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New long guns for 1989.


Although there are not so many new items for 1989 as there were for 1988, the industry is nonetheless rife with nascent products. In no particular order, let's have a look at them.

From ULTRA LIGHT ARMS there is a true magnum-length action in the works, one that will accept such numbers as the ancient .375 Holland & Holland without squeezing things too tight. That's great news for fans of the lightest centerfire turnbolt going.

ULA also is offering a new camo pattern for their stocks, quite handsome, not to mention tough! The word I get is that there's a .22 rimfire Ultra Light bouncing around in gun designer Melvin Forbes' head, one that will shoot like nothing else, be as portable as a small sack of candy, and sell in the Kimber price range. Exciting. If you haven't tried an Ultra Light, you definitely should. All that I have hunted with (around a half dozen) have been accurate (some incredibly so), reliable, and as cumbersome as a Kleenex.

DAKOTA ARMS has their neat short-action boltgun ready to ship, in two versions -- Alpine and Classic. The latter shares barrel and stock configuration with the standard-length Dakota 76 except for a slightly shorter tube; the Alpine boasts a lighter barrel contour, four-round cartridge capacity, and a 6-1/2-pound heft.

There is also a new African Grade rifle reamed to such outsize cartridges as the .416 Rigby. The big gun features a four-round magazine, select wood, stock throughbolts, and true classic styling. Reliability of these turnbolts, which are updated versions of the pre-'64 Model 70 action, is insured by use of a rear-mounted ejector, long side-claw extractor, controlled-round feed, and other venerable Mauser design features.

The Model 76 I have been shooting is acceptably precise with the loads I've tried, works well, and is beautifully done. Dakotas are expensive, but most folks think they're worth the tariff--virtually a custom rifle at less than half the current price of some.

I'm uncertain whether the RUGER All-Weather 77/22 stainless bolt action is a new-for-'89 item, since I have had mine since late in 1988. It is worth a mention, as it's the single best foul-weather rimfire in existence. It wears a high-impact DuPont Zytel synthetic stock; its metal parts are of stainless steel. It comes with sling swivels attached, detachable side panels of G.E. Xenoy modified resin, a ribbed rubber butt pad, 10-round rotary magazine, and can be had with open sights, stainless scope mounts, or both. My test rifle shot into .78-inch with its pet ammo, Eley Club, from a rest at 50 yards. Accurate enough?

The new Model 77 Mark II was shown at the SHOT SHOW, and will be made in various action sizes for different cartridge families, including a .416, I understand. The safety lever is not found on the tang, but at the right side of the cocking piece as on the 77/22 rimfire. A new floorplate release is in evidence. More on these rifles next time.

The excellent little Mini Thirty has been blessed with a Ranch Rifle stock, complete with grooved and only slightly curved buttplate. That's a terrific improvement for full-sized shooters, a bit less so for the small of stature. The Mini Thirty is a crackerjack rig for beginning hunters, assuming modest ranges and soft point ammunition.

By the way, let me scotch the rumors that Ruger plans to drop the Mini-14 and Mini Thirty line due to the prevailing public hysteria about "assault rifles." No such plans are afoot, nor will there be if I know the Ruger organization. Allay your fears in that regard, and those of your customers as well.

BROWNING is offering eight new permutations of their perennial Citori over/under shotgun line aimed specifically at Sporting Clay enthusiasts. Such particulars as interchangeable trigger shoes, length of pull adjustments, various stock dimensions, rib configurations, forearm styles, and barrel lengths are available to the gunner. Three specific models are offered: GTI Sporting Clays, Special Sporting Clays, Lightning Sporting Clays.

There are two 3-1/2-inch chambered 12 gauges coming out of Morgan (Utah), the Citori Lightning over/under plus the pump-action BPS. The Citori is available in only one grade while the BPS will come in either the wood-handled Hunter model or the synthetic-stocked Stalker.

