Every year it seems we start looking sooner than ever for standouts amid all the gear produced annually by the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry. The past 12 months stand as testament to that. Indeed, the list we tabulated includes products covered as far back as 11 American Hunter print issues—such are the lengths we go to be sure no stone is left unturned in our spirited search, review and debate of the best of the best firearms, ammo and gear produced for hunters.
Golden Bullseye winners are selected by a seven-member committee from NRA Publications that represents more than a century of collective experience in the shooting and hunting industry. To qualify for consideration, a product must have been: recently introduced and available to consumers prior to nomination; used/tested by an NRA staff member or trusted contributor; reliable in the field, meeting the consumer’s expectations; innovative in design and function; readily perceived as a value to the consumer; styled in a manner befitting the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry and its enthusiasts.
2021 Hunting Handgun of the Year: Kimber KHX Custom (OI) 10mm Auto The 10mm Auto existed for years before hunters “rediscovered” it and ammo makers fueled the trend with several good hunting loads. Unlike other hunting-handgun cartridges, the 10mm Auto is designed for autoloading handguns—and to many American hunters that means “1911.” So it doesn’t take long for anyone to find the Kimber KHX Custom with its factory-installed Trijicon RMR red-dot sight (“OI” means optics installed). Anyone can argue this gun is made for self-defense, but any hunter will nod at the package and note that with an eight-round magazine it could be awesome for hogs and deer.
This is the company’s 5-inch 1911 with a Trijicon RMR … and the features multiply from there. It sports a match-grade stainless steel barrel and match-grade chamber, a 5.5-pound single-stage trigger pull weight, Hogue Magrip G-10 grip panels, a skeletonized trigger and hammer ... .
It's a sharp-looking package. The frame is coated in gray KimPro II, a dipped, baked-on, nano-particle finish. The slide stop, safety, magazine release, extractor, barrel bushing, cross-pins and grip safety all are black. The grips are green. Accenting all this are hex-shaped gripping dots on the slide. Weight is 38 ounces.
Yeah, it shoots, too. After breaking clays with it at 50 yards, our man noted it'd be great to take afield, especially with the Trijicon aboard. The KHX Custom (OI) is chambered in 10mm Auto, .45 ACP and 9mm. MSRP: $2,060; kimberamerica.com.