With the holidays rapidly approaching I thought it might be interesting to get each of our writer’s opinions on the “best” gifts for gun nuts, even when shopping on a budget (say, for a Secret Santa exchange). Why one list from each of us? Because we all have our own “beats” on this site, areas of expertise that we focus on and so our lists will be focused on those areas. For me, I’m the resident competition shooter / reloader / accuracy fanatic and so naturally my list will be tailored to those activities. So without any further ado, here’s my list.
- Cleaning Supplies – Every shooter always needs more cleaning supplies. The two best things to get are Break-Free CLP (which is a cleaning and lubricating solution available in $5 bottles) and cleaning patches (available in $10 bulk patches).
- Safety Glasses – Shooting glasses are required safety equipment, but they’re always getting scratched up and quickly become useless. Shooters always need new ones but either don’t want to spend the $5 or are too lazy to get new ones. Luckily Amazon has some great deals on them. (Amazon.com, $6)
- Surplus Ammo Cans – The U.S. military has an enormous supply of used ammunition cans that they sell off for ridiculously low prices. These cans are waterproof and perfect for storing ammunition or other shooting supplies. Pick them up at your local military surplus store or gun store. ($20, Cheaper Than Dirt)
- Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C Self-Adhesive Sight-In Targets (34212) – Due to the nature of my side job (reviewing guns and such) I go through a TON of targets. And without a doubt these have been my favorite target for precision shooting. They’re easy to see even in low light, stick almost anywhere and have very visible markings that show you exactly how far you are from zero and how big your grouping is. Get the biggest pack you can afford because they’ll be used quickly. (Amazon.com, $13/12 sheets)
- Spare Magazines – Depending on your shooter’s collection, they might have some guns that take magazines. Semi-automatic handguns, AR-15 style rifles… All take spare magazines. And luckily they’re only about $5-$20.
- Magazine Pouches – Competition shooting requires spare magazines to be readily accessible and quick to load. I’ve used these CQC magazine pouches since day 1 and they’ve worked great. You should probably order 2. ($17 MidwayUSA, Single Stack / Double Stack) Or, if you do 3-gun, some AR-15 magazine pouches would probably be ideal. (MidwayUSA, $23)
- Reloading Supplies – Shooting is an expensive sport, so “cheap gifts” aren’t usually something you can get away with. But if your shooter is a reloader then you’re in luck! A box of 100 bullets or a pound of smokeless powder typically comes in well short of $50, but make sure to ask your shooter which products they use as getting the wrong one might end with your present sitting on the shelf for a long, long time.
- Caldwell Deadshot Shooting Bags – Accurate shooting begins with a solid and stable shooting platform, and nothing does that better than a good set of shooting rests. These bags are the best I’ve ever used, and they’re only about $30. Plus, they’re nice and big so the box will look impressive and heavy! ($27, Amazon)
- Howard Leight R-01526 Hearing Protection – “Passive” hearing protection makes everything quiet, but “active” hearing protection only makes the gunshots quiet but lets you hear normal conversations clear as day. It’s like having a silencer without having a silencer. And you can never have enough earmuffs. ($49, Amazon.com)
- Nagant m1895 Revolver – Didn’t think you’d see a gun for $100, did you? Despite these revolvers being well over 50 years old they’re still some of my favorite firearms ever created. Ammo isn’t cheap, but it still goes “BANG!” (~$99)
- Konus 4×32 30-30 Riflescope – Like the review (linked) says this is a fantastic fixed power riflescope that doesn’t break the bank. The scope even comes with mounting hardware making installation a breeze. (MidwayUSA, $65)
- 4×4 Shotshell Carrier – Competition shooting doesn’t REQUIRE fancy equipment, but it does help. A dump pouch works OK for shotgun ammo, but the issue is that it’s tough to reload quickly. This shotshell carrier lets your shooter hold 8 rounds of ammunition in two easy-to-grab 4-round slots and takes up very little belt real estate. (MidwayUSA, $70)
- MidwayUSA Competition Range Bag – When heading out to the range it’s hard to keep track of everything you need. That is, unless you have a convenient bag to keep everything in. Like this one. (MidwayUSA
$70$40 UNTIL 2012!)
