Every year, we examine umpteen new products designed for personal security. Among those, only a select few stand out and are worthy of the coveted Golden Bullseye Award. In order to rise to the top, a product must offer a combination of innovation, utility, reliability, outstanding performance and value to the consumer. This year’s award recipients embody those qualities with panache. With uncertainty in the economy and the world, finding a firearm, optic and accessory that you can trust becomes even more important. Here are the best of the best products for self-defense, training, concealed carry and home protection introduced during the past year.
Handgun of the Year | Taurus 856 Executive Grade
While Taurus has long been known for innovative designs, the company has had a reputation for not following up those designs with impeccable execution in the past. That has changed recently, and the Executive Grade 856 is a prime example. This DAO, hand-tuned, six-shot revolver was built for the serious wheelgun shooter and carrier, sporting
a slick action, attractive and practical stocks and a host of features designed to make it not only look great, but also function flawlessly in a defensive scenario. And it does both with aplomb, while retailing at a price well below that of similar revolvers.
“Obviously, those who prefer revolvers are still a significant market force. As proof, revolvers are still being sold in large numbers, and the Taurus 856 Executive is an exemplary sample of the daily-carry wheelgun.”
• Tuned action
• Chamfered chambers
• Altamont walnut grips
• Spurless hammer
Caliber: .38 Spl. +P
Capacity: 6 rounds
Barrel Length: 3 inches
Overall Length: 7.5 inches
Weight: 25 ounces
(229) 515-8464, taurususa.com
Rifle of the Year | Springfield Armory Saint Edge ATC
The words “radical new design” are seldom attached to an AR-15. After all, the basic platform is almost ready for Social Security. But the Saint Edge ATC and ATC Elite are as innovative an AR as we’ve seen in many years. To start, its lower receiver includes the bottom half of the fore-end—a serious departure from a standard AR. This is all part of a system that minimizes contact between handguards and barrel while creating a stiff platform for ridiculous out-of-the-box accuracy. Its .223 Wylde chamber allows it to achieve such results with either .223 Rem. or 5.56 NATO ammunition, making it a versatile rifle, too.
“I shoot between 125 and 150 AR-style rifles, pistols, SBRs and the occasional machine gun each year, with a high emphasis on precision performance in most cases. Seldom does the process of shooting tight groups strike me as mundane. Yet, the SAINT Edge ATC made it so easy, I am left feeling that Springfield’s idea to move handguard pressures to the lower receiver is worth serious consideration.”
—Steve Adelmann, Rifle Editor
• Dual-ported muzzle brake
• Fore-end integral to lower receiver
• Ballistic Advantage barrel
• B5 Systems stock
Chambering: .223 Wylde
Capacity: 20 rounds
Barrel Length: 18 inches
Overall Length: 36.5 to 39.75 inches
Weight: 10 pounds, 1 ounce
(800) 680-6866, springfield-armory.com
Shotgun of the Year | Savage Renegauge Security
Shotguns remain an important home-security tool, and while pumps tend to dominate that market, the Renegauge Security should have plenty of people re-examining the semi-automatic scattergun for defense. Savage’s D.R.I.V. gas system ensures consistent, smooth and reliable cycling, while mitigating the 12-gauge’s recoil. It also lets the gun function with just about any type of shotshell—from 3-inch magnums to low-recoil buckshot—without a hitch. Add to that a well-conceived stock, chrome-plated moving parts and ghost-ring sights, and the result is a great choice for those looking to add speed and reliability to their home-defense shotgun.
“Savage got it right with the Renegauge Security. It’s well designed, easy to operate and soft on recoil. It’s reliable, extremely fast (capable of .11-second split times) and a pleasure to shoot. For me, it points like it grew from my body.”
—Bryce M. Towsley, Field Editor
• Ghost-ring sights
• Oversize bolt handle
• Innovative gas system
• Stock Rod buffer system reduces felt recoil
Gauge: 12; 3-inch chamber
Capacity: 6 rounds
Barrel Length: 18.5 inches
Overall Length: 40 inches
Weight: 7 pounds
(800) 370-0708, savagearms.com
Optic of the Year | Leupold Patrol 6HD
Leupold scopes are expected to be superlative, and the Patrol 6HD is no exception. It is perhaps the quintessential LPVO for less than $1,500, thanks to its 6X magnification range, true 1X magnification at the low end and an intuitive, illuminated reticle. Its short overall length and generous 3.8-inch eye-relief make it ideal for use on a carbine, as the Patrol moniker implies. Because it’s a Leupold, it’s also built like a tank and will survive a lifetime of hard use, plus it’s backed by the company’s legendary warranty for added peace of mind.
“The center dot is amazingly fast to acquire, and if you’re worried about battery life, don’t be: motion-sensing technology shuts the illumination off after 5 minutes of inactivity and automatically turns it back on when the scope/rifle is next moved, ensuring the dot comes on when you need it.”
—Ed Friedman, Editor-in-Chief
• Tremendous adjustability
• Low-profile magnification adjustment
• HD glass for outstanding clarity
• Easy-to-acquire aiming point
Objective Lens Diameter: 24 mm
Reticle: Illuminated FireDot Duplex
Adjustment: 170 MOA windage and elevation in .25-MOA clicks
Length: 10.8 inches
Weight: 16.2 ounces
(800) 538-7653, leupold.com
Ammunition Product of the Year | Federal Premium 30 Super Carry
Setting out to create a new pistol cartridge specifically for concealed carry was an admittedly risky move on Federal’s part. With the popularity and ubiquity of 9 mm guns and ammunition and the presence of solid .380 ACP defensive loads and handguns, there seemed little space for something that fell in between the two. Yet, the 30 Super Carry provides performance that is only negligibly beneath the 9 mm, while offering reduced recoil and increased capacity. It is a truly innovative new offering that provides armed citizens with an excellent new option.
“The totality of self-defense with a pistol is more than just about a single shot. The 30 Super Carry offers capacity and recoil advantages. ... if guns were built around the 30 Super Carry rather than just chambering it in existing pistols, they could be even smaller. This means easier to carry and conceal, while still delivering great terminal performance.”
—Richard Mann, Ammo Editor
• 9 mm terminal performance with less recoil
• Muzzle velocity faster than advertised
• Provides increased capacity without increased pistol size
• Easy to shoot fast and accurately
(800) 831-8100, federalpremium.com
Accessory of the Year | Fix-It-Sticks Compact Ratcheting Multi-Tool
A toolkit for fixing problems in the field that takes up no more space than a spare magazine? That’s what the Compact Ratcheting Multi-Tool from Fix-it-Sticks offers. With 15 bits (six Torx, six Hex, two Phillips head and one slotted) and a ratcheting wrench included, it’s a useful, small piece to add to your range bag or daily kit. It assembles easily and quickly, stows just as fast and can be used for a wide variety of field-maintenance tasks on most firearms. Combined with the company’s torque wrenches, it can also be used to mount optics afield or in the shop, making it a versatile tool for your collection.
“I’m a big fan of stuff that works. I think we all are. I’ve been a fan of Fix-It Sticks’ products for quite some time, finding pretty much everything the company makes to be well-constructed, durable and affordable. The latest item from Fix-It Sticks, the Compact Ratcheting Multi-Tool, is certainly no exception.”
—Jay Grazio, Executive Editor
• 15 bits in an easy-to-stow package
• Simple assembly and use
• Reversible, ratcheting T-Way Wrench included
• Perfect for most field-maintenance tasks
(872) 802-3110, fixitsticks.com
Pioneer Award Bill Wilson | President, Wilson Combat
Bill Wilson founder and President of Wilson Combat, is the 2023 Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award recipient. The Pioneer Award spotlights the exemplary achievement and cumulative body of work of an individual, or members of a family, team or partnership, responsible for the development and introduction of shooting equipment that has made a profound, positive and enduring impact on the way Americans shoot and hunt.
“I have known Bill personally for more than 30 years,” said NRA Publications Executive Director Doug Hamlin, “and his standard for producing world-class, custom firearms is unparalleled.”
Since 1977, Wilson Combat has been an innovator and leader in the field of high-performance 1911 custom pistols, handgun accessories, AR-15 pattern rifles and countless other firearm products. The company has gone from being a modest 1911 customizer to a state-of-the-art firearms design and manufacturing facility with more than 200 employees and multiple brands under its umbrella.
In addition to Wilson Combat, Wilson also owns and manages firearm-accessory maker Chip McCormick Custom, high-performance bullet manufacturer Lehigh Defense and
most recently acquired the assets of Melvin Forbes’ New Ultralight Arms. Wilson also became the guiding force behind the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA), a competitive shooting association dedicated to the oversight of defensive-shooting competition using practical handguns that currently boasts more than 25,000 members in more than 70 countries.
Bill Wilson’s legacy has raised the bar of high-performance, practical firearms across the globe. In his visible role as a competitor, hunter, author, gunsmith, manufacturer and developer of some of the most innovative arms and accessories, Wilson has always been a staunch advocate of the National Rifle Association and its focus on preserving the inalienable right of the people to keep and bear arms. “Our gun rights are cherished and important civil liberties,” Wilson said. “I am extremely humbled to be honored by the NRA with this award. No organization has done more for the American gun owner than the NRA and I am proud to stand with them in their fight to preserve our right to keep and bear arms.”