Editor’s Picks: Guns & Gear

We support our readers with hundreds of hours of testing and research to help you buy the best guns and gear. Here’s our top picks along with links to their original article.

-Eric Hung & Matt Collins, Editors

Very Compact (Single Stack)

Sig Sauer P290RS

Prices accurate at time of writing

Looking for a very compact 9mm singlestack?  The P290RS is the one for you.  Comes with "Dual Action" trigger so you can press the trigger again if you think you had a light primer.  Check out the rest of our Best Single Stack Sub-Compacts.

Best Red Dot Under $200

Holosun HS403A

Prices accurate at time of writing

Our favorite red dot for under $200 that beat all its competitors in our grueling torture tests.  Check out the full red dot review here.

Best Light BCG

Rubber City Armory Titanium BCG

Prices accurate at time of writing

RCA brings its A-game with a titanium BCG that is light and won't have wear issues in your aluminum upper receiver.  What we run in our competition rifles.  See more pictures and stats at Best Lightweight Bolt Carrier Groups.

Best Beginner Bolt Action Rifle

Remington 700

The go-to precision bolt rifle that shoots great out of the box...but can also be upgraded into a tack-driver.  See more at Best Sniper & Precision Rifles.

Clearest 1-6x Glass

Vortex 1-6x Razor HD Gen 2

Want the clearest glass at low magnification that is perfect for competition?  The Razor HD Gen 2 is the perfect pick.

Longest Range Light

Nitecore MH25GT

Prices accurate at time of writing

This heftier light has a concentrated 1000 lumen output that can reach up to 1500 feet.  See the beam output as well as other options at our Best Tactical Flashlights.

Most Popular

Glock 19, Gen 4

The more compact and most popular Glock out there.  Perfect for beginners, home defense, concealed carry, and women.  Check out its stiff competition in Best Handgun for Beginners and Home Defense.

Coolest Looking AR-15

LWRC DI 16"

Prices accurate at time of writing

How about the coolest looking (and reliable) AR-15?  LWRC's DI (direct impingement) AR-15 even comes with a mid-length gas system, free floating rail, and handstop.

Lightest BCG

JP Enterprises Ultra Low Mass BCG

The lightest BCG on the market.  But because it's made out of aluminum, there's going to be some wear issues down the line.  Learn more at Best Lightweight Bolt Carrier Groups.

Best Offset Sights

Ade Advanced Offset Sights

Prices accurate at time of writing

Want near instantaneous access to a fixed magnification AND close quarters 1x?  Try the offset iron sights that only require you to tilt your rifle for close encounters.  Check out other AR-15 iron sights in our guide here.

Most Lightweight Lower

F1 UDR-15 3G Style 2

Prices accurate at time of writing

When you're going for the absolute lightest build at the possible expense of reliability in all conditions.  Check out the rest of our Best AR-15 Lowers.

Best Medium Frame Revolver

Ruger GP-100

The GP-100 is a 6-shot .357 Magnum and is built like a TANK.  Check out the rest of our picks in Top .357 Magnum Revolvers.

Runner-Up (Tactical Flashlight)

Fenix PD35 TAC

Prices accurate at time of writing

The big brother to our favorite EDC light (PD25), this version is brighter at 1000 lumens, also rechargeable, and passed all our torture tests.  See the full details at our Best Tactical Flashlights.

The Gold Standard

Aimpoint Micro H-1, 2 MOA

When you absolutely need your red dot to turn on, hold zero, and survive a literal bomb blast...you go Aimpoint.  The Micro keeps it compact.  Check out more picks in our Best AR-15 Optics & Scopes.

Editor's Pick Bullpup Shotgun

Kel-Tec KSG

Prices accurate at time of writing

While there's not too much competition in the bullpup shotgun world...the KSG has got some things going for it.  Such as a super short length, and two tubes that allow a 7+7+1 ammo capacity.  Learn more at Best Bullpup Rifles & Shotguns.

Editor's Choice

Smith & Wesson Model 686+

My personal favorite for the one revolver you should own.  7 shots of either .38 or .357 goodness with a balanced 4" barrel.  Good trigger that can be easily turned into a great trigger.  See the rest of our Best Handgun for Beginners and Home Defense.

