SOMETIMES IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS that can make or break a shooting experience. The range is always fun, but if something’s off, it can nag at you. But when you find a product that nudges that little thing into place, be it the perfect shooting bag, the most adjustable shooting table you’ve ever seen, a holster that fits just right, it can feel like coming home.
There’s a good chance one of the items on this list will fit that bill for you or someone on your list.
Learn the name Otto Engineering—and don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them before. They’ve been quietly designing and manufacturing control switches for military jets and other equipment for nearly 60 years. For the past quarter century, they’ve also been making audio accessories for demanding applications, such as those found in the armed forces or NASA.
Previously limited to military and alphabet organizations, Otto is now marketing its products directly to civilian consumers in the shooting and hunting world. Their signature product in that arena is the only product currently in the Personal Protection Equipment line, the NoizeBarrier Micro.
They are electronic hearing protection earbuds with some really remarkable features. Unlike other models of similar size and function, the NoizeBarrier Micros use an internal rechargeable battery that lasts for up to 16 hours of continuous use between charges. No little hearing aid batteries to buy or change out at the most inconvenient times.
And the charger is the rugged protective case that the NoizeBarrier Micros come with—just put them away and they’re recharging. The case itself can be charged with any USB cable, so you can plug it in or even grab some juice off a portable phone charger in the field if you have to—but with battery life like that, and the case providing over two dozen charges, those occasions will be rare, even for heavy users like waterfowlers or competition shooters.
They’re also quite small, and ruggedly built. They offer up to 40 dB of impulse noise protection and up to 15 dB of adaptive noise attenuation and their hearing enhancement mode amplifies soft sounds up 5x—great for still hunters. The electronics allow for natural hearing of safe sounds through the company’s Accu-Technology HD sound quality. AND…they’re waterproof, so waterfowlers listen up!
The controls are simple with a one-button touch pad that cycles through two modes of operation—regular and hearing enhancement mode.
The buds also come with both flange tips and foam tips, for whichever the user prefers.
The case/charger is IP67 water resistant and will provide up to 20 charges for the earbuds before needed to be recharged itself. That’s 320 hours of use—or 13 days and change—of course, it takes the buds six hours to recharge from fully dead batteries.
The case also features and LCD panel indicating the charge status of the case and the earbuds. With all those features, the price is extremely competitive. Right now they’re selling on Otto’s website for $389, which is a bargain considering there are similar products on the market selling in the $1,000 range.
The NoizeBarrier Micro earbuds are feature rich and rugged hearing protection while at the same time being simple to use with battery life and a charging case that ensures they will be ready to turn on when you’re ready to shoot, and keep going for as long as you want to shoot—all in an affordable package backed by a one-year guarantee. —D. Maccar
These Caller glasses form Revision Outdoor are optimized for inland water hunting and fishing with wrap-around stype and extra wide temples that offer protection all the way around and maximum light blockage. They super lightweight and have enough grip to keep them on your face, or your hat, without being too tight.
I’ve been wearing these for most of the 2019 on a daily basis. They’ve been thrown in range bags, pockets, dropped countless times on all kinds of surfaces—and while the plastic arms are showing a bit of wear, the lenses are remarkably scratch resistant. I’m notoriously tough on eyewear, and I usually have to switch when I get too many bad scratches—but these have lasted me longer than any pair in recent memory, and they’re still pristine.
The glasses come with a microfiber lined pouch, a roll-top tote bag, and a custom retention strap. That last bit deserves a bit more description. Typically a retention strap has loops on the ends that are cinched down on the arms somewhere, usually dangling near your face or getting in the way of your ears.
The lanyard on Revision glasses have a nub that is inserted into holes at the very ends of the arms, meaning the strap hangs right behind your ears and works just as well at keeping the glasses on your body, especially when on the water or in the field. If you hate lanyards on your glasses, you might find that you will absolutely love the way this design works.
The Caller glasses come in three frame colors and three lens colors. —D. Maccar
Springfield Armory has introduced a direct challenger to SIG Sauer’s successful, sub-compact, high-cap P365 with its new Hellcat, which they are billing as the world’s highest capacity micro-compact.
New designs that have crammed double-stack magazines into pistol sizes that used to be restricted to single-stack mags have breathed new life into the category, which offers full-size pistol capacity—or close to it—in package that can be carried concealed by pretty much anyone. And with an MSRP of $569, it’s definitely competitively priced.
The gun has been in development for a couple years, and Springfield is launching the Hellcat with an OSP (Optical Sight Pistol) model right out of the gate, leaning into another new trend: red dots on concealed carry guns. That puts the new pistol right on the cutting edge of the self defense world. And since the OSP is only $30 more than the iron sight version, it’s a good bet they will be selling well.
