Academy of excellence winners: 20 years of high standards!
Over 20 years ago, FMG decided to create an award program unlike anything our industry had ever seen before. Rather than having our editorial stall judge which new products were most innovative in each category, FMG reached out to the industry. We asked a broad cross-section of manufacturers, dealers, distributors, independent writers and other industry professionals to judge their peers on their own merits. It had nothing to do with how much advertising applicants had bought, or how much FMG staffers may have liked the products or people involved--it was, simply, all about just how good the top entry in a category actually was in the real world.
Over the following 20 years, the Academy has garnered a reputation for honest objectivity, and a spotless record for plainly being the vehicle that people involved in the outdoor and shooting industry use to make their voles known. We're proud to showcase the winners of the 2011 Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence awards, many of which you've either seen in our pages, or will appear down the road.
SHOTGUN OF THE YEAR AWARD
BENELLI USA SUPER VINCX 12 GAUGE
Able to handle 3-1/2" Magnum loads, the Benelli Super Vinci 12 Gauge offers a range of features sure to please any hunter. The In-Line Inertia-Driven action, superior balance, light weight, reduced recoil and minimal muzzle climb puts the Super Vinci at the top of the "must-have" list for hunters everywhere. It can also chamber light 2-3/4" rounds up to those big 3-1/2" ones! Call it a "Supersized" Vinci! (See the full review by John Barsness in this issue.)
HUNTING PRODUCT OF THF YFAR
LEUPOLD RX-IOOOI TBR WITH DNA RANGEFINDER
Light, loaded with features and accurate out to 1,000 yards, Leupold's RX1000i is filled with the kind of engineering touches hunters and shooters want. The True Ballistic Ranging (TBR) technology accounts for incline, range to target and even your own ballistics information. Coupled with three reticle choices, machined aluminum body, weatherproof construction and a host of other features, it's obvious why Leupold won!
OPTIC OF THE YEAR
LEUPOLD VX-R EI-EtXi4OMM RXFLESCOPE
A state of the art illumination system, exclusive "FireDot Reticle" and other features launched Leupold's VX-R to the top of the category. Leupold's "Motion Sensor Technology" activates the FireDot reticle whenever the rifle is moved, the 30mm scope body offers more range of adjustment and the Extended Focus Range eyepiece makes keeping the field of view sharp fast and easy.
SAFETY PRODUCT OF THE YEAR
SUREFXRE EP3 SONIC DEFENDERS EARPLUG
Made of a soft, durable hypoallergenic polymer, SureFire's EP3 sonic Defenders fit most ears comfortably, and offer the ability to hear ambient noise (non-electronically) yet shut off the sound of a gun report (up to 24 dB). Their construction allows for long-term wear, they come with a convenient carry case and the three sizes assure a fit for virtually anyone.
ACCESSORY OF THE YEAR
BUTLER CREEK BABY UPLULA LOABER
Offering the speed and convenience of the original LULA Speed Loader/ Unloader for magazines, the new Baby brings the technology to handgunners. One size virtually fits all 9mm, 10mm, .357-, .40- and .45-caliber magazines, both single and double stack from all manufacturers.
HANDGUN OF THE YEAR
RUGER LCB SEMZ-AUTO
Riding crest of the hot wave of pocket-sized 9rnm semi-autos is Ruger's LC9. At only 17 ounces and 6" overall length, it's slim, trim and fits neatly into a pocket. The full-caliber 9mm assures adequate stopping power for self-defense, and the 3-dot sights, 7+1 capacity and glass-filled nylon frame just adds to this award-winning package.
SELF-DEFENSE PRODUCT OF THE YEAR
CRIMSON TRACE LIGHTGUARD TACTICAL LIGHT
Made to fit S&W's popular M&P semi-auto pistols, the LightGuard offers a slim, trim fit and 100 lumens of white light, designed specifically to be compatible with Crimson Trace's LG-660 laser sight. The LightGuard removes the need for a flashlight and the shooter can operate the laser, the light or both with one hand.
RIFLE OF THE YEAR
RUGER GUNSITE SCOUT RIFLE
At only $995, Ruger's hot new Gunsite Scout Rifle delivers .308 performance in a compact, heavy-duty rifle, loyal to Jeff Cooper's original thoughts on the Scout concept. The removable box magazine, 16.5" barrel, stout laminated stock, aperture sight, Picatinny rail and integral scope mounts help to round out this complete package. Great for the field, protection or police use.
AMMUNITION OF THE YEAR
HORNABY SUPERFORMANCE VARMINT AMMO
Using Hornady's polymer-tipped V-MAX bullet, their new line of high performance varmint amino offers 100 to 200 fps increased velocity from any offered caliber, without increased pressure or wear. In .222,223, .22-250 and .243, Superformance is safe in any properly chambered firearm.
KNIFE OF THE YEAR
BENCHMABE 915 TRIAGE FOLBER
The Benchmade Triage triple utility tool includes a knife, safety hook and glass breaker all in one tactical folder. The 3.5" blade is made out of highly corrosion resistant N680 stainless steel. The Triage features a hook made from 440C, GIO handles and a carbide glass breaker.