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Sinister. You know where that word comes from? It comes from the Latin for “left” because the ancient Romans thought there was something evil about left-handed people. Now we know that isn’t true, with about 10 percent of the world’s population being left-handed. But that also means that one in 10 shooters is probably left-handed, and while some long gun actions are fairly ambidextrous to use, there are some long guns that have to be designed just for left-handers. If you or a family member has been struggling to use a right-handed gun, stop! There are plenty of southpaw-friendly firearms on the market.

 

Montana Custom

The Montana Rifle Company is committed to one thing: the continued existence of Mauser-type actions and the excellent rifles that use them. The company created its own controlled-round-feed action in 1999 and today offers hunting and tactical rifles in various configurations in over 30 calibers, from .223 Remington to .505 Gibbs Magnum, in synthetic and AA to XXX English walnut stocks.

“All shooters were drawn to the AVR-SS—and all were amazed at the smooth, non-binding Montana-Rifle-designed bolt…”

The folks at Montana Rifle were kind enough to send down one of their own personal rifles, a .375 Ruger-chambered American Vantage Rifle in stainless steel. The AVR-SS is a classic dangerous game rifle with a controlled-round, Mauser-style bolt offered in either matte blued chrome-moly steel or 100 percent stainless steel barreled actions with Marble replaceable front and rear sights. The American Standard Rifle (ASR) in chrome-moly blued steel is offered in a glass-bedded, field-grade American black walnut stock, and the AVR-SS is a stainless steel barreled action glass-bedded in a field-grade American black walnut stock. The AVR line is available in .35 Whelen, .375 H&H, .375 Ruger, .416 Rem Mag, .416 Ruger, .458 Lott and .458 Win Mag cartridges in right- or left-hand configurations.

When we had assembled the seven southpaws for this test, all shooters were drawn to the AVR-SS—and all were amazed at the smooth, non-binding Montana-Rifle-designed bolt. Considering the stunning fit and finish and the glass-smooth action of this custom-like rifle, the MSRP of only $1,279 is a steal!

 

Remington Arms

Remington makes some of the best out-of-the-box rifles and shotguns, and the company has been on a tear redesigning its turnbolts and shotguns with new and exciting features, including improved X-Mark Pro triggers and great new OEM stocks from Bell & Carlson. Remington hasn’t even forgotten the off-side bird-busters. Although lefty shotgunners don’t have the same problem with shell casings ejecting automatically across their eye line, Remington serves up an 870 Express 12-gauge pump gun that ejects to the left side.

“The company sent along a Model 700 CDL LH in .270, and the fit and finish were superb…”

Left-handers can take advantage of these advances with southpaw versions of the Model 700 bolt action. The SPS Varmint features a synthetic stock and is available in .17 Remington Fireball, .22-250, .223 Remington, .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester chamberings. Lefty bigger-game hunters can get full-size and compact synthetic-stocked rifles in .243, 7mm-08, .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield and .300 Winchester Magnum. The company sent along a Model 700 CDL LH in .270, and the fit and finish were superb. Topped with a Leupold 1-6x30mm scope, the Remington’s smooth-operating, push-feed bolt and X-Mark Pro trigger made it a 0.5-MOA-accurate, compact and comfortable game-getter.

If you want the look and feel of a wooden stock, Big Green also has the Model 700 CDL in .270, .30-06, 7mm Rem Mag and .300 Rem Ultra Mag calibers.

 

Lefty Ruger Rifles

With six ambidextrous single-shot rifle models and three bolt actions in 12 calibers designed for specifically left-handed use, Ruger is one of America’s most gun-friendly manufacturers. Ruger’s left-hand M77 Hawkeye is available in centerfire chamberings from .204 Ruger to .25-06 Remington all the way up to .375 Ruger. A standard M77 Hawkeye in .223 Remington quickly joined the family, as well as a rugged Ruger No. 1 Tropical single-shot in .375 H&H.

“The Ruger Gunsite Scout has a street price well under $1,000 in most gun stores, and it’s worth every penny…”

After securing an early Ruger Gunsite Scout in right-handed configuration as my “bug-out” rifle last year, I married a woman who is a left-handed shooter. I called Ruger and soon a left-handed Gunsite Scout in .308 Winchester was added to the stable. As the excellent XS Sight Systems rail for the Gunsite Scout is beveled for a right-hand ejection port, a little filing and a can of Brownells’ top-notch Alumahyde metal spray helped us modify the now-left-ejecting rail.

