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David Hart

Gallery: AR Sights and Lights

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The right optic, laser sight or flashlight makes the perfect addition to any AR, and it can be a tactical advantage in any defensive or combat scenario.

As if your life wasn’t filled with enough choices already, along come a dozen new sights built just for AR-platform rifles. They are as complex or as simple as you want and range in price from a few hundred dollars to around $1,000, or more. They include standard reflex-type sights to scopes and even high-definition night-vision optics. No matter the size of your budget or the type of shooting you prefer, one thing’s for sure: Any of these optic options will make a great addition to your gun safe.

So what’s a dedicated shooter to do? Buy two or three, of course, and then buy a new rifle to attach them to. See? It wasn’t such a dilemma, after all, was it? Check out these great AR sights and lights to give your rifle a tactical edge.

Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from the July 2016 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

Gallery: Hot New Ammo for 2016

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Manufacturers continue to produce a host of great new ammo options for shooters. Check out the latest new loads for personal defense, hunting and plinking.

Just when you thought life couldn’t get any better, ammo manufacturers are once again showering us with a plethora of new products. It’s like Christmas in June. If you shoot big game, small game, steel, clays, tin cans or personal threats, there’s something new just for you and your favorite firearms.

Looking for a new personal defense handgun load? It’s your lucky day. How about a lead-free option for rimfires and for AR platform rifles? Yep. If that’s not enough, you’ve got fantastic new options for big game, precision target shooting and even subsonic applications.

The real Christmas may be many months away, but why wait? Besides, when was the last time you gave your favorite guns a gift? Load them up with all the ammo they can eat and then load them up some more. They’ll be as happy as kids on Christmas morning.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2016 Issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

Gallery: 16 Great New Shooting Accessories

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Guns, ammo and optics are certainly important to shooters, but what about those other essential accessories and other pieces of gear? We’ve got you covered.

Any shooter can certainly get by with a gun and a handful of ammo, but what fun is that? Besides, it takes more than a rifle and a box of bullets to have a productive, fulfilling day at the range. You need stuff, lots of stuff.

Whether it’s a new storage system, some new cleaning supplies or something to make your range time a little easier or a little more productive, there’s a whole host of new products on the market this year. Here’s a look at several of the best new products.


Must-Have for Your Range Bag

Every range bag needs one of these in it. These top-selling ear protection muffs feature unique push-in on/off switch, plus two recessed microphones provide enhanced sound of normal conversation, while the muffs compressed. Extra cool features include separate volume control for each ear, a wind filter, and extended battery operation provides up to 300 hours of use. Uses 4 AAAA batteries (included). Get Yours Now

Gear of the Year: Best Optics of 2015

optics-FManufacturers have produced a number of optics over the course of the past year. Here’s a look at our picks for the best optics of 2015.

What’s the difference between a good scope and a great one? That’s a question you don’t want to ask when the buck of a lifetime is staring at you from across the canyon. Quality glass—spotting scopes, binoculars, riflescopes and rangefinders—can mean the difference between a successful hunt or a bust, a win or loss at the range.

The good news? We made your job a little easier by taking a close look at the countless optics available today and whittling the choices to the best of the best. Yeah, they will probably set you back a pretty penny, but you know what they say: You get what you pay for. Besides, what quality piece of equipment isn’t expensive these days?

Trijicon-ScopeTrijicon AccuPower

Trijicon’s newest offering is a deviation from their battery-free, tritium-lighted reticle, but it’s a winner by its own right. The AccuPower’s illuminated reticle is powered by a lithium battery, which lasts at least 31 hours at the highest setting and includes 11 settings with an “off” feature between each setting. Lining up the bull’s eye in the lowest light is as easy as looking through the scope. The full multi-layer coated glass allows crisp edge-to-edge views and super-high light transmission. The second focal plane reticle gives long-range shooters a clear view of the smallest targets. Each scope is available in at least three reticle choices, and you can choose from 1-4×24, 2.5-10×56, 3-9×40 and 4-16×50. ($699; Trijicon.com)

