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Industry Excellence of 2018

2018 brings us into the third year for the Industry Choice Awards, as it begins to hit its stride with yet more categories and more companies involved. Hosted at Rockcastle Shooting Center in Kentucky, the Industry Choice Awards focus on conducting objective testing and evaluation of products by a panel of unbiased and experienced evaluators, in order to award product of the year accolades in a variety of categories.

This gives end users and consumers an awards process that’s unbiased, while participating manufacturers receive all of the feedback from testers. Additionally, all the companies are invited to come to Rockcastle in the summer for the Industry Team Challenge match and awards ceremony. Designed by Andy Horner, the match features everything from three-gun to action pistol to long-range precision to trap and sporting clays. We’ve attended this event every year and can attest to the quality of the match and the opportunity to get to know others in the industry. We definitely encourage companies to submit products and participate in the awards.

Once again, we’re the exclusive publishing partner to report on the Industry Choice Awards. This year, the number of product categories expanded to 13. The winners are detailed in the below.

ICA RIFLE OF THE YEAR

POF Renegade Plus SPR

Patriot Ordnance Factory Renegade Plus SPR

Caliber: .223 (Wylde), .224 Valkyrie
Barrel Length: 18.5 or 20 inches, respectively
Weight: 7.7 pounds
Magazine Capacity: 30 rounds
MSRP: $2,030
URL
www.pof-usa.com
Notes:
POF seems to be making a habit of winning ICA awards, notching its second win in the rifle category with its Renegade Plus SPR. POF’s known for its gas piston designs, but decided to bring its engineering flair to the direct impingement market. While the world of DI AR rifles is pretty saturated, the Renegade Plus SPR still stands out with a number of innovative features in a functional and attractive package. Notable features include its ambidextrous controls, roller cam pin, heat sink barrel nut, nine-position adjustable gas block, straight gas tube, and integrated gas key on the bolt carrier. It’s available in .223 with a Wylde chamber and 18.5-inch barrel or .224 Valkyrie and 20-inch barrel; both barrels are 1/7 twist, match grade, and nitrided. The rifle sports an M-LOK handguard, three-port muzzle brake, flat 3.5-pound trigger, Mission First Tactical grip, and Luth-AR buttstock.

Evaluators highlighted the gun’s features, craftsmanship, and attention to detail, with compliments such as, “The rifle stands out when side by side with other ARs,” and “It’s a high-end AR in a world of plain AR rifles.” One noted that in his testing, the rifle “put 15 of 20 Russian Wolf 55-grain bullets into a 6-inch steel gong target at 400 yards on a very windy day.”

Runners Up
Kimber Hunter 6.5 Creedmoor
Patriot Ordnance Factory Renegade 5.56mm

ICA PISTOL CALIBER CARBINE OF THE YEAR

PCC-Ruger PCC

Sturm Ruger PC Carbine

Caliber: 9mm
Barrel Length: 16.1 inches
Weight: 6.8 pounds
Magazine Capacity: 17 rounds
MSRP: $649
URL
www.ruger.com
Notes:
Ruger’s new PC Carbine won the new pistol-caliber carbine category. In a market replete with products based on AR platforms, the seemingly traditional Ruger stands out. Take a closer look, as we did in issue 25 of RECOIL OFFGRID, and you’ll realize how modern it really is. It quickly breaks into two for transport or storage, and magazine wells can be swapped out to accept Ruger or Glock mags. The action features a tungsten dead-blow weight, shortening bolt travel and resulting in a soft recoil impulse. The stock and controls can be customized to suit the shooter. We found the iron sights a bit fiddly, but a top Picatinny rail awaits your optic of choice.

Evaluators appreciated the PC Carbine’s solid build and thoughtful design. In particular, many highlighted its takedown capability and versatility as a truck, survival, backpack, or competition gun. Some weren’t totally enamored with the magazine release and cross-bolt safety, but it’s pretty hard to beat the ergonomics of an AR platform. Everyone loved sending rounds downrange with it, enjoying minimal recoil and muzzle rise — many noted that they would be adding the Ruger to their wishlist.