The Ruger Gunsite Scout has a street price well under $1,000 in most gun stores, and it’s worth every penny. Installing a SureFire 762MB muzzle brake tames the .308’s recoil to .223 levels, and mounting Leupold’s VX-2 1.5-4X Scout scope transforms the Gunsite Scout into a truly complete lefty’s dream gun and a key part of our survival battery.

 

Steadfast Stags

For sinistromanual shooters who are left-eye dominant, shooting a rifle or shotgun off the left shoulder is imperative. With a semi-automatic, however, that means the action is ejecting the spent casing right in front of your eyes, and with some rifles, right into your face!

“Stag Arms was kind enough to send us one of its new Model 3TL-M rifles—the first one to leave the factory…”

In modern sporting rifles, Stag Arms was one of the first to offer left-handed AR-type rifles. The company now has 11 left-handed models in its catalog starting at under $1,000. A base Model 1L is the equivalent of the CAR-15/M4, a direct-impingement 5.56mm NATO with a 16-inch, 4140 steel, chrome-lined, 1-in-9-inch-twist barrel. The flattop receiver has a removable carry handle that houses the rear sight. The rest of the line features different modular handguards for mounting Picatinny-spec accessories, and barrel lengths out to 24 inches on the Super Varminter model. Gas piston lovers say they keep the AR platform cooler and cleaner. In this case, Stag offers the Models 8L and 8TL, which are left-handed, piston-driven ARs. The piston-driven Model 8L features Diamondhead flip-up front and rear sights and a mil-spec, six-position buttstock. The Model 8TL features a free-floating Diamondhead VRS-T handguard and a mil-spec trigger.

Stag Arms was kind enough to send us one of its new Model 3TL-M rifles—the first one to leave the factory. With the California-legal bullet button installed (for a mere $15), all the major fire controls and the ejection port were set up for a left-handed shooter. The ripple design of the Diamondhead VRS-T rail was extremely comfortable to grip, and Picatinny rail sections can be added later. The rifle also features Magpul’s MOE pistol grip and ACS buttstock. Topped with a Leupold 6.5-20X Mark 4 LR/T scope, the left-handed direct-impingement gun offered no surprises for AR users—the 16-inch, 1-in-9-inch-twist, 4140 steel barrel launched our Winchester Lawman .223 ammo at the distant LaRue targets with controllable recoil in rapid fire. With an MSRP of $1,180, the Stag Model 3TL-M is high on my birthday list this year.

 

Steyr AUG

Steyr Arms has been building high-quality firearms since the 14th century. For today’s black rifle shopper, it offers one of the most accurate sniper systems available and one of the most iconic rifles ever made.

“I hadn’t fired an AUG since 1992, and the old familiar feeling of combat confidence was still there, even firing left-handed…”

The Steyr tactical rifle line may include some of the most varied and tested bolt-action military rifles out there, but the black gun that brings a thrill to most shooters is the Steyr AUG. While Steyr’s SSG was one of the first military bolt-action rifles to use space-age materials, the 5.56mm NATO “Army Universal Gun,” or AUG, was the first truly space-age-looking weapon. A radical bullpup (the action is located behind the fire control mechanism) with a telescopic sight built into the receiver; a flip-down foregrip; a skinny, user-removable-without-tools barrel; and clear plastic magazines, no one in my shooting circles had ever seen a battle rifle like it.

The latest AUG is the $2,000 Steyr AUG/A3 SA USA model. The new AUG differs from the original model in one major way—a long Picatinny rail for mounting your choice of optics has replaced the integral 1X scope/carry handle. Want to buy your first AUG but you’re stocked up on AR-15 magazines? While the translucent AUG magazines are polymer, they are not inexpensive at $45 per 30-rounder, so Steyr offers a NATO conversion kit—a replacement stock and trigger assembly package—that converts your AUG to use U.S.-pattern AR-15 magazines. The AUG also broke ground because it could be converted to fire and eject from the left-hand side.

Unlike most semi-autos that can be safely fired by righties or lefties, bullpups like the AUG, the IWI Tavor and the MSAR cannot. The ejection ports are right where the shooter places his or her cheek, so they must be configured for the strong side of the shooter, or an explosive contact with ejecting brass will cause injury. We were lucky enough to get our hands on a pre-ban registered AUG from the 1980s, and by removing the action from the stock, switching over the ejection port cover and installing a left-handed bolt, it was converted to a fully functional lefty rifle. The pre-ban 42-round magazines give you a clear view of how many rounds you have left. I hadn’t fired an AUG since 1992, and the old familiar feeling of combat confidence was still there, even firing left-handed. The receiver-mounted optic and ergonomic design works equally well left- or right-handed—just make sure there isn’t an ejection port under your cheek!

