Manufacturers continually move the benchmark forward as they launch new products each year, which makes selecting the best of the best no easy task. To receive a prestigous NRA Golden Bullseye Award, a product must be field-tested and reported on in our magazines; be innovative; and it must provide shooters or hunters with genuine value for their money. If you attend the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Charlotte, N.C., in May, visit these manufacturer's booths to see firsthand whey their products won over the scrutinizing NRA Publications Selection Committee. This winners of the American Hunter 2010 Golden Bullesye Awards are:
Rifle of the Year: Savage 11FCNS with AccuStock and AccuTrigger
The Model 11 FCNS is the latest in a series of redesigned rifles to include the option of having Savage’s trademark AccuTrigger, and it adds the company’s revolutionary new AccuStock. The Savage obsession with accuracy continues with this hunting model, engineered in accordance with the company’s zero-tolerance attitude toward traits that hamper a rifleman’s ability to regularly punch the 10-ring, or the vital zone of game. The AccuStock impressed our staff with its ability to support the stock and cradle the action, creating enhanced and consistent accuracy for the shooter. Combined with the amazing AccuTrigger, the $600 Savage 11FCNS may be the most accurate out-of-the-box rifle at any price range. Certainly, it epitomizes the very essence of the Golden Bullseye award.
Shotgun of the Year: Browning Maxus
The Browning Maxus is the first 12-gauge 31/2-inch shotgun that reliably cycles the lightest 1-ounce target loads without adjustment. Its durability and reliability, as well as features and upgrades from the Browning Gold, make it perfect for serious waterfowlers. Its Power Drive Gas System improves cycling, while its Speed Load and Speed Unload features make this semi-auto user-friendly and fast-acting in a blind. The Maxus comes with a 26- or 28-inch barrel in blued or Mossy Oak Duck Blind camo finishes.
Muzzleloader of the Year: CVA Apex
This break-open, single-shot muzzleloader/rifle boasts no unique or groundbreaking parts over its popular competitors, but when we picked it up and pointed it, then shot it—and finally hunted with it—we realized CVA created something that is more than the mere sum of its parts. With its straight buttstock and trim, rubberized fore-end, it points more like a Ruger No. 1 rather than a clunky single-shot of old. Its frame houses a terrific adjustable trigger. A simple yet strong and intuitive trigger guard-mounted action lever makes the gun ambidextrous and easy to load. In muzzleloader form, its barrel comes with a Picatinny rail for mounting optics and a speedy breach system for easy cleaning. Currently nine different centerfire barrels are available, and each one—thanks to a premium-quality Bergara barrel—is extremely accurate. Add a .22 LR barrel and there is virtually nothing this rifle—and you—can’t hunt. All told, the Apex is versatile, functional, accurate and affordable, but to fully appreciate it, you’ll have to pick one up for yourself.
Ammunition Product of the Year: Hornady Superformance
Though Hornady already produces several excellent lines of ammunition, it put its ballisticians to work to produce an even harder-hitting round that doesn’t lose accuracy or ratchet up recoil—a pretty tall order. But Hornady’s rocket scientists did just that. By custom-blending advanced powders for specific cartridges, they increased efficiency. With Superformance, the shooter gets increased muzzle velocity by over 100 fps, while giving the shooter only a small increase in felt recoil, plus it has better accuracy performance than the Light Magnum line. And Hornady did all this without dramatically increasing prices. Superformance is available in .243 Win. through .458 Win. Mag. loaded with SST and GMX bullets. Hornady Superformance
Optic of the Year: Nikon Monarch African Series Riflescopes
Nikon has long had a well-deserved reputation for making high-quality optics. The new Monarch African scope series gives hunters a quality option to mount on their dangerous-game rifles. After working with eight professional hunters in Africa to develop a list of must-have qualities in a dangerous-game scope, Nikon came up with this versatile series. This rugged scope maintains brightness in low light, gives eye relief aplenty and maintains accuracy on hard-kicking rifles. Its large eyebox allows shooters to respond to fast action. Its German No. 4 style reticle draws the eye to the center and is available illuminated in red and green. It’s available in: a 1-inch 1X-4X-20mm, and a 30mm 1.1X-4X-24mm with or without illumination.
Gear of the Year: Sportsman’s Guide’s Guide Gear Climbing Stick And Tree Stand Combo
We believe this combination set of treestand gear offers hunters flexibility, portability, safety and value. The welded, all-steel construction of the folding, fixed-style treestand is strong but light enough for backpacking, and it will resist the elements for the duration of a season. It comes with a five-piece, 20-foot climbing stick, a safety belt and plenty of straps. We know serious deer hunters can never have too many treestands, and at $64 total, we think it’s one of Earth’s best bargains.
Vehicle of the Year: 2009 Dodge Ram
When we saw the Dodge Ram had been redesigned around the needs of its consumers, including sportsmen, we were intrigued. When we heard Dodge added a softer-feeling ride, better gas mileage and new styling without giving up any towing, offroad ability or load ratings, we were impressed. But what clinched the award for the Ram was the new RamBox cargo management system. These dry, lockable storage compartments provide the perfect spaces for your hunting gear and guns without compromising bed space. Its Hemi engine is also no joke and offers more torque and horsepower than previous models, yet boasts improved fuel economy. The new Ram is the complete package for a variety of truck consumers.
NRA Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award: Ronnie Barrett
As founder and CEO of Barrett Firearms Inc., Ronnie Barrett exemplifies the spirit of the Pioneer Award. After inventing the first shoulder-fired .50-caliber rifle in 1982 and founding his company, Ronnie Barrett has continued to blaze a trail of innovation, making his name synonymous with the power of the .50 caliber. Twenty-five years later, Barrett has an array of models, a new state-of-the-art headquarters and a slew of awards to back his product line. He also won a seat on the NRA’s Board of Directors in 2009. In recognition of his achievements, we’re pleased to recognize Ronnie Barrett as an industry pioneer.