Ever try to herd cats? How about roping goats? That’s child’s play compared to what it took to put together our second annual Ballistic Best Awards issue. Ballistic Best 2018 was as serious endeavor. This year is no different. From cover to cover, in our Ballistic Best 2019 issue we’ve corralled and organized the unbiased testing, evaluating and ranking of more than 100 new-for-2019 firearms, suppressors and scopes and crowned nine distinct winners based on a nine-point system in the following categories: compact and full-sized (non-1911) semi-auto handguns, revolvers, 1911s, semi-auto shotguns, semi-auto rifles, bolt-action rifles, .30-caliber suppressors and long-range riflescopes.

What Went Into Ballistic Best 2019?

Each category had its own expert team leader along with anywhere from two to four other expert shooters/evaluators (no desk-jockey editors allowed!); this way, a clear winner rose to the top of each heap. But what’s so “goat-ropish” about having all those weapons and suppressors and optics and ammo shipped around the country to six different firing ranges so over 20 trigger-pullers could do their honest evaluations? Well, by comparison, a competitive gun publication recently gave out its annual awards where its winners were chosen through “evaluation and discussion.” Please read between those lines.

We editors didn’t have any “discussions” to determine our winners. Plain and simple, there is no pay-to-play nonsense going on in Ballistic Best. That’s our pledge to each of you who purchase this issue. In fact, many of the new products evaluated here come from manufacturers that don’t ever advertise in Athlon Outdoors publications. Our evaluators called all of the shots as they experienced them on the range.

Giveaway Gun!

We also understand that you, our readers, are the lifeblood of Ballistic magazine. With that in mind, we’re running a special “Readers’ Choice Awards” survey online at There, you’ll get to chime in on your favorites, plus you’ll be entering for a chance to win a free gun: A ZEV AR-15 Billet Rifle, which is one of the entries in our “Best Semi-Auto Rifle” category. The survey and giveaway launch Dec. 1 on, so keep your eyes peeled!

In Closing

In closing, we would like to give a special thanks to several ammunition companies—Black Hills, Federal, Hornady, Remington and Sig Sauer—which provided the many thousands of rounds it took for our nine teams of evaluators to shoot the hell out of the Ballistic Best finalists. We couldn’t have done this without their generous contributions. Additionally, we owe a huge thanks to all of the participating companies that provided the top-notch weaponry to our cat-herding expedition.

Finally, because we didn’t skip any challenge with this issue, we put out two different Ballistic Best covers. Depending on where you purchased the magazine, you could get the “Frankenstein Handguns” cover; it features parts from a dozen pistol finalists. Then there’s the “Long Guns” cover, with weapons produced by (from left to right) FN, Benelli, Browning, Daniel Defense, Barrett, Weatherby, Wilson Combat, PWS, Savage, SIG Sauer, ZEV Technologies, POF-USA, Mossberg and Kalashnikov USA. Find out who won! Grab digital and physical copies at

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