Swarovski-X5iSwarovski X5

Swarovksi’s X5 long-range scope is the first true long-range scope from the Austrian company. It’s available in three versions: 3.5-18×50, 5-25×56 and 5-25×56, which offers 1/8 or 1/4 MOA impact point adjustment. All three are built with Swarovski’s high standards and highest quality materials. Like other Swarovski products, the X5 isn’t cheap, but it will be the last long-range scope you’ll ever buy. The wide field of view allows for rapid target acquisition, the fully multi-coated lenses offer maximum light transmission and clarity, and the high-contrast reticle gives you the ability to see the smallest details. All three models include a sub-zero feature that allows you to go below the sight-in distance for close targets, and all three offer three different reticles. The 5-25 has a max elevation MOA of 82 and a max windage MOA of 50. ($3,499; SwarovskiOptik.com)

Steiner_MiliaryScope3x-15X50_ASteiner M5Xi 3-15×50 Military Optic

You don’t have to join the military to get the best equipment in the world. You’ll have to pay for it yourself, of course, but when your pride, your elk tag or your standing in the shooting competition is on the line, who wouldn’t want a scope used by our military’s top shooters? Steiner’s German-made M5Xi is perfect for competition shooters as well as hunters who stretch out their shots. An 11-stage illuminated G2B Mil-Dot or MSR reticle allows for precision shots in any light condition, and the patented DuoScale elevation knob lets you make fast adjustments in the field. The 34mm tube is waterproof and shockproof. The elevation range is 26 mils at 100 meters and the windage range is 6 mils at 100 meters. ($3,329.99; Steiner-Optics.com)

Nikon_PROSTAFF_7i_Laser_RangefinderNikon ProStaff 7i

Some of the best optics don’t require you to choose between new equipment and your kid’s college tuition. Nikon’s new Prostaff 7i rangefinder isn’t just perfect for budget-minded mothers and fathers, it’s faster, lighter, more accurate and just plain better than many of the other rangefinders available today. It takes just a half-second to accurately measure out to 1,300 yards. It’s small enough to carry anywhere and for any type of hunting. It weighs just 6.2 ounces, and the viewer has 6x magnification. Measured increments are .1 yards out to 1,000 yards and 1 yard from 1,000 to 1,300 yards. It’s waterproof and includes a target priority switch, allowing you to measure overlapping subjects, and it comes with a horizontal and actual distance display mode. ($299.95; NikonSportOptics.com)

G7-BR2G7 BR2 Rangefinder

The G7 BR2 is packed with features that help all shooters and hunters make better shots, but hands down, it’s the best tool for long-range enthusiasts. It’s programmable for up to five cartridge combinations, and inputs include ballistic coefficient, sight height, muzzle velocity, altitude and temperature. Onboard sensors measure the incline angle, barometric pressure and altitude. Shoot-to range works with BDC and holdover reticles. With a functional range of 1,500 yards, a 7x magnification and a weight of just 14.3 ounces, you’ll carry this tool when you need to make every shot count. ($1,599; GSeven.com)

Nightforce_TS80Nightforce TS80

Nightforce’s newest spotting scope, the TS-80 Hi-Def 20-60x, is a follow-up to its award-winning TS-82, the company’s first spotting scope model. The TS-80 is a winner, too. It’s not just fast and easy to use; it comes with all the features you need in a spotting scope. It’s built with fully multi-coated lenses and an internal prism design for maximum light transmission. It offers a bright, clear view at all distances. A large, knurled focus ring allows for fast target focus, and a magnesium alloy body gives you peace of mind every time you take the TS-80 out of its case. It weighs 68 ounces.
($1,595; Nightforceoptics.com)

SwarovskiATX_95Swarovski ATX

Is it any wonder the name Swarovski shows up on “Best Of” lists everywhere? Pick up any of the company’s products, put your eyes to it and you’ll see why. Swarovski’s newest spotting scope, the ATX, is another first-class product. Built with the highest quality glass, the best materials and industry-leading standards, the ATX is right at home in the most rugged backcountry or on a perfectly manicured rifle range. The objective lens is available in either a straight or angled eyepiece to suit your style of glassing, and one-hand operation allows for easy and comfortable use. Available in 25-60×65, 30-70×95 and 25-60×85 and weighing just 55.9 ounces, you’ll see your target clearer and at longer distances than ever before. ($3,775; SwarovskiOptik.com)

200170_Micro_T-2_All_Open_2_RF_850x795pxAimpoint Micro T-2

“Micro” is certainly an appropriate name for Aimpoint’s new Micro T-2 sight. Weighing just 3.7 ounces (including the mount) and measuring just 2.7 inches long, it’s the ideal 1x, 2-MOA red dot sight for shooters of all stripes. It works on handguns, shotguns and rifles and even as a piggyback sight. An integral Picatinny-style base attaches to any rail. The T-2 has four night vision-compatible settings and eight daylight settings. If that’s not enough, the battery lasts up to 50,000 hours. The lenses allow maximum light transmission for fast and crystal-clear target acquisition. ($736; Aimpoint.com)

zeissVictory-2Zeiss Victory SF

Zeiss’ new Victory SF binoculars may cost more than your first car, but you’ll never have to buy another pair of binoculars again. Built with a seven-lens element eyepiece and a field flattener for sharp, bright images, the Victory SF binoculars are available in 8×42 and 10×42. They have some of the widest fields of view in the industry. Zeiss built them with a faster focusing wheel and a new design that fits in your hands better, feels better and reduces fatigue better than any pair of binoculars you’ve held before. They weigh just 27.5 ounces and are backed with a limited no-fault lifetime warranty. ($2,888.87; Zeiss.com)

Maven-B1-Gray-OrangeMaven B1 8×42

You may have never heard of Maven, but don’t let that fool you. The small Wyoming-based company only makes three binocular models, which means they can focus on quality and customer service. Their B1 weighs less than 30 ounces and is available in 8×42 and 10×42 models. The view is bright, crisp and crystal-clear from edge-to-edge. The glass allows nearly 92-percent light transmission. If quality craftsmanship isn’t enough, Maven allows you to build a custom pair with your favorite color combinations. Wrap it in your choice of two solid or five camo patterns and customize everything from the focus knob to the lens rings in eight color choices. What better way to personalize the binoculars you’ll carry around your neck every time you shoot or hunt? ($900; MavenBuilt.com)

Vortex-RazorVortex Razor HD

Vortex may not carry the name recognition of the better-known European companies, but their products are everything you could want in optics. The Razor HD binoculars are not only packed with features, they are light, sturdy and just plain easy to carry and use. Fully multi-coated glass allows maximum light transmission, and HD lens elements offer a clear, true sight picture. These roof prism binoculars weigh just 24.8 ounces and are available in 8×42, 10×42, 10×50 and 12×50. They are waterproof and fog proof and are coated with a durable rubber armor to protect them from all the abuse you can dish out. ($1,499; VortexOptics.com)

Swarovski-EL_Range_with-AccessoriesSwarovski 8×42 EL Range

Tired of carrying a rangefinder and binoculars? Not only did Swarovski solve that dilemma, they solved it with the best available technology in a single product. Their new EL Range range-finding binoculars offer immediate ranging from 33 to 1,500 yards and include a scan mode to measure moving targets. The angle-adjustment display helps take the guesswork out of distances at various angles. Just point, click and shoot. They also include an auto-brightness option. Available in 8×42 and 10×42, the EL Range binoculars have a 411-foot field of view at 1,000 yards and offer 91 percent light transmission, thanks to Swarovski’s highest quality glass. They weigh just 31.6 ounces. ($3,577; SwarovskiOptik.com)

Photo Gallery: 2016 New Rimfires and Airguns

In addition to being fun to shoot, rimfire guns and airguns are excellent training tools for new and youth shooters. Here are several great new rimfires and airguns for 2016.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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Become an Expert on the Ruger 10/22

The most comprehensive resource for the Ruger 10/22 available, Customizing the Ruger 10/22 will help you get the most out of your rifle. The book guides shooters through the endless and sometimes confusing array of aftermarket upgrades available. But it goes much further than expanding your wish list, with clear and complete step-by-step instruction on how to modify the rifle. Whether you are shooting to make a first-class plinker or a competition-worthy rifle, Customizing the Ruger 10/22 is certain to have you knocking out the bull’s eye with this iconic rimfire. Get Your Copy Now

10 Fast-Access Gun Safes for Home Defense

Quick Access Gun Safe – A Must-Have?

A gun will only defend you and your family if you can get to it the moment it is needed. Thanks to a host of fast-access gun safes, you can rest assured your favorite home-defense firearm is just a finger swipe or a quick numeric code away. Whether you prefer a revolver, semi-automatic handgun, shotgun or even your trusty AR, there’s a wall, rifle or handgun safe available that allows you to have peace of mind. You can keep your favorite firearm away from curious kids, snooping guests and criminals alike while gaining nearly instant access in case of emergency.

Here's our list of what we think are the top options available today for getting to your piece quickly in a moment of need. 

Browning PV1000

In addition to resilient construction, Browning’s ProSteel Pistol Vaults features other handy aspects, such as spring-loaded lids and LED lighting.

One of the most trusted names in firearms offers one of the most trusted products in gun safes. Browning‘s PV-1000 isn't just tough-it's packed with features. It has enough room for a couple of handguns and a stack of other valuables and comes with a programmable four-button touch pad. It comes with internal LED lighting and even has an external 9 volt battery contact in case the internal batteries fail or you lose your emergency key. The PV-1000 weighs 25 pounds. MSRP: $219


V-Line Slide Away


If the idea of relying on an electronic lock makes you nervous, consider V-Line’s Slide Away safe. It uses a non-electronic, five-button Simplex access system that is fast, reliable and easy to operate. Pre-drilled mounting holes allow you to store up to two 1911s anywhere you want to place them. The box, face and anti-pry brackets are made from tough, 12-gauge steel, and the oversized spring-assisted pullout drawer uses ball bearings for smooth operation. It weighs 21 pounds and has optional full and half trays. MSRP: $299


Secure-it Hawk Under Bed Safe


If a long gun is your preferred home defense firearm, look no further than Secure-it’s Hawk. At 47 inches long and 13 inches deep, it’s big enough to hold your favorite tactical shotgun or a selection of handguns. The four-button touch pad electronic lock allows for instant access when you need it most. The Hawk is made with 14- and 16-gauge all-welded steel and comes with a full-length piano-hinge door and three hardened lock bolts for durability and safety. It weighs 50 pounds and can be mounted horizontally. MSRP: $239

Hornady RapId Safe

Hornady Security's RAPiD Safe is one of the first handgun safes to offer radio frequency identification entry.

You don’t need a code, and you don’t even need to touch HornadyM’s RAPiD safe to access your firearm in an instant. Simply use an included RFID bracelet, card or key fob to get fast access. Once opened, your handgun pops up at an accessible angle in its own foam sleeve. The safe weighs more than 15 pounds and is made from heavy 16-gauge steel. It also comes with a 39-inch, 1,500-pound-rated cable, so you can secure it anywhere. It runs off standard 110 volt power or batteries. MSRP: $275


GunVault SpeedVault Biometric


Store your handgun where you need it with GunVault's single-gun SpeedVault. The biometric locking system allows you instant access with the swipe of a finger, thanks to the biometric fingerprint scanner and activation button. It holds up to 120 unique fingerprints. The SpeedVault comes with mounting hardware that allows you to bolt it anywhere-this could be under your desk, to a wall or anywhere else you might need instant security. It also comes with an interior courtesy light. It's made from 18-gauge steel and includes a backup override key. MSRP: $345


Barska Quick Access Rifle Safe


Silence is golden when you might be dealing with an intruder. Thankfully, Barska’s Quick Access Rifle Safe’s new silent access feature won’t give away your location. A simple fingerprint scan allows near-instant access to up to four long guns. The lock is programmable for up to 120 fingerprints, and it comes with mounting hardware, a three-point deadbolt locking system and a set of emergency backup keys. The Quick Access safe runs on four AA batteries (included) and weighs 66 pounds. MSRP: $299


Bulldog Biometric Pistol Vault


Bulldog’s pistol safe has features aplenty. You not only get quick access when you need it, thanks to the one-swipe biometric lock, but you’ll be able to see the contents of your safe thanks to a 20-second interior LED light. The finger pad is programmable for more than 25 fingerprints. There is a low voltage alarm, a spring-loaded access door, a hidden security key override for emergency entry and an external backup battery box. The safe is built with a recessed, pry-proof door and two ¾-inch steel locking bolts. Mounting holes are pre-drilled and mounting hardware is included. MSRP: $247


The GunBox


Thieves might look right past The GunBox if they make it into your home when you aren’t there. If they do see it, don’t fret. The Premier version comes with a built-in GPS tracking device and available 24/7 monitoring to help you recover what belongs to you. It also comes with an internal motion sensor and audible alarm. Access is through a 360-degree biometric fingerprint scanner (with multiple fingerprint programmability) or an RFID wristband or available RFID ring. Mounting holes allow for unlimited mounting orientation. The GunBox Premier also has two USB ports. MSRP: $499


Barska Biometric Wall Safe


Is there a better way to hide things than by keeping them in a safe? Barksa’s wall safe not only allows you to hide your belongings, it also allows you to hide your safe. Designed to mount between wall studs, this handy safe can be hidden behind your Velvet Elvis poster or a piece of furniture. The biometric lock can be programmed for 120 fingerprints and opens with a quick swipe of a fingertip, giving you quick access to your favorite home defense handgun. The safe comes with pre-drilled mounting holes, a set of emergency keys, two removable shelves and a padded floor to protect your most valuable assets. MSRP: $199


Stack-On Biometric Super-Size Safe


Sometimes, bigger is better. Stack-On’s Super-Size biometric safe has more than enough room for a couple of handguns and your most important documents. It’s about 20 inches tall, 12 inches deep and 14 inches wide and includes two removable padded steel shelves. The biometric finger-touch pad is lighted to help you find the mark without fumbling in the dark. The solid steel door has concealed hinges and two pry-resistant locking bolts. The touch pad is programmable for up to 32 fingerprints, and it comes with a back-up key, pre-drilled mounting holes and mounting hardware. MSRP: $199


Editor's Note: This article appeared in the August 2015 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

Affordable Accuracy: Ruger American Review

The Burris Eliminator III scope matched with the Ruger American Rifle is an excellent combo for hunters and shooters who need to take long shots in open country. Author Photo
The Burris Eliminator III scope matched with the Ruger American Rifle is an excellent combo for hunters and shooters who need to take long shots in open country. Author Photo

With a name as iconic as the company that makes it, this Ruger rifle’s blend of features and value are making it a quick favorite among sportsmen from sea to shining sea.

The Ruger American Rifle, Standard Model.
The Ruger American Rifle, Standard Model.

Blame it on the lagging economy or on the realization by hunters that high-dollar rifles don’t kill game any deader than low-cost models. Whatever the reason, one thing has become certain in the firearms industry: Consumers want reliable, accurate guns at an affordable price. In 2011, Ruger realized they were missing a significant segment of the hunting community that was more concerned with function over form.

Find Out More About Ruger Firearms

To catch up with that trend, Ruger assigned three engineers experienced in the firearms industry the task of designing a totally new rifle with a handful of simple ingredients: accuracy, reliability, a good trigger, a smooth bolt, a stylish appearance and an affordable price.

Ruger American Review

In just 10 months, the three men and their design teams took the Ruger American Rifle from concept to production. But just as a low price tag doesn’t necessarily mean a loss in quality, a fast design-to-production track doesn’t translate to a poor product. Each component of the rifle was carefully analyzed and tested before it was incorporated into the rifle as a whole. The engineers then put the rifle through the ringer before it was given a final stamp of approval.

Using a Ruger American Rifle in .308, the author shot MOA groups at 100 yards and banged 9-inch steel plates all the way out to 600 yards. Author Photo
Using a Ruger American Rifle in .308, the author shot MOA groups at 100 yards and banged 9-inch steel plates all the way out to 600 yards. Author Photo

The American isn’t just another production gun that fills a price niche. This rifle is a solid, comfortable shooter. Combining a trigger adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds of pull with Ruger’s own free-floating barrel design, the American is dead-on accurate with MOA groups.

The patented bedding system includes two cast stainless steel V-blocks molded into the stock and steel screws that secure the action to the stock. The trigger also incorporates a safety blade that prevents the gun from firing unless the blade is depressed. Ruger’s engineers also put the gun through various safety tests, including a drop test.

Ruger didn’t cut corners on the synthetic stock, either. The company combined style and function with a sculpted and serrated forend and a deeply notched grip for a comfortable, secure fit at the range or in the woods. A soft, squishy recoil pad takes the punch out of the heaviest loads. At first, the gun was only available in four of the most popular calibers, including .243, .270, .308 and .30-06, but demand from consumers coaxed the company into adding a .22-250 and 7mm-08 versions. Ruger also expanded the caliber choices by adding a .223.

Accurate, Reliable

After putting a Ruger American Rifle chambered in .308 to the test, it’s clear the engineers who designed this gun succeeded in producing a high-quality product at a reasonable price. The rifle performed flawlessly with each of several hundred rounds I put through it in four days of rough-and-tumble testing, including rapid-fire drills and toting the rifle across the rugged Texas Hill Country strapped to the front of a Yamaha ATV. The American functioned perfectly even after it had been covered in a thick layer of limestone dust.

The bolt, which has a short 70-degree throw and three lugs, was fluid. It required little effort to cycle a new shell, an important feature for quick follow-up shots, thanks in part to dual cocking cams. The flush, detachable, four-round rotary box magazine snapped in and out quickly and quietly and the trigger was smooth, crisp and consistent. I shot minute-of-angle groups at 100 yards and dinged 9-inch steel plates at distances out to 600 yards with ease. If I missed, it certainly wasn’t the gun’s fault.

The Ruger American Rifle Predator.
The Ruger American Rifle Predator.

More Choices

It didn’t take long for the gunmaker to realize they not only had a hit on their hands, but that they needed to expand the line-up beyond the standard right-handed bolt-action rifle and seven caliber options.

“People kept telling us how much they loved the American rifle, but that they wanted the same features available in the original model in other configurations, too,” said Ruger spokesman Mark Gurney. “So our engineers and marketing departments went to work and came up with several new models to meet current consumer demand.”

The line-up now includes a number of rifles suited for a variety of niches. The American Compact, for example, is ideal for small-framed shooters like women and children. It’s basically the same model as the original American, but it has a shorter 18-inch barrel and a shorter length-of-pull (12.5 inches) and an overall length of 36.75 inches. It’s available in such kid-friendly calibers as .223, .243 and .22-250.

It also comes in 7mm-08 and .308, making it a great all-purpose rifle for most hunting.
Hunters and shooters who don’t mind a little rain, snow or sleet will be pleased to find the new American All-Weather in the line-up, as well.

It comes with the standard weatherproof, lightweight composite stock, but it also has a matte stainless steel barrel and bolt that resist rust. Die-hard hunters will certainly love this model, which also comes in a compact version. The All-Weather is available in seven popular calibers.

Arguably, the most unique configuration is the American Ranch model. It’s the ideal rifle to leave in your truck’s gun rack as you take care of chores on your land. The Ranch has a total length of just 34.75 inches and a petite 16.12-inch barrel. It’s available in 5.56 NATO and .300 Blackout. The tough, lightweight composite stock is flat dark earth, making it a great predator gun, a great plinking rifle or a superb tool to protect your livestock.

Ruger American Review. The American Predator is similar to the Ranch, but it has a 22-inch barrel, a moss green composite stock and six caliber choices, including some of the best cartridges on the market for large and small predators alike. It’s available in .204 Ruger, .22-250, .223, .243, 6.5 Creedmoor and .308. The Predator and Ranch come with an attached solid aluminum scope rail.

Ruger didn’t ignore a small but important part of the shooting population: left-handers. Many gun manufacturers do offer left-handed versions of their major rifle models, but there are few options in the same price range as the American. The left-hand version comes in seven popular cartridges and is priced the same as the right-handed model.

If those choices aren’t enough to satisfy even the most demanding shooter’s thirst for variety, consider the final offering in the American line-up: a rimfire model available in .22 LR, .22 Mag and .17 HMR. The American Rimfire is available in a standard size and a compact model, which has an 18-inch barrel and a 12.5-inch length-of-pull. The overall length is 35.75 inches. Both versions of the Rimfire come with two stock modules, giving shooters the freedom to easily adjust the cheek height.

Not The Same Rifle

Unlike many of its competitors’ low-cost models, the various configurations of the Ruger American Rifle aren’t corner-cut versions of the company’s current line-up. Instead, the American is its own rifle, completely different than Ruger’s flagship bolt-action rifle, the Hawkeye. It includes a sliding, two-position tang safety that allows the action to open with the safety in the “on” position.

Ruger also included Weaver single-slot mounting bases on the initial American model and a new, simplified bolt release. Other models also include single-slot mounting bases, although the Predator and the Ranch come with a factory-installed aluminum rail mount.

