If you’re lucky enough to have a variegated firearms collection, it’s likely that at some point you’ll end up scratching your head and asking yourself, “What’s next?”
In the United States, we’re living in what could reasonably be called a golden age of guns. As you’ve seen on these OutdoorHub pages for the past week, the number of new guns and associated gear revealed during the 2018 SHOT Show in Las Vegas was staggering. Shooters have a huge range of options to choose from, whether they’re seeking a semiautomatic rifle, bolt gun, semiauto handgun, revolver or practically anything else.
If you’ve built up a solid gun locker and are looking for something a bit different from a run-of-the-mill 5.56x45mm AR, 308 Win. bolt gun or a 7.62x39mm AK, here are five suggestions.
1. Zenith Firearms Z43 Pistol or Rifle
This is the first of two roller-delayed blowback (“roller lock”) firearms on this list. While the 9x19mm MP5/HK94 and 308 Win. G3/HK91 are a lot of fun, Zenith Firearms’ 5.56x45mm Z43 takes roller locks to a whole new level. A Turkish-made copy of the HK93, the Z43 is a fun, flat-shooting alternative to more common roller locks and 5.56 semiautos.
Since I first got my hands on a Z43 several years ago, the rifles and pistols have made their way throughout the shooting community and have been very well-received. They are compatible with most German-made furniture, and have proven to be excellent SBR (short-barreled rifle) candidates. I’m not a huge fan of the rifles they currently offer, so if I were to buy a new one this second, I’d likely opt for a pistol (to be made into an SBR) or a pistol with a brace.
Z43s typically run $1,500 to $2,000, depending on the model.
2. Affordable Bolt Gun in 6.5 Grendel or 6.5 Creedmoor
Much noise is often made online about the latest wildcat caliber (224 Valkyrie, I’m looking at you). The 6.5 Grendel and 6.5 Creedmoor have been around for a while now, and have become quite popular in bolt-action rifles and semiautos alike. But before you take the plunge on a dedicated 6.5 AK or a fancy AR upper, it might be a good idea to test out one of the “new sixes” in a cheaper bolt gun. I view 6.5 Grendel as an “improved 7.62x39mm,” while 6.5 Creedmoor is akin to a lighter and flatter 308 Win.
For example, a CZ 527 in 6.5 Grendel will typically run you about $550-$600, and a Savage Axis II in 6.5 Creedmoor will set you back about $450. These are just two examples; there are numerous other platforms with offerings in these calibers. With one of these bolt guns, you can figure out whether you’re interested in playing around with a unique cartridge, or just going to let the latest cartridge fad pass on by.
3. Vepr AK-pattern rifle in 6.5 Grendel or 243 Win.
If you decide that you want to fully dive in to the “weird-caliber gun” game, then a great choice would be a Russian Vepr AK-pattern rifle in 6.5 Grendel or 243 Win. Vepr rifles were recently barred from further importation by the Trump Administration, so new-in-box guns from retailers are slowly drying up.
While Veprs are available in more common calibers such as 223 Rem. and 7.62x39mm, you can nab something truly unique and collectible in the form of a 6.5 Grendel or 243 Winchester variant. One of these rifles will run you about $850 to $1,000.
Whether you choose to customize your gun into something more “tactical” or keep it original, you can be sure that a Vepr will be a fun and valuable firearm well into the near future.
4. Lever-Action Rifle in 357 Mag. or 44 Mag.
If your collection doesn’t already include a lever-action rifle, you’re missing out. For the longest time, I avoided “cowboy guns” until I purchased a Henry Big Boy rifle in 357 Magnum to get a rifle companion for my Smith & Wesson 586. The Henry quickly became one of my favorite guns. There is something so enjoyable about operating the action on a lever gun that makes the shooting experience all the more tangible and meaningful.
The combination of a magnum caliber and a heavy rifle makes for an excellent shooting experience. Most Henry rifles can be found at retail for around $700-$800.
5. PTR 32 Rifle or Pistol
Similar to the Zenith Z43, the PTR 32 is a roller lock in an unconventional caliber. The 32 is chambered in the Soviet 7.62x39mm cartridge used in most AK-pattern firearms. The 32 is available in rifle and pistol formats, and feeds from AK magazines. For a detailed review, see my article from October 2016. The 32 is another fun and unique gun that can help fill out a collection; they run about $900 to $1,100.
Pictures by Matt Korovesis unless noted otherwise