Runners Up
American Armament Arms Daily Duty
American Armament Arms SRO

ICA HANDGUN OF THE YEAR

Sig P365

SIG SAUER P365 Nitron Micro-Compact

Caliber: 9mm
Barrel Length: 3.1 inches
Weight: 1.1 pounds
Magazine Capacity: 10 or 12 rounds
MSRP: $600
URL
www.sigsauer.com
Notes:
We reviewed this gun ourselves in Issue 9 of CONCEALMENT and declared it one of our favorite self-defense guns on the market, a polymer-framed subcompact that you can shoot all day long. Accurate, reliable, and incredibly concealable in a package smaller than a Glock 43, it still offers up 10-round flush-fit magazines and 12-round extended mags. And with night sights included in its $600 retail price, it’s a good value too.

Evaluators agreed, loving the packaging of the P365. While a few felt it didn’t quite fit their hands just right, most found it very comfortable, even for those with large mitts. One wrote that it was the “first small frame pistol able to fit my big hands.” They touted its ergonomics and design, noting that it “feels and operates like a much larger firearm” and that “everything on the pistol is properly placed, accessible, and manipulated.”

In summary, tester reports were filled with comments such as “best small nine I’ve ever shot,” “best pistol I have shot in this class of gun,” and “one of the best and unexpected pistols I shot.”

Runners Up
Canik TP9SF Elite 9mm
Springfield Armory 1911 TRP 10mm Operator

ICA RIFLE CALIBER PISTOL OF THE YEAR

Sig MCX Rattler

SIG SAUER MCX Rattler

Caliber: 300 Blackout
Barrel Length: 5.5 inches
Weight: 5.1 pounds
Magazine Capacity: 30 rounds
MSRP: $2,719
URL
www.sigsauer.com
Notes:
Just two issues ago, this little beast graced the cover of our magazine. Built to provide some high-speed end users with a lot of firepower in a very small package, it’s now available to civilians as a rifle-caliber pistol and won the ICA award in this new category. After no small amount of effort, SIG shrunk their MCX short-stroke piston-operated platform down to a 5.5-inch barreled, 300-BLK chambered bundle of fun. In pistol form, it comes with a three-position collapsible brace. The stubby M-LOK handguard provides a bit of real estate for your support hand, which you must religiously honor lest you reach too far forward and make a mistake that you (and your hand) won’t soon forget.

We concluded that the Rattler is well-engineered and a hoot to shoot, though it fills a specialized role, and it’s not for beginners. Evaluators couldn’t help but be drawn in by its undeniable badassery, highlighting its good looks and ergonomics, durability, and fit and finish. Like us, they complained about its gritty trigger, felt it needed a hand stop, and some thought it was rather heavy. Nevertheless, the consensus loved shooting it, noting it would make a great “quickly deployable truck or home-defense gun.”

Runners Up
Century Arms C39v2 Blade 7.62x39mm
Springfield Armory SAINT AR-15 Pistol 5.56mm

ICA SUPPRESSOR OF THE YEAR

Tactical Solutions Axiom

Tactical Solutions Axiom

Caliber: .22LR
Length: 5.9 inches
Weight: 6 ounces
MSRP: $394
URL
www.tacticalsol.com
Notes:
The suppressor category is also new this year, with Tactical Solutions’ Axiom taking the top spot. The Axiom is constructed of titanium with a stainless steel split tube to make for easy removal and cleaning of the baffle stack. At just 1 inch in diameter, under 6 inches long, and only 6 ounces, you’ll barely notice the Axiom. It’s rated for full ammo and will take .22LR, .17MH2, .22WMR, .17HMR, .17WSM, .22 Hornet, and 5.7x28mm. Threaded ½x28, it comes with a pouch and wrench.

As you might expect with a suppressed 22, the evaluators had a blast with the Axiom. They found it to be easy to install, disassemble, and clean. They praised its quality, craftsmanship, design, and effectiveness at noise reduction despite its compact size.