The Hellcat is a polymer framed, recoil-operated, striker fired, semi-auto pistol chambered for 9mm that can hold a maximum capacity of 14 rounds including a round in the chamber.
Overall, it is 4-inches tall (with flush mag), 6 inches long, and weighs in at a scant 18 oz. The steel slide houses a dual captured recoil spring assembly and a hammer-forged 3-inch barrel and includes an external extractor tensioned by an internal spring and pin assembly.
The striker assembly includes a passive firing pin safety that is deactivated by the rearward travel of the trigger. The slide and barrel have a black Melonite finish.
On the OSP model, a cover plate on the slide is secured over an optics-mounting surface by two screws.
The molded polymer frame includes subtle finger grooves, a small beavertail, and texturing all around—what Springfield is calling their Adaptive Grip Texture (it doesn’t say “Grip Zone” anywhere on the gun). There are also textured areas above the trigger guard for the trigger finger and support hand thumb in a correct two-handed grip.
The trigger has an almost flat surface with a blade-style trigger safety and the magazine release is reversible for left-handed shooters. The Hellcat’s proprietary magazines hold 11 and 13 rounds and it ships with both. So, if you’re carrying the gun fully loaded and the spare mag, you’d have 25 rounds on board. The 11-rounder fits flush for ultimate concealability and it can be equipped with an included basepad with a pinky rest for a better grip without much extra bulk. The 13-round mag has an actual extended base pad to provide extra capacity and a full grip. —D. Maccar
If you’re looking to gift a belt holster that makes carrying easy, give Galco Gunleather’s Quick Slide belt holster a try. It tucks close to the body, especially for a belt holster, the Kydex pocket holds your handgun securely, and the draw is smooth and swift with its near-neutral cant. It’s perfect for where open carry is legal, and because of its minimalist design, it conceals easily beneath winter clothing. The holster is molded to a specific gun, so you will have to know what the person on your list uses for their EDC. It’s available for Colt, Glock, Kimber, Remington, Ruger, Sig-Sauer, Smith & Wesson and Springfield handguns. MSRP: $54 —Annette Doerr
These holsters have a tactical edge with the handsome look and old school feel of leather. Recently, Blackhawk! jumped in to the leather game with their new Premium Leather Holsters, available to fit a wide variety of handguns, from full-sized 1911’s and larger Glocks, to the Smith & Wesson Shield models and the small Ruger LCP II’s. Available in either a three-slot pancake holster for outside the waistband carry or a clip-style or loop-style for inside the pants carry, the Premium Leather Holsters are finished in either Burnished Brown or an Antique Brown, the latter with more of a darker, worn look. The line also includes matching ammo pouches and belts. MSRPs: Holsters, $99.95; Magazine Pouches $49.95; Belts $69.95. —Brian McCombie
Champion Targets’ new line of Shooting Bags can provide that stability—at the range or in the field. They come in five different shapes including the Rail Rider Front Shooting Bag, the Front V-Bag, the Accuracy X-Ringer Bag, and the All Champion Shooting Bag, The bottom of each bag is covered in grippy, rubberized panels Champion calls “Tuff Hide.” I’ve used these bags at my local shooting range, and the Tuff Hide really does stop the bag from skidding and slipping, even with the recoil of a 30-calber rifle. MSRP: $19.95 – $74.95. –Brian McCombie
Shooting ranges are great places to practice your marksmanship and to try out new firearms. But if your range is anything like mine, actual shooting positions tend to be limited by the size and shape of the standard range tables. In some cases, those tables are just fine. In other cases? Not so much. The MTM Case-Guard’s new High-Low Shooting Table at my range isn’t just adjustable for any shoot, but for pretty much any shooting position. This bench-rest style shooting table also works for both left- and right-handed shooters. At its maximum height, the High-Low Shooting Table stands 55-inches high, and can drop down to as low as 18-inches. I was able to practice with my rifle while standing, kneeling, and with me sitting on the ground. MSRP: $139.99 –Brian McCombie
Handgun sights with glowing tritium inserts are easy for the eye to lock onto and get you on target faster than traditional iron sights, plus they glow in the dark. Until now, they’ve been a bit pricey for the average gun owner. Enter TruGlo with their new Tritium Pro Night Sights. They are solid and very functional, plus they sell for literally half the price of the competition, making them a stocking stuffer that is sure to illicit a genuine smile. The front sight has a large, white FOCUS-LOCK ring that encircles the green tritium center, making it quick and easy to acquire a sight picture in daylight conditions. The rear sight’s generous U-notch helps increase shooting speed and accuracy by simplifying alignment, as do the glowing tritium dots on either side of the notch for low-light scenarios. In low light or complete darkness, the sights glow and transition to a standard 3-dot, green configuration. MSRP: $108 per set. —Brian McCombie
