Christmas is just around the corner and lighted trees everywhere are begging for presents. We at Guns.com put together a list that will put smiles on the faces of hunters and shooters this holiday season, and with prices from $15 to $425, there’s something for every pocketbook.
We’ve been wearing the Scout model in Mossy Oak patterns for over a month now, and they’ve become our new go-to shooting and fishing shades. 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 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.
Flitz Gun & Knife Care Kit
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. It 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. 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, and fits well in a Christmas stocking.
Though scent control products have been around for a long time, Scent Kapture is relatively new to the market, but they came in with a vengeance. Their team had us hooked from first sniff.
During a product demo, they saturated an article with ammonia–nearly enough to knock you down. With just a few spritzes of Scent Kapture Field Spray, not a trace of the stink remained. Best of all, Scent Kapture is not a cover scent but rather it utilizes an odor-encapsulating technology to rid the stank by binding to and eliminating odor molecules.
The small family company understands what hunters need and offers a full line of products: field spray, hair and body wash, laundry detergent, hand scrub, and now field wipes. Though the field spray is the company’s bread and butter—for good reason—we also plan to keep both the laundry wash and hand scrub, which are just as good after the hunt as before. Fishermen will also love the hand scrub, which somehow manages to get rid of the worst fish cleaning odors. The bundle pack is your best buy, which includes one of each for $30.
Nikon Laserforce rangefinding binoculars
Nikon is not the first to the rangefinding binocular party, but they are one of the best – if not 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. 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. Nikon is not sacrificing quality to join two technologies; the glass is fantastic and the rangefinder is top notch as well.
Though the LaserForce advertises 10-1,900 yard ranging of reflective targets, don’t expect to range game at quite that extreme a distance. Despite the company’s rating of ranging deer-sized game to 1,100 yards, we were able to exceed that range 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 turk 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.
Caribou Gear Meat Bags
I will admit I was pretty hesitant about Caribou Gear in two respects—first, spending more money on meat bags and two, I didn’t think I’d want to spend my day laundering used game bags. I was wrong on both counts. Not only is Caribou Gear worth every penny, but they clean up so quickly and easily. I will never be without them again.
Other hunters in camp used a combination of an unnamed outdoor retailer’s bags, as well as the el cheapo ones that resemble cheesecloth, and both looked absolutely disgusting after only a few hours. They either did not clean up or could not be used again, and most importantly, did not protect the meat near as well.
We used the Small Magnum Pack, which was ideal for the antelope and deer we were chasing. They withstood bone-in quarters with ease, and while the flies congregated to the other hunters meshy packs, ours were well protected from elements, insects and the like. You almost have to do it yourself to believe how easily these bags went from super bloody to pure white with a simple spray down with the hose. In only a few hours, they were completely dry and ready for the next day’s hunt. We made use of the included gloves, plastic and labeling tags as well.
Although the MSRP sounds high at $69.99, you get seven heavy-duty reusable meat bags, all with locking drawstrings and easy to spot reflective tabs in case you have to return for some of your meat later, all tucked in a nice exterior pack. The company offers plenty of kits for larger game as well.
Browning Featherweight Upland Boots
Browning is not new to the footwear game, but their re-entry into the market is by far their best. The new Featherweight Upland boots come out of the box begging to hunt. With an eight-inch height, these lightweight leather boots feature Cordura side panels and a double thickness leather toe piece. Climate Command coating provides waterproofing from normal dew and moisture, but I did give mine a little extra waterproofing, just in case.
Having worn many, many pairs of hunting boots over the years, Browning Featherweights are hands down the most comfortable, lightweight boots for not only upland birders, but active warmer-weather big game hunters and hikers alike. My original pair has beat many miles of terrain from the Midwest to three western states and back and all they’ve worn is a little softer and more comfortable with a few character marks on the leather. Retail price is $149, and they run true to size. I have already ordered a second pair for the sad day when these wear out.
Believe it or not, the LiT lighted cooler actually makes a cool gift for hunters, shooters and outdoorspeople. The Night Sight LED liner is removable and can be used to illuminate a camping tent, deer shack, or of course, the cooler. The LED light itself goes on and off automatically as the coolers opens, though it can be turned on and off with a switch and is rechargeable.
The best feature of the cooler, however, is what the company calls Ice Legs — the four hard-sided freezable “legs” that fit flushly into each corner of the cooler, keeping things cold without taking up usable cooler space. LiT is not all smoke and mirrors either. Their coolers are quality-built, grizzly proof and true to size. The smallest size worked great for keeping our ammo out of the blazing sun on a prairie dog shoot, while the larger sizes are better for packing meat on a hunt. All held ice for at least seven days when pre-chilled.
For those who like a little style, LiT is available not only a myriad of colors and camo patterns, but the company allows buyers to customize the see-thru cover box. Prices range from $254.99-$424.99 depending on size of the ice chest.
RCBS Case Cleaner 2.0
Ultrasonic cleaners have quickly become a must-have item for reloaders and shooters who do their own gun cleaning. 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. But 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 tag.
Champion Center Mass Steel Targets
Reactive targets are all the rage, and with good reason. There’s nothing more satisfying than audio and visual confirmation of accurate shooting on the range. Why not use some heavy steel to weigh down your Christmas stockings? With AR500 steel gongs and squares in a variety of thicknesses from $14.95 to $39.95, there’s quality steel for any shooter.
The company offers hanging mounts as well, though it doesn’t take much creativity to fashion your own. If you have a bigger budget or prefer something fancier, check out Champion’s Pop Up Silhouette Targets, which run $129.95 to $159.95. All of these are capable of withstanding most centerfire calibers at varying distances. If your shooter prefers rimfire plinking, Champion offers a bevy of rimfire spinners and resetting targets as well, and their prices best most others on the market. The shooter in your life will thank you.
Craig Boddington’s "The Accurate Rifle…and Rifleman"
From one of the most well-known and respected shooters and hunters of our time comes a new, must-read book. The Col. Craig Boddington covers everything from barrels to triggers, handloading and ammo to optics, but where the book really excels is in the author’s concern for the human element—tips, tricks, positions, and tactics for shooters of any skill level.
Available for $35 from Boddington’s website, buyers can even request to have the hardcover book signed by the author. At 374 pages and packed with beneficial color photos and line drawings, I don’t know any shooters who wouldn’t welcome unwrapping a personalized copy.
The Ruger M77 Hawkeye bolt-action rifle is a robust and budget-friendly hunting companion that will last you a lifetime. From deer and elk to smaller game, this reliable gun offers performance even in harsh conditions.