Early in 2016, American Rifleman staffers were discussing that year's Golden Bullseye winners, which highlight some of the big news out from that year. Our Rifle of the Year was the Ruger Precision Rifle. The Handgun of the Year was the SIG Sauer P320, and the Shotgun of the Year award went to the Benelli 828U.
Other winners included the Swarovski Z6 for Optic of the Year, Hornady ELD-X for Ammunition of the Year, and the CMMG Mk47 Mutant for Tactical Gun of the Year. The LaserLyte Training Tyme target won Accessory of the Year, and the Mossberg FLEX 20-ga. shotgun won Women's Innovation Product of the Year.
Of course, all of these winners represented products that were released in 2014 or 2015 to merit consideration for the American Rifleman Golden Bullseye Award. So, what did we see early in 2016 that was truly new?
New Guns & Gear
Kimber shocked the gun world by departing from its usual trend of 1911-style handguns with an all-new line of revolvers in the form of the Kimber K6s. These .357 Mag. wheelguns featured short, snub-nose barrels and six-round cylinders with milled, flat faces that reduced the overall width of the revolver, making them easy to conceal. The first guns were released in double-action-only configuration, but Kimber has expanded its lineup in recent years to included DA/SA models, along with guns that feature longer barrels for target work.
In 2016, we also saw an all-new configuration from Springfield Armory, which rolled out its M1A SOCOM 16 CQB rifle. This short, 16"-barreled semi-automatic was a tactical take on the company's popular line of M1As, a semi-automatic-only configuration of the classic military M14. Of course, Springfield continues to build out its M1A rifle lineup in the current day, and one of the latest models in the M1A collection is the all-new Tanker, which provides the same 16" barrel length but with a traditional wood stock versus the polymer-stocked SOCOM.
Finally, the firearm industry saw a few unique offerings in the optic-ready world. SIG introduced its P320RX, and Glock rolled out MOS models in G17 and G19 configurations. Four years ago, firearm enthusiasts finally started seeing a march toward optic-ready handguns, and that trend has only increased in the last four years.
The big news in 2016, apart from the record gun sales, was the ammunition shortage. Nobody seemed to be able to get their hands on a decent quantity of .22 LR, and even bulk quantities of popular calibers in 9 mm Luger, .45 ACP and the still-popular .40 S&W were hard to come by. SIG Sauer opened its new plant in Arkansas, and Remington spent $12 million to expand its ammunition facility in Lonoke, Ark. Winchester came out with an affordable line of steel-cased ammo called "Forged," which was first available in 9 mm Luger.
Overall, it was clear in early 2016 that there were some emerging trends that continue to influence the market today. Affordable long-range precision rifles, spurred by the launch of the Ruger Precision Rifle, were on the way, and red-dot-equipped handguns were already starting to emerge in the form of the SIG Sauer P320RX and MOS models from Glock. In 2020, there are an incredible number of optic-ready handguns on the market, and almost every major manufacturer has some kind of model with a milled slide.
What will we be talking about on Feb. 29, 2024? Only time will tell.