Most Affordable 1911

Rock Island Armory 1911

Want a 1911 but don't want to spend too much?  But still want it reliable?  Look no further than the RIA 1911.  Check out our other picks in Best 1911 for the Money.

Best Bullpup Rifle

FN PS90

The PS90 shoots the 5.7x28 round which is low-recoil, small, and super fast...which makes it deadly against body armor.  Check out our other picks in Best Bullpup Rifles & Shotguns.

Editor's Pick (Forged)

Aero Precision Lower

Better looking than the Anderson and my current go-to for builds.  Plus they have special editions like the "Pew Pew Pew" lower.  For more options check out our Best AR-15 Lowers article.

Most Unique (IWB)

Urban Carry G2

Prices accurate at time of writing

Take everything you know about holsters and throw it out the door.  The Urban Carry G2 relies on a unique system to pull out your CCW.  Check out the GIF in our Best Concealed Carry Holsters article.

Best Large Frame Revolver

Smith & Wesson Model 627 Pro Series

Prices accurate at time of writing

8 shots of .357 Magnum goodness.  You'll feel very little recoil with this heavy revolver...plus you can reload with moon clips.  See more at Top .357 Magnum Revolvers.

Dream 1911

Wilson Combat CQB Tactical LE

Prices accurate at time of writing

What we would immediately order if we won the lottery.  For more affordable 1911 options, check out our Best 1911 for the Money guide.

Best Small Frame Revolver

Smith & Wesson Model 60

Our pick of favorite small frame revolver.  Stainless steel for good weight to help tame recoil.  Also great for concealed carry.  See more of our revolver picks in Top .357 Magnum Revolvers.

Editor's Choice (Tactical Flashlight)

ThruNite TN12 2016 XP-L

Prices accurate at time of writing

Well-rounded in everything from price to weight and lumen output.  1100 lumens at its max but also night-vision friendly with its .4 lumen "firefly" mode.  Check out more info at Best Tactical Flashlights.

Editor's Pick (OWB)

Safariland OWB Holsters

No-nonsense OWB (outside the waistband) holster that attaches with a paddle.  Check out our other holster picks in Best Concealed Carry Holsters.

Most Affordable

Hatsan Escort Aimguard

Prices accurate at time of writing

Want something reliable but yet super affordable?  The Hatsan Escort Aimguard is the way to go.

Best Mil-Spec AR-15

Bravo Company M4 Mod 0

Prices accurate at time of writing

Want to go mil-spec with your AR-15?  Check out Bravo Company's M4 Mod 0 that comes with a polymer handguard.

1911 Editor's Choice

Springfield Loaded Operator

Our favorite 1911 that combines everything we want...and at a reasonable price.  Check out our other picks at Best 1911 for the Money.

Editor's Pick Not-A-Shotgun

Mossberg 590 Shockwave

Prices accurate at time of writing

Not legally a shotgun...the Shockwave is simply a "firearm."  And despite the weird looking grip...it shoots better than other traditional pistol grip shotguns.  Learn more in our full review.

Editor's Choice (Laser Cartridge)

Laserlyte Cartridge

The most well-known brand for laser training cartridges.  My 9mm has been chugging past 5,000 dry-fire shots..  Check out more affordable options and targets in Best Laser Targets & Ammo.

Most Reliable .380

Glock 42

Reliability the number one concern in choosing a concealed carry gun?  The Glock 42 in .380 is small AND ready to fire whenever you are.

Best ACOG

ACOG TA31F 4x32

Trijicon's ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) are magnified for hitting longer range targets.  Learn more about them in our Red Dot Sights article.

Best Fixed Magnification

Vortex Spitfire 3x

Our pick for best fixed magnification optic.  The Vortex Spitfire gives you clear 3x magnification with a reticle that has drop-downs for up to 500 yards for 5.56 ammo.  See the rest of our Best AR-15 Optics & Scopes.

Runner-Up Best Pump Shotgun

Remington 870

Another favorite pump shotgun that narrowly misses our top pick since we prefer the Mossberg 590's safety and bolt release.  Check out our other top picks for Best Tactical Shotguns.

