Traveling for work lost some of the allure it brought 30 years ago. But I still look forward to the annual Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous each October. One of my assignments was to sift through hundreds of new products to find the best new hunting guns and gear that’ll show up on dealers’ shelves in 2023.
Best New Hunting Guns & Gear
Mossberg 7mm PRC Patriot Predator
Mossberg just added a 7mm PRC in their Patriot Predator lineup of bolt-action rifles. After Rendezvous, I was fortunate to get my hands on one for some in-depth evaluation. It didn’t disappoint. The 7mm PRC is the perfect “match” for Mossberg’s purpose-built, suppressor-ready Patriot Predator platform. Two synthetic-stocked models are available with 24-inch barrel length and 1:8 twist rate to maximize the performance of the 7mm PRC cartridge.
The Patriot Predator bolt-action is based on Mossberg’s proven twin-lug, push-feed machined-steel action, fed from a flush polymer magazine. The free-floating, carbon steel barrel is threaded (5/8”-24 threads per inch) for ease of adding a suppressor or muzzle brake. It includes a protective thread cap; has a 11-degree match crown; and is fluted. For the addition of optics, the Patriot Predator is equipped with a receiver-mounted Picatinny rail. Patriot rifles feature Mossberg’s patented LBA (Lightning Bolt Action) user-adjustable trigger with a 2- to 7-pound range of adjustment for consistent shot placement. Rounding out this full-featured rifle is an oversized bolt handle, spiral-fluted bolt and sling swivel studs.
Stock options include a Flat Dark Earth stock with matte blue metal finish, or a TrueTimber Strata camouflaged stock with complementing Patriot Brown Cerakote metal finish. MSRP: $519-$616
Digging deeper, this rifle comes hunt-ready. Range work showed that it could print MOA or better five-shot groups with either Hornady’s ELD-X hunting loads or ELD-Match ammo. I was able to mount a Silencer Central Banish-30 suppressor and an optic. It proved to be a dream to shoot. Recoil was amazingly light for a cartridge that’s got enough “whomp” to down a big bull elk or bear.
This rifle is such a well-built rig that my recoil-sensitive wife enjoys shooting it. She was able to connect on a good buck with the Mossberg. (mossberg.com)
Smith & Wesson Model 350
Delivering maximum power for avid handgun hunters, Smith & Wesson engineers created the massive X-Frame. This foundation serves as the basic design for the most powerful production revolver, the S&W500 Magnum. The latest model built on the Smith & Wesson X-Frame is the M350 Legend. This is the first production revolver to shoot the efficiently designed .350 Legend cartridge.
The first feature that stands out with this revolver is its seven-shot capacity. The cylinder is fluted, and the pistol comes with two moon clips to facilitate spent case extraction. Once you pick up an M350, the heft can’t be ignored.
Empty, it tips the scales at 71 ]½ ounces. At the muzzle, the M350 sports a large port on top to help muzzle rise. Just aft of the port, the barrel sports a red ramp front sight. In between the front and rear adjustable sight is a substantial barrel rib. The 7½-inch barrel is rifled with a 1:16-inch twist rate, too. The cylinder, barrel and frame are stainless steel with a satin finish. The grips are a recoil-absorbing synthetic rubber. (smith-wesson.com)
Taurus Raging Hunter
A fun and effective alternative for short- to medium-range hunting scenarios, this five-shot revolver is chambered in 460 S&W Magnum and is available in matte black or two-tone finish. Its revolutionary angular barrel design cuts down on overall weight. Meanwhile, its factory-tuned porting and gas expansion chamber reduces muzzle lift for quicker target acquisition. Cushioned insert grips ensure a comfortable, controllable shooting experience.
The Raging Hunter models have been around for a couple of years. But the newest version in .460 S&W is noticeably different in looks and performance. As others can attest, this pistol firing this powerful cartridge can be punishing. To tame recoil, Taurus will be offering a 10-inch barreled model with a mini-arrowhead brake. The added recoil reduction makes this hand cannon a dream to shoot.
The capacity for this magnum is five rounds. It’s got a fixed front sight and adjustable rear sight. The barrel shroud also offers a top Picatinny rail for scope mounting and a bottom Pic rail for bipod attachment.
