Savvy firearm makers have wowed us for years with some remarkable makes. For one reason or another, some of those makes have developed a legendary status and are on the must-own list for many hunters, collectors, and firearm enthusiasts. Here, in no specific order, are nine excellent firearms to consider.
by Jace Bauserman
I’ve never been a fan of best-of for this or that type articles. I read a best-of-style hunting apparel piece earlier in July. It was well-written, and the author made some excellent points, but not one garb in the lineup is in my hunt clothing arsenal. I would stack my hunting garments up against any.
I note this because best-of-style articles are speculative. They come through writer discretion or influence that writer has had over the years with a particular make, model, etc.
Still, best-of articles are fun, and while your top list of must-have firearms is likely different from what’s to come, it’s hard to argue with these nine legendary builds. Give these models serious consideration if you’re in the market for a shotgun, rifle, or handgun that has stood the test of time and achieved legendary status.
Remington Model 700
You can’t argue with the masses. Remington’s Model 700 is the best-selling bolt-action rifle in American history, and its to-this-day popularity means the platform won’t be relinquishing its title anytime soon. Brought to market in 1962, the Model 700 has experienced upgrades and new technologies, but its principles remain unchanged. The platform has proved uber-accurate, dependable, and deadly.
Heralded for its out-of-box accuracy, the Model 700 features Remington’s legendary 3-rings-of-steel receiver with a 5R barrel. The Model 700 bolt features two lockup-style forward-lugs, which creates a stout action while increasing shot-to-shot consistency. Both lugs support the bolt equally, and the recessed bolt helps the backend of the cartridge and keeps it centered with the bore.
The Model 700 has lightning-fast lock time. Lock time is the elapsed time between when the trigger releases and the firing pin strikes the primer. Quicker lock time means a reduced chance of the shooter making a minor movement — jerk, shake, etc. — that creates gun movement and reduced accuracy. The Model 700 is a go-to for throngs of hunters, and today, there are many makes and models of this tried-and-true action.
A modern-day marvel still in its infancy, Browning’s X-Bolt is offered in many calibers and has developed a cult-like following. Launched in 2008, this bolt-action rifle was an instant success.
The reasons are many. For starters, X-Bolt rifles have a short 60-degree bolt lift. While many rifles have a more extended 90-degree lift, the short throw of the 60-degree bolt means faster, smoother reloading. The blot is made from solid-steel bar stock for boosted strength, and a trio of locking lugs means remarkable bolt strength.
Two more wins of the X-Bolt are the fully customizable three-lever Feather Trigger system and free-floated button-broached barrel with target crown system. The Feather Trigger system is screw adjustable from three to five pounds, and the trigger promises a clean, non-creep pull. The trigger has proved its salt by staying crisp after thousands of rounds. The barrel is bedded in the front and the rear for added stability. This free-float also creates ideal barrel-to-stock spacing for increased accuracy.
Remington Model 870
An iconic shotgun that has proved its grit and shot-to-shot repeatability time and time again, Remington’s Model 870 is a legend. One of the most popular pump-action shotguns of all time, the Model 870 has many configurations.
Introduced by Remington in 1950, the 870 was an instant win. By 1973, Remington had sold two-million Model 870 shotguns. The receiver is a solid steel billet for boosted strength and longevity. The receiver is a bottom-loading, side-ejecting make. Other features include dual-action bars, an internal hammer, and a plug that keeps the magazines capacity legal for bird hunting.
Models like the 870 Fieldmaster give shooters a lot of bang for their buck. The shotgun can be used for upland, waterfowl, home defense, etc. Models like the 870 Wingmaster sport a smooth, stylish finish, and its undeniable balance and reliability make it a tremendous sporting gun and a top-tier clay buster.
A big-game go-to for more than 100 years, the Mauser 98 is a classic. From its cherry receiver to its perfectly polished barrel to its Classic Sporter stock and red recoil pad, this rifle sports the look of a classic safari rifle.
Dual-locking front lugs mean the rifle will easily handle powerful cartridges, and the rifle’s full-length claw extractor means superior feeding. Gas vents to reduce recoil and a three-positon safety are additional features that make this iron-sight wonder a fantastic build.
While you will see a Mauser on the shoulder of North American big-game hunters, the primary use of the rifle and what has given it legendary status is its use for large, dangerous game animals that dwell in the Dark Continent.
