Ballistic's Best 2020 awards magazine

Proudly, we bring you the Ballistic’s Best 2020 awards issue—our third annual edition. It’s officially on sale at Our mission: Be the go-to source for those on a quest to build their firearms collection with superior hardware by showcasing an unprecedented number of best-in-class guns.

To go along with that, we’re also announcing our annual Ballistic’s Best Reader’s Choice Awards, which officially launches here on on Dec. 8. Readers will have the opportunity to vote on the very same categories our panel of experts judged.

Also, if you remember in 2019, we gave away a ZEV AR-15 Billet Rifle as a part of the Reader’s Choice Awards. Well, this year we have another giveaway and it’s a good one. For 2020, one lucky voter will take home a Mossberg 500 ATI Tactical Shotgun—a nominee in our “Best Tactical Pump-Action Shotguns” category. So what went into Ballistic’s Best 2020? Let’s take a look.

Ballistic’s Best 2020 Details

There’s no better time to kick the tumultuous year of 2020 out of commission with a huge bang. In fact, 12,700 bangs. That’s the estimated number of total rounds our gun-test/evaluation teams let loose in order to determine the best firearm in the following eight categories:

  • Full-size semi-automatic handguns (non-1911)—nine contenders, 1,650 rounds;
  • Compact semi-automatic handguns (non-1911)—nine contenders, 1,650 rounds;
  • Model 1911—10 contenders, 2,000 rounds;
  • AR-15 pistols (5.56mm)—nine contenders, 2,800 rounds;
  • Revolvers (DA/SA .357 Magnum)—five contenders, 800 rounds;
  • Tactical pump-action shotguns—nine contenders, 1,000 rounds;
  • AR-15 rifles—five contenders, 1,100 rounds
  • AR-10 rifles—three contenders, 700 rounds
  • Bolt-action rifles (6.5 Creedmoor)—10 contenders, 1,000 rounds.

In the most legitimate, unbiased way, we determined category rankings and winners by the testing teams based on a nine-point criteria system. That system included aesthetics, ergonomics, sights, trigger control, recoil control, reloading ease, accuracy, reliability and also value/price. Only the final tallies of the score sheets were used to crown the winners. Period. Also, our editorial staff didn’t have any “discussions” to determine our winners in the aforementioned categories.

Our team pledges full honesty and transparency in our scoring process and editorial practices. There’s no pay-to-play funny business in this awards issue or any magazine issue we produce because we have full separation between church (editorial) and state (advertising). In fact, many of the new products evaluated here come from manufacturers that don’t ever advertise in Athlon Outdoors publications. We owe this to you, our readers and faithful Ballistic magazine subscribers, as you are the lifeblood of our existence. Without your trust, we’d be just another gun rag or Internet commando spewing biases to grease the money chain.

Want to see all of the scoring, winners and more? Grab a copy of Ballistic’s Best 2020. Both print and digital subscriptions are available now at

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