Attesting to this SA/DA revolver’s handling of very powerful cartridges, it offers a Dual Lockup Cylinder. The barrel is stainless steel with a 1:20-inch RH twist. Frame cylinder material is alloy steel, with the cylinder getting a black oxide finish. The barrel shroud comes in black anodized aluminum. (taurususa.com)
Sightmark Presidio LR2 Scope
Offering a wide magnification range for close to mid-range shooting, the Presidio 3-18×50 combines elite performance and value. The Presidio 3-18x features a first focal plane reticle calibrated for a maximum caliber of .338. A lighted red reticle contrasts well for low-light shooting. Packed with multi-coated optics, its capped low-profile turrets produce clear, audible clicks and feature aggressive exterior knurling to add a distinct tactile feel to give shooters greater confidence when adjusting their windage and elevation. With built-in zero stops and a single piece 30mm tube and aircraft grade aluminum construction, the Presidio also offers waterproofing and dust-proofing features. The Presidio is ideal for a variety of firearms, including ARs and bolt-action rifles. (sightmark.com)
Designed by Dallas SWAT Officers, the Kopfjager K800 Tripod and Reaper Grip Kit comprise the perfect, lightweight, shooting accessories to improve stability, enhance accuracy and eliminate fatigue for LEO’s, hunters and competitive shooters alike. Weighing in at just 3.5 pounds, the K800 Tripod utilizes a lightweight carbon-fiber composite and features four-level leg extensions with twist-locking rings. The Reaper Grip boasts an adjustable, pivoting grip designed to accommodate both tapered and straight stocks and chassis without allowing recoil movement. The Kopfjager K800 Tripod and Reaper Grip Kit provide 360-degree smooth pan and a tilt range of 109 degrees (21 up and 87 down), built to handle harsh environments. (kjrests.com)
Silencer Central Banish Backcountry
The entire Banish lineup prides itself on being quiet and lightweight, but the Backcountry takes things to a different level. It provides the same unmatched sound suppression and durable titanium construction as the flagship Banish 30 suppressor in a shorter, lighter package.
The Backcountry is a fixed-length suppressor that measures 5.7 inches in length and weighs just 7.8 ounces. That’s a full 1.3 inches shorter and 2.2 ounces lighter than the Banish 30 in its short configuration.
Rated for calibers up to the .300 Remington Ultra Magnum (RUM), the Banish Backcountry utilizes six baffles that drop the decibel level down to 135 dB for .308 Winchester, 137 dB for .300 Win Mag, and 138 dB for .300 RUM. (silencercentral.com)
Hornady 7mm PRC
Even though I unleashed some 7mm PRC at Athlon’s Rendezvous, it wasn’t the first time I got to uncork some rounds with this new cartridge. I’ve become a fan of Hornady’s cartridge designers over the years, and could fill several 5-gallon buckets with spent brass from the PRC family of cartridges.
The 7mm PRC takes power up a notch in comparison to the 6.5 PRC, and it produces only a smidge more recoil. The biggest benefit to a rifle chambering this new round comes in the design to shoot heavy-for-caliber, high-BC projectiles. In comparison to the old 7mm Rem Mag, the PRC in this caliber will deliver heavier bullets faster. Compared to some recent cartridges that are similar in performance, the 7mm PRC is a lot less punishing for the shooter in comparable-weight rifles. (hornady.com)
SilencerCo Harvester Evo Suppressor
Accommodating calibers ranging from .223 REM to .300 WIN, the SilencerCo’s Harvester EVO is the ideal suppressor for .30-caliber bolt-guns and rifles. Consumer feedback on the previous Harvester models led SilencerCo engineers to make the EVO shorter, lighter, more affordable and ready to go right out of the box.
“The most impressive phenomenon of the Harvester EVO is its lightweight nature despite being created from rugged, hard-use materials,” said SilencerCo Senior Product Development Specialist, Dewie Vieira. “Weighing just 10.8 ounces, it is constructed of 17-4 heat treated stainless steel, Inconel and cobalt 6 with a tubeless design. This gives the EVO an edge over other hunting suppressors.” This can measures just 6.24 inches in length, and its $680 suggested retail is rather attention getting, too. (silencerco.com)
Steiner Predator 8 2-16×42
The Predator 8 is the most versatile and precise line of hunting optics ever made by the company, Steiner claims. It features a powerful 8x system. An integrated customizable ballistic turret allows shooters to reliably dial for bullet drop, and three different numbered, movable rings can be set to custom distances for quick dialing. Audible and tactile turret mechanics provide sure, intuitive operation, and a Zero Mode means shooters can quickly get back to zero without coming off the optic.
A wide field of view and high-contrast lens coatings ensure fast, brilliant, and crisp images with high edge-to-edge sharpness and outstanding detail recognition. Users will not lose accuracy on dark targets or in low light with illuminated reticle options with 11 brightness settings.
The Predator 8 2-16×42 is the lightest and most compact of the lineup and includes a rear focal plane E3 Ballistic reticle, with cascading subtensions and windage dots to help with tricky holdovers. MSRP: $2,069.99. (steiner-optics.com)