Very 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 gun trends and when something new comes along, especially if it is innovative or cool looking we all jump on the bandwagon. Remember the Taurus Judge phenomenon four or five years ago?
Every year we anticipate the firearms that make their début at SHOT Show, however not all of them will win over the hearts of gun owners across America. Even though we did not make a list of our favorite guns of 2012, it was an exciting year. We got crazy zombie guns and gear, the Mossberg Flex system, the Remington VersaMax, the Springfield XD-S, the Ruger American rifle and new AR-15s from Colt, DPMS and LWRC. AR-15s dominated 2012. Brand new gun owners, gun collectors and seasoned owners alike rushed into the black rifle market in 2012.
SHOT Show 2013 was disappointing, there was very little innovation and most manufacturers just released upgraded or new calibers on old guns. 2013 was not a stellar year for new guns, however not all was completely wasted. We did get the IWI Tavor. The “in” thing for 2013 seemed to be smaller and easy to conceal sub-compact 9mm pocket pistols due to the rising number of people buying guns for self-defense.
Sometimes our favorite guns are old guns newly discovered, inherited guns, or ones we don’t actually own. When I stumbled across this old blog and read what I thought were my favorite guns of 2011, I had to chuckle—where are these guns now? Are they still my favorite? Let’s look and see.
What I thought: Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22
Now: Is my S&W M&P 15-22 still one of the greatest rifles of 2011? Definitely! In the two years I have owned it, it has served me well. I’ve added accessories to it, such as a red dot sight and sling swivels. I run it dirty all the time and it never lets me down. I have introduced newbies to shooting with this rifle and made some of my non-shooter friends exclaim, “I love this gun and I think need one!”
What I thought: Bushmaster M4A3 Semi-AutoRifle .223 Rem/5.56 NATO
Now: I may have loved the Bushmaster in 2011, but after two years of exploring the world of the black rifle, the Bushmaster is not on my list of firearms to own. With hundreds of companies making AR-15s now, there is no reason to run right to Bushmaster. Personally, I think building your own from parts is the way to go.
What I thought: Kel-Tec KSG
Now: There was no disputing the Kel-Tec KSGs demand and popularity. I’m over it. No one could get their hands on one, now however, Gun Broker has plenty listed, some even under $1,000. The AR-15-looking RAAC MKA-1919-xn 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun has currently caught my eye. If you want a bullpup, look into 2013’s SHOT Show IWI Tavor—a .223 Remington bullpup semi-auto with excellent ergonomics.
What I thought: Mossberg Chainsaw
Now: I was right. You can’t go wrong with a Mossberg Model 500 pump-action shotgun. However, the Mossberg Chainsaw is ridiculous, looks silly and, let’s be real here, not practical at all. Even though I still love zombies, the hype and fascination is clearly over. Designed to be able to shoot from the hip (I’m not really sure why—to look cool maybe), the Chainsaw is surprisingly still listed on Mossberg’s website. Does that mean people are still buying it? For 2013, function trumps looks. For a shotgun, the Mossberg 500, plain and simple is the way to go.
What I thought: Smith & Wesson Bodyguard
Now: The S&W Bodyguard did not end up so great after all. I learned my lesson buying the .38 Special revolver. I only shot it a few times, it hurt me and I ended up selling it. I hated it so much. In the last two years, I have focused more on learning and becoming proficient on semi-autos rather than revolvers. I used to rely too heavily on the reliability of a revolver. Though I still love my S&W Model 51, a semi-auto is now my go-to self-defense gun. 2012 brought us the S&W Shield and the Bodyguard was quickly forgotten.
What I Thought: GLOCK 17
Now: Without a doubt, the GLOCK 17 one of the best semi-automatic handguns of 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014… and actually forevermore.
What I Thought: Ruger Mark III
Now: Plenty of full-sized semi-auto rimfire pistols came out since 2011. Do I like them more than the Ruger Mark III? No, I don’t. Do I have any interest in purchasing one? Not at all. I do see the merits of one for competition, shooting leagues, newbies and practice, but I am saving my money for bigger things. I reviewed the S&W M&P .22 and liked it. However, I still like the Ruger Mark III better. Classics are classics for a reason.
What I Thought: Ruger LCP
Now: Even though the Ruger LCP remains popular and is incredibly affordable… eh. I’m so over the teeny .380 ACP pistol craze. This year I like the Bersa Thunder if I had to choose any of them. But I chose not to. After shooting so many of these little .380s and hating most of them, my next thing is trying the concealable 9mms.
What I Thought: Colt’s Classic Remake 1877 Bulldog Gatling Gun and Mini Gun
Now: I will always love the Gatling Gun, but as far as unobtainable guns go, I’d go first to the Thompson. In 2012, I got to shoot a fully-automatic UZI and Thompson. Thompson tops out my list as one of the greatest guns of all time, not just for 2012 and 2013. As far as the mini gun goes, I still giggle every time I hear one.