Runners Up
NG2 Defense Maxflo 3D AFD Suppressor
Ruger Silent-SR ISB 10/22 Takedown integrally suppressed barrel

ICA OPTIC OF THE YEAR

Leupold 5-25

Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56

Reticle: TMR, CCH, H-59, Tremor 3 (Front focal plane with optional illumination)
Length: 15.7 inches
Weight: 30 ounces
MSRP: $2,600 to $3,640
URL:
www.leupold.com
Notes:
High-quality optics are worth their weight in gold when you have serious work to do, whether you’re on duty, hunting, or competing. And with the hefty prices of high-end optics, it does seem like they might actually be made of gold. But settle in behind one, and you might be ruined forevermore on anything less. Leupold’s new Mark 5HD 5-25×56 riflescope will do that to you, taking home the top spot in the optics category.

The scope offers a wide and versatile zoom range, going from 5x to 25x magnification with a first focal plane reticle and a girthy 35mm tube with 120 MOA of elevation adjustment. Yet at 30 ounces, it occupies the lightweight end of the spectrum compared to other offerings on the market. The turrets feature one-tenth mil increments and the M5C3 Zerolock system, which prevents the elevation knob from turning unintentionally while still being easy to adjust. Just depress the lock release button on the turret to turn it; once you move past your zero, you needn’t continue pushing the button. It’s a convenient system that also gives visible and tactile indicators of how many revolutions you’ve turned the dial.

Evaluators lauded the build quality, fit, and finish, as well as the glass and low-light performance. The Zerolock system was a particular favorite. Many felt it was reasonably priced and a good value for everything the Mark5HD offers.

Runners Up
Kahles K16i 1-6×24 riflescope
Swarovski CL Companion 8×30 binoculars

ICA APPAREL OF THE YEAR

TruSpec 24-7 Xpedition

TRU-SPEC 24-7 Xpedition Men’s Pants

Colorways: Black, Black/Charcoal, Charcoal, Coyote, MultiCam/Coyote, Ranger Green, Ranger Green/Black
Sizes: 28- to 44-inch waist, 30- to 36-inch inseam
Fabric: 6.5-ounce polyester/cotton rip-stop
MSRP: $117
URL: www.truspec.com
Notes:
There’s nothing quite like a good pair of pants. Tru-Spec has a winner in the 24-7 Xpedition pant, topping the new apparel category. The 6.5-ounce poly/cotton rip-stop fabric is lightweight and durable, while a DWP coating helps keep you dry. You won’t mistake these pants for a pair of Dockers, but they’re chock full of features for those who’d rather be outside than on a couch. The pant has soft flex panels, gusseting, and articulated knees to ease movement, a sliding waistband, zippered cooling vents, zippered leg openings, and loops, straps, snaps, and pockets galore.

Testers really liked the 24-7 Xpedition, with some opposing viewpoints on the two-tone colorways. The functionality and design of the pant really struck a chord, with its many well-thought-out features and quality construction appealing to the evaluators. The flex panels drew accolades for articulation but some wondered if it might come at the expense of durability in those areas over the long term. While a premium product, most evaluators felt the Tru-Spec was a good value in the full-featured tactical pant arena — “a cut above with price point to value.”

Runners Up
5.11 Tactical Women’s Defender-Flex Slim Pants
Vertx Recon Multicam Combat Shirt

ICA PREMIUM ACCESSORY OF THE YEAR

Crimson Trace CMR300

Crimson Trace CMR-300 Rail Master Pro

MSRP: TBD
URL:
www.crimsontrace.com
Notes:
Crimson Trace won the premium accessory category with its new weapon-mounted light and laser. The CMR-300 mounts to any Picatinny rail and outputs 300 lumens of white light to identify your target and a green laser to make sure you hit it. The unit is very compact, with the ability to activate the light or laser only, or both at the same time.