Spotting scopes are incredibly useful, both at the range and in the field. If you’ve ever tried to call hits for a friend on a target at even 200 yards with handheld binoculars, you know how difficult it can be. Usually you get what you pay for when it comes to glass, but the Vortex Optics Viper HD performs well above its price point. T
he Viper HD delivers crisp, high-contrast images with true-to-life color, even in low or challenging light conditions, thanks to fully multi-coated anti-reflection high-density extra-low dispersion glass elements in the lens system. Designed for rugged use, the chassis is constructed from a lightweight and durable magnesium alloy that is further protected by rubber armor. To keep the elements outside, the tube is O-ring sealed and filled with argon to resist fogging—even when moving from one temperature extreme to another. The Viper HD is available in both 45 degree and straight tube configurations. Pick the straight tube if you’ll be trying to get on moving animals quickly, or glassing extreme downward angles regularly. If you’ll be standing often, or want to get away with using a shorter tripod, go with the angled body. MSRP: $850 —Joe Albanese
Is it time to upgrade your loved one’s binoculars? But top quality optics cost thousands of dollars, right? Not if you’re buying Mavens. This direct-to-consumer optics brand, based in Lander, Wyoming, is taking the outdoors scene by storm with good reason. Maven’s high quality extra low dispersion (ED) glass provides superior performance in those dawn and dusk scouting trips as well as clarity across the entire field of view and excellent depth of field. The B.1 binocular from Maven is the standard bearer with options in 8×42 and 10×42 sizes, there are also enhanced (B.2), compact (B.3) and large objective (B.4) options in their binocular lineup. The eye cups are flat for use while wearing your glasses, or with a simple twist you can extend them so they cup your eyes and block out peripheral light. Focusing is super smooth and crystal clear, and the binoculars feature a lightweight sturdy design that can withstand whatever you plan to put it through. So yes, you might just be able to afford top quality optics for this year’s holiday “wow” gift. MSRP: $950 —Jodi Stemler
You only get one set of ears. Noise-induced hearing loss begins at 85 decibels, a typical gunshot is somewhere in the neighborhood of 140-190 dB. And that’s without the amplifying effects of being indoors or under a roof at an outdoor range, environments that make gunshots significantly louder. While not as fun as the other items on this list, a good set of ear pro is the gift that keeps on giving—unless you’d rather tune the in-laws out at family gatherings.
Wild Ear’s Master Series earbuds are custom-molded to your ear canal to provide all-day comfort at the range or in the duck blind, without impeding normal conversation. The low-profile design won’t obstruct cheek weld or interfere with hats or masks in the field, and won’t press the temples of your safety glasses into the side of your face like over ear protection can. The Master Series earbuds also enhance sounds, amplifying volume up to five times but cut off when sound levels rise. This top of the line product comes with a premium price tag, but your hearing is irreplaceable. So this year, ask Santa to shell out the extra coin for a pair. MSRP: $1099 —Joe Albanese
Only rookies and masochists like loading magazines. For the rest of us, there’s the 50 round AR Mag Charger from Caldwell. Simply open the charger’s top plate and line up the tips of boxed .223, 5.56 or .204 loads and dump. If your ammo is loose, Caldwell provides a stack tray to pre-load your bullets before one satisfying dump. Secure your AR magazine to the side, and run the plunger, which damn near effortlessly stuffs five rounds at a time. Dump, clip, stroke. That sounds like a dirty joke, I know, but it’ll load a 30-rounder faster than you can come up with a punchline. The AR Mag Charger from Caldwell is fast, simple, and at $80 doesn’t break the bank. My only beef is I wish it held 60 rounds instead of 50. MSRP: $80 – Michael R. Shea
Gun Wipes from Slip 2000 have been a game-changer (and time saver) for me. Individually packaged (like a wet-nap for your gun), these 5″ x 8″ wipes are ready to go, no additional solvent or oil needed. (Larger 10″ x 12″ versions – called cloths – are also available.) Treated with Slip 2000 Gun Lube, the wipes are an all-in-one cleaning tool. The synthetic formula works as a cleaner to break down and remove carbon, copper, lead, and plastic wad buildup. It also works as a lubricant to reduce friction and prevent wear, and a protectant that utilizes a proprietary formula that deeply penetrates and protects your gun’s surfaces without getting tacky or sticky, which would cause it to attract dust and other grime.
