The Best Guns of 2023

It’s the beginning of the new year as I type this. We have NYE’d and greeted 2024 with open arms. As the year ends and the next begins, it’s a great time to reflect on your goals, accomplishments, and, of course, on the guns of 2023. Specifically, what were the best guns of 2023? That’s a great question, and I have a few that I think are undoubtedly great guns. To make it on this list, you didn’t necessarily need to be released in 2023. It’s also why the list is still worth mentioning in 2024, guns don’t have expiration dates. More they have eras.

The Best Guns of 2023

I’m sure some of these hit the market in 2022, but to be considered for this list you have to be commonly available in 2023. That means some guns released at the end of 2022 count, and some released at the end of 2023 don’t. If I can basically walk into five gun stores and find this gun three out of five times, it counts. With that in mind, this is just my opinion, and these are the guns that have excited me. 

Extar EP45 

Extar made its name by cutting out the middleman and being a manufacturer that sold directly to the consumer. Cutting out the middle man ensures a low price point, and they’ve become well known for delivering an excellent product. The EP9 wasn’t quite an AR but was an AR-like subgun that was affordable, reliable, and quite ergonomic. 

This year, they released the big bore EP45, a 45 ACP variant of the EP series. The EP45 is a straight blowback operated system, but they found a way to make the .45 ACP bearable. In fact, it’s downright soft shooting. The EP45 does what a ton of other companies have done, but they do it a whole lot cheaper. Heck, it even takes Glock mags. For less than five Benjies, you can get a big bore subgun that’s begging for a suppressor. This makes it a natural for one of the best guns of 2023.

Girsan MC P35 PI 

The Girsan MC P35 series gave shooters an affordable option for owning a Hi-Power. These Turkish Hi-Powers have proved to be quite reliable and followed up with the all-too-cool MC P35 PI. This Hi-Power clone utilizes a shorter 3.9-inch barrel, and the PI titles come from a series of handguns made in Argentina and imported in limited numbers. It’s a Commander-sized Hi-Power, and what’s not to love? 

In reality, it’s short, light, handy, and easy to shoot. It has all the Hi-Power quirks like a little hammer bite, and the magazine doesn’t drop free, but that’s part of the charm. It’s really soft shooting, shockingly accurate, and just fun to shoot. The Ops version even implements a red dot and rail option in case you need something more modern. It’s my personal favorite gun of 2023.

Beretta A300 Ultima Patrol 

The semi-auto shotgun market has taken off, and like usual, the Italians dominate it. Most of their guns cost north of a grad, but the Beretta A300 Ultima patrol is offering an American-made semi-auto shotgun with some Italian roots. It delivers Beretta quality and engineering without the over-the-top cost. Beretta released the Ultima Patrol and ensured it was ready to rock and roll. 

It’s optics ready, has M-LOK slots on the handguard, includes an adjustable LOP on the stock, and even some hook to mix with loop for a side saddle. The Ultima Patrol is most certainly the best shotgun of 2023, and if the Mossberg 940 Tactical had been released this year, I’d be in a terrible spot. It’s a great gun without 922R concerns and delivers a reliable, even duty-ready, tactical shotgun for less than a grand. 

IWI Carmel 

Admittedly, the Carmel had a tough year in 2023. It did suffer from the fate of an early recall, but still, I’d rather a company take responsibility and get the gun fixed. Outside of that, it’s tough not to admire the Carmel. It’s a short-stroke gas piston rifle that chambers the standard 5.56 round and utilizes AR-15 magazines. That’s nothing fancy these days, but the price compared to competitors is worthy of note. Get your hands on a Carmel. 

The completely ambidextrous or reversible controls are genius. The reversible controls can be reversed in the field without much drama. The gas system is adjustable and is designed to be used with suppressors. The barrel is cold hammer forged, and the gun is super accurate. Plus, an M-LOK handguard, long optics rail, and collapsible and folding stock top the rifle off in a great way. 

S&W Response 

S&W went from having zero pistol caliber carbines to having two in just a few months. The S&W Response could have just been another AR-9 type PCC, but S&W went a different route. Sure, it’s a straight blowback design, but that’s where normal stops. S&W went with a polymer lower and upper receiver to keep the rifle lighter than six pounds. The Response also has an interchangeable magwell. 

You can swap the M&P magwell for a Glock magwell. The future is open for different mag wells, and who doesn’t want a SIG P320 or CZ 75 magwell? The gun is well put together with minimal recoil, great controls, and a very low price point. The Response is my favorite PCC of 2023, and I can’t wait to try it out at the next Steel Challenge match. 

The Next Year

2023 is gone and SHOT has shown us the start of the 2024 releases. Hopefully, we’ll get to see a slew of new firearms that can adorn this list next year. Until then, have a great year, and hopefully, we’ll come back next year even harder. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.