The Rifleman Report: Creative Minds At Work

by
posted on February 27, 2024
Hillberg patent drawing for the Wildey pistol
Hillberg patent drawing for the Wildey pistol.

As all of us who experience this “mortal coil” eventually learn, the days seem more fleeting with each passing year. For those of us who make a living observing and reporting about the firearm industry, they eventually result in a somewhat disorganized pile of memories about companies, products and the people who create them. Some become icons that engrave themselves onto our minds, becoming representative of a brand—even an entire product category.

For example, the name Kimber is synonymous with attractive, well-crafted firearms that often raise the bar within a particular market niche. And when it comes to feature-rich M1911-style handguns with cutting-edge aesthetic treatments, the company appears never to rest on its laurels. In “Re-Imagined Classic: The Kimber KDS9c,” Field Editor Justin Dyal not only comments on the gun’s external and internal characteristics, he puts it through its paces as only a professional trainer could. What we learn is that not only is the M1911 platform still alive and well, especially in its most recent double-stack incarnations, but that Kimber has no intention of giving up its position of leadership in that realm anytime soon.

I had encountered examples of the new Franchi Momentum All-Terrain Elite bolt-action rifle at industry trade shows and at events sponsored by the company and, because of its unique feature set, I simply couldn’t get the MATE out of my mind. Still, scheduling prevented me from taking one to the range; so, I did the next-best thing and enlisted the aid of a trusted contributor, Matt Robertson, to wring out the gun for us. I think his review, “A Worthy MATE: Franchi’s Momentum All-Terrain Elite,” confirms what I suspected about the new platform from the first time I saw it: It is a capable example of a new breed of general-purpose rifle—a subject I plan to write more about in the coming months.

With the establishment of Hornady’s 6.5 mm Creedmoor as possibly the most successful sporting cartridge launched within the past 15 years, there has been renewed interest in that particular metric bore diameter. So, we thought we would round up and highlight some of the other 6.5s to remind ourselves that the caliber has been a factor in militaries and in hunting fields for quite some time. Field Editor Aaron Carter, a dedicated hunter and handloader and a knowledgeable student of rifle cartridges, provides some helpful observations about the history and practicality of no less than 10 such chamberings in “Quick Hits On 10 Six-Five Cartridges.”

Many shooters familiar with the famous names attached to their firearms know little of the people who actually designed them. One such man, a true influencer, was Robert Hillberg. While I was already familiar with some of Hillberg’s work, I was nonetheless surprised to learn just how many pieces of firearm technology, and entire guns, he was instrumental in designing. Noted Ruger chronicler and American Rifleman contributor Don Findley gets the credit for gathering a raft of images and newspaper clippings on his subject from which the story “Remembering Gun Designer Robert Lee Hillberg” is drawn and seasons them with notes and sketches from the man himself.

Each of this month’s features illustrate that there are creative minds at work at firearm, ammunition and accessory companies pushing the boundaries of mechanics, ballistics and aesthetics so that every American citizen can fully enjoy the benefits of our precious Second Amendment. It is something we are reminded of every time we plan a monthly issue of American Rifleman magazine. In fact, it is the reason for our fascination with firearms—something we hope to never outlive.

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