Browning’s A5 is a waterfowling marvel — a reliable, rapid-cycling semi-automatic shotgun. The innovative Humpback Receiver makes the shotgun stand out from the crowd. Still, its purpose is more than an eye-brow raiser. The design melds with the rib to extend the shooter’s sight plan. This means spontaneous sight alignment for quicker target acquisition and more accurate shooting. Many waterfowl guides and serious hunters claim that the A5 makes pulling doubles and triples easier and makes those sometimes-needed second and third follow-up shots deadlier.
Brought back to life in 2012 and built off the DNA of the original, new A5s ensure reliable, no-fail autoloading and a chamber length that will handle 3-1/2-inch 12-gauge goose crumplers. The composite stock and forearm are bulletproof, and when Mother Nature is at her worst, shooters applaud the textured gripping surfaces.
Browning’s A5 is considered by many the best waterfowling shotgun ever created, and with each passing season, the gun further cements its roots in shotgun lore.
While the 1911 platform is popular and used by many handgun manufacturers, we must pay homage to its beginning. Arguably the best semi-automatic platform ever crafted, John Browning set a new standard when, in 1910, he watched as his creation flawlessly fired 6,000 rounds over a two-day testing period.
The U.S. Army formally adopted the 1911 on March 29, 1911. Today, the Colt 1911 is used by law-enforcement personnel, recreational shooters, and competition shooters. It is also a popular EDC (Everyday Carry) handgun.
The Colt 1911 helped the U.S. secure victory in two World Wars and, until 1990, was the U.S. Military’s choice of sidearm. Today, most troops carry the Sig Sauer M17, but the 1911 is still the choice of many combat veterans.
The 1911’s grip is hard to beat. Many shooters note it makes the sidearm feel like an extension of your body. The controls are set for quick, right-now use. The platform has proved accurate, jam-free, and easy to clean.
Benelli Super Black Eagle
An uber-popular semi-automatic shotgun renowned for its reliability, versatility, and performance, Benelli’s Super Black Eagle lineup is hard to ignore. Today, the line has evolved to include the Super Black Eagle 3 with BE.S.T coating and comes in 28, 20, and 12 gauges.
New SBE3 BE.S.T builds feature a new surface treatment that coats the steel and makes it impervious to rust and corrosion. Other features like the split-diagonally Combtech & Comfort Tech 3 stock utilize shock-absorbing chevrons, which turn the entire stock into a giant recoil pad, have proven remarkable.
The SBE jumped on the scene in 1991. Made by the Italian firearms manufacturer Benelli Armi S.p.A., the shotgun was designed for hunting waterfowl in extreme environments. Its Inertia-Driven System — still a Benelli staple today — is reliable and uses recoil energy from the fired shot to cycle the action. This design eliminates the need for gas ports and pistons.
Savage Model 110
Today, Savage’s Model 110 has many names: Scout, Hunter, Storm, Predator, Tactical, etc. that follow it. And while Savage engineers craft Model 110s for various purposes, the platform remains remarkably simple. Simple is a good thing. Simple has been working for the Savage Model 110 for over six decades.
The Savage 110 is a working man’s rifle. It is economical and provides out-of-the-box performance. A distinguishable barrel nut ensures proper head spacing, and the basic push-feed design with a plunger-type ejector and dual front locking lugs equals efficiency.
First chambered in .30-06 Springfield, caliber options have exploded, and innovations like the AccuTrigger, AccuStock, and others make the Model 110 a must-have.
Smith & Wesson Model 19
First introduced in 1955 as the S&W Model 19, the revolver was built on the popular K-frame, a medium-sized frame designed for .38 Special and .357 Magnum cartridges.
The Model 19 aimed to provide shooters a more compact and lighter .357 Magnum revolver option suitable for law enforcement officers and civilian concealed carry. The handgun’s easy-to-carry nature, accuracy, dependability, and balance made it a popular choice for police departments across the U.S.
Early Model 19s had a four-screw frame, pinned barrel, and recessed cylinder. Over the years, different barrel lengths and configurations became available, and the Model 19 quickly escalated to the top of the ranks. It is dubbed by many as the best .357 Magnum ever made.
Like many rifles, shotguns, and handguns, the Model 19 hit some bumps. Production ended in the 1990s. That didn’t last. In response to a demand from shooters and collectors, Smith & Wesson returned the model to production and made it part of their Classic Series.
Nine great firearms that deserve a spot in your gun case, head to your local retailer, ask more questions, get them in your hands, and enjoy the buying process.