Top 10 firms, firearms and technologies of 2013

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This year was rough. Really, for everyone it was just rough. Sometimes it feels like most of this 2013 was spent “debating” gun rights and gun control and the rest of the year just trying to find ammo.

Many manufacturers held back on new product launches, it’s true, without exception in order to catch up to back-orders on existing products. But during these past couple of months pressures have started to drop, guns, ammo, parts and accessories are getting a lot easier to find and with SHOT Show 2014 around the corner, the gun world seems like its getting back on track.

Even then, 2013 also saw a lot of good things in the gun world, with new products and technologies rising to the top every day, every week all year long.

These are our picks for the top 10 important, innovative and influential products and companies of 2013

10. 3D-printed guns

3D printed magazine (Photo credit: Forbes)

This is a no-brainer. For good or for ill 3D-printed firearms have taken the world by storm, even though they are for all intents and purposes imaginary. The total number of 3D-printed firearms in the world is probably less than a thousand and so far they have not caused one iota of harm, yet they’ve complete shaken everyone up. They’re crazy like that.

From the 3D-printed AR-15 lower receiver to the DefDist Liberator to the Charon receiver set to the Solid Concepts stainless-steel and Inconel 1911, nothing has caused more waves than the concept of the 3D-printed firearm.

And while they’re largely responsible for attempts to expand the Undetectable Firearms Act, they’ve also gone and lit the spark for for a new generation of manufacturing, at home and on the industrial scale. Sure, the technology to make it fast, cheap and good is in the future, but we now know that future is a lot closer than anyone thought.

9. ’21st-century’ derringers

Where is my Heizer?

Three companies have come to the forefront of this new wave of minimalist ultra-small concealed-carry pistols, DoubleTap, Heizer Defense and Edge Arms. All three have brought to market or announced modernized double-action derringers for deep concealment.

DoubleTap has their two-shot 9mm and .45 ACP hand-crushers, Heizer Defense has their much softer-recoiling single-shot .410/45 “Pocket Shotgun” and Edge Arms is developing their four-shot pepperbox in a handful of calibers up to .380.

While they may be of limited use, hard to shoot and of slight capacity, they can’t be beat in terms of concealability. People will give up a lot for gun that will absolutely disappear in any pocket.

8. SIG SB15

SB15-Detail

Don’t call it an SBR! A pistol with a SIG stabilizing brace may look like a short-barreled rifle, it is actually just a rubber clasp that secures a pistol to your forearm, in order to make it, well, stable.

Invented for veterans with disabilities, these braces make it easier to handle rifle-pattern pistols, for fast, accurate one-handed shots. They simply work as advertised, and are a lot of fun even for people without disabilities.

While short-barreled rifles are fast-growing in popularity, many people don’t want to deal with the legal hurdles of owning one, or simply can’t in their jurisdictions. The SIG SB15 and its imitators, like the SB-47, give rifle-pattern pistols the appearance of short-barreled rifles if not the function.

7. CrossBreed Purse Defender

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Even though concealed-carry is more popular than ever, some people don’t have a lot of options in how they carry, because of how they dress or where they work or what they carry. Sure, there are people that swear up and down that with the right holster, anyone can make a Glock 17 “just disappear,” but that doesn’t make it true.

Off-the-body-carry has its critics, but many people carry guns in purses, bags and briefcases every day, men and women. CrossBreed launched the Purse Defender just for these people (sorry men who purse, I mean, off-the-body-carry).

The Purse Defender is a rigid plate with a kydex holster molded to it. The plate hooks into its carrier turning any purse, bag or briefcase into a safe and secure holster. The design incorporates a ledge to keep printing down, too.

You don’t have to off-the-body-carry to appreciate CrossBreed’s many innovative and proven designs, though. If you’re looking for a leader in concealed-carry, CrossBreed’s at the top.

6. Boberg XR9-L and XR45-S

XR9-LWhile some people might not care for Boberg’s guns, the Boberg method of operation or just the Boberg prices, there is no doubting that Boberg has developed a completely new type of handgun.

Designed for concealed-carry, Boberg pistols have a unique loading system that uses a claw to pull cartridges from the magazine before pushing them into the rotating locking barrel. The design lets the barrel extend far into the slide, all the way to the back of the magazine. The end result is a very compact concealed-carry pistol that doesn’t compromise when it comes to energy at the muzzle.

This year Boberg has stepped things up with a the XR9-L and the XR45-S. The L is a “longslide” version of the standard “Shorty” model which, despite the fact that it’s no bigger than any other single-stack subcompact, manages to bring a service-size 4.2-inch barrel to the table. The XR45-S is the company’s first .45 ACP model, and it’s no slouch either with its 3.75-inch barrel.

These are special guns and it’s nice to see that Boberg is hard at work developing new models for concealed-carriers of all stripes (As long as those stripes are green).

5. KeyMod

keymodKeyMod is a fast-growing standard that, at this rate, is sure to eclipse the MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail as the accessory mount of choice for operators and “operators” alike. It’s a free-as-in-beer open-source mounting system developed by Vltor that does everything Picatinny can do and more.

The design allows users to mount accessories and yes, Picatinny rail sections, directly to their firearm’s handguard, without special tools and without having to disassemble the handguard. Everything mounts from the outside through the KeyMod slots. It’s fast, easy, sturdy and very lightweight.

While it was announced in 2012, it hasn’t been until this year that companies have started to make accessories for it. The wait has been worth it. Companies across the board are announcing new keymod handguards for ARs, AKs and even Tavors.

It isn’t everywhere yet, but 2013 will forever be the year KeyMod proved its mettle.