 

Thompson/Center

Thompson/Center’s break-action, single-shot Encore and G2 Contender rifles and pistols are available in blued, stainless and camo (Realtree Advantage HD Max-1 and AP HD) finishes, and are truly ambidextrous designs. The camo Encore Pro Hunter Predator is available in .204 Ruger, .22-250, .223 and .308, while the Pro Hunter platform offers 16 different calibers, multiple barrel lengths, finishes and stock configurations. The blued and stainless G2 Contender rifle frame accepts 23-inch barrels in .17 HMR, .22 LR, .204 Ruger, .223, 6.8 SPC, 7-30 Waters and .30-30 Winchester. The beauty of the T/C system is that the barrels are easily interchangeable—just remove the forend, push out a pin, insert the new barrel, replace the pin and forend and you have an entirely new rifle. Just don’t install a sub-16-inch-long T/C pistol barrel on a rifle frame or you’ll be making a short-barreled rifle.

“For the left-handed hunter who wants the challenge of taking to the field with a single round up the spout, the T/C Encore Pro Hunter Predator is the way to go…”

We tested the Encore Pro Hunter Predator in .223 Remington with a Realtree camo, FlexTech recoil-reducing stock and a Weaver 8-20X scope. Loosening the Allen-head screw on the hammer spur allows you to position it left, right or center for ease of use with either thumb and to clear a mounted scope. While the .223 Remington cartridge did not push the recoil-absorbing capability of the Predator’s stock, our lefty shooters found the light, easy-to-operate rifle a perfect varmint setup. For the left-handed hunter who wants the challenge of taking to the field with a single round up the spout, the $882 T/C Encore Pro Hunter Predator is the way to go.

 

Weatherby Mark V

Weatherby pioneered the high-velocity hunting rifle in the 1960s. Under the stewardship of founder Roy’s son Ed Weatherby, the company continues to provide rifles and shotguns and hasn’t shortchanged the left-handed shooter. The company’s flagship Mark V rifle, made in America, is available in Accumark Composite trim as a left-hand bolt action in .257, .300 and .30-378 Weatherby Magnum calibers. The Mark V Ultralightweight tips the scales at just 6.75 pounds, and lefties can own it in .257 and .300 Weatherby Magnum.

“Out of the box, the Mark V was a laser, its crisp 3.5-pound trigger making it easy to nail metal silhouettes at 300 yards…”

We tested a Mark V Accumark in .257 Magnum, Roy Weatherby’s favorite of all the calibers he created. The .257’s 26-inch barrel launches an 80-grain Barnes TTSX bullet at 3,800 fps, making it one of the hardest-hitting, flattest-shooting varmint guns in the world. Topped with a Leupold 4-12X scope in Weatherby-marked Talley Rings, the .257 was zeroed at 200 yards, with only a 9-inch drop at 400 yards! Out of the box, the Mark V was a laser, its crisp 3.5-pound trigger making it easy to nail metal silhouettes at 300 yards. With the quality of a custom rifle, the American-made Mark V Accumark sells for $2,100, one of the pricier southpaws in our lineup, but it comes from the factory guaranteed to shoot a 1.5-inch group at 100 yards. For $300 more, you can get a “Range Certified” Accumark, guaranteed to shoot a three-shot group under 1 MOA at 100 yards with proper ammo. I got a chance to fire a range-certified Accumark at the Weatherby test range, and put my first three shots of .257 Weatherby Magnum into 0.75 inches.

 

Don’t Get Left Behind

Now it’s time to ask why, as a “normal” right-handed shooter, did I get so interested in firearms designed for the other team? First, when I realized my wife was a left-shoulder, left-eye long gun shooter! Secondly, a dear old friend and shooter had recently suffered a stroke and lost a lot of motor control in his right hand, which he may never recover. It seemed to me that having a rifle or two that I could learn to shoot left-handed along with my wife might be a good idea.

At first I was afraid that I would not be able to duplicate my battery of arms for southpaw use. I didn’t have to worry. We’ve just scratched the surface of what’s available here. From semi-auto AR-style rifles from Stag and Rock River Arms to rimfire turnbolts from CZ to target and tactical bolt rifles from Savage, there is a long list of gun-makers who are catering to the 10 percent of the population who fire from the left side.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Montana Rifle Company
montanarifleco.com; 406-756-4867

Remington
remington.com; 800-243-9700

Ruger
ruger.com

Stag Arms
stagarms.com; 860-229-9994

Steyr Arms
steyrarms.com; 205-417-8644

Thompson/Center
tcarms.com; 866-730-1614

Weatherby
weatherby.com; 805-227-2600

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