This article originally appeared at GunsAmerica.
It’s my electronic ink, so I get to decide on the selection criteria. Rather than list out my picks for the newest, most powerful, least expensive, or most likely to match evening wear, I decided to look back over the most interesting and unusual releases of 2015. What counts as interesting? Since it’s my list, that might be innovative design, unusual caliber, nifty appearance or some random and subjective criteria that I haven’t yet outlined. What won’t be on this list are dogs. Because friends don’t let friends buy crappy guns.
One more thing. New gun release dates are a little squishy as some companies announce guns a year or more before you can actually buy the new model. Others won’t talk about a product introduction publicly until the distributors have stock in place ready to deliver to stores. With that said, we might have to be a little bit liberal with the definition of new guns for 2015. For this list, I’m going to try to stick with guns that you could buy in 2015. Yes, some of these might have been announced just after the cessation of hostilities treaty in Versailles, but for whatever reason, the company didn’t bring them to store shelves until this year.
Ok! Let’s go! In random order…
Savage Model 112 Magnum Target .338 Lapua
My PR buddy at ATK (who owns Savage) pulled me aside at the 2015 NRA Annual Meeting and said, “Hey, I’ve got something cool you need to see.” By the grin on his face, I knew it had to be something special, and it was.
New for 2015 is a single-shot, .338 Lapua Magnum target rifle. The action is housed in a palm-filling laminate wood stock. The 26” barrel has a hefty muzzle brake on the muzzle, but you won’t need to rely on that as the rifle weighs a whopping 12 pounds. Once I hefted this rifle, I decided I had to get one.
Sig Sauer Nightmare
I’ve always been a nut for the .357 Sig caliber. Yeah, I know, it’s an expensive round, but I’m a reloading addict, so it isn’t any pricier for me than 9mm because the bullets cost the same, and in some cases are identical.
What’s to like about the Nightmare? It’s a 1911 chambered in .357 Sig. If you like the lighter, faster ballistic solutions like .357 Magnum, then you’ll dig the .357 Sig. Lots of state highway patrol agencies use this caliber. It’s also been used by the U.S. Secret Service and Air Marshals.
While the talk was in the works for the past couple of years, I finally got to shoot one of these beauties at Sig’s SHOT Show 2015 Range Day. Wow. I want one. Bad. all the ergonomics of the 1911 platform with the ballistics of .357 Magnum, more or less. You might think of this as an alternative approach to the .38 Super. That’s a great 1911 platform too. Generally, .357 Sig loads are a little hotter and faster than .38 Super and offer another 50 to 100 foot-pounds of kinetic energy.
The Nightmare holds 9+1 of the slightly smaller diameter .357 Sig cartridges, so you get a couple more shots than a standard 1911. The rounded butt makes it great for concealed carry, and more comfortable to shoot. If you haven’t tried a 1911 with a rounded butt, try it. I suspect you’ll like it. G10 grips and Nitron finish round out the package.
Volquartsen .17 Winchester Super Magnum Deluxe
This one makes the most interesting list because it might be the world’s fastest rimfire rifle. The rimfire geniuses at Volquartsen Custom took full advantage of the smokin’ hot .17 Winchester Super Magnum cartridge when making a special rifle for the caliber. The .17 WSM propels a 20-grain bullet to just about 3,000 feet per second. It’s a perfect varmint hunter.
This rifle, while all Volquartsen, shares some of the desirable features of the Ruger 10/22 design. It’s got a similar (but larger) receiver and is fed by a rotary magazine to keep the underside of the stock smooth for easy handling. Since the .17 WSM rounds are somewhat larger, this rotary magazine holds eight instead of ten rounds.
This particular rifle looks as good as it shoots. With the classic fluted Volquartsen barrel, threaded, of course, and beautiful wood, it’s a hit at the range or hunt.
Korth PRS Rolling Lock Pistol
I saw and shot this innovative pistol at SHOT Show 2015 Media day and took a closer look later on the show floor. What’s different? It has a fixed barrel, which can be inherently more accurate than a tilting or rotating barrel design. Pistols that reply on a repeatable barrel release and lockup procedure are only as accurate as the fit between barrel, slide, and frame. Smaller caliber guns can do pretty well with fixed barrel designs as the pressures are not huge and can be contained in a gun with normal slide mass. The Walther PPK is a great example of a fixed barrel gun, but that is limited to .380 ACP caliber at the top end.