Yet another Citori variant is the Plus, a specialized trap iteration. The BT-99 Plus is a single-shot trap gun. Both models feature a recoil reducer, a rib that is said to be adjustable for point of impact, a back-bored barrel, Invector choke tubes, and a fully adjustable stock. None of the afore-mentioned guns is cheap.

The A-Bolt 22 is now chambered for the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire. If accuracy has been improved from that delivered by the .22 Long Rifle versions I have tested, then I laud the move. If not, you might want to wait for test reports to appear in "impartial" magazines before purchasing in quantity.

Finally, as is the company's wont, a John Browning design of yesteryear has been revived, this time the Winchester Model 65 in .218 Bee. Production will be limited to 5,000 units, twenty percent of those High Grade numbers. It might not be a bad idea to have one or two of these on the shelf for diehard Winchester lever fans.

THOMPSON/CENTER is offering 3-1/2-inch magnum 12-gauge barrels for their single shot TCR '87. Also a 10-gauge 3-1/2-inch chambering for shooters with cast iron shoulders.

For black powder fans, T/C has introduced the White Mountain Carbine. With its 21-inch barrel and .50-caliber bore, the new rifle appears to be a whitetail hunter's delight, especially at only 6-1/2 pounds. Standard is an enlarged trigger guard bow for gloved digits, a recoil pad to assuage the kick somewhat, and a sling with detachable swivels. Iron sights are fully adjustable.

Mark Stone of Colonial Gun Shop in Hillsborough, North Carolina, tells me that the has finally received some KIMBER Model 89 Big Game Rifles, caliber .270 only to date. Colonial is the only shop I personally know of that has the long-promised Kimbers in stock; I expect that to change now that the company is actually shipping guns. Mark tells me that some of the rifles are "magnificent," others "so-so." I've seen only prototypes, so can't comment on production items.

MARLIN SPORTING FIREARMS has revamped their bolt-action rimfire lineup. The new series is denoted by the number "eight" instead of "seven" as in the past. Changes include a reshaped bolt handle to clear one-inch-tube scopes, deeper receiver grooving for a more secure attachment of same, a restyled striker knob, and a rubber buttpad on the more expensive versions. There are also three magnum rimfire iterations. I have not tried any of these guns as yet, but have great faith in Marlin.

SAVAGE INDUSTRIES is producing Rynite-stocked permutations of the Model 24F, with the upper barrel reamed to either .222 or .223 Remington, the lower made in 12-gauge persuasion, with three-inch chamber. The paint job is camo style as the gun is intended specifically for turkey hunters. Interestingly, the long-popular rimfire version is no longer catalogued. An unusual development, methinks. A .30-30 upper barrel is available, for deer seekers.

From REMINGTON comes a plethora of hot introductions. First example is the SP-10, a 10-gauge autoloading shotgun. Then there are two new "accuracy systems" for the 11-87 and 870 shotguns, featuring permanently attached cantilever scope mounts -- including rings -- and a rifled "REM" choke tube to impart spin on the slug as it leaves the barrel.

The custom shop is turning out ever more chamberings in its KS (Kevlar) queue. The Model 700 KS Mountain Rifle is available in .300 Weatherby Magnum and .35 Whelen; the Model Seven KS is newly reamed to .223 Remington, 7mm BR Remington (thus becoming the first sporting rifle so chambered), and the excellent 7mm-08 Remington; the 40-XBBR single-shot benchrest gun is being fabricated in seven competition-proven calibers.

The laminated Model 700 LS has taken on three chamberings for 1989, the .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, and 7mm Remington Mag. And then there are three options available in the big new .416 Remington Magnum, for African-bound nimrods: Model 700 Safari Monte Carlo, replete with traditional monte carlo comb and cheek piece; the M700 Safari Classic, which apes previous Classics by doing without the hump-backed buttstock and cheekrest; the Model 700 Safari KS, a synthetic-clothed iteration impervious to the vagaries of climate.

