2023 SDI Firearms Draft Recap

  • Jack Collins

It’s that time of year—time for the 2023 SDI Firearms Draft. While most of the sporting world anticipated the NFL draft with bated breath, at SDI we’ve spent the last week agonizing over different kinds of picks. Here’s our recap of SDI’s 2023 Firearms Draft.

What is the Firearms Draft?

The Firearms Draft is the brainchild of SDI’s Content Marketing Specialist, Andrew Poplin, and his predecessor, Joey Upper. The draft involved each team manager choosing firearms in four different categories: rifle, shotgun, pistol, and wild card. Wild card picks could be anything, from a truck to a rocket launcher. Teams can pick any gun they want but can only have a total budget of $3,000 based on MSRP.

The 2023 SDI Firearms Draft included four teams. They were (in order of draft pick):

  • Team Bakelite, managed by yours truly.
  • Team Foreign Plastic, managed by SDI Dean of Firearms Technology, Jarred McNeely.
  • Team Minutemen, managed by David Gonyea, owner of Minuteman Ordnance Company FFL in Quitman, Texas.
  • Team Build It Yourself, managed by SDI grad and bearded gunsmith heartthrob Caleb Downing.

The Firearms Draft is a “snake” draft, meaning that in each round, the order is reversed. In other words, since I went first in round one, I’d go last in round two.

Round One

I kicked off the first round of SDI’s 2023 Firearms Draft the only way I knew how: with a bang! I wanted to stick with an AKM-pattern rifle, so I went with the rugged and dependable WASR-10. If you’re going to pick an AKM, there’s no better combination of function and affordability than this Romanian-made workhorse.

Jarred went next, and went with the SAR B6 for the first pick of his appropriately named team, Foreign Plastic. I hadn’t encountered the SAR B6 before, and I’m glad Jarred brought it to my attention. This neat little pistol features SA/DA action (like the Beretