The votes are in! We’ve counted the ballots, and we’re excited and impressed by you, the voters! Some of the races proved insanely tight, showing just how much you all cared and locked in on the best of the best that 2022 had to offer. But now the time is here, as we formally announce the best guns of 2022, as voted by you, our readership! So without further ado, we present the 2022 Ballistic’s Best Readers’ Choice Awards.
Ballistic’s Best Readers’ Choice 2022
Full-Size Semi-Auto Handgun: SIG Sauer P320 Spectre Comp
Two incredible companies here squared off in what proved to be an incredible battle. We should have expected no less from the very start, as these two blasters turned a lot of heads in 2022. Edging out the Springfield Armory XDM Elite 4.5 OSP by a mere 0.18 percent, the SIG Sauer P320 Spectre Comp takes top honors for full-size semi-auto. The P320 Spectre Comp claimed 21.67 percent of the voting in this category. The XDM Elite 4.5 OSP garnered 21.49 percent, while the Walther PDP Pro SD Full Size 4.5 received 17.39 percent, taking third place.
The P320 Spectre Comp becomes a rare repeat in this category. SIG took home top honors in the Readers’ Choice Full-Size Handgun with the P230 Max last year. This year’s P320 Spectre Comp brings race-ready features, most notably a compensator to keep it flat. The resulting ride promotes fast follow-up shots, at a blistering pace.
“The new P320 Spectre Comp is a compelling blend of both aesthetics and performance,” said reviewer Garrett Lucas in Ballistic’s Best. “Its signature feature is the user-removable, single-port compensator that puts in serious work to reduce muzzle flip and to help keep the shooter on target for faster follow-up shots.”
“Ergonomics, high-quality pistol, appearance, great weight/recoil management, and the 320 line never disappoints,” said one fan voter. “The P320 Spectre is the most versatile on the list,” said another reader. “You can change out the grip modules and barrel to make it a compact if needed.”
Compact Semi-Auto: Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro
Again, Springfield Armory and SIG Sauer finished 1-2, but this time Springfield took home the gold. The Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro (32.29 percent) outlasted the SIG Sauer P365X Macro (26.39 percent) to win best Compact Semi-Auto. Walther Arms again finished third, as the PDP F 3.5′ took home 15.19 percent of the vote.
The Hellcat Pro continues, at a very high level, the trend of cramming more 9mm firepower into a compact frame.
“Boasting a 15+1 flush-fit magazine, the Hellcat Pro provides shooters with a more controllable defense pistol,” wrote Mike Detty. “The longer slide and its mass help take a bite out of muzzle flip and combined with the longer grip frame make shooting hotter defense loads more manageable.”
“The ergonomics of this gun are so comfortable in my hand,” posted one reader. “It’s one less barrier I have to fight in my efforts to become a better shooter.”
Best 1911: Springfield Armory DS Prodigy
We had a lot of tight races in this year’s Ballistic’s Best Readers’ Choice. This one wasn’t one of them. Taking home 34.02 percent of the vote, the DS Prodigy marks a new era in the double-stack 1911/2011 platform. We just simply haven’t seen much true large-scale production in the double-stack 1911 arena. So for competitive shooters and EDC folks wanting more 9mm in a steel-framed gun, the DS Prodigy offers much.
“The new Prodigy 9mm, the first in our new family of 1911 double-stack pistols, takes everything that shooters love about the 1911 platform and enhances it with increased capacity and a host of performance features,” said Steve Kramer, Vice President of Marketing for Springfield Armory. “Combining cutting-edge capabilities with all the proven benefits of the 1911, the Prodigy is a must-have addition for any handgun enthusiast’s collection.”
Revolver: Colt 3″ Python
What’s old is new again, so they say. Well, Colt once ruled the day, and the company did so once again in this voting, rounding up a resounding 54.26 percent of the vote, and with good reason. The new Colt 3″ Python brings back a classic EDC gun, well executed like the days of old–maybe even better.
“In many respects, the new Python is a better gun than the old guns. It is stronger and less likely to shoot out of time, even with magnum loads,” wrote Mike Detty. “It possesses an outstanding double-action trigger pull and renowned Python accuracy. Its 3-inch barrel length, which is the perfect compromise between concealability, sight radius, and velocity, provides the shooter with a beautiful balance.”
Rimfire Handgun: Walther WMP
The rimfire handgun voting proved to be yet another one of our photo finishes. In the end, the Walther WMP (21.53) outlasted the SIG Sauer P322 (21.41). Well executed, the Walther WMP breaks some new ground, putting the .22 Magnum in a striker-fired package meant to carry.
“Keeping up with the times, the WMP ships optics-ready with two different adapter plates included for your preferred red dot to be placed atop the slide should you wish to forgo the iron sights,” wrote Barb Melloni. “Options for restrictive and non-restrictive states are available, as the WMP ships with your choice of either two 15-round or 10-round magazines.”
Tactical Shotgun: Beretta 1301 Tactical
Taking home 24.18 percent of the vote, the Beretta 1301 Tactical earned top honors in the Tactical Shotgun category. This is a feature-driven platform. When it comes to shotguns, Beretta doesn’t mess around. And now we’re getting tactical builds equal in meeting demands of the users, much like their over-under shotguns have continues a legacy lasting literally centuries.
“Ultimately, the Beretta 1301 was the hands-down winner,” wrote Travis Birney in Ballistic’s Best. “It was also the most expensive, but we had to look hard to find anything that wasn’t nearly perfect on the gun. Light recoil. Incredibly fast cycling. Reliable with any ammo. Oversize charging handle, safety and bolt release. Non-finger pinching lift gate. Ready for a sling and M-Lok for a light. Oversized, beveled, loading port. High-capacity magazine tube. Ghost-ring sights and comes with a Picatinny rail. If you asked four hardcore shotgun shooters to name every bell and whistle they would want on a tactical shotgun, this one has them all.
Best AR-15: Daniel Defense MK18 RIII
The Daniel Defense MK18 RIII took home a whole lot of hardware this year. Winning 22.90 percent of the vote, it also became our Readers’ Choice winner for 2022. As such, you can be sure this AR-15 variant comes packed with features and design upgrades.
“This rifle is a SOCOM-inspired blaster and is absolutely feature rich,” wrote Fred Mastison. “It is part of a new line that is primarily focused on a new and enhanced lower. This new design is completely ambidextrous. While there are others that make this claim, Daniel Defense has taken it to a whole new level.”
Bolt-Action Hunter: Christensen Arms Ridgeline FFT
Without a doubt, Christensen Arms has created a unique following, creating lightweight bolt guns designed to carry light and shoot far. They typically look as cool as the game you dream to chase, and our readers found themselves in love with the new Ridgeline FFT. It wins top honors in Bolt-Action Hunter with 21.47 percent of the vote.
“Utilizing the latest in carbon-fiber manufacturing, the Ridgeline FFT (Flash Forged Technology) weighs a pound less than previous models by introducing more weight-saving features such as an FFT carbon-fiber floor plate and bolt knob,” wrote Jay Langston. “The stylish paint scheme distinguishes the new model even further.”
“Christensen Arms makes some of the finest bolt guns on the market, and their Ridgeline FFT is a fantastic addition to their lineup,” wrote one voter.
Bolt-Action PRS: SIG Sauer Cross PRS
The SIG Sauer Cross PRS delivers an out-of-the-box competition-level bolt-gun capable of going the distance. Our readers really tapped into what this bad boy can do, giving it 44.32 percent of the vote to take the prize.
“The SIG Cross PRS has an MSRP of $2,500, which makes it eligible for production-class competition,” wrote Sean Utley. “That’s excellent because all it needs is an optic and a willing operator and it’s ready to go out of the box. While I love the more traditional style bolt-actions that we run, I also have a strong liking for the Cross. If it were available in a left-handed model, you’d be reading about a personal gun as opposed to a T&E unit.”
To see the entire testing protocol, complete with accuracy results and data, along with all the winners, check out the Ballistic’s Best 2022 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Get your copy at OutdoorGroupStore.com.