSRP available.
Remington 700 Anniversary
Fifty Years of Accuracy
It’s hard to believe that the Model 700 is turning 50 this year, even if many readers aren’t old enough to remember its introduction. To honor this milestone achievement, Remington is offering a limited-edition 700. The anniversary model will be chambered in the 7 mm Rem. Mag. — a throwback to the rifle’s first chambering. The anniversary model will also feature a classic look, including the iconic white spacers in the stock at the grip cap and in front of the recoil pad, as well as an ebony forend tip. The commemorative 700 comes standard with fixed sights and a specially designed floorplate touting the 50th anniversary. MSRP $1,400.
Remington R1 Stainless
Because You Asked for It
Remington is looking to capitalize on the already-popular R1 with the introduction of a stainless model. The R1 Stainless features a three-dot sight and a traditional beavertail grip safety, 5-inch barrel, flared and lowered ejection port, double-diamond walnut wood grips and carbon-steel frame and slide. The R1 Stainless tips the scales at 38.5 ounces and holds seven rounds in the magazine, plus one in the chamber. R1s are hot and selling as fast as Remington can produce them. The stainless version, shipped standard with two magazines and a custom carrying case, promises to build on Remington’s previous success. MSRP $789.
Savage Lady Hunter
Sorry, Boys …
Whether you are looking for a rifle for yourself or a lady hunter in your life, Savage has the solution. While there are plenty of women flocking to the shooting sports, options for rifles for them have been about as welcome as an older sibling’s hand-me-down. Far from a gun fitted with a short stock, the Savage Lady Hunter was designed, built for and tested by women. The Lady Hunter features an American walnut stock with a high comb to complement a woman’s neck length. It has a lighter forend and shorter barrel for better handling, Savage’s popular AccuTrigger and box magazine and is chambered in .22-250, .223, .243, .270, .30-06, .308, 6.5 Creedmoor and 7 mm-08. MSRP $819.
Springfield Armory XDS
One-Inch Wide, Full-Power .45 ACP
Last year, single-stack 9 mm ultracompacts were big news; this year, many of those were followed by .40 S&W models. It makes sense as both commonly share the same frame. However, Springfield’s single-stack .45 ACP required a complete redesign — and it has a lot of potential. The Springfield XDS holds five rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. The barrel is 3.3 inches, and the overall length is 6.3 inches. Best of all, it’s only 1 inch thick. Empty, the XDS weighs 21 ounces, and it is a striker-fired pistol in the tradition of the XD and XDM, with a polymer frame and forged-steel slide. The XDS is a breeze to shoot, even for a compact .45. Given where the market has seen success over the past year, it seems likely Springfield will introduce 9 mm and .40 S&W single-stacks in a year or so. MSRP $599.
Bolt Action Platform
Thompson/Center has long been known for its innovation and does not consider the Dimension a rifle as much as a platform, the reason being that the Dimension is completely interchangeable from the bolt to the magazine and from the magazine to the barrel. The Dimension is offered in most any popular caliber, from a .204 to .300 Win. Mag. The Dimension carries an MSRP of $600 and requires another $200 if you want to shoot it with a different caliber. If your new selection requires a different bolt, you’ll have to chip in another $679. MSRP $600.
Synthetic Slug Gun Combo
A gun safe simply isn’t complete without at least one Weatherby, and here’s your chance to do it on the cheap. For $500, you can get a Weatherby 12-gauge pump with a 24-inch rifled barrel for slugs and a 28-inch barrel for birds. The rifled barrel has a 1-28-inch twist and a Weaver-compatible cantilever scope mount. The field barrel comes with three chokes: Improved Cylinder, Modified and Full. At 6.75 pounds, the gun is light enough to carry all day. If you are looking to put turkey or goose on the dinner menu, the PA-08 will handle 3-inch shells without a problem. MSRP $400.
Winchester 70 O’Connor Custom Tribute
Saluting Two American Icons
Jack O’Connor and the Winchester Model 70 are two icons of shooters and hunters all over the world. O’Connor’s penchant for the .270 Win. chambering was anything but a secret, and he used it to harvest game and write the tales we all lived, albeit vicariously. Winchester’s tribute to O’Connor’s legacy was built close to his original No. 2 and features a polished-blue, free-floated steel barrel and three-position safety; AAA high-grade French walnut stock; ebony forearm tip; O’Connor’s signature in nickel on the trigger guard; and a voucher for a free custom-embroidered case that is redeemable through the Jack O’Connor Center. This is a must-own for any serious hunter or rifleman! MSRP $2,600.
Winchester Super X Pump Turkey Hunter
A Gobbler’s Nightmare
The SXP is offered in several different models that accommodate 3½-inch shells. Beyond bird-busting magnums, the SXP features a 24-inch barrel with an Invector-Plus Extra-Full Turkey Choke, fiber optic sights and an Inflex Technology recoil pad that directs felt recoil down and away from the cheek. The SXP is a dream to carry in the field at just over 6.5 pounds, which makes it less than kind when banging away with 3½-inch loads. However, if you shoot straight one-shot isn’t a problem. If not, you’ll earn your bird with any gun shooting 3½s. The Super X Pump favors the M1300s of the past and bears a strong family resemblance that SX3 semi-auto fans will appreciate. The textured surfaces are dipped in Mossy Oak’s Break-Up Infinity. MSRP $600.
Winchester Model 71
Big Bore Lever
Never heard of Model 71? No worries. It was always an orphan model of sorts, but shooting one may transform you into a rabid fan for life. Winchester has brought back the Model 71 (although it may be for a limited time, so grab one quick). The Model 71 starts with a Select Walnut, full pistol grip stock; classic rifle-style forearm; satin finish; and blued steel forearm cap for the genuine look, feel and finish from muzzle to buttstock. The straight-checkered steel buttplate is quick to shoulder and the round, tapered 20-inch barrel with a half magazine tube holds four rounds of 348 Win. In true lever-action tradition, the Model 71 comes with open buckhorn-type sights and a hooded front ramp to get you on target quickly. MSRP $1,470.