2024 Golden Bullseyes Awards

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Our annual Golden Bullseye Awards go to those products that best combine innovation, value, utility, reliability and outstanding performance from among the hundreds we test. This year, we have added a Suppressor category to reflect the growing importance of silencers in the pantheon of shooting products. Nearly every new rifle comes with a threaded barrel, as do many variants of popular handgun offerings. The reason for that is the popularity of sound suppressors, which are becoming commonplace on the range, in training classes, as defensive tools and even for hunting. Here are the best guns, gear—and now suppressor—of the year.


Handgun of the Year | Springfield Armory Echelon
When a brand provides nearly 25 years of enormous sales success, departing from it is always a risk, yet that is exactly what Springfield Armory has done with its latest full-size handgun. The Echelon was designed from the ground up as a brand-new platform—and it shows. It looks and feels nothing like Springfield’s immensely popular XD or XD(M) lines. A risk, but the greater the risk, the greater the reward, and the Echelon is perhaps the best duty pistol introduced in some time. With outstanding accuracy and reliability and an innovative system for mounting optics directly to the slide, the Echelon offers just about everything one could want in a handgun designed for belt carry.

“I have to hand it to Springfield Armory. In general, the Echelon is a well-executed variation on a common genre of pistol today, but with the added detail of the truly novel VIS optics-mounting system, it may have a real winner on its hands here.”
—Tamara Keel, Handgun Editor

Winning Features
• Able to directly mount more than 30 MRDS optics
• Grasping grooves at rear of slide
• Serialized chassis system for modularity
• Interchangeable backstraps with on-board armorer’s tool

Caliber: 9 mm
Capacity: 20+1 rounds
Barrel Length: 4.5 inches
Overall Length: 8 inches
Weight: 23.9 ounces
MSRP: $679
(800) 680-6866, springfield-armory.com


Smith & Wesson M&P FPC

Rifle of the Year | Smith & Wesson M&P FPC
Entering the pistol-caliber carbine (PCC) world with a folding rifle loosely based on its M&P M2.0 9 mm handgun was a bold move by Smith & Wesson. But fortune favors the bold, and the resultant M&P FPC (Folding Pistol Carbine) is an outstanding, innovative firearm for defensive purposes. When folded, the carbine is about the same length as a standard AR-15 barrel—just the barrel—making it incredibly compact and easy to store or transport. When unfolded, it operated flawlessly in testing and proved both accurate and comfortable to shoot. Between its superior performance, reliability, innovative design, ease-of-use, well-considered included accessories and attractive price, it represents a remarkable value for the modern shooter, and is an exciting option for a PCC.

“Obviously, the M&P FPC is a tremendous home-defense gun, as you can store it in places where you can’t store an AR-15 or a shotgun. I also consider it to be a home-defense gun for when I’m away from home, giving me a little more oomph than just my defensive pistol.”
—Kevin Creighton, Managing Editor, Digital

Winning Features
• Easily folds and unfolds
• M-Lok fore-end
• Two extra magazines store in buttstock
• Ships with an intuitive carrying case

Caliber: 9 mm
Capacity: 23 rounds
Barrel Length: 16.3 inches
Overall Length: 16.4 inches (folded); 30.4 inches (deployed)
Weight: 5 pounds, 1 ounce
MSRP: $699
(800) 331-0852, smith-wesson.com


Beretta A300 Ultima Patrol

Shotgun of the Year | Beretta A300 Ultima Patrol
Italian manufactured goods tend to be some of the more aspirational luxury products in any space they’re in. From sports cars to shoes to shotguns, an Italian brand generally screams quality—and an associated price tag. The Beretta A300 Ultima Patrol, however, is a semi-automatic defensive shotgun at a price less than almost every other quality competitor, regardless of origin, yet it sacrifices nothing in quality. A major reason for the lower cost is this scattergun is made by Beretta USA right here in America, and we’re pretty darn good at making guns, too. With useful features for home defense, the ability to cycle most any load without complications and outstanding ergonomics, the A300 Ultima Patrol is a fantastic addition to the shotgun world.

“From the time of the great Christopher Columbus, to the time of Enrico Fermi, right up to the present day, Italian-Americans have been pioneers in building and defending our nation. They are the salt of the earth, and one of the backbones of this country. The Beretta A300 Ultima Patrol carries on that legacy with aplomb.”
—Jay Grazio, Executive Editor

Winning Features
• Superior reliability with an array of shotshell loads
• Strategically located sling-attachment points and M-Lok slots
• Oversize controls
• Sculpted loading port

Gauge: 12; 3-inch chamber
Capacity: 7 rounds
Barrel Length: 19.1 inches
Overall Length: 38 inches
Weight: 7 pounds, 2 ounces
MSRP: $1,099
(800) 237-3882, beretta.com


Holosun SCRS

Optic of the Year | Holosun SCRS
What if there was an electro-optic that didn’t require battery changes? Not one that promised five-year battery life. Not one that used tritium for illumination. One that did not require a battery change—ever. The Holosun SCRS is just that. SCRS stands for Solar Charging Rifle Scope, which should be self-explanatory. What’s remarkable is the tiny amount of solar energy this dot sight needs to maintain a charge in its internal, non-removable battery, which is extremely little, indeed. In fact, it can remain in your safe for months without seeing any light, much less the sun, and still function as though it had a fresh CR2032 installed. That remarkable technological innovation combines with a circle-dot reticle in an extremely compact package, yet costs less than $320, making it an outstanding value, too.

