Christmas shopping is hard. And expensive. Sometimes, finding the right balance between cheap, available, and thoughtful is all but impossible. That’s why gun stuff (that’s the technical term) is such a great option. The industry offers everything from expensive, I-never-have-to-buy-you-another-present-again firearms for the folks you like to $3 patches for everyone else.
The list below includes ideas for some of the people you’ll encounter at this year’s Christmas Day get-together. All of this gear is on my list, too, and you might consider putting it on yours if you haven’t already faxed it to the North Pole.
Your Tacticool Neph-pew-pew!
You know who I’m talking about. His name is probably Curtis. Or Brent. He wears armor plates that weigh more than he does, and his EDC arsenal could end the war in the Middle East. But his heart’s in the right place, so you want to get him something that’ll make his little eyes sparkle like a three-year-old on Santa’s knee.
I’ve had a T&E model for a few months now, and I love it (be looking for a full review soon!). Magpul’s bipod lives in that perfect middle space between the cheap-o models you can buy at Walmart and the $200+ units you can’t convince your wife you really need to keep the reticle on target. It’s amazing no one has filled this space sooner, but this isn’t the first Magpul product to fill a much-needed void in the market.
The bipod is constructed from Magpul’s legendary polymer and reinforced by hard anodized 6061 T-6 aluminum and stainless steel internals. At just over 11oz, this hybrid construction is lighter than more expensive products without sacrificing durability. My favorite feature is the 50° of total tilt and 40° of total pan, both of which are controlled by an aggressively knurled knob underneath. Users can also lock the pan at 0° while maintaining full tilt.
Magpul offers models for M-lock, 1913 picatinny, and ARMS 17S style mounting systems.
CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S2 Pistol Micro w/ Brace
CZ released their new EVO earlier this year, and I haven’t stopped drooling over it since. Chambered in 9mm, the EVO 3 S2 comes with a collapsible, telescoping SB Tactical arm brace that extends for additional stabilization. The barrel is only 4 inches long, and the collapsed length is just 16 inches, perfect for vehicle or home-defense applications.
The company says this firearm is the result of a project developing a smaller, suppressed Scorpion for an undercover drug interdiction unit. This commercial model doesn’t come with a suppressor, but they do include a NoOsprey faux suppressor from SilencerCo.
The iron sights are low-profile, and the rear sight has four different aperture sizes for short and medium ranges. The full length picatinny rail can accommodate a variety of optics.
So tell your nephew to grow that operator beard. With a Scorpion EVO 3 S2 at his side, he’ll definitely be the tacticoolest dude at his Level Four Combat Carbine class.
Your Lives-In-The-Woods-Possibly-A-Serial-Killer Uncle
You’ve never seen him without hunter’s orange and some kind of camouflage vest, and he knows more about “wound channels” than makes you comfortable. But you both have buck fever this time of year, and his hunting stories are entertaining, if not strictly true.
Wheeler Professional Scope Mounting Kit
You don’t get your uncle a professional scope mounting kit because he asked for it. You get your uncle this Wheeler kit because he recommends torqueing “the tar” out of scope rings and then wonders why his optics keep breaking.
The Wheeler Professional Scope Mounting Kit includes alignment bars, lapping bars, lapping compound, a reticle leveler, and a F.A.T. torque wrench. The lapping and alignment bars align the scope rings to ensure maximum contact between the rings and scope tube. This is important because small variations in scope rings can damage the scope body or move the scope from its zero after heavy recoil.
After lapping, the reticle leveler ensures the scope’s vertical crosshair is perfectly perpendicular to the bore axis. The reticle leveler included with this kit isn’t perfect (as I explain here), but it’ll get the job done for a hunter’s purposes. For those looking for a little more precision, Wheeler also offers a Professional Reticle Leveling System.
Finally, the F.A.T. wrench allows users to tighten their scope rings to the proper torque weight. Follow the manufacturer’s directions here, but usually, scope rings shouldn’t be tightened beyond about 20 inch-pounds. I’ve also found the F.A.T. wrench to be useful for a variety of other applications like torquing action screws to the proper weight.
Kimber Mountain Ascent (Subalpine)
Under five pounds with a sub-MOA accuracy guarantee? That’s what I call the perfect mountain rifle. It’s also what Kimber offers with their Mountain Ascent series, and my favorite camo pattern has to be the Subalpine.
Like any good backpacker, Kimber shaves weight wherever it can. The stock is constructed from carbon fiber rather than polymer. The Sporter-style 22” barrel is fluted, which is usually only done to heavy barrels, and the stainless-steel construction will hold up in in the wettest weather. Even the bolt handle and extractor are skeletonized. It all adds up (or down, I guess) to an ultra-light rifle perfect for any long hike in the backcountry.