Brightest EDC Flashlight

Olight S2

Prices accurate at time of writing

A blazing 950 lumens in a small package.  One button use and many modes...so you'll have to cycle through.  But one of our favorite EDC lights.  See more at Best EDC Flashlights.

Smallest .380 Pistol

Kahr CW .380

Size really matter?  The Kahr CW .380 is about as small as you can get while still retaining 6+1 rounds.

Best Pump Shotgun

Mossberg 590A1

Our favorite pump shotgun for home defense.  Slight edge over the Remington 870 because we like the position of the safety and bolt release better.  Check out our other picks for Best Tactical Shotguns.

Best Trigger (Beginners, Home Defense)

Springfield XD Mod 2, Service

Another striker-fired reliable gun that got updated with more aggressive texturing and the favorite stock trigger in my opinion.  Check out the rest of the 9mm handguns that made our Best Handgun for Beginners and Home Defense.

Best Value Over-Under Shotgun

Stoeger Condor

The best over-under shotgun for under $500.  Everything you need to dominate the clays and available in a variety of calibers.  Learn more in our in-depth review.

Best 5.56 XM193 55 gr

American Eagle XM193 55 gr

Our favorite 5.56 XM193 ammo due to the manufacturer's 25% off rebate until the end of 2017.  Check out our other picks in Best AR-15 Ammo for Self-Defense & Range.

Best Belly Band Holster

Brave Response Holster

Prices accurate at time of writing

Best belly band holster that also comes with space for 3 spare mags.  If you're looking for other belly band holsters, check out our Best Concealed Carry Holsters.

Most Functions

Laser Ammo PET

Prices accurate at time of writing

You get a bunch of different modes...but for the price you only get one target compared to LaserLyte versions.  But it does feel more quality.  More options at Best Laser Cartridges & Targets.

Runner-Up (Beginners, Home Defense)

Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0

The newest version of the venerable M&P (military and police).  If there’s a list of best 9mm handguns, this usually makes the top 3.  Check out the rest at Best Handgun for Beginners and Home Defense.

Most Affordable Light BCG

Faxon Lightweight BCG

Want to dive into the lightweight BCG game...but don't want to spend too much?  Faxon has got you covered with their steel BCG that is lightened with cuts.  Learn more about other options at Best Lightweight Bolt Carrier Groups.

Best Value (Small Frame)

Ruger Model SP-101

Prices accurate at time of writing

Want a great small frame .357 Mag but want to save a little?  You can't go wrong with the SP-101.  Check out the history of revolvers in our Top .357 Magnum Revolvers article.

Best 5.56 XM855 (Green Tip)

American Eagle XM855 62 gr (90 Rounds)

Our favorite 5.56 XM855 "green tip" round with the steel penetrator.  Now with a 25% manufacturer's rebate until the end of the year.  Buy it cheap and stack it deep!  See more at Best AR-15 Ammo for Self-Defense & Range.

Best Holographic Sight

EOTech XPS-2

The gold standard and EOTech's smallest holographic sight.  The 65-MOA outside circle combined with the center dot gives you the best of both worlds...close quarters speed and long-distance accuracy.  Check out red dots and scopes in our Best AR-15 Optics & Scopes article.

Best Value Semi-Auto Shotgun

Mossberg SPX 930

Best combination of price and performance for a semi-auto shotgun.  Check out our other picks for Best Tactical Shotguns.

Most Affordable Red Dot

TRS-25 AR Optics

The perfect stepping stone for getting into red dots.  The TRS-25 stands up to abuse and still holds zero.  Be sure to get the right riser though.  Check out its specifications and more in our Best AR-15 Optics & Scopes guide.

Best 9mm Self-Defense (147 gr)

Federal HST 9mm 147 gr

If you like the slower impulse of the heavier 147 gr in your 9mm...we recommend the Federal HST.  What we load in our 9mm handguns at home.  See more of our favorites at Best 9mm Ammo for Self-Defense & Range.

Most Affordable (.45 ACP)

Springfield XD(M) .45

The XD(M) is much easier to control than some of the other .45 calibers on the market, yet it still packs the same punch as bigger, bulkier pistols.  Plus it's priced right.  Check out the rest of our Best .45 ACP Handguns.