Each wipe is large enough to use on multiple guns and the material can be easily cut into patches to use on the inside of your bore. These wipes make what is generally an already mindless task even more mindless, if that’s at all possible, and they’re easy to throw into your range bag and have handy whenever you need one. MSRP: $12.05 for a pack of 20. –T. Logan Metesh
If you know someone who is constantly building or rebuilding an AR, a new an excellent handguard would be an awesome surprise gift. RISE Armament has three disntinctive handguards in its roster, all with different attributes and capabilities, but all equally well constructed. The RA-901 Slimline rifle-length handguard features a smooth, thing center for enhanced grip along with a free-floating barrel designed for enhanced accuracy. It includes a full top rail as well as rail sections at the rear and front of the handguard along with integrated sling swivel mounting points.
RISE also offers a more minimalist and lighter Stinger M-Lok version, with an integrated rail section only for a front sight and M-LOK slots all round. For a fatter grip, the RA-905 M-LOK handguard is fully M-LOK compatible with a Picatinny upper accessory rail. It includes six quick-disconnect mounting points spanning 360 degrees for maximum customization. It’s easy to install and comfortable to grip. MSRP: RA-901 Slimline – $169.99; RA-902 Stinger Slimline M-LOK – $189.99; RA-905M-LOK – $209.99 —David Maccar
I was intrigued when I learned of a new multi-tool from SOG Knives. From owning the company’s 4-inch fixed blade Kiku and their Prophet 33 backpack, both of which are excellent pieces of gear, I expected quite a bit from SOG’s Power Access Deluxe (PAD) multi-tool, and I wasn’t disappointed. isn’t a light tool at almost nine ounces. Inside, you’ll find straight blades, serrated blades, wood saws, files, chisels, screwdrivers, and the requisite bottle opener. There’s a protractor, and short rules marked in millimeters, inches, and centimeters.
Each tool deploys easily, and locks securely with a strong yet simple to operate thumb lock. And I especially like this feature – A 12-piece hex, Phillips, and straight blade screwdriver set, all in its own hard plastic case. Open the tool, and the bits fit securely into a magnetic socket in the nose. Somebody put some thought into this one, and I’m glad they did. When not in use, the PAD and bit set is housed snugly in a simple black heavy-duty nylon case, which sports a snap-style belt loop. It’s a No Bullshit piece of gear that deserves a place on every belt or in every pack. MSRP: $94 –M.D. Johnson
If you’ve ever worked with firearms, you know they use myriad screws that require any number of drivers of various sizes. Most gun owners use whatever they have around the house to tighten up screws on a receiver or to mount scopes. Odds are, they’ve boogered up plenty of screws along the way. The proper tool for adjusting precision screws is a torque wrench, and now, Wheeler Engineering has brought us the FAT Wrench, a handheld click/clutch-style torque wrence in the form of a typical screwdriver that lets you apply repeatable, accurate torque settings to scope rigns, guard and action screws, and other parts which aid in accuracy. It also uncludes a bunch of bits that are the most useful for firearms, all in a neat, injection molded case. It’s a great gift for people who own one rifle or 20 handguns alike. MSRP: $55 –Joe Albanese
BONUS ITEMS: John Wick Action Figures
Because it’s still fun to get toys as presents, no matter your age…
For the movie lover and gun lover on your list, there are a few Jon Wick toys out there that would make an excellent surprise. First up is the John Wick MAFEX No.070 depiction of the action antihero from the first film. Wick is in an all black suit, shirt, and tie and comes complete with a HK P30L with custom compensator and a Glock 26, plus an AR carbine with Holo sight and a Kel-Tec KSG shotgun.
The John Wick Chapter 2 figure from MAFEX has a black suit with a white shirt and an arsenal that includes a Taran Tactical Innovations custom Glock 34, Glock 26, Benelli M4, and a TR-1 Ultralight AR with an 11.5” barrel. Plus he has his pitbull and a pencil. A f#&$ing pencil. The details on the guns are pretty amazing for 6.3” toys. MSRP: $78.93
If you really want to drop some coin, there’s also the Hot Toys 1/6th scale figure. HT is known for their extremely true-to-life figures and accessories, and the John Wick figure is no exception—and the package of toy firearms that come with the figure are pretty remarkable in their detail and realism.
The figure is based on the Wick from the second movie, and also includes all the TTI firearms…you can see the Picatinny rail slots and even make out the TTI logo on the Benelli—plus the HK P30 and Kel Tec KSG from the first movie. There are also a bunch of screen-accurate props from the second movie included, and even a little Microtech OTF knife.
The figure is pricey at $243, but it’s available now and would make an awesome gift for a big fan. (Hot Toys hasn’t released any John Wick Chapter 3-specific figures as of yet) —David Maccar