The Experts at Cheaper Than Dirt! Top Gun Picks of 2011

By Suzanne Wiley published on in Firearms

As we look forward to the NSSF SHOT Show 2012 in just a matter of weeks and all the innovative and new firearms that we are eager to test and shoot, we also reflect on our favorites from 2011. The experts here at Cheaper Than Dirt, the product techs, copywriters, and the boss, have all picked their favorite guns from 2011. Our compiled list does not necessarily contain guns brand new for 2011. However, it does contain guns that made an impact on us, old guns and newly discovered guns we coveted, and guns that made an impact on the firearms industry in 2011.

Dave, Product Tech

Daniel Defense M4V7 Lightweight : It is the lightest duty-ready factory AR-15 available. It is free-floating, and uses the mid-length gas system. Made just the way I would build it myself.

Glock 19 Semi Automatic Compact Handgun

Glock 19 Semi Automatic Compact Handgun

Glock 19 : Gen 3 or Gen 4, this is just about the ideal general-purpose handgun. It is small enough to conceal, and large enough to shoot well. Mags and accessories are ubiquitous and cheap, and its reliability is second to none.

Smith & Wesson M&P (9, 40, or 45) : For police duty, or if the Glock just isn’t your cup of tea, the M&P handguns are fantastic. I actually like the M&P best, but the Glock 19 fits me a bit better. If I used .40 or .45, I would be carrying an M&P.

Mossberg 590A1, Rifle Sights : The 590A1 is as durable and reliable as can be. It is faster than the Magpul guys let on, too. I like the version with the 18” rifle sight barrel for utility with slugs and ease of use with 835 barrels for hunting.

Smith & Wesson Model 422 : This is a blast from the past, but what a gun! Once you get past the looks this little .22 is a great shooter. It is reliable, it has a 12 round capacity, mags are cheap and easy to find, and it makes a great suppressor platform.

Ruger 10/22 Compact : My kids are approaching the age where they can start to learn about shooting. I can’t think of a better rifle to start them on than the Ruger 10/22 Compact. It’s as reliable as .22s come, so they can focus on learning and having fun instead of clearing malfunctions. Plus, it is a 10/22. It can grow as they grow, and there is only about a million options for them to choose from.

Remington Model 700 XCR Compact Tactical

Remington Model 700 XCR Compact Tactical

Savage MKII FV-SR : For those who enjoy putting holes close together, this is your .22. For those that want a light, handy, suppressor-ready varminter, this is your gun, too.

Remington 700 XCR Compact Tactical : I think this is pretty much the ideal factory, rough-use precision .308 rifle. It is an all stainless, nitride-coated, LTR in a lightweight Bell and Carlson Stock. I cannot think of a better place to start, and I will be able to get parts easy if my needs change.

Bushmaster .308 ORC : This is an odd pick. I like this not because it is already perfect, but because I could set it up just right without much trouble or expense. I would tune up the bolt and buffer parts as needed, put a long free float handguard on it, insert PMag, and enjoy.

Century Arms Saiga Conversion, 7.62×39 : This one just showed up. It is a real Russian Saiga (AK), imported in a sporter configuration. Century just converts it to standard AK configuration by putting the trigger, pistol grip and mag well back the way they are supposed to be. Real Russian AK for Century prices? Yes please.

Aaron, Copy Writer

Sig 226 TacOps : This particular Sig is designed with an operator in mind. It has the Sig Sauer quality, reliability, and accuracy but with extras. First, the sights are not just tritium but tritium with fiber optics. The trigger breaks nicely, but has a short reset for quick follow up shots. Finally, the mag well/grips create an extended funnel for quick magazine changes.

Colt XSE Rail Gun : Colt offering of a 1911 with a forged accessory rail in the dust cover is a real joy to shoot. That extra bit of weight from this stainless beauty noticeably reduces recoil and has a great trigger and Novak sights.

TDI Kriss Super V

Kriss TDI Super V

KRISS TDI Super-V : Quite possibly the first dramatic leap in SMG/PDW firearms in decades. This unique firearm truly redirects the energy of the recoil down so that even in full auto fire rounds are impacting on target instead of becoming an anti-aircraft gun. Felt recoil is reduced by 60% and muzzle climb is reduced by 95%.

Benelli M4 (M1014) : Adopted by the Marines in 1999, I had the pleasure of torture testing this 12 gauge, gas-operated beast and never had a problem. The ARGO gas system handled high pressure and oddly low pressure “less lethal” rounds without a single hiccup. The ghost ring sights were easy to pickup and even had a rail mount for some type of optic. Normally, I do not like a skeleton collapsible stock, but I fell in love with this one because it is as solid and as stable as a fixed stock.

PW AR57A1 : This is not just another AR, using the FN PS90 5.7x28mm round and it’s 50 Round top mounted magazine this rifle is a light shooting, truly ambidextrous, and deadly accurate carbine. The fun thing about this carbine is that the rounds are ejected from the mag well of where a normal AR magazine would be inserted.

