Best youth gun | XT-22 Youth Series
Kids face an uphill battle when learning to shoot with adult-sized rifles. Marlin has mitigated that concern with its new series of .22s. Featuring a shorter stock, smaller grip and raised comb, the XT-22 Youth is designed to fit a smaller frame. It’s capable of handling .22 shorts, longs and long-rifle cartridges and has a fully adjustable trigger. And when your child grows, you can simply swap out the stock for a full-size version.
More information: Marlin Firearms
Best compact rifle | Model 70 Featherweight Compact
Designed with smaller shooters in mind, the Featherweight Compact is big on features, including controlled round feeding, three-position safety and Winchester’s M.O.A. adjustable trigger system. At 6 1/2 pounds with a 20-inch barrel and walnut stock, a 13-inch length of pull and a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad, it’s a natural fit for those with smaller frames. It’s available in .22-250 Rem, 243 Win, 7mm-08 Rem and .308 Win.
More information: Winchester Repeating Arms
Best bolt-action rifle | Vanguard S2
A fully adjustable trigger system is just one of the many upgrades in the new Vanguard S2. Guaranteed to shoot a three-shot group of less than one inch at 100 yards, the rifle features a 24-inch barrel and a three-position safety. Though it uses all-new synthetic stock materials, the S2 still has a traditional Weatherby design, and is available in 15 calibres, from .22-250 up to .300 WSM, including the classic .257 and .300 Weatherby cartridges. At an affordable price, this could just be the answer for any hunter who’s always wanted to own a Weatherby.
More information: Weatherby
Best all-weather rifle | Venture with Weather Shield
Demonstrated to be 50 times more corrosion resistant than stainless steel, Thompson/Center has introduced the Weather Shield finish to its popular Venture rifle, making it ideal for the tough climate Canadian hunters regularly face. The moulded grip panels on the butt- and forestock, and the removable box magazine, also make it easier to handle in cold and wet weather. It’s available in seven popular calibres, from .22-250 up to .300 Win. Mag.
Best auto-loading shotgun | Versa Max
With a new gas-operating system, the Versa Max is designed for the hunter who wants one shotgun to do it all, effortlessly cycling everything from the lightest 2 3/4-inch target loads to the heaviest 3 1/2-inch magnums. All exposed metal parts in this 12-gauge, 28-inch-barrelled autoloader are coated to withstand harsh conditions, and an enlarged trigger guard makes firing with gloves a snap. The stock is fully adjustable. Remington describes it as the softest-shooting semi-auto on the market, reducing felt recoil to that of a 20-gauge.
Best muzzleloader | Pursuit Ultralight
Billed as the lightest muzzleloader in the world—tipping the scales at a mere 5.15 pounds—the Pursuit Ultralight is an ideal choice for those hunts where every extra ounce counts. This mid-level .50-calibre break-action frontstuffer comes with the myriad features you’d expect from Traditions, from the 16-inch fluted chromoly barrel to fibre optic sights. It’s even available with a thumbhole stock for those so inclined.
Traditions Performance Firearms
Best slug gun | A-Bolt Shotgun
Featuring the 60-degree bolt throw that helps define all Browning A-bolts, this fully rifled 12-gauge slug gun features a 22-inch barrel, three-inch chamber and detachable magazine box. Stocks are available in your choice of satin finish walnut, or composite in black or Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity. All models come with adjustable rear sight and fibre optic front sight, and are tapped and drilled for mounting a scope. Browning promises you can expect
1 1/2-inch groups or better at 100 yards.
More information: Browning
2011's best guns
Some of the new products are just arriving on the Canadian market. For suggested retail prices and details on availability, please contact the respective manufacturers.