Steyr SM 12
The newest Steyr bolt rifle, the SM 12 features the slim lines of early Mannlichers, but four-lug lock-up (a pair either side of the bolt face). The hammer-forged 22-inch barrel retains the signature visible twist at the breech. The tang switch is not a safety; it’s a cocking mechanism. So you can carry the rifle with a chambered cartridge safely. A couple of other European firms have such a device on double rifles and straight-pull bolt guns. But the Steyr switch is easier to operate with cold or weak hands. At just over 2 pounds, the trigger is light enough. But you can also set it for 12-ounce pull. The MS 12 walnut stock is conservatively contoured in European style. Checkering has been replaced by scaled panels. Chambered for 10 popular cartridges, .243 to .300, the 7 ¼-pound MS 12 comes with a detachable polymer magazine. Magnums with 24 ½-inch tubes are slightly heavier. The rifle’s front sight is adjustable for elevation, the rear for windage. The MS 12 lists for $3,200.
S&W M&P 10
The M&P (Military & Police) 10 is so new it didn’t make the Smith &Wesson 2013 catalog. The first large-frame rifle in the company’s growing AR stable, it comes in civilian and Law Enforcement (LE) form, at 8 and 7 3/4 pounds respectively. Both have 18-inch barrels of 4140 chrome-moly steel, with 1-in-10 5R rifling and Melonite finish, in and out. A fixed Magpul stock and heavier barrel mark the civilian version. The LE rifle has a lighter barrel, bumped up at the muzzle. It wears a flash-hider. Both rifles are “flat-tops” with same-height rails on receiver and gas block. Though S&W offers a gas-piston mechanism in some M&P 15s, it builds the M&P 10 on a direct-impingement mid-length system. Gas key, bolt carrier and firing pin are chrome plated. A five round magazine comes with the civilian version, a 20-round with the LE rifle. Shooters get ambidextrous controls on the M&P 10. The safety, bolt catch and magazine release appear on both sides of the 7075 T6 alloy receiver. The safety bar is slightly shorter on the right-hand side, so as not to interfere with the trigger hand. Lefties can reverse the bars. S&W’s is slated to list for under $1,800. (smith-wesson.com)
“It’s our best-selling rifle,” said the man from Ruger. A year after the 77 Scout Rifle appeared at SHOT, these short, box-fed .308s are “going out the door as fast as we can make ‘em.” Designed after the pattern made famous by Jeff Cooper, the Ruger Scout Rifle features iron sights and a rail for an IER, or intermediate eye-relief, scope. A nimble hunting rifle, it doubles as a survival tool and a home-defense gun. “In fact, many of the people buying Scout rifles own no other firearms,” said our source. “They’re not enthusiasts. They want one reliable rifle. The Scout’s versatility appeals to them. They also like its looks and easy handling qualities. Honestly, the response has been even stronger than we predicted!” Now shooters can get a stainless version—instead of the 16 1/2-inch chrome-moly barrel of the original, the newest has a stainless receiver and 18-inch stainless barrel. (ruger.com)