Guns & Ammo Of The Year Awards: 2022

Each year, Guns & Ammo celebrates the best in firearms, ammunition, optics, gear and innovation. Here are our award winners for 2022.

Guns & Ammo Of The Year Awards: 2022
To ensure the credibility of the Guns & Ammo of the Year awards, no manufacturers, advertisers, or sales representatives were involved with the selection process. What follows is the ultimate list of 2022’s best new products. (Photo by Michael Anschuetz)

October 31, 2022By Guns & Ammo Staff

Guns & Ammo editors, contributors and staff are set to declare the firearms industry’s award recipients for 2022. Only products made commercially available since the fourth quarter of 2021, and were not considered for last year’s awards, qualified for nomination. G&A’s staff had the chance to evaluate and discuss the merits of products in-person during the course of multiple firearm-industry events, including the annual Outdoor Sportsman Group (OSG) Roundtable in Grinnell, Iowa. Several editors and contributors attended training events and hunted with these products within the last 12 months for further evaluation.

Products that were evaluated to be all-new designs, as well as those that had the best potential benefit to the widest range of readers, were given additional merit when scored. When deciding between two otherwise equally important new products, the more affordable choice broke the ties in our voting. G&A acquired several samples of each finalist throughout 2022 to achieve a representative evaluation. Products that warranted any doubt in reliability or durability were struck from the list of candidates.

The winner for each category came from a point system, but nominated products needed to meet three criteria: First, the product must have been new and available for purchase in 2022. A line extension of an existing product didn’t earn as many points as one possessing innovative features and engineering. Second, the product must have demonstrated quality and reliability to a degree that met or exceeded its design objective. Lastly, the winner offered the greatest availability and general affordability to the largest audience. G&A’s staff awarded these points after surveying in-store availability and confirming retail pricing to ensure that new products exist for sale and provide great value.

Innovator Of The Year

Innovator of the Year: Springfield Armory
For its dedication to innovation and many new product introductions, including the Hellion bullpup rifle, Springfield Armory is the Guns & Ammo Innovator of the Year for 2022. (Guns & Ammo photo)

Springfield Armory was nominated for several awards in 2022. On their own, certain products were named as a finalist in various categories. After many discussions, however, Guns & Ammo decided to reconsider its “Innovation of the Year” distinction to recognize Springfield Armory’s steady introduction of new pistols, rifles and optics spanning the fourth quarter of 2021 and the third quarter of 2022. More than line extensions — although there were several of those, also — several products typified the company’s aggressive strategy to dominate the market demand, including the continuation of “The Armory Life” digital and print magazines.

Looking back, we should have seen this coming. In 2019, Springfield Armory launched the Hellcat pistol, and the Model 2020 bolt-action rifle appeared in time to see the year of its name. In 2021, the Hex Optics brand was created featuring the Wasp and Dragonfly red-dot sights. Then came the SA-35, arguably the best tribute to the original P.35 High Power ever.

Bridging the gap of a duty and custom Model 1911, the Emissary 1911 arrived in November 2021, as well as the traditional-styled Garrison 1911 and Ronin variants of the EMP — all in the same month. In December 2021, Springfield Armory announced the Saint Edge ATC, all while the fourth issue of “The Armory Life” print magazine reached the milestone of 150,000 copies in circulation. Line extensions of the XDm Elites kept the brand on our minds, but the Hellion bullpup rifle commanded the news in April 2022. Though based on Croatia’s unobtainable VHS-2 service rifle, the Hellion had received a complete contemporary design for the American market that simultaneously antiquated its predecessor.

In 2022, we saw the release of the Hellcat RDP and Hellcat Pro, as well as 9mm versions of the Garrison and Emissary 1911s and the XDm Elite OSP in 10mm. Drawing the most excitement in 2022 was the launch of the Prodigy 1911 DS. Available in both 4.25- and 5-inch configurations, these pistols specifically targeted the growing desire for more double-stack 9mm Model 1911 pistols sought by action-pistol competitors and law enforcement officers from expensive, small-batch manufacturers.

Guns & Ammo Of The Year Awards: 2022
Innovator of the Year: Springfield Armory

Springfield Armory hasn’t shown signs of slowing. Guns & Ammo’s editorial staff is already anticipating several news-breaking introductions for 2023, as well as line extensions to satisfy shooters’ expressed wants and needs. Springfield Armory won Guns & Ammo’s first Innovator of the Year award for its continued pursuit to satisfy brand loyalists and gain new ones.

Handgun Of The Year

Handgun of the Year: Taurus GX4 Series
Compact, capacious, affordable and accurate, the Taurus GX4 series, including the GX4XL, is the Guns & Ammo Handgun of the Year for 2022. (Guns & Ammo photo)

Taurus GX4 Series includes standard and T.O.R.O. versions of the GX4 11-round models, as well as the larger 13-round GX4XL. These pistols were all introduced in one calendar year. The GX4 was Taurus’ first micro-compact, and its price opens the door to new shooters for concealed carry.

With bold investments made since its move to Bainbridge, Georgia, Taurus continues to impress us with its introductions such as the Executive Grade 856 revolver, G3X/G3XL and TX22 line extensions. The most impressive handguns in 2022 were the GX4, GX4XL and the optic-ready T.O.R.O. versions. With a starting retail price below $400, these affordable carry pistols offer substantial capacity, micro-compact concealability, 2.5-inch or better 25-yard accuracy potential, and dependable reliability.

The GX4 series was engineered to take advantage of Taurus’ new and efficient manufacturing processes. Final assembly takes place in the U.S. The pistol was designed around an internal stainless-steel chassis, which facilitates future developments for the GX4. We’ve already seen an example of this with the introduction of the GX4XL. It features the same grip module, but a longer barrel and slide. Underneath, the GX4 and GX4XL are built on the same chassis design and use the same striker-fire action parts. The trigger is a highlight on the GX4 series, sporting a good pull weight for safe and deliberate use in a self-defense situation.

For little money above the standard-model’s price, shooters can opt for the T.O.R.O. models. The acronym is more than a word that sounds like the call from a bullfighter; it stands for “Taurus Optic Ready Option,” a feature being offered on other models of Taurus semiautomatics, as well. On the GX4 series, adding a red-dot optic extends the effective engagement range and accuracy potential of the 9mm cartridge. The GX4 T.O.R.O. models feature a low factory optic cut that accepts many popular mini red dots without an adapter — with one exception: Trijicon RMRcc. Taurus got in front of that concern, though, and developed an optional adapter plate.

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