Mossberg MVP : No, it is not a scout rifle, but the Mossberg Varmint Predator (MVP) is the first bolt-action rifle chambered in 5.56 NATO that can be fed from AR Magazines. Based on what Mossberg is saying, more calibers and configurations are on the way. Also, the highly praised Lighting Bolt adjustable trigger is a true joy to shoot.

Casey, Copy Writer

Polish Milled AK-47 : I choose this as number one for power, reliability, and cost effectiveness.

Daniel Defense M4V5

Daniel Defense M4V5

Daniel Defense M4V5 : Daniel Defense is a proven name in the AR world, and I like this variant for the lighter barrel and mid-length gas system.

Springfield Range Officer : For the money, you cannot beat this 1911. Match barrel, made in USA and a basic simple 1911 set up.

Glock 17 Gen 4 : High capacity, cheap rounds, fun, and powerful. The Glock cannot be beat, and the 17 Gen 4 has all that you could ask for in a high-capacity 9mm pistol.

Mosin Nagant 91/30 : The rifle and ammo are inexpensive, but the rifle is powerful and an excellent choice for hunting or target practice.

Springfield M1A : A trusted and battle proven rifle.

FNP 45 : Absolutely love this pistol. If you are looking for a reliable, high-capacity, and reasonably-priced .45, this is my choice.

Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 : These are just plain fun and very well made.

Smith & Wesson M&P15-22

Smith & Wesson M&P15-22

Smith & Wesson M&P9C : A great American-made conceal carry pistol.

Ruger Vaquero .357 Magnum : This single-action revolver is my favorite .357 magnum to shoot. Simple, effective, fun.

Suzanne, Web Content Writer

Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 : The S&W M&P 15-22 was the very first rifle I bought for myself. It is the .22 LR AR-15-style tactical rifle to own. Reliable, affordable, smooth shooter, fun.

Bushmaster M4A3 Semi Auto Rifle .223 Rem/5.56 NATO : Bushmaster makes a damn good AR-15. This one comes outfitted with the Magpul accessories (which you would buy for your rifle anyway) and it comes in FDE, which was THE color to accessorize with in 2011.

Kel-Tec KSG : Everyone wants one, it is hard to get, it looks futuristic and Kel-Tec actually finally started shipping it in 2011.

Mossberg Chainsaw : You can’t go wrong with a Mossberg Model 500 pump-action shotgun. Clearly made just for zombie killin’ and it’s just such an absolutely ridiculous design.

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard : Lots of companies started jumping on the polymer-ish revolver bandwagon, I trust S&W above them all. Integrated laser for home defense and innovative features like the top-mounted cylinder release.

Glock 17 : Glock’s original pistol. Reliable, easy to shoot, and changed my mind about not liking Glocks.

Ruger Mark III : This is a fun little plinker. First suppressed gun I ever shot.

Ruger LCP : The Ruger LCP creates a lot of buzz. It is an extremely popular gun. Rick Perry famously shot a coyote with his. (Better than creating buzz about being shot during hunting like other politicians.) Ruger released a Zombie Killing Ruger LCP in 2011.

Colt’s Classic Remake 1877 Bulldog Gatling Gun : Colt starts rebuilding the Gatling Gun in 2011. Who doesn’t want a Gatling gun? It’s not classified as a fully automatic weapon, so anyone can have one- if you have the money. And it’s so shiny and pretty! And made in the USA. And it was on Top Shot. Seriously?! Who doesn’t want a Gatling gun?! *drool*

Colt Gatling Gun

Colt Gatling Gun

The Mini Gun : 2011 was the first time I ever heard or saw a Mini Gun in real life at the Oklahoma Full Auto Shoot, which was just an interesting experience in itself. No, I didn’t shoot it, but it made me laugh out loud every time it went off. And I never get tired of hearing the guys make the Mini Gun sound. In addition, like the Gatling gun- who doesn’t want a Mini Gun mounted to the top of their preferred vehicle and just let some super fast rounds fly!

Andrew, Content Department Manager

Colt LT6720R : Colt still makes a great AR and this is light, fast handling carbine. 1/7 pencil barrel with free float quad rail, and Rogers Super Stock and Magpul goodies.

Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 : Right out of the box, runs perfectly and is the AR in .22 LR for entry-level shooters.

Sig Sauer P226 X5 Competition : This is on my list because I finally own one. I shot it two and half years ago and it made a lasting impression. Heavy, bulky, and factory magazines are crazy expensive, but with great sights and trigger. It is the most accurate handgun I have ever owned or shot.

Springfield Armory Range Officer : The only 1911 on my list. A rock solid 1911 without the fluff. Target grade barrel, decent trigger, and sights.

Kahr CM9 : Kahr finally came out with a lower cost version of their carry guns. Small but reliable, it’s everything you want in a pocket gun.

Winchester SX3 Black Shadow Semiautomatic Shotgun 12 Gauge : 28″ Barrel 3-1/2″ Chamber. Light and fast, this would be my choice for the starter 3-Gun shotgun with the addition of an extended magazine tube.

Savage Model Mark II TRR-SR Bolt Action Rimfire Rifle : The perfect low-cost trainer for your precision rifle skills.

