American Legacy Firearms founder Steve Faler has been in the firearm industry for more than 35 years, has sold more than a million guns and plans to donate $1 million to NRA by 2013. To meet this goal, American Legacy has rolled out an NRA special-edition rifle that celebrates the American hunting tradition. The Fort Collins, Colo.-based company was founded in 2004, but it was at a 2009 Friends of NRA banquet that its fundraising mission began. At the event, Faler and his partner, Warren Hanson, asked NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre for permission to design, market and sell a special-edition pistol and donate a portion of the proceeds to NRA. The idea was approved, and the result came in 2011 with the NRA Auto-Ordnance M1911. The pistol's engravings commemorate the 100th anniversary of John M. Browning's M1911 and honor the men and women who have served the United States for the past 100 years.
The top of the slide is boldly imprinted with "NRA" and the left-hand stock is customized with the name of a state scrolled above "National Rifle Association" and an identification number scrolled below. Only 100 pistols are available for each state, and the additional identification number ensures that "Colorado, 54 of 100" (pictured) and every other NRA special edition is a unique handgun. Since their debut, the pistols have been a success and Faler was able to donate $250,000 to NRA in 2011, an investment that he considers a good first step. "My goal is to raise as much money for the Second Amendment and the NRA as possible," said Faler. "I ask myself, how can I help the NRA? That's why I make the special editions, and that's why I donate. [The NRA] needs that money, especially during these times," he added.
Determined to outdo last year's contribution, American Legacy Firearms has introduced another special-edition firearm, the NRA Hunting Tradition rifle. Based on the Mossberg 4X4, the American-made, bolt-action rifles are purchased wholesale and shipped to SWS Engraving in Hope, Ark., a plant owned and operated by Hanson. The American-walnut stocks are ornately engraved with wilderness scenes depicting a father and son sharing a hunt as well as popular North American big-game animals. The bottom of the fore-end is engraved with "National Rifle Association," and the illustration on the stock's right rear contains a scroll similar to those on the Auto-Ordnance M1911s with a state's name and an identification number. As with the pistols, there will be 100 rifles per state, and customers who purchased the NRA pistol will have the right of first refusal on the NRA rifle with matching state and identification number. The stock is finished with an extra-durable coating to protect the engraving during normal use. All metal parts, including the barrel and receiver, are buffed, blued, engraved and then plated in gold, nickel or blue, as the design dictates. The bolt is nickel-plated and then hand-jeweled.
Faler's choice of rifle to use for the Hunting Tradition was based on features and performance, and the Mossberg 4X4 Bolt Action had the right combination. Its fluted barrel is free-floated and has an effective muzzle brake, the stock is of nice American-walnut with weight-reducing cuts in the fore-end and a stout rubber recoil pad on the butt. Also featured is the Mossberg Lightning Bolt Action (LBA) single-stage, adjustable trigger system, one of the cleanest breaking triggers I've ever tested. Adjustable from 2 pounds to 7 pounds, the LBA incorporates a lever in the trigger blade that must be depressed before the trigger can be pulled. Although the rifle does not come with sights, it is drilled and tapped for bases of the same pattern as the Remington Model 700. The Hunting Tradition is available chambered for .25-'06 Rem., .270 Win., 7 mm Rem. Mag., .30-'06 Sprg., .300 Win. Mag. or .338 Win. Mag., and includes a detachable-box magazine-four-round capacity for standard cartridges or three-round capacity for the magnums.
Steve Faler and American Legacy Firearms have a mantra, "Life's too short to shoot an ugly gun!" With these words in mind, I packed up the Hunting Tradition evaluation rifle and took a trip to the range. It is important to note that, according to Faler, these NRA special-edition firearms are meant to be shot. While there is no doubt that many will be displayed or passed on to kids and grandkids, the Mossberg 4X4 and the Auto-Ordnance M1911 were chosen, in no small part, because they are proven shooters. For a reasonable fee, American Legacy will even repair and refinish the guns back to original quality, so owners should not be afraid to enjoy them for a few years before cleaning them up and passing them down.
While a complete evaluation was not conducted, I did send enough rounds downrange to be very satisfied with the results. The test rifle, chambered for 30-'06 Sprg., was topped with a BSA Majestic DX 4-16X 44 mm scope, and I used Nosler Custom Trophy Grade ammunition with 165-grain AccuBond bullets. My first impression of the rifle was that it felt light for its weight. Scoped, it weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces, and the LBA trigger broke crisply and consistently at 2 pounds, 4 ounces. Ten rounds over a chronograph at 10 feet produced an average velocity of 2,713 fps. For accuracy, I fired 10 consecutive, three-shot groups at 100 yards from a sandbag rest. The average group size was exactly 1 1/4 inches, and only one group was larger than 2 inches. During testing I encountered no failures or malfunctions.
The NRA special-edition firearms from American Legacy Firearms are unique, ornately engraved rifles and pistols designed to not only be aesthetically pleasing, but also functional and capable. As well, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of these guns is donated to NRA. With artwork celebrating our country's heroes and America's outdoor and hunting traditions, and sales directly contributing to the protection of the Second Amendment, there is little doubt that these firearms will be relevant and cherished for generations to come.
Price: NRA Hunting Tradition rifle, $1,795 (in fitted case, $1,995); NRA Auto Ordnance M1911 pistol in oak display case, $1,695. Full-color brochures are available.