The neat thing is that the roller design is what handles the reciprocating action and slide unlock and lock. Unlike other fixed barrel guns (think Hi-Points), the design does not rely on slide mass to handle the greater pressures and forces associated with larger calibers – .45 ACP in this particular case.
Besides being an example of cool engineering, it shoots like a dream. It’s put together like a fine Swiss watch, and you can feel the slickness. Imagine making a gun out of two sticks of butter. That’s what the action feels like.
Wilson Combat Beretta 92G Brigadier Tactical
While you can get this one, you might have to shop hard and then pay for the privilege. Beretta made an initial limited run of just 1,000 of the Wilson Combat M9 frame pistols.
While you may think of Bill Wilson as a 1911 guy through and through, it turns out he’s quite the Beretta 92 fan, having won lots of championships with that particular handgun. Wilson has been doing custom parts and work on the Beretta 92 guns for quite some time, but now they’ve formally teamed up with the Italians to have Beretta build a ready-to-go model straight from the factory. All of these guns will have a custom serial number starting with “WC.”
The frame is an M9A1 model, so it’s got a forward rail. A rounded trigger guard and enhanced checkering provide a comfortable yet positive grip. The slide is actually a specially beveled Brigadier slide, so it’s stronger and heavier than the standard slide. It holds a Wilson Combat rear sight and Trijicon front sight. The action is the “G” style, so the slide-mounted lever is a decocker only – you don’t need to manually disengage the safety before shooting. You’ll also find some other special touches like a skeletonized hammer with lighter hammer spring. This yields a lighter double-action trigger. A Wilson fluted steel guide rod adds a bit more weight up front for stability and to reduce muzzle flip. Wilson Combat G10 VZ grips and three of the new Beretta sand resistant 15-round magazines round out the package.
While we’re on the topic, the new Beretta M9A3 is a pretty nice gun on its own. The new standard grip size negates most of the “it’s too big” issue. More importantly, the Beretta 92 platform is perfect for suppression with it’s straight back barrel movement, so it’s good to see a pre-threaded model out of the box.
Beck Defense 5.56mm Cycling Subsonic Rifle
This one makes the most interesting list because it’s not supposed to work – at all. It’s a customized AR rifle that fires 75-grain .223 bullets at subsonic speed – fully automatically. What? I shot this little gem at a Lancer Systems Media Event and was instantly hooked.
To make this combination work, and cycle reliably, the Beck Defense engineers custom developed the ammunition and made plenty of tweaks to the rifle. It has to have a suppressor to function, but then again, that’s the whole point, right? Check out a video of this one in action here.
Why, you ask? Why not? Seems like the perfect indoor activities rifle to me.
CMMG Mk47 Mutant
Half AR and half AK, the CMMG Mutant is named appropriately if nothing else. I might describe this nifty rifle as the BMW of AK-type rifles. It fires the 7.62x39mm cartridge and accepts standard AK magazines, but things start to get different pretty quickly after that.
You’ll see a Magpul MOE AR-style pistol grip and an AR-style adjustable butt stock. Also, like a standard AR-type rifle, mounting optics is easy as there is continuous rail space from the back of the receiver to the front of the handguard. Whether you want scope, red dot, irons, lights or lasers, you’ve got plenty of space to add them without kludged up adapters that would be required on a classic AK rifle. One more thing. Quite unlike a standard AK rifle, this one includes an excellent Geisele Single Stage trigger.
Sig MCX 300 Blackout
Happiness is a full auto, suppressed 300 Blackout. I had a chance to shoot the new Sig MCX at the 2015 SHOT Show in back in January. The MCX is really more of a product family, as there are near infinite combinations of short barrel rifle (SBR) and pistol configurations. Accordingly, stocks are available in a variety of styles, including folding for close quarters use.
I shot this with Sig’s new 300 Blackout subsonic ammo loaded with 220 grain Sierra Matchking projectiles. Thump, thump thump, but quieter! Wow, it’s a joyful gun to shoot and amazingly controllable.
I finally had to stop at eight. As I went over my notes and pictures from the last year, there’s were dozens of “interesting” new product introductions. 2016 is shaping up to be a pretty interesting year too. One that I’m looking forward to checking out is the soon to be shipping FN M249S. Yes, that’s a semi-automatic, civilian legal M249, belt fed, bipod and all. Why not?