List articles are normally some of the easiest for an editor to publish, but with so many great new weapons being released in 2014, it’s difficult to narrow them down to just a handful. Also, several big names released great products towards the end of the year without much fanfare while other big names ran into production issues.
Shooting fans who follow the industry closely would have reasonably guessed that Glock’s G42 and the Remington R51 would have been prominent among every list, but only the Glock has emerged as a viable weapon.
That said, even with the disappointments of several companies, plenty of great products were born in 2014, here are my top picks.
When Century Arms announced it was building not only an all-American AK rifle, but a milled one, several purists spat at the idea. Century Arms has an undeserved reputation for putting out less than stellar weapons. Despite the naysayers, the C39 milled AK from Century has proven such a hit, that they geared up to release another version, the V2, to meet the increased demands of the market.
Walther is known for quality rimfire target pistols and the Bond-favorite PPK, but not for combat pistols. At least not since the Second World War. Last year when the company released the new PPQ, the gun community embraced the polymer-framed combat handgun with open arms the way one would welcome a long-absent friend returning home. After establishing a foothold in the industry, Walther decided to create a competition-ready version of the PPQ M2 with a longer barrel and sight radius: the PPQ M2 5-inch. While not as well-known as Glock or Ruger’s handguns, it should be at the top of anyone’s list who is looking for a more ergonomic handgun than the one-size-fits-all world of Austrian firearms.
Beretta pistols positively drip with Italian style. Unfortunately, its newest venture into the military rifle market lacks the charm of earlier designs. While not the most attractive gal on the block, the ARX-100 has it where it counts, on the inside. Featuring a short-stroke piston-driven action, the ARX-100’s reliability gives it a leg up on the direct-impingement competition. Shooters looking for a scary black rifle that differentiates itself from the pack should look no further than the Italian stallion of 5.56mm carbines, the ARX-100.
While not technically out yet, the SIG MPX has had a tremendous impact on the firearms industry already. Helping push the boundaries of what’s considered a pistol, rifle and sound suppressor, the MPX is arguably the single most important weapon to gun rights this decade. It’s not just political impact that makes the SIG MPX one of the top picks of 2014 though. Featuring a new hybrid piston design, ultra-compact size and folding brace, it represents the best home defense weapon for any recoil-shy shooters who want copious amounts of lead to keep home-invaders at bay.
My pick of the year is the evolution of an old favorite. Sure, the GP100 Match Champion isn’t totally original, but it shows that while the Ruger name may represent old-fashioned six-guns, they are more than capable of delivering what modern shooters want. Updating the venerable GP100 with features that most shooters normally associate with higher-priced competitors, the GP100 Match Champion elevates Ruger’s blue-collar baby to Smith & Wesson levels of quality. If you haven’t already bought a holiday gift for the gun-lover in your family, run down to the local gun-shop and snag one of these, you’ll be able to hand it down to several future generations.
If you’re wondering why Glock’s .380 ACP single stack gun is absent from the list, it’s because it brings nothing new or noteworthy the table. The market has been clamoring for a 9mm single-stack Glock for years, not a .380 ACP one. Other products like the SIG P320C and Arsenals SAM7SF would have been on the list, except they either came out last year or too late this year to be properly tested. Did we miss anything? Sure. Beretta’s mid-sized gun nearly made the list, as did the Ruger LCR 3-inch. Hopefully next year shooters will have an even-larger variety of quality weapons to choose from.