Handgun of the Year: Taurus TX22 .22LR
While there are plenty of skeptics and keyboard warriors out there that don’t always sing the praises of the Taurus brand, in this instance, it’s time to set those preconceived notions aside. Eric says the Taurus TX22 is a great gun with increasing popularity. The TX22 is a full-size, polymer-frame, blowback-operated and striker-fired semiautomatic that comes with two, 16-round magazines. It performs great and is very affordable. With a retail price of $350 that means you can pick up this gun for just under $300 brand new.
Rifle of the Year: Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range
Many of the rifles in past years that have won this category have been a low price point, high value kind of selection. However, this year Eric says they are throwing a little more money at the rifle simply because it’s that good! The Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range wins the rifle of the year. Long range shooting has really increased in popularity and Eric says this rifle makes it simple for shooters to hone their shot and improve their confidence. It has been refined and it’s an impressive rifle and for around $1200 it’s certainly a rifle that long range shooters should look at.
Shotgun of the Year: TriStar Viper G2 Bronze
Pulling off a surprising win, the TriStar Viper G2 Bronze chambered in .410 is top dog for 2019. It’s a solid performer and it looks great with Turkish walnut and a burnt bronze Cerakote finish that will resist the weather and elements. Although the bronze is a top of the line model, it’s only $800 and there are several other finishes available that ring in significantly less. Eric says it’s hard to argue with price when so many guns out there are no longer affordable. The TriStar offers affordability and performance in one package.
Ammo of the Year: Winchester .350 Legend
This was a difficult choice Eric notes, but one that ultimately came down to the cartridge. The Winchester .350 Legend, the fastest straight-walled hunting cartridge in the world, has created a firestorm of interest and everyone wants to get their hands on this cartridge, especially AR enthusiasts. Eric says the premise isn’t a new concept, however the cartridge is now SAAMI-approved so buyers will begin to see a lot more ammunition manufacturers offering this cartridge. Eric breaks down the background, design and effectiveness of the Winchester .350 Legend.
Optic of the Year: Aimpoint ACRO P-1
Red Dot Sights are a hot category this year and innovation really helped put Aimpoint in the top slot with their new ACRO P-1. Designed for use on handguns, the ACRO P-1 improves on the traditional red dot design and encloses the system sheltering it from weather, dust and debris which will keep it sharp and clean. It’s the only fully enclosed system in that size on the market. Eric says the sleek design is also great and features controls that are easy to access and use.
Suppressor of the Year: SilencerCo Switchback .22
There are a lot of modular 22 suppressors on the market today, and almost every company has some sort of rimfire suppressor. What set the SilencerCo Switchback .22 apart from the rest of the pack was the ability to take off the caps and middle module of the suppressor and change the length. Lengths can be modified to short, medium, rifle optimized or long lengths depending on the situation/firearm you are using and the results you want. Eric says if you want more sound reduction, you simply add more length. This suppressor is versatile and compatible with 22LR, 17 WSM, 17 HMR, 22 MAG, 22 WMR, 22 HORNET and 5.7 X 28 MM.
Innovation of the Year: Hornady A-Tip Match
Although some may say this product belongs in the ammo category, Eric says its presence in the Innovation category is justified as it’s not a complete cartridge, rather a bullet. The aluminum tip on the Hornady A-Tip Match is precision machined and longer than polymer tips improving performance, enhancing stability and making it possible to carry an optimal trajectory much farther. Perfection should also be noted as Hornady takes care not to handle these bullets to ensure consistency from bullet to bullet. Eric says that they may come at a premium price, however if you are shooting long range and can’t afford for your bullet to negatively influence your accuracy then this is the bullet for you.
Technology of the Year: Tetra AlphaShield Electronic Hearing Protection
If the hunting or shooting experience can be unimpeded by hearing protection, users are far more likely to use products to protect their hearing. Eric says Tetra AlphaShield Electronic Hearing Protection offers hunters and shooters the ability to preserve their hearing, but still enables them to participate fully by allowing them to hear conversations around them and even pick up the quiet sounds of wildlife in the field. The inner ear device works like noise cancelling headphones and muffles the sharp crack from a gun while still allowing conversation and other noise to be audible. There are different models for different applications, but all of them protect hunters and shooters from sustaining hearing injuries while recreating.
Be sure to pick up a copy of the December issue of Guns & Ammo magazine for an in-depth look at all of the Guns & Ammo of the Year Awards. Better yet, get a subscription to the magazine! Plus, don’t forget to watch “Guns & Ammo” on Sportsman Channel every Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. ET. You can also catch previous seasons and episodes with the MyOutdoorTV app.