GRAY’S BEST 2020

SHOOTING

BY TERRY WEILAND

MONTANA RIFLE COMPANY MODEL 1999 ALR

ALR stands for “American Legends Rifle.” It’s a variation on the model that’s been the mainstay of the Montana Rifle line for some years—a modern iteration of the most respected American bolt action of all time: the Winchester pre-’64 Model 70. The ALR ($1,695) was announced in 2017 but took some time to become available. Meanwhile, Montana Rifles changed hands, introduced some other models, and moved into the long-range shooting field in a big way. The rifles produced for these activities, chambered for gilt-edged target rounds like the .300 Norma, prove beyond any doubt that the old Model 70 design is capable of all the accuracy the vast majority of us are capable of using. Two of these were so smooth you could work the bolt—and these are big rifles—with your fingertips. The ALR builds on that same expertise in machining and finishing, but in a traditional hunting configuration with a fine walnut stock and nicely blued steel, a crisp trigger, smooth loading, chambering, extraction (no small thing!), and a feel that is reminiscent of a top-grade custom bolt action. The ALR is offered in a wide range of barrel lengths and chamberings—too many to list—but if you are a traditional hunter who values the hidden qualities, the ALR is worth more than one look. The test rifle, in 6.5-284, was guaranteed to shoot MOA threeshot groups, provided it was broken in according to instructions. It was, and it did. www.montanarifleco.com


LEICA RANGEMASTER CRF 2800

Laser rangefinders have been around for about 25 years, in one form or another. Leica (originally Ernst Leitz) has been a pioneer not only in the development of stand-alone rangefinders, but also in incorporating the technology into binoculars and other optical equipment. One particularly noteworthy advance was a rangefinder that did what you wanted it to do and did not impose other features you did not want, all wrapped up in a pocket-sized, ergonomically and optically superb little instrument. It says something about the Leica design that other manufacturers are now copying it down to the last millimeter. The newest iteration of the Leica series is the Rangemaster CRF 2800 ($1,099). It’s the same size and weight as our shooting editor’s Leica 1200, which has been his companion on the range for years, yet it incorporates many new features. These include Bluetooth technology that allows it to not only communicate with a smartphone, but also use a special ballistics program to calculate trajectories, effect of altitude, and so on. Technological wonders are so commonplace these days that they hardly warrant a second glance, but the Leica 2800 is different in that it never loses sight of the qualities that made earlier models great: They were dead simple to operate, did not burden one with the need to program them or switch from one mode to another, and were so intuitive as to require no thought whatever. The new Leica 2800 continues that tradition in spite of all its technological advances. www.us.leica-camera.com


CAESAR GUERINI REVENANT

The Revenant is the latest addition to the Caesar Guerini line of Italian-made shotguns. Guerini takes great pride in the quality of its CNC machining, and with the Revenant ($12,995), the company maintains it’s achieved the tightest tolerances in the history of production gunmaking. Every piece is exact to within one tenthousandth of an inch. Its breeching system is similar to the legendary Boss, which allows a very shallow draft. More than that, the frame is beautifully rounded, and like the Boss, the forend iron extends along the barrel for several inches for balance and cohesion, and allows more space for engraving. Although engraving should never be allowed to obscure more important features, the Revenant’s engraving pattern, designed by Giovanelli, is noteworthy, due to the fact that it’s executed using a proprietary combination of computerized and hand engraving. Exclusive to the Revenant, it gives the gun an appearance unlike any other over-and-under, and it is certainly one of the most striking over-and-unders you will ever see. Currently, the gun is available in 20 gauge only, with a choice of straight or pistol grip, and a single trigger, either selective or nonselective. It comes with a walnut buttplate that allows easy recoil pad installation. Barrel lengths are 28 or 30 inches, and a 28-gauge version is in the works. www.gueriniusa.com


MEOPTA DICHROTECH (DICHROIC) RETICLE

This is the first time in the 25-year history of Gray’s Best that we have given the award for a reticle technology, but when Meopta refers to its DichroTech as “game changing,” it is not exaggerating. Scope reticles can be traced back in history several hundred years, with favored materials for crosshairs ranging from the silken tendrils of Scandinavian maidens to the silken strands of tropical spiderwebs. In recent years, the hot item has been illuminated reticles, with the illumination powered by batteries. These have steadily improved, with such modifications as variable intensity to suit ambient conditions and prevent loss of night vision, and automatic shutoffs to conserve battery power. Each has had its drawbacks, however, not least being the need for instant adjustment when seconds count (a glimpse of a moving deer at twilight), batteries dying at the most inopportune moment, and the need to remember to carry spares. Meopta’s new “dichroic” technology gives you a coating, for lack of a better term, that adjusts the reticle’s visibility to ambient light conditions with no action on your part. It is permanent, battery free, and never threatens your night vision. The scope is more compact, since there is no requirement for a third turret to house the battery and illumination mechanism. Initially, DichroTech is available on three of the most popular reticles, but the Czech optics maker plans to expand the line to include more reticle patterns and more models of riflescope. Goodbye, batteries! Hurrah! www.meoptasportsoptics.com