Lightest Handguard

Brigand Arms Carbon Fiber Handguard

When you've absolutely got to have the lightest handguard.  Premium priced, no rail space, but man...is it light.  Check out the rest of the competition in Lightest AR-15 Handguards.

Editor's Pick (.45 ACP)

Heckler & Koch HK45

Prices accurate at time of writing

Looking for the best non-1911 .45 ACP handgun?  The HK45 is best in class for home defense and tactical operations.  Check out who it beat in Best .45 ACP Pistols.

Best .45 ACP Self-Defense

Federal .45 ACP 230 gr HST

We love Federal HST in 9mm and the same goes for .45 ACP.  This ammo dominated the FBI-style ballistics gel test for penetration and expansion.  See more choices at Best .45 ACP Ammo for Home Defense & Target Practice.

Best 9mm Range Ammo

American Eagle 9mm 115 gr

Hands down the best deal with the manufacturer's 25% off rebate until the end of the year.  Always goes bang and the brass is easy to reload.  See more at Best 9mm Ammo for Self-Defense & Range.

Editor's Choice (Lightweight Rail)

Midwest Industries LWMG3

Prices accurate at time of writing

My favorite rail for most builds.  Good bang-for-the-buck, comfortable in hand, and also very light.  Check it out vs other rails in our Lightest AR-15 Handguards and Best AR-15 Furniture articles.

Great Value (Sub-Compact)

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield

The M&P9 Shield has a nice, smooth, shorter pull.  And is priced right.  A little larger than most subcompacts but still plenty concealable.  Check out the rest of Best Single Stack Sub-Compacts.

Best Glock Laser Trainer

SIRT Pistol

Prices accurate at time of writing

Pricey but great if you want to mimic the trigger and weight/feel of a Glock...while shooting visible lasers.  Check out more training options in our Best Laser Targets & Cartridges.

Best Two-Point Sling

Viking Tactics Sling

Used by tons of US troops...the upgraded version of this sling is wider, more comfortable, and has stronger hardware.  Learn more at Best Rifle Sling for Your Purpose.

Best Value (Medium Frame)

Taurus Model 66SS4

Prices accurate at time of writing

A 7-shot medium framed .357 Magnum revolver that is super durable.  See more of its competition in Top .357 Magnum Revolvers.

Best AR-15 with a Front Sight Block (FSB)

Daniel Defense DDM4 V3

Prices accurate at time of writing

Our favorite front sight block AR-15 which comes with the softer shooting mid-length gas system and the impeccable Daniel Defense name.  Check out how to choose your first AR in our Best AR-15 Guide.

Best Pick Pistol Caliber Carbine

CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 Carbine

One of our favorite pistol caliber carbines...the CZ Scorpion is easy to shoot, the 9mm ammo is affordable, and reliable.  The new perfect home defense rifle.  Learn more in our in-depth review.

Best Hunting Scope

Leupold 3-9x VX-1

Looking for a great entry level hunting optic?  The Leupold 3-9x is great when you don't need much magnification nor clear 1x.

Best BUIS

Magpul MBUS

Want to have a backup in case your main optic fails?  The Magpul BUIS (backup iron sites) are light, out of the way, and effective.  Check out other BUIS options in our guide here.

Best Left Handed AR-15

Stag Arms Model 2L

Prices accurate at time of writing

Are you a south paw?  Not looking to get brass ejections into your face?  Stag Arms will help you lefties out with their Model 2L.

Best Overall Laser Target

LaserLyte Steel Tyme

Prices accurate at time of writing

The current best bang-for-the-buck reactive laser target from Laserlyte.  Makes a nice *ting* when you hit it.  More choices at Best Laser Target & Cartridges.

The "Goldilocks" Red Dot

Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO)

The PRO combines the robustness that made Aimpoint famous coupled with great battery life and a lower price point.  Check out more scopes in our Best AR-15 Optics & Scopes guide.

Best Bang-For-The-Buck Scope

Vortex 1-6x Strike Eagle

Our favorite entry level scope that's perfect for close engagement and also reaching out to several hundred yards.  What we ran in on our competition rifle for years.  Check out more in Best AR-15 Optics & Scopes.