And that sub-MOA accuracy guarantee is more than just marketing talk. GunsAmerica’s Aram Von Benedikt took the rifle for a spin earlier this month, and his 280 Ackley test model averaged .93-inch groups with all types of ammunition tested. Kimber also offers the rifle in .308 WIN, 30-06 Spring., .300 WSM, and .300 WIN Mag.
Your Crazy Liberal Mother-in-Law
This one is tricky. Giving gun stuff to your mother-in-law will be awkward, but if you can get her interested in firearms, you can do anything. So pull up your big boy pants, brush up on your dumbed-down explanation of “semi-automatic,” and go out there and make a convert.
David Harsanyi’s First Freedom: A Ride Through America’s Enduring History with the Gun
Well-researched and well-argued, David Harsanyi’s book walks its readers through the history of firearms in the New World, from the pilgrims to the Patriots to the paratroopers. Harsanyi’s thesis is simple but profound: guns represent a crucial part of the fabric of American culture. Guns have helped preserve our religious, economic, and cultural institutions for over two centuries, and prohibiting or restricting firearms ownership would make our country less American.
Harsanyi is a journalist, not an academic, so his style is engaging and easy to read. He’s clearly done his homework, and he pulls both from historians and primary sources to construct his argument.
So, when your mother-in-law wonders why gun owners make such a “big deal” about the Second Amendment, give her this book and see if she’s as open-minded as she claims.
Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite
Keep the gift receipt on this one, but if you can get your mother-in-law out to the range with a Ruger 22/45 Lite, your work is done. Small caliber handguns are a great way to introduce someone to the Wonderful World of Firearms, and Ruger’s offering is among the best.
The 22/45’s weight, ergonomics, accuracy, and takedown mechanism make the firearm ideal for brand-new shooters. The handgun features a ventilated, aerospace-grade aluminum receiver, which reduces the overall weight to just 25 ounces. The polymer grips are comfortable, and the 4.4” barrel and large iron sights help keep novice shooters on target. Plus, if you really want to keep things simple, you can mount a red dot on the included Picatinny rail. Takedown can be completed with the push of a button, so maintaining the handgun is simple, quick, and easy.
If you’re hoping to convince one of your relatives to give shooting sports a try, get them a 22/45 Lite, take them to the range, and have some fun. You never know—you could find a new range buddy.
Your BRB (Best Range Buddy)
This is your dude. Your homeboy. Your brother/sister-from-another-mother. You’ve told him things at the range you haven’t told your spouse. This Christmas present has to be perfect, and while you know he’ll be happy with whatever you give him, here’s something you know he’ll be able to use.
Firearms Instruction Facilities from Coast to Coast
Training! Your BRB can only buy so many guns, but he can always improve his skill with a handgun, rifle, or shotgun. Fortunately, dozens of great firearm training academies have been established around the country, and here are three of the best.
This is the mecca of firearms training. Established in 1976 by Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper, Gunsite offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes for pistol, rifle, and shotgun. They also offer armorers classes and specialty classes for instructors, special situations, and concealed carry certification.
Their most famous class is called the “250 Pistol Class.” It’s an intensive, five-day course including range work, lectures, low light/night shooting with flashlight techniques and intensive indoor and outdoor live fire simulators. I haven’t taken it personally, but everyone I’ve spoken with describes it as a life-changing experience.
It’s not cheap, but for anyone who’s serious about learning how to use their handgun in a self-defense situation, it’s well worth the cost.
Location: Paulden, AZ
Universal Shooting Academy
The Universal Shooting Academy offers personalized courses with small class sizes taught by US World Shoot Team members, former special operations soldiers, overseas contractors, and former and current law enforcement officers. The small class sizes allow instructors to evaluate each student on an individual basis and custom tailor the course around the student’s needs.
They offer two categories of instruction: shooting and tactical. Their shooting program includes four levels of practice pistol courses, along with 3-gun basic training, Bianchi cup training, steel challenge handgun training, military, and law enforcement instructor training.
The tactical side includes courses focusing on pistols, rifles, and shotguns designed for shooters at a variety of skill and experience levels. The tactical classes range from two to five days. They also offer specialty classes like “Urban Sniper” and “High Risk Protective Service Carbine.”
Location: Frostproof, FL
Cost: Contact for a quote—call (863) 635-3425 or click here.
Insights Training Center
Insights Training Center offers a huge variety of courses tailored to the private sector, law enforcement, and military and government organizations. They have standard pistol and long gun classes as well as classes for pepper spray, knives, batons, ground fighting, and unarmed self-defense. They even offer wilderness survival courses and kids safety courses.
Rather than multi-day training courses, many of their offerings are one-day, 8am-6pm classes. For gun owners who can’t afford to drop two grand plus travel on a Gunsite class, these $450 courses might be a good option.
Location: Bellevue, WA
Cost: $450 for General Defensive Handgun
Planning to give (or get) an awesome gift this year? Tell us about it in the comments below!