“The state-of-the-art in electronics advances at a pace that is much faster than the pace at which guns advance, and the Holosun SCRS is proof of that fact.”
—Kevin Creighton, Managing Editor, Digital

Winning Features
• Solar charging
• Motion activation
• Extremely compact and lightweight
• Intuitive reticle

Magnification: 1X
Objective Lens Diameter: 20 mm
Reticle: 2-MOA dot and 65-MOA circle
Adjustment: 50 MOA windage and elevation
Length: 1.7 inches
Weight: 2.5 ounces
MSRP: $318
(909) 594-2888, holosun.com


Speer Gold-Dot for Pistol-Caliber Carbines

Ammunition Product of the Year | Speer Gold-Dot for Pistol-Caliber Carbines
Pistol-caliber carbines (PCCs) have been growing in popularity for many years (see our Rifle of the Year for proof of that concept). However, the pistol ammunition they shoot has been the same as what one would load in a handgun. No longer, thanks to Speer’s forward-thinking decision to adapt its flagship defensive line for PCCs. Thanks to their 16-inch (or longer) barrels, PCCs can add significant muzzle velocity to a pistol round, yet most such loads are not designed for anything longer than a 6-inch barrel and the lower velocities produced by handguns. Therefore, their terminal performance is likely to be different, too, which may not be ideal. Speer solved this problem with its new Gold-Dot for Pistol Caliber Carbines, delivering faster speeds and improved terminal performance, finally giving owners of PCCs the perfect match for their long guns.

“Speer’s Gold Dot Carbine ammo gives a fast, effective and efficient option for your home-defense carbine, and that’s an excellent option indeed.”
—Jay Grazio, Executive Editor

Winning Features
• Optimized burn-rate for carbine-length barrels
• Controlled expansion via elastomer tip
• Enhanced reliability in PCCs
• Consistent accuracy across multiple platforms

(877) 426-7849, speer.com


Silencer Central Banish Speed K

Suppressor of the Year | Silencer Central Banish Speed K
Our first-ever Suppressor of the Year is an outstanding addition to the sound-reduction marketplace. The Silencer Central Banish Speed K is an ultra-compact can that provides outstanding performance across all measures of suppressor quality. Most importantly, it exhibits virtually no shift in point-of-impact between when it is mounted and when it is off the gun, which means after zeroing your optic, you should be good to go whether you’re using the Speed K or not. It obviously provides significant decibel reduction, too, as basically every suppressor will, but it does so without adding much length to the end of your gun, which makes it a useful defensive tool rather than merely a fun range toy—you can easily maneuver through tight quarters with it on the end of your 5.56 NATO carbine. That, and its ease of purchase using Silencer Central’s amazing system makes it an ideal choice for anyone looking to add a suppressor to their kit.

“The other major benefit of a suppressor, and the Speed K really shined here, was in its recoil and muzzle-rise reduction. Even shooting offhand, I was able to keep the iron sights of the M&P15 on target after every shot, with minimal movement of the carbine thanks to the Speed K’s performance, size and weight.”
—Ed Friedman, Editor-in-Chief

Winning Features
• Compact size
• Excellent signature reduction
• Reduced backblast
• Miniscule point-of-impact shift

Caliber: .223/5.56
Material: Inconel 718
Diameter: 2 inches
Length: 4 inches
Weight: 14.1 ounces
MSRP: $1,199
(866) 891-4494, silencercentral.com


Magpul DAKA Grid

Accessory of the Year | Magpul DAKA Grid
Every once in a while, there’s a brilliant, simple solution to a long-existing problem and it makes you think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” In our case, it is because we are editors and therefore lacking in any useful skills, but we did ask, “Why didn’t anyone else think of that before?” when we first saw Magpul’s DAKA Grid system for gun cases. This EPP-foam insert works like the popular Danish building blocks (that anyone with kids always steps on) and makes transporting firearms far easier than past solutions. With the DAKA Grid, it is possible to completely immobilize any firearm or combination of guns and gear to ensure they stay securely in place within a case. But, doing so doesn’t require cutting foam to fit a specific gun. Rather, the same Grid can be used to transport a scoped rifle one day, a shotgun the next and a handgun the day after, without having to use three different cases. Complete customization with virtually zero effort? We’ll take it.

“I don’t know about anyone else, but peace of mind when I’m transporting several thousand dollars’ worth of firearms is invaluable. A slight upcharge at the onset means that I can reconfigure that case as many times as I want, whether for two carbines, two bolt guns, a whole mess of handguns, or any combination in between.”
—Jay Grazio, Executive Editor

Winning Features
• Unparalleled efficiency for storage and transport
• Fully customizable
• Easy to fit to any size firearm, optic or accessory
• Eliminates need to cut foam

MSRP: $139.95
(877) 462-4785, magpul.com


Pioneer Award | Brandon Maddox, Founder/CEO Silencer Central
Brandon Maddox has revolutionized the suppressor industry in the United States in just the past 15 years. More so than any person since perhaps Hiram Percy Maxim, the inventor of the modern suppressor, Maddox has changed the landscape of suppressor use and ownership thanks to his efforts to greatly simplify the silencer-buying process.

Brandon Maddox, Founder/CEO Silencer CentralMaddox started Silencer Central (then called South Dakota Silencer) in 2005 after a frustrating experience buying a suppressor for himself. This set him on a mission to develop a process that was easier for everyone, and, as a result, American citizens living in all of the 42 states where silencers are currently legal can now purchase one directly from Silencer Central. Not only does the company assist its customers by submitting all of their paperwork for them, but Silencer Central also assists with the fingerprinting and photography requirements. Each purchase comes with a free state-specific gun trust and, once approved, your suppressor ships straight to your door.

“A heartfelt congratulations to Silencer Central founder and CEO Brandon Maddox on his Pioneer Award recognition. Brandon epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit that is alive and well in the United States of America. He has really opened up the silencer product category to the masses.”
—Doug Hamlin, NRA Publications Executive Director

Read the full article here

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