Best Revolver for Smaller Hands

Smith & Wesson Model 66

Chambered in .38 Special, the Model 66 is reliable, simple to use, and great for smaller hands.  Check out the rest in our 7 Best Handguns for Women.

Best Value (IWB)

Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0

Prices accurate at time of writing

One of our favorite hybrid (neoprene backer and Kydex shell) holsters for IWB (inside the waistband).  30-day trial run period and lifetime warranty from Alien Gear.  Check out our in-depth review here.

Best .45 ACP Range Ammo

American Eagle .45 ACP 230 gr

Best deal for the year with American Eagle's 25% manufacturer's rebate.  Shoots clean, always goes bang, and great brass.  See more at Best .45 ACP Ammo for Home Defense & Target Practice.

Best Pen Light

ThruNite Ti4 CW

Prices accurate at time of writing

The best EDC doesn't matter if you don't carry it.  This pen light is super slim and fits easily in your pocket or purse.  Decent output at 250 lumens and a steal at $20.  See our brighter options at Best EDC Flashlights.

Most Readily Available

Colt LE6920

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Colt LE 6920 (law enforcement) is my main recommendation for an entry level AR-15 since you can find it almost any gun store.  It comes with a front sight block (FSB), carbine-length gas system, polymer handguards, and a flip-up rear sight.  Learn more about AR-15s in our Best AR-15 Guide

Best Animal Protection Revolver

Model 5033 Ruger Redhawk .357 Magnum

Prices accurate at time of writing

8 rounds of .357 Magnum in a 2 ¾ inch barrel that is perfect for big critter country.  See more revolvers in our Top .357 Magnum Revolvers.

Best Looking .380

Sig Sauer P238

Want your concealed carry piece to be a looker?  Sig Sauer's P238 is your best bet.  The 1911-inspired .380 pistol is aluminum framed and comes with a safety lever.  Want to see more CCW guns?  Check out our Top .380 Pistols.

Best .223 Self-Defense

Federal LE Hi-Shok 55 gr 500 Rounds

Prices accurate at time of writing

A law enforcement soft-point .223 round.  Our go-to for self-defense rounds since if it's good enough for first responders...it's good enough for us.  See more choices at Best AR-15 Ammo for Self-Defense & Range.

Best Bang-For-The-Buck Handguard

Aero Precision ATLAS M-LOK Handguard

Prices accurate at time of writing

Our new favorite handguard due to its price, weight, and feel.  Check out the full review in Best AR-15 Handguards as well as it in action on the Aero M4E1 Upper Review.

Best Semi-Auto Precision Rifle

Aero Precision M5E1 .308

Prices accurate at time of writing

The big brother to the AR-15...this AR-10 variant is chambered in .308 and kicks butt.  See the full review or also Best Sniper & Precision Rifles.

Editor's Choice (EDC Flashlight)

Fenix PD25

Prices accurate at time of writing

A simple compact light with several modes and a decent max brightness of 550 lumens.  Comes with a USB rechargeable battery and survived our drop and water immersion tests.  See more options at our Best EDC Flashlights.

Best Lightweight Lower

Battle Arms Development Lightweight Lower

Best overall lightweight lower where you can shed a quarter pound in your lower alone.  BAD didn't go overboard and take out weight that might be necessary.  Plus it looks BAD-ass.  For more choices check out Best AR-15 Lowers.

Best Free Float Handguard AR-15

Daniel Defense DDM4 V7

Again from Daniel Defense...our favorite pick for a free-floating handguard AR-15.  This variant has the mid-length gas system and 16" barrel.  Want to learn more about how we made our choice?  Check out our Best AR-15 Guide.

Best Adjustable Gas Block

Superlative Arms Adjustable Gas Block

Most AR-15s are over-gassed...which means more recoil.  Adjustable gas blocks restrict the amount of gas returning to your gun.  And this one can bleed it out instead of forcing it out the barrel.  Learn more in our full review.

Most Affordable

Anderson Lower Receiver

Super affordable and does what it needs to do.  Can't ask for anything more than that!  But if you're looking for more options, check out our Best AR-15 Lowers.