  • .22 Long Rifle
  • 22″ Threaded Barrel
  • Five rounds
  • Matte black wood stock
  • Matte black barrel
  • Accurate bolt-action .22lr with a threaded barrel, Accu-Trigger.

Savage 10FCP : The big brother to the TRR-Brown Digital Camo Rifle

  • .308 Win
  • 24″ Heavy Fluted Threaded Barrel
  • 10 Round
  • Brown Digital Camo AccuStock
  • Trigger is adjustable down to 6 oz, and includes a Picatinny rail for optics.
Legion Saiga Semi Auto Shotgun

Legion Saiga Semi Auto Shotgun

Ruger 22/45 Threaded Barrel Semiautomatic Rimfire Handgun : I’m a sucker for suppressors, especially on .22 Long rifles.

  • .22 Long Rifle 4.50″ Barrel 10 Rounds
  • Checkered Cocobolo Grips Blued Finish
  • Fixed Sights
  • Right out of the box reliability and threaded for a suppressor.

Legion Saiga Semiauto Shotgun 12 Gauge : The AK of shotguns, especially when returned to the standard AK version with pistol grips.

  • 3″ Chamber
  • 19″ Barrel
  • Five rounds
  • Black

Brett, Copy Writer

LaRue PredatAR 5.56 16” : The ultimate in accuracy, reliability, and weight. With a price tag at 1500, this makes for one of the most affordable tier 1 rifles on the market.

Smith & Wesson M&P 9c : A small and compact version of an extremely durable and robust firearm. It is easy to conceal and fairly light for all day carry.

Benelli M2 Tactical : The gold standard of shotguns. Extremely reliable with their comfort tech technology makes for a light recoil with faster target acquisition between shots.

LaRue OBR 7.62 : The ultimate in accuracy. This rifle has been banned from numerous Sniper Competitions around the world due to an unfair advantage.

16-inch LaRue Tactical Stealth OBR

16-inch LaRue Tactical Stealth OBR

Remington 700 SPS Tactical : It is an extremely accurate Remington 700 with a lightweight stock. This 700 comes ready for your AAC Can for ultimate in silence. Weighing in at just over 7 pounds, it makes the most desirable rifle to have to lug around all day. Not to mention its ability to shoot sub MOA.

Glock 19, Gen 4 : A proven handgun with a restyled frame for even more aggressive handling and ergonomics. Despite some initial growing pains with the new gen 4, this gun is the ultimate in terms of reliability and function.

Arsenal SLR-107F : Not just your everyday run of the ‘ole vodka mil AK. This imported beauty is more American than apple pie and SUV’s. With its milled receiver and barrel capable of shooting past 200 yards, this is the Ultimate AK on the market, all coming in with a price tag well under $1,000.

Browning Cynergy Composite : When I first laid eyes on this over/under I knew I needed to own it. It took me several months to save up and has since become my flagship firearm. With its black synthetic stock, silver receiver with gold trim, this is one of the most beautiful shotguns I have ever seen. The handling is par to none if I do say so myself.

Barrett 98B : The ultimate in long-range accuracy. This rifle was designed for one thing and one thing only… reaching out and touching someone from well over a mile away. It was built to take advantage of the .338 Lapua Magnum round’s extreme ballistics. This rifle has been deployed on various missions through out the world with extreme success. With a price tag right around five grand, it is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Ruger 10/22 : Last but certainly not least. The 10/22 is one of my personal favorite rifles. It is cheap to shoot and train with. The 10/22 has one of the best after market support of any rifle on the market today. This rifle is still alive and well after almost 50 years of existence. My 10/22 always seems to get the most play of any of my rifles and for good reason.

Ben, Web Content Writer and Restrictions Guy

Ben's SBR

Ben’s 10.5” AR-15 SBR

H&K MP5K-PDW: in full auto, with a suppressor.

Sterling Submachine gun: short barrel, with a suppressor.

Smith & Wesson M&P Full Size Pistol: Full size, super accurate, 17+1 rounds of 9mm, and easily concealable = My favorite carry gun.

Government 1911: I modeled mine after the Springfield TRP, and it’s wonderful.

AR-15 SBR: My favorite firearm I own, but will be even better once I build a .300 AAC Blackout upper for it.


And my #1 pick… The gun you own that you love and that makes you happy. The one that you use daily for work or play, or the one you see when you open your safe and always for no known reason default to even if there is another newer one right next to it. The one that works and that is a little dirty, a little worn, and the one that shoots like you want it to.

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The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (13)

  • Looking Back: Greatest Guns of 2011. Where are They Now?


    […] early 2012, the experts at Cheaper Than Dirt! listed what they thought were the greatest guns of 2011. Usually the greatest guns of any year are ones newest to the market. Like fashion, gun nuts follow […]


  • tony montana


    Nah, im pretty much like the bis of others and police, millitary, heck you name it. The Glock 19 9mm… plain and simple, its the best gun and 9mm is the best round, its used far and away more than a 45. Ive never seen any advantage a 45 has, unless ya like to practice reloading, because you will be doin alot of that with y 8 shot clip. Ill stick with the ol trusty g19 and mossberg 12 gauge pump. Peace.


  • steve


    ill take it over a glock 19 gen 3 any day


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