Remember the A-Team TV show from back in the 1980s? The A-Team’s lead character, Hannibal, played by George Peppard, used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together.” Well, that’s how Team RF feels about this special issue you’re about to dive into. It all starts with our proudest cover rifle to date—the SIONICS Patrol I carbine. Group Publisher, Shirley Steffen, brought an advertisement she’d seen into an editorial meeting. The ad was simple yet striking. It was a SIONICS rifle dressed with a Photoshopped American Flag finish. (Hey, we know Photoshop when we see it.) In unison we said, “That’s a cover rifle!”

The rifle pictured in the ad wasn’t currently in production with the flag paint scheme, but we all knew just the man to call to have such a finish applied. That’s where Steve Lauer and his team at Lauer Custom Weaponry jumped in. Author Jay Langston set up a visit to Lauer’s Wisconsin headquarters to observe and photograph the entire DuraCoating process. Without a doubt, the LCW crew deserves a major hat tip for their efforts! Of course, the rifle itself was donated for this special issue. SIONICS’ owner played a huge role in building a kick-tail 5.56mm, and the hours he put into bringing the rifle to different military gatherings across the country (among many other duties) can’t even be counted. And he’s nowhere near done with the project, because the mission’s endgame entails a two-part objective. Part one: Create a one-of-a-kind cover specimen that would get our readers’ love of country and love of firearms coursing through their veins. We hope you agree that we’ve decidedly nailed that part. Part two: Put the completed rifle up for a charity auction to raise a healthy chunk of green for the red, white and blue MARSOC Foundation. The jury is still out on this part of the mission, and the outcome rests heavily on your pockets, because only you can place your bids to win the American Dream 5.56! You can find out all of the auction details by visiting sionicsweapon

Sure, it’s tough to top the cover rifle, but our team isn’t about to give up that easy. Ready to go deep—way deep—in sniper competitions? David Bahde, with help from Ashbury Precision Ordnance’s new chassis and Proof Research’s carbon-wrapped barrels, has found a sick 6.5 Creedmoor bolt-action setup. We’re talking sub-MOA at 800 yards—from a cold bore!
For more up-close-and-squirrel distance, Jorge Amselle breaks out America’s longest-running production rifle in history, Marlin’s Golden 39A. On the modern side of the .22 spectrum, we’ve got two different Ruger 10/22s that you might not even recognize. Did somebody call for some exciting hunting stories? You’re covered! Join Bill and Joyce Wilson on their Texas elk hunt, and if that’s too tame for you, head to the Dark Continent with 80-plus-year-old Bill Pace as he goes face-to-face with a 2,000-pound (more than mildly upset) Cape buffalo!

There’s plenty more in this issue for riflemen wanting the dope on the latest and greatest firepower, but I’d be remiss to point out two special pieces that pay tribute to the late Tony Knight, who the hunting community lost in March 2013. Learn more about the Father of Modern Muzzleloading—the man who did more for the blackpowder hunting sports than any other, hands down—in our Long Gun Legends column. After that, check out R.P. Smith’s “Record-Book Knights” feature. If it doesn’t make you want to dust off your blackpowder rifle to get ready for next season, then nothing will.

Here’s to your 2014 plans for shooting and hunting coming together. —Nino Bosaz

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