Best 9mm 1911

STI Trojan 9mm

Prices accurate at time of writing

What we run for single stack competition in USPSA and the best 9mm 1911 in our opinion.  Silky smooth action and the lightest trigger pull of all our pistols.  See our other 1911 picks in Best 1911 for the Money.

Editor's Choice (Beginners, Home Defense)

Glock 17, Gen 4

Who hasn't heard of Glock?  The full-size 9mm Glock 17 is ultra reliable, the Glock "Safe Action" trigger safety, and now comes with adjustable backstraps to better fit your hand.  Find out more at our Best Handgun for Beginners and Home Defense.

Best Budget Semi-Auto (Hunting)

Stoeger m3500

Want to venture into the world of hunting semi-auto shotguns on a budget?  The Stoeger m3500 is what you're looking for.  Check out the rest of the Best Semi-Auto Shotguns.

Best Value Semi-Auto (Competition)

Benelli M2 Tactical

The most popular competition shotgun that I've seen (and use personally).  Benelli has got it right with their inertia driven semi-auto 12 gauge.  See the rest at Best Semi-Auto Shotguns.

Best Three-Point Sling

Specter Three Point Sling

Prices accurate at time of writing

Love it or hate it...this is our favorite three-point sling.  Learn more at Best Rifle Sling for Your Purpose.

Best Bullpup Rifle

Tavor SAR Flattop B16

This Israeli bullpup has got it going on.  Reliable, short, and able to switch from 5.56 to 9mm with a kit.  Learn more at Best Bullpup Rifles & Shotguns.

Techiest Training Solution

MantisX

Super-helpful device that attaches to your pistol rail that reads what you're doing wrong in both dry AND live fire.  Bluetooth to your phone with a nifty app.  Combine this with our Safe & Effective Dry Fire Training.

Editor's Pick (Semi-Auto, Hunting)

Browning A5

Our favorite for best overall hunting semi-automatic shotgun.  Old school looking but able to differentiate between light and heavy loads.  Check out its competition in Best Semi-Auto Shotguns.

Best Bang for the Buck AR-15

Aero Precision AC-15M

For the best overall value, I like Aero Precision's AC-15M.  Aero has a stellar reputation for build parts and their complete rifles are no exception.  Best Bang for the Buck since it comes with the softer shooting mid-length gas system.  Check out my review of one of their complete uppers.

Best 9mm Self-Defense (124 gr)

Federal HST 9mm 124 gr

Our favorite overall 9mm defensive round.  Passed the FBI-style ballistics gel test with flying colors.  Check out the results and more of our picks at Best 9mm Ammo for Self-Defense & Range.

Best Single-Point Sling

Magpul MS4 Sling

Our favorite single-point sling that’s comfortable, durable, and easy to adjust.  Learn more at Best Rifle Sling for Your Purpose.

Editor's Pick (Semi-Auto, Home Defense)

FNH SLP Mark I

Prices accurate at time of writing

A super durable semi-auto shotgun that is as comfortable at a competition as it is ready to protect your family.  Check out the rest at Best Semi-Auto Shotguns.

Best Buffer System

JP Captured Spring

Prices accurate at time of writing

Hate the *sproing* of your buffer system?  Going with a lighter BCG?  Want your AR-15 to have less recoil?  Get this!  Learn more at Best Lightweight Bolt Carrier Groups.

Best High-End Semi-Auto

Benelli M4

The shotgun that accompanies US Marines across 6 continents.  This thing is built tough and uses a self-regulating gas system that runs cleaner compared to normal inertia systems.  See the rest at Best Semi-Auto Shotguns.

Best Retention (OWB)

Tagua Leather OWB Holster

The perfect OWB (outside the waistband) holster that has a thumb break as extra built-in retention.  See our other holster choices at Best Concealed Carry Holsters.

Best Double-Action Only

Sig Sauer P250

Prices accurate at time of writing

A double-action only (DAO) gun where each trigger pull is long and heavy to bring some comfort from a safety perspective.  Little felt recoil and highly customizable for grip size.  Check out the rest of our Best Handguns for Women.

Gets It Done (IWB)

Concealment Express Holsters

Our favorite no-frills Kydex IWB holster.  Affordable, rugged, multiple attachment options, and pretty comfortable.  See the full review here.