It’s that time of the year again. The Ballistic’s Best Awards hit the newsstand recently, an exhaustive test of the top new firearms. More than 80 guns hit the ranges, thoroughly rung out by a panel of expert shooters and outdoor writers. But we don’t stop there. Ballistic also named it’s Ballistic’s Best Editors’ Selects 2021 winners, recognizing excellence in our field.
Ballistic Best Editors’ Selects 2021
While Ballistic’s Best follows a strict testing protocol, the Editors’ Selects criteria focuses on the big picture. It looks for companies that truly moved the needle. It seeks innovation and advancement in a respective class. In short, the Editors’ Selects awards highlight the companies making the great guns and gear we all want. So without further ado, your Ballistic’s Best Editors’ Selects Award winners for 2021.
Manufacturer of the Year: Springfield Armory
Springfield managed to really tap into exactly what shooters wanted in 2021. In a year where many manufacturers struggled to bring out new product, Springfield Armory managed to service its customers. The company doubled down on its popular line, bring out new versions of popular 1911s, XDs and further refined the massively-popular Hellcat.
Springfield even jumped into optics with its new Hex Optics line of red dots. Throw in product additions like the 35-round Extended Magazines for XD-M pistols, and it’s clear Springfield listened to customers in 2021.
Best New Direction: Smith & Wesson M&P12
So this bad boy is just flat out cool. The new M&P12 brings a hard-hitting, bullpup, pump-action shotgun line into the S&W stable. Measuring under 28 inches overall, the M&P12 brings a 14+1 capacity to the fight. This beast even handles mini-shells, adding to its tremendous versatility.
The modular unit begs use as either a door-kicker or for home defense. In any light, we appreciated S&W’s bold move in a new direction, one we found it executed very well.
Best Consumer Service: Silencer Central
We got to spend a bunch of time learning about Silencer Central’s business at this year’s Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous. While 2022 is shaping up to be “the year of the suppressor,” Silencer Central is a big reason why.
We’re so impressed, we planned a series of articles across our network, highlighting the processes Silencer Central has in place. Simply stated, the company makes it exceedingly easier than ever before to buy a can. A multi-front system offers NFA trust setup, direct shipping, and even barrel threading to get you going. With ATF E-Forms now coming online recently, look for a big move from Silencer Central in 2022.
Best New Rimfire Pistol: FN 502
We firmly believe the following around here: there can never be enough good rimfires. Whether for fun or as a serious tactical trainer, the ubiquitous .22 LR’s merit remains strong. Enter the FN 502.
The 502 jumps out with its slide-mounted optics-ready system. The single-action pistol utilizes a 15-round magazine and comes suppressor-ready as well. Built from anodized aluminum and steel, with a polymer frame, the 502 provides an incredible trainer for FN 509 users. Or as a standalone rimfire, you’ve got a solid shooter for loads of plinking on the range.
Top Ammo Breakthrough: True Velocity TVC 6.8
Of all the companies making a big push in 2021 and into the future, get ready for True Velocity. Going after the U.S. Army’s NGSW program contract, True Velocity’s remarkable ammunition utilizes a composite-case system. When we got a behind-the-scenes look at what all goes into its making, we were blown away.
The ammo makes up only one part of the equation. True Velocity went all-in. The company quickly developed a manufacturing facility second to none. As such, this company is poised to be a major player in this industry for some time to come.
Best New 9mm Build Carbine: Aero Precision EPC-9
Lot’s of folks want to build their own dream gun. But for some, the task looms large, daunting even. Well Aero Precision came to the rescue. The 9mm carbine remains a finicky beast to build. But Aero found a way to make it easier.
The Aero Precision EPC web page puts everything you need, parts that mate and match, all into one location. Pick from EPC receiver sets, barrels, handguards, spare parts and more. Pick from complete uppers, or build it out yourself. Better still, the “Knowledge Center” features numerous how-to videos to walk you through whatever build steps you might need help with. If you want to build your own PCC, the EPC-9 proved an impressive winner.
Best New Air Trainer: Umarex Glock G17 Paintball Marker
Umarex’s Glock G17 Paintball Maker brings serious training utility. You’re working with a platform that actually feels like your carry gun. Come out of the holster, keep the same manual of arms, it functions like a real Glock. Better still, you’ll get to train up getting on the sights while under simulated duress. Getting hit by your buddy or co-worker, with a paintball, stings, both physically and in your pride department. That alone makes this C02-powered trainer a winner.
Best New Quick-Access Gun Safe: Hornady RAPid Safe Ready Vault w/WiFi
So how the heck to you make something truly innovative in a safe? Put gun in, lock door, good to go, right? Well the Hornady RAPiD Safe Ready Vault w/WiFi brings tech into your gun safe. Using RFID technology, the system prevents unauthorized users from gaining access. Throw in WiFi, Square-Lok organizing systems and security LED lights–this bad boy has it all.
On the more affordable and covert size, we also loved the SnapSafe GlideVault. Priced under $300, the GlideVault serves more immediate deployment needs. It comes with a spring-assisted slide-out drawer, and the vault is constructed of 16-gauge steel. A tempered glass touchpad with silent mode stores a four-to-six-digit code. Perfect for the beside table, the GlideVault keeps a self-defense pistol or two at the ready.
Coolest Gun & Lifestyle Accessories: Magpul Industries
Magpul could just about win this category every single year. The company delivers each and every year, developing new gun and lifestyle products shooters need and want. Look no further than the PC Backpacker Stock for the Ruger PC Carbine on the gun side of the house. From and function collide here in a piece of gear sought after by many.
Meanwhile, Magpul continues to tap into our lifestyle veins as well. Products like the DAKA line of storage/organizational pouches deliver serious outdoor gear for those of us that live outside.
Best Tactical Fiction Writer: Jack Carr
I mean, could there be anyone else right now? Jack Carr assumed command as the top fiction writer in the finite world of tactical prose. The former SEAL brings a history of warfare arguably like no other before him. Better still, he remains an active part of Gundom, still slinging lead downrange like a pro. Read more about Jack Carr and his place in the literary world.
To see the entire testing protocol, complete with accuracy results and data, check out the Ballistic’s Best 2021 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Get your copy at OutdoorGroupStore.com.