I just returned from our annual Outdoor Life gun test last week. As usual, we gathered at Jim Carmichel’s where, for nearly a week, our team of experts tested all of the latest rifles and shotguns. We have a very dedicated team of shooters, whose credentials, be they riflemen or shotgunners, are truly impressive. Everyone there really knows his stuff, which is why I feel our gun test is the most comprehensive (and honest) out there. (But I’m not biased.)

Two things struck me about this year’s test. First, just how cold it can get in Tennessee. Conditions our first day on the range was cool and breezy, but at least the sun was out. By day 2, however, heavy rains had set in and temperatures plummeted. By day 3 we were dealing with near-blizzard conditions as winds whipped up snow squalls. Looking through a riflescope reminded me of gazing into one of those snow globes you shake up and watch as the flakes swirl around inside.

Despite the conditions, we managed to get some very good groups shot over the course of several days. What struck me was just how good factory guns (even the less expensive ones) have become and just how good factory ammo is.

Lots more to come in the next few weeks. John Snow and I shot a batch of 30-second gun reviews on video, which we’ll post here shortly. And the entire test will appear in our June/July issue. So stay tuned.

Todd Smith