Hunting gear

Traditions Vortek Ultra Light

2010 Best of the Best (Winner): All four members of the test team were crazy about the Vortek Ultra Light. It shot lights-out off the bench, offhand, and from shooting sticks, with the best groups achieving sub-1-inch MOA accuracy. A tapered, fluted, ported barrel helps make the gun a pleasure to carry at 61⁄4 pounds. Hunters will like the trigger, with a crisp 3 pounds of pull. There’s a CeraKote finish on the barrel and receiver for corrosion protection. The rifle features 209 primer ignition and a removable breech plug. - Brad Fenson

Marlin XL7

It is an inexpensive gun, and there is not an original idea in it, but oh boy is it a good gun. If the Marlin designers are not original thinkers, they are definitely sound thinkers. This simple, elegant, accurate bolt-action firearm is proof of how much you can accomplish when you use what works, give it some grace of line, and make it with pride. It even lacks that customary hallmark of the cheap rifle, the detachable magazine. The fact that the XL7 has a bargain price tag is incidental. In the next century, it’s unlikely that anyone is going to come up with a better hunting rifle for the money.

Thompson/Center Encore Pro Hunter Turkey

2010 Best of the Best (Runner Up): This break-action ­single-shot is compact for the turkey hunter looking for portability. The trigger broke at a crisp 4 pounds 10 ounces, making it easy to put turkey patterns on target with the ­fiber-​optic sights. Recoil is fierce in any 6-pound 12-gauge shooting heavy loads, but the FlexTech stock helps absorb the pounding. - Phil Bourjaily

Remington 11-87 Sportsman Field

2010 Best of the Best (Runner Up): A checkered, satin-finished walnut stock, matte metal, and a gold trigger dress up a gun that has only been available in black synthetic for the past few years. Underneath the facelift, the 11-87 is still the softest-kicking gas gun ever. At a nose-heavy 8 pounds, it’s perfect for waterfowling and league target shooting. It comes in 3-inch 12 and 20 gauge. - Phil Bourjaily