Best shooting gear–from home defense to EDC–of 2017

With each passing year comes advancements in gear for shooters, and 2017 was no exception.  From gun care to reloading, range toys to optics, there is something to tickle every trigger-pullers fancy.

Flitz Gun & Knife Care Kit

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Flitz not only cleans things up but also protects for up to six months. (Photo: Kristen Alberts)

All good hunters and shooters take care of their weapons, and Flitz makes that job a breeze.  The Gun & Knife Care Kit includes 1.7 ounce units of Tactical Matte Cleaner, Polish Paste, and Gun & Knife Wax Protectant along with a 16×16-inch microfiber polishing cloth.  We’ve shined up stainless, nickel, brass, and hot blued firearms with stellar results.

Flitz works wonders on bayonets and old hunting knives as well.  The wax even performs well on stocks, while the cleaner can be used on the interior of gun bores in addition to exterior surfaces.  Best of all, these products don’t just clean things up, but protect them for up to six months as well.  With an MSRP of $22.29, this Flitz Kit is a bargain for the shooter’s work bench.

RCBS Case Cleaner 2.0

This is where the caption goes (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

You can see significant size increase in the new RCBS Case Cleaner 2. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Ultrasonic cleaners have quickly become a must-have item for reloaders and shooters.  RCBS is proof that sometimes bigger really is better, at least when it comes to ultrasonic cleaners.  The new-for-2017 Ultrasonic Case Cleaner-2 makes significant changes from the previous model, with a capacity 100 percent larger, though that’s not the only change.

This new version is built with a second ceramic heater and transducer to more quickly and thoroughly clean both brass cases and gun parts. The LED display features touch-buttons and is easily programmable with a timer that can be set for up to 30 minutes of continuous cleaning.

There are two models, with the only difference in the power system:  a 120 VAC model with an MSRP of $399.95 or an international-friendly 240 VAC version that is EU/UK/AUS compliant and wears a slightly higher $429.95 price tag.

If you’re shopping online, MidwayUSA is currently running the Ultrasonic 2 on sale for $249, a cool savings of $100.  Priced by capacity, that makes RCBS one of the most affordable big guys on the market.

Nikon Laserforce Rangefinding binoculars

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The new rangefinding binoculars excelled in all types of terrains and conditions. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Nikon is not the first to the rangefinding binocular party, but they are the best.  The 10×42 magnification pairs well with the advertised rangefinding capabilities of 10-1,900 yards. A rubberized exterior is durable and practical. The ID (Incline/Decline) technology is necessary on the majority of hunts for accurate ranging in hilly terrain or from hunting stands, and also works well on the shooting range.

Controls are simple to work and quickly become second nature.  Brightness of the laser display is easy to read and adjust, and auto shutoff protects the battery for long life.  We used them extensively on numerous hunts and range trips, and the battery still shows full life.  Nikon is not sacrificing quality to join two technologies; the glass is fantastic and the rangefinder is top notch as well.

Though the Nikon LaserForce advertises 10-1,900 yard ranging of reflective targets, don’t expect to range game at quite that extreme distance.  Despite the company’s rating of ranging deer-sized game to 1,100 yards, we were able to exceed that on game with regularity. Ranges are acquired quickly and accurately, which help us put our shots on target, and much faster than the traditional binocular, then rangefinder, then rifle.  Cut out the middle man and pick up a LaserForce.

MSRP may sound steep at $1,199, but online retailers list them at $950 and they turn two pieces of gear into one.  Nikon’s lifetime No Fault Policy means the company will repair or replace your optics, so no worries when you spend that dough.

Snap Safe Handgun Vault

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The Snap Safe has plenty of room for a pair of handguns and other valuables. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Now that Hornady has acquired Snap Safe, the number of interesting security products for shooters has grown.  While they specialize in modular, put-together safes, we prefer Snap Safe’s specialty line, including this Two Gun Keypad Vault.  Not only is it small enough to hide in nearly any cupboard, closet, or cabinet, but it is also large enough for two handguns plus ammo, mags, documents, and valuables.

Pre-drilled holes make solid mounting a breeze and the 16-gauge steel is at once durable and heavy-duty.  The four-to-six-digit keypad code allows for adequate of security, and the manual key override is a necessary and welcome addition.  The spring-loaded door allows quick and easy access to your goods in emergency situations, and I find it a nice, secure stash for home defense staging.

At $99 MSRP, this is affordable protection for any home.  If you need more room, or specialized storage, check out Hornady Snap Safe’s vehicle Trunk Safe, Under Bed Vault, or In-Wall options.

Skeleton Optics

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Skeleton Optics in Mossy Oak winter camo are equipped with Zeiss lenses. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

We’ve been wearing the Scout model in Mossy Oak patterns for several months now, and they’ve become as much fashion as hunting and fishing tools.  Skeleton Optics utilizes polarized Zeiss lenses with what they call “Tri-pel” coating that resists everything from salt water to mud, sweat, and oil.  Like the Scout, many of the models are unisex, and I enjoy the Mossy Oak Winter frame color with Bronze Titanic lenses.

The glasses come packed in a silky drawstring pouch inside a semi-rigid zipper case with a one year manufacturer warranty.  So far, they’ve been banged around in hunting pack, tossed in a range bag and ice fishing tackle box, and just plain used with no lens scratches or wear.

If camo is not your thing, they offer several other styles and numerous other colors and patterns. In addition to Zeiss glass, Skeleton uses Italian-made frames.  If that’s not enough, one more big plus—they are an American veteran-owned small business. Our Scout Mossy Oak shades retail for $200 and make a nice buy for durable shooter’s eyewear.

Champion Center Mass Steel Targets

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Champion makes their Center Mass AR500 targets in a variety of gongs, squares, and even silhouettes.  (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Reactive targets are all the rage, and with good reason.  There’s nothing more satisfying than audible and visual confirmation of successful, accurate shooting on the range.  With AR500 steel gongs and squares in a variety of thicknesses ranging in price from $14.95 to $39.95, they make quality steel for any shooter.  The company offers hanging mounts as well, though it does not take much creativity to fashion your own.

If you have a bigger budget or prefer something more fancy, check out Champion’s Pop Up Silhouette Targets, which run $129.95-159.95 and open up plenty of friendly competitions on the range.  All of Champion’s Center Mass targets of these are capable of withstanding almost all centerfire calibers at varying distances.  If  rimfire plinking is more to your fancy, Champion offers a bevy of rimfire spinners and resetting targets as well, and their prices best most others on the market.