4. Magpul, for products and principles

The Magpul van parked outside the Colorado statehouse when a spokesman spoke with lawmakers.

From their new Mossberg 500 buttstock and forend to their budding line-up of AK accessories to their rainbow of iPhone covers, Magpul hasn’t slowed down for one minute this year. And not just with new products, but in the world of gun politics, too.

The company is one of the major forces in the fight to nullify new anti-gun laws passed in Colorado, their home state, even as they work to relocate away from it. Magpul fought the push led by national groups to change the Western state’s laws, and in the face of defeat, sold and gave away thousands of magazines to Colorado gun owners, prioritizing them over out-of-state customers at a time where magazines were practically worth their weight in gold.

During the crunch Magpul criticized price-gougers, discouraging vendors flogging precious PMAGs for 10 times their fair-market price.

Magpul has proven to being not only one of the best manufacturers of firearm accessories in the U.S., they’ve also proven to being a morally outstanding manufacturer, going far above and beyond just making great stuff. Which they have. With new stuff coming out all year long.

3. IWI Tavor

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This is the bullpup that finally did it. It finally showed the standard rifle world that bullpups can cut it. People who have long sung the praises of their favorite go-to rifle for years, be it AR, AK, SKS or SHTF, are switching to team Tavor.

The Tavor does everything right. It is a major military service rifle, it uses AR-15 magazines, it has a long-stroke gas piston operation, it has a standard flattop receiver for optics and it has a very simple design.

It even has a pretty crappy trigger that bullpup users have come to know and love! (But don’t worry, there’s an easy fix and rumor has it that Geissele is working on a trigger pack that, because Geissele, is expected to be great, and not just by bullpup standards, just plain great.)

The rifle has only been available in numbers for a few short months but the market and aftermarket are already crawling all over it. The Tavor is here to stay.

2. AR-10-pattern rifles

magpul pmag 308 gen m3

One of the new products to come from Magpul is an AR-10 magazine. It was long overdue.

While the big seller of 2013 was the AR-15, those sales were largely driven by politics. The AR-15 market isn’t saturated and will always have room for more guns and goodies, but the real shift this year has been towards AR-10s.

The gun scare of 2013 delayed the impending wave of AR-pattern rifles chambered for .308 Winchester/7.62 NATO, but there’s no stopping it now. In the past few weeks alone we’ve seen new .308 rifles from CMMG, Ruger and Windham Weaponry. Even Turnbull is getting in on the action with their gorgeous case-hardened steel TAR-10.

AR-10 parts and standards have really gelled this year, and even though the AR-10 market is a fraction of the size of the AR-15 market, the speed at which it’s growing is a clear indicator that there’s a new black rifle in town.

1. Teludyne Tech Straight Jacket Barrel System

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Expecting something like TrackingPoint here? As impressive as their tech is, even a TrackingPoint PGR will shoot more accurately with help from Teludyne Tech.

Have you not heard of Teludyne Tech? If you haven’t, you will. They make any long gun more accurate, guaranteed. So much more accurate that their Straight Jacket system is destined to be a must have for any precision gun. It really is a game-changer.

The company got started last year, but only in a limited capacity. Now they’re open for business and offer a line of Straight Jacketed AR-15 uppers that are very reasonably priced, considering they can fire an entire magazine through the same hole at 100 yards, in addition to performing custom work on rifles and shotguns.

Teludyne Tech sleeves barrels with an aluminum, stainless steel or titanium shroud and fills the gap with a mysterious proprietary resin. When the resin sets it sets hard, making the barrel completely whip-free for very accurate shooting.

It gets better. The resin is extremely thermally-conductive, wicking heat out of the barrel and chamber. With the added surface area of the sleeve, the barrel stays very cool — think double-digits cool — even after long strings of rapid fire.

Straight Jacket-equipped guns are able to shoot one ragged hole all day long. It won’t be long before they’re on every competition rifle and shotgun out there (at least in open divisions).

In the long run it’s likely that this tech will be adapted for military use as well. Frankly, we’d be surprised if there aren’t plans for machine gun barrels in the works. Teludyne Tech is the future.

Honorable Mentions:

TrackingPoint scope. (Photo by Daniel Terrill)

Ok, TrackingPoint gets props for their upcoming million-mile .50 BMG rifle. They’ve got a whole new networked military hardware program that takes combat coordination to the next level for sure, and also their work with Remington to make precision-guided rifles more accessible and affordable speaks well of the company.

Ruger, here, gets props for coming out with great new guns all year ’round, from the new American Rimfire rifles to the new LCRx. It’s like they can’t do wrong right now.

Sintercore is a new name in the industry that is working on a new type of muzzle brake/flash hider for rifles. Their Auxetik muzzle device is totally unique in that it is 3D-printed out of Inconel, and has an internal design that cannot be made by any method other than 3D printing. Likewise the Ares Armor Effin-A tunable compensator stands out for being just amazing at its job and completely customizable.

Canada_412_minigunReally, there are too many names of people and companies that have done amazing things this year. Even though they’re not strictly gun-related, we’d like to tip our hats to the Funker 530 team for all their work archiving the War in Afghanistan and on a lighter note Joerg Sprave for all his wonderful and often murderous slingshots.

And a very special thanks to everyone, companies and individuals, that fought for gun rights this year, everywhere. Thanks to all the companies that are relocating in protest and thanks to all the companies that have boycotted law enforcement sales to states with anti-gun laws. Thank you.

It had its ups and downs, but 2013 was still a very good year.

Got anything that should have been on this list and wasn’t? Put your honorable (or dishonorable) mentions in the comments!

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