Evaluators felt that Crimson Trace did an excellent job building a light/laser that can be used for training, duty, defense, and competition, concluding that the CMR-300 “stood out in addressing complex function, streamlined design, and an ergonomic design.” With its highly visible green laser, most also felt it was a good value. Several testers expressed a desire for a momentary mode and a pressure switch as an accessory.

Runners Up
Leupold LTO Quest HD thermal imager
Trijicon 45 Degree Offset Quick Release Mount for MRO or RMR

ICA BASIC ACCESSORY OF THE YEAR

Canik Mags

Canik TP9 Series Magazines

Capacity: 15, 18, and 20 rounds
MSRP: $26 to $30
URL:
www.centuryarms.com
Notes:
How exciting are magazines, really? They’re critically important, but hardly sexy. Sometimes, though, it goes to show that offering a solid product at a reasonable price, even if it isn’t tacticool, can rule the day. Although 20 rounds on tap is pretty tactical and also cool.

Evaluators found the magazines to be well constructed, reliable, and a good value. What more needs to be said?

Runners Up
Comp-Tac International Holster
MGM Switchview Lever

ICA TRIGGER OF THE YEAR

Mossberg JM Pro

Mossberg JM PRO Adjustable Match AR trigger

Trigger Pull Weight: 4 pounds
MSRP: $161
URL:
www.mossberg.com
Notes:
This year’s winner in the trigger category is from Mossberg. Designed with the one and only Jerry Miculek, it earns the JM PRO designation. It’s a drop-in cassette style trigger, making installation so simple a caveman could do it. It comes set to 4 pounds, but you can adjust it down to 3 pounds or up to 6 pounds. You can also customize the amount of overtravel.
Testers liked the ease of installation, ability to personalize the trigger, and, most importantly, its crisp break and reset. With many triggers available on the market these days, evaluators felt the Mossberg distinguishes itself with quality, performance, and value.

Runners Up
JP Enterprises JPFC-M Fire Control Module with flat trigger
JP Enterprises JPFC-M Fire Control Module with roller trigger

ICA AMMUNITION OF THE YEAR

Hornady 6.5 Creed ELD

Hornady 140-gr ELD Match

Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
Bullet Weight: 140 grains
MSRP: $39 (20-round box)
URL:
www.hornady.com
Notes:
Reach out and touch whatever you damn well please. There’s a reason some people jokingly refer to this round as “6.5 Cheatmore.”

Hornady’s 6.5 Creedmoor ELD match is manufactured with the utmost in anal-retentiveness, to ensure maximum uniformity and precision. Cases are specially selected to maintain consistency, and quality control is held to the highest standards. The ELD match bullet also has a new tip design to optimize performance.

We’ve gotten great results with this load, printing small groups with precision rigs that we’ve tested. Evaluators gave the ammo rave reviews, with one even suggesting Hornady could increase their prices because of how good it is.

Runners Up
Federal American Eagle Syntech 115-gr 9mm
Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection 10mm

ICA SHOTGUN OF THE YEAR

Mossberg 590 Mag

Mossberg 590M Mag-Fed Pump-Action 12 gauge

Caliber:
12 gauge
Barrel Length:
18.5 inches
Weight:
7.8 pounds
Magazine Capacity:
5, 10, 15, 20 rounds
MSRP:
$721
URL:
www.mossberg.com
Notes:
Mossberg’s 590M adds a detachable double-stack magazine to its long-standing 12-gauge pump-action shotgun design. Mags rock and lock into place, and with huge 20-round magazines available, that’s a lot of lead at the ready.

ICA TARGET OF THE YEAR

TARGET-dueling_tree

Innovative Targets Dueling Tree

Height: 72 inches
Weight: 120 to 140 pounds
MSRP: $500 to $600
URL:
www.innovativetargets.net
Notes:
The Dueling Tree from Innovative Targets features six 3⁄8-inch-thick and 6-inch diameter AR500 target plates, along with a 1/4-inch-thick center column. The legs can adjust for uneven terrain, and the plates pivot smoothly from one side to the other.


To see the full list of categories and winners, check out our coverage from earlier in the year.

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