The American is also now available with a factory-installed, bore-sighted 3-9 Redfield Revolution scope. The complete rifle/scope package retails for just $679. That’s less than many rifle models that shoot, no better than the American.

True to its name, the American Rifle is made in the USA, from parts to assembly. It’s not just a good starter rifle, it’s a good one to add to any gun safe and an even better one to take to the woods. You won’t have to worry about scratching the stock or getting it dirty when hunting in rough terrain. And you won’t have to worry if the bullet will find its mark. Isn’t that everything you need from a rifle?

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Photo Gallery: 16 New 2015 Rifles Roundup

From easy handling, far-shooting bolt-guns for hunters, to the latest AR-style tactical guns, manufacturers didn't disappoint with these 16 new 2015 rifles introduced at this year's SHOT Show.

You might think there’s nothing left to prove in the hunting rifle universe. What could gun makers offer that isn’t already available? This year’s Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, held in Las Vegas in January, proved that gun manufacturers always manage come up with new, exciting guns that you didn’t know you needed. A few put forth new or improved versions of existing models; others introduced completely new and innovative rifles. Here’s a look at what’s new in the hunting rifle world.

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Find More New Rifles in the Gun Digest Annual Book:

Gun Digest 2015Gun Digest 2015
Gun Digest 2014
Gun Digest 2013
1944-2013 3-Disc Gun Digest Digital Library

Photo Gallery: New ARs of 2014 Round Up

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Gun Digest Shooter's Guide 2014This photo gallery of new ARs is an excerpt from the Gun Digest Shooter's Guide 2014, available for instant download right here!

Becoming a Better Marksman at Shooting School

shooting school
Professional instruction can benefit new and experienced shooters alike.

Gun schools aren’t just for experienced shooters.

Arizona’s Gunsite Academy, the largest and most famous shooting school in the country, teaches shooters with skill levels ranging from expert to absolute beginner. Classes include everything from basic handgun instruction to advanced tactical and defensive shooting, wing shooting, long-range rifle shooting and tactical shotgun shooting.

“We get quite a few students that have never fired a gun,” says Gunsite Academy training director Dave Starin. “About a third of our students are beginners, a third have some experience and the rest are skilled shooters, often with a military or law enforcement background. We offer training that matches the skill level of the shooter and then we help them become better.”

Tim Fallon – owner of Sportsmen’s All-Weather, All-Terrain Marksmanship School held at FTW Ranch in Barksdale, Texas – instructs shooters who share similar experience levels.

“We have a lot of shooters who are avid hunters but who may not have the opportunity to shoot much,” he says. “We help improve their abilities by reinforcing good techniques and changing bad habits.”

Fallon likes to call it the perfection of the fine art of shooting. He and his instructors analyze everything from the way a shooter grips the gun and squeezes the trigger to the follow-through after they take a shot. All of those things, and many more, play a major role in shot placement.

“One-thousandth of an inch movement at the muzzle equals a sixteenth of an inch at one hundred yards. If you multiply that by just a tiny fraction, you can see how the slightest movement of the muzzle can translate to a poor shot at three or four hundred yards,” he explains.

Class In Session

Missing isn’t just a result of bad form, though. A number of factors besides the guy behind the gun contribute to poor shot placement. Some guns just don’t like certain bullets or loads, and even the most skilled shooters may not fully grasp the intricate details of ballistics. That’s why the best schools include a little classroom time.

Instructors typically cover everything from basic marksmanship and safety to ballistics and the intricate functions of a scope. Each day is a progression of lessons that helps participants improve one step at a time.

The classroom instructors are typically the range instructors, who not only know how to shoot, but how to teach. They tend to be ex-military or law enforcement with lots of experience as instructors.

Fallon’s lead instructor is a retired Navy SEAL sniper, and Gunsite’s teachers not only taught shooting in their past lives, they have undergone extensive training themselves. The best teachers not only know guns and shooting, they have good people skills, too, and know when to push their students and when to use a different approach.

Don’t Forget the Fun

Shooting school
Self defense and hunting scenarios are among the most popular at shooting schools.

If you can drill a bull’s-eye at 100 yards and shoot sub-minute-of-angle groups at twice that distance, you may not need someone to tell you how to shoot better than you are already. But in some ways, Fallon’s classes and other, similarly intense instructional seminars aren’t necessarily about becoming a better shooter. They’re about having fun.