Having abandoned the previous Model 700 RS and 700 FS, the Bridgeport firm is cataloguing the Model 700 AS, a lightweight rifle with stock of Arylon, a fiber-glass-reinforced thermoplastic resin that is strong but of exiguous heft. I looked one over in Houston and was impressed with what I saw. I'll have to wait for a sample to evaluate before elaboration.

In Marietta, Georgia, there is built a modernized version of the old Stevens Favorite, albeit with superior craftsmanship to any example of the aforementioned that I have ever examined.

VARNER SPORTING ARMS, INC. produces the little single shot dropping block in several grades, beginning with the Hunter, which features a hand-checkered walnut stock, blued steel metalwork, a half-octagon barrel of target grade, both an aperture and an open rear sight in concert with a bead front, scope mount provision (a base is optional), and a ringed takedown screw for easy transport in two sections. Prices start at $369, suggested retail, and spiral.

I have in my office a sample of the basic gun, plus one of the Number Three Presentation Grade rifles replete with a gorgeous case colored frame and lever, AAA fancy walnut, and hand engraving in the Ulrich style. Nice, both of them. One I'd really like to own is the Varner Favorite Schuetzen, a thousand-dollar item (suggested retail) that features the rainbow colors, Ulrich scrolls, perch belly stock of select walnut with pistol grip, an extended forearm, and fancier checkering. Sights are ladder-style peep at the rear with a globe front bearing six inserts. The barrel is half octagon/half round and measures 24 inches. Handsome indeed.

WEATHERBY has added the Ultramark to their Mark V listing. It sports a hand-honed action, damascened bolt body and follower, checkered bolt knob, and floorplate marked WEATHERBY ULTRAMARK.

Additionally, the stock wood is select extra-fancy claro walnut hand-checkered in a "basket weave" pattern. To the Mark V group has been added the ultimate .41 bore, the .416 Weatherby Magnum. Should your customers intend to smite errant pachyderms, this is up their alley.

More of interest to me is the new Vanguard Classic I and II, variants on the classic stock styling theme. Very good looking, these guns, done up without monte carlo, a true oil finish on the woodwork, and matte blue on the metal. Hurray! Cartridge availability goes like so: .22-250 Remington, .243, .270, 7mm Remington Mag., .30-06, .300 Win. Mag., .338 Winchester Magnum, and the .270 and .300 Weatherby cartridges.

The Weatherguard is a synthetic-stocked rifle adjudged to be as impervious to the weather as a brick. Neither rain, nor snow, nor saltwater taffy shall render the Weatherguard inoperable or out of zero. The stock is solid black all the way through, a feature I like, there being no external finish to mar or remove through mishap.

Three new Athena over/under renditions are in evidence, plus two Orion permutations. Suggested retail prices range from $850 to $2,000, so if your clientele leans to stacked barrels, have a look at the Weatherbys.

The National Wild Turkey Federation has selected the U.S. REPEATING ARMS COMPANY'S Model 1300 12-gauge Turkey Gun as "Gun of the Year." It features a camo stock, matte finish, and an engraved receiver. Also standard on this pump action are sling swivels, sling, and recoil pad.

The heavy-barreled Varmint Model 70 has been lifted from obscurity, and is once again proffered in such varmint getters as .223 Remington, .22-250, and .243. Barrel length is 26 inches with all calibers, goodness knows why. The .223 and .308 have been added to the Win-Tuff line, and there is a multi-hued laminated rifle bedubbed the Win-Cam in .270 and .30-06. Labeled "new" in the current catalog for the walnut Model 70 Sporter are the following: .223, .243 Winchester, .264 Magnum, .270 Weatherby Mag., .300 Holland and Holland, and the .300 Weatherby.

The 24-inch 7-30 Waters has bitten the dust, with a "new" 20-inch carbine as the single vehicle for Ken Waters' brainchild. That's the news from New Haven, so far as I am informed.

A neat little rig that I am champing at the bit to test is the ACTION ARMS LIMITED Timber Wolf, an Israeli-built tromebone action in .357 Magnum. It holds eleven rounds, wears no external hammer, weighs a claimed 5-1/2 pounds, and features a blade front sight with adjustable open rear. The receiver has an integral scope mount that will accept Weaver-type rings. This is one nifty item; in .41 and/or .44 Magnum chambering, it would make a dynamite whitetail arm at modest ranges. Suggested retail price is $475.

Also newly imported is the Hadar II, a wood-stocked, gas-operated sporting version of the Galil. It comes with a thumbhole stock, tips the beam at a portly 10.3 pounds, takes a standard four-cartridge magazine, and is reamed to .308 Winchester.

I took one on a wild boar hunt with Gerald Almond of Goldmine Hunting Preserve, of Stanfield, North Carolina. It did fine, thanks. Testing at the range beforehand showed more than adequate hunting precision, as expected of the Galil system.

The newest item from SPRINGFIELD ARMORY is the SAR-3, a made-in-Greece copy of the famed German HK-91, known also as the G3. It comes in both standard and retractable-stock models in .308 only.

From HECKLER & KOCH there is a new scattergun called the Black Eagle. It is a high-ticket sporting version of the Benelli, comes with both slug barrels and various hunting configurations. The upper portion of the receiver is made of steel, with the lower an alloy. Cleaning access is thus improved, as well as providing for a secure scope mounting base if required.

Incidentally, the rear sight on the slug barrel functions doubly as a rear base for a scope mounting system. Barrel lengths run from 21 to 28 inches, with the long tubes taking screw-in choke devices.

And, so far as I am informed, that covers the new rifles and shotguns for 1989. If we can beat the assault on battle rifles, next year should look even better. Stay tuned.

PHOTO : Varner Sporting Arms Favorite Schuetzen.

PHOTO : Ultra Light Arms has introduced this "catchy" new camo pattern for '89.

PHOTO : Remington's Model 11-87 SP Deer Gun.

PHOTO : Remington's Model Seven Custom "KS".

PHOTO : Remington's Model 700 ADL "LS" Bolt Action.

PHOTO : U.S. Repeating Arms Company's National Wild Turkey Federation Model 1300 12-gauge shotgun.

PHOTO : Weatherby's Athena Grade V Shotgun

PHOTO : Weatherby's Weatherguard.

PHOTO : Weatherby's Ultramark.

PHOTO : Marlin, in addition to design improvements, has changed the model numbers on their

PHOTO : bolt-action .22-caliber line. Here is Model #883, which use to be #783.

PHOTO : Marlin's Model 25MN use to be Model #25M. Besides model number changes, the company made a

PHOTO : significant amount of design improvements.

PHOTO : Browning has introduced the Special Sporting Clays (above) with extra barrel; below is the

PHOTO : Browning Lightning Sporting Clay.

PHOTO : Browning's BT-99 Plus Trap (above) and Citori Plus Trap (below).

PHOTO : Ruger introduced the first Bond Street quality, African safari, big game hunting rifle

PHOTO : produced by an American firearms company. Pictured here is the Ruger Magnum Rifle in .416

PHOTO : Rigby and .375 H&H calibers.

PHOTO : Ruger's new M-77 Mark II Bolt Action is the slender, ideal hunter.

PHOTO : Varner Sporting Arms has built a modernized version of the old Stevens Favorite. Here is

PHOTO : their Hunter model, which features a hand-checkered walnut stock, blued steel metalwork,

PHOTO : a half-octagon barrel of target grade, plus other added items.

PHOTO : Thompson/Center introduced the new White Mountain Carbine, .50 -cal. cap lock rifle for

PHOTO : the avid hunter.

PHOTO : Springfield Armory has introduced the SAR-3 Rifle in .308- caliber. Shown here (above) is

PHOTO : the Standard Model; below, Retractable Stock Model.

PHOTO : HADAR II Rifle from Action Arms Ltd.

PHOTO : Timber Wolf Rifle from Action Arms, Ltd.

PHOTO : Heckler & Koch has introduced the Benelli Black Eagle for '89.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:May 1, 1989
Previous Article:Politics: good for the cause, good for the business.
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