- Primary Arms Red Dot Sight – It’s like a regular red dot, but made in China. And cheaper. But it works just fine. (Primary Arms, $90)
- Lee Challenger Reloading Kit – Lee has come out with a complete reloading kit in a box, everything you need to get started (minus dies, bullets, brass, powder, primers…) and for under $100. This would be perfect either for precision shooters or those who shoot obscure calibers, for those with “standard” calibers it might be cheaper and easier to just keep buying in bulk. (MidwayUSA, $90)
- BAD-ASS Ambi Safety – For those shooters who own an AR-15 or AR-10 I highly recommend getting an ambidextrous safety selector. It helps when moving around in 3-gun competitions, and the levers are designed to be easier to manipulate than the standard AR-15 safety. It’s pretty cool. (BAD-ASS, $60)
- LET 10″ Steel Plate & Stand Combo – The only thing more satisfying than shooting at 1,000 yards is hearing the “ping” of a steel target after you break the shot. There’s something amazing about shooting steel, and this kit I got as a Christmas present last year was the absolute ideal gift for me. (LET, $90)
- NEF New England 12ga Shotgun – It’s just like a Remington 870, but cheaper. I used this shotgun when I was first starting in 3-gun competitions and it’s perfect for new shooters, plus it’s great for home defense situations as well. (Bud’s, $180)
- Lee Pro 1000 Progressive Kit – Lee produces a set of “kits” for their 1000 series progressive press that comes with everything you need to get started reloading ammunition. Ammunition is expensive and likely to become even more expensive in the future, but with this press kit your shooter can make their own for pennies on the dollar. It’s the perfect gift for shooters that go through a lot of ammunition every year. The kit I link to at the end is a .45 ACP kit, make sure to figure out what caliber your shooter uses before plopping down your cash. (MidwayUSA,
$180$150 UNTIL 2012)
- Ammunition – For just about every caliber you can get either 500 or 1,000 rounds of ammo delivered for under $250. 500+ rounds will get you that “WOW, thanks!” reaction we’re all looking for, any fewer might be less overwhelmingly awesome.
- Bushnell Scout 1000 ARC Laser Rangefinder – When making a precision shot it’s nice to know how far away the target is. And by “nice to know” I mean required information. This rangefinder will also tell you the angle to the target as well as “bow” and “rifle” modes with further help to the accurate shooter. (B&H, $239)
- Remington 870 12ga Shotgun – There’s just something about the Remington 870 that keeps it near and dear to my heart. It’s a great shotgun that works for competition shooting, home defense, hunting… Just about anything you want to do with a shotgun this will do. (Bud’s, $320)
- S&W M&P Handgun – Some say Glocks are the best striker fired polymer guns out there, but in my opinion S&W’s Military and Police (M&P) line are the best bang for your buck. I know a TON of competition shooters that rely on them and they work great. If you’re able, this is THE gift I would get a shooter for the holidays. (Bud’s, $454)
- Weatherby Vanguard Rifle – I bought the Carbine version, but the full length Weatherby Vanguard should be even better. It’s a fantastic rifle for hunting or target shooting, accurate and reliable with great options for improving it later on. (Bud’s, $375)
- Hornaday Lock-N-Load AP Progressive Press – If your shooter wants to seriously start reloading then they need a serious press. This progressive press makes reloading pistol or rifle calibers a breeze and will last a good long while. Hornaday is known for their precision ammunition, and it makes sense that their reloading equipment would be precision grade as well. (MidwayUSA, $400)
If money was no object? I think I’ll limit this to just one gun each for 3-gun, one self defense gun and a precision rifle.
- Noveske 18″ NST Rifle – I’m a HUGE fan of the Noveske rifleworks for their barrels and uppers, I even use one of their uppers on my competition rifle. This is basically my ideal 3-gun rifle build, all assembled and ready to go. It’s just massively expensive. (Noveske, $2,295)
- FNH SLP Mk. I Shotgun – It’s pretty, but it IS a bit picky about what ammunition you feed it. When you have the right ammo it works great, uses changeable chokes and is extremely accurate. (Bud’s, $1,049)
- STI Edge Handgun – All the best qualities of a 1911 but with the ability to use 9mm ammunition. Super accurate, compensated recoil and a red dot sight that comes mounted from the factory. Open division for sure, but with a gun that cool I wouldn’t care one bit. (STI, $2,864)
- Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry – I’ve carried it for months and LOVE it. It’s almost perfect. (Wilson Combat, $3,080)
- Remington Defense XM2010 – I know, it’s impossible to get one. There are no civilian sales yet. But thanks to the NDIA Symposium I got to fire one, and it was without a doubt the best bolt action rifle I have ever had the opportunity to fire. It’s not a fiddy cal, it’s better. (Remington Defense, $∞)