Where else can you test your ability out to 500, 600 even 1,000 yards? The best schools have multiple ranges with a variety of targets scattered throughout challenging, even intimidating topography.

You can’t have too much fun, though, at least not if you measure fun by the number of times you squeeze the trigger. Gunsite’s students will burn through upwards of 1,000 rounds in some five-day sessions, but Fallon typically limits his shooters to three or four boxes of ammo per day.

Depending on the group, he might turn a range session into a game, pitting shooters against each other in speed drills, accuracy contests and distance shoot-offs. In the end, though, it’s all about combining fun with improving your ability to defend yourself, break more clay pigeons or hit a target every time you pull the trigger, even a steel plate over a half-mile away.

Cool Schools for Shooters

Whether it’s long distance with a rifle, up close with a handgun or swinging at flying targets with a shotgun, the following schools offer a fun, exciting way to spend a few days improving marksmanship skills that will last a lifetime. Heck, the skills you learn could even safe your life someday ensuring that lifetime lasts a little longer.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 7, 2013 edition of Gun Digest the Magazine.

Photo Gallery: 10 Hot New ARs from SHOT Show 2014

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Recommended AR-15 Resources

AR-15 Series

Thinking about buying an AR-15 or decking yours out with all the bells and whistles? Then you need the Gun Digest Book of the AR-15 Series Set! Author and gunsmith Patrick Sweeney gives you an in depth look at the modern sporting rifle, helping you get a grasp on all of the AR's iterations, accessories and advancements. Make sure you get everything you want out of your AR-15 with this series. For more resources on guns, shooting and gun collecting check out GunDigestStore.com.

SHOT Show 2014: Bering Night Vision Attachment

Bering Optics Night Probe
Bering Optics Night Probe
Instead of dropping several thousand dollars on a night-vision scope, check out Bering Optics’ new Night Probe, an attachment that converts almost any daytime scope into a night-vision scope.

It fits directly into the end of scopes with an objective between 30 and 60 millimeters and stays in place with a simple clamp. It also works on spotting scopes, video cameras and even binoculars. There’s no remounting or re-zeroing your optics before you head out for a night hunt.

Bering’s night vision is the perfect tool for hunters who chase predators and hogs when they are most active and most vulnerable without changing scopes or guns. It’s also adds an entirely new dimension to your shooting fun.  

The Night Probe comes with five fitting rings and four inserts for use with almost any scope. It uses Gen 2 + technology and has a detection range of up to 275 yards. It’s about 10 ½ inches long and weighs 18 ounces and a has a battery life of up to 60 hours. The MSRP on the unit is $1949. Check out Bering Optics or follow them on Twitter @BeringOptics or on Facebook.

Recommended Rifle Resources

Gun Digest Shooter's Guide to RiflesGun Digest Shooter's Guide to Rifles

Gun Digest Book of Long-Range Shooting

Gunsmithing: Rifles

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SHOT Show 2014: Caldwell AR-15 Mag Charger

Caldwell AR-15 Mag Charger
Caldwell AR-15 Mag Charger

It’s all fun and games until your magazine runs dry.

Thanks to Caldwell’s new AR-15 Mag Charger, you can get back to the fun faster than ever, as in a full 30-round magazine in just seconds. Simply drop a 50-round box of .223, 5.56 or .204 ammo into the Mag Charger, snap a magazine into the slot and push, push, push the plunger.

Each stroke dumps five rounds into you magazine. It’s as simple as that.

The Mag Charger is compatible with all AR platform magazines in both mil spec and molded plastic and works on magazines of all sizes, including drum-type magazines. You don’t even have to touch a single round. No more shredded finger tips from sharp magazine edges. The Mag Charger is made of tough polycarbonate plastic. Check it out!

Recommended AR-15 Resources

AR-15 Series

Thinking about buying an AR-15 or decking yours out with all the bells and whistles? Then you need the Gun Digest Book of the AR-15 Series Set! Author and gunsmith Patrick Sweeney gives you an in depth look at the modern sporting rifle, helping you get a grasp on all of the AR's iterations, accessories and advancements. Make sure you get everything you want out of your AR-15 with this series. For more resources on guns, shooting and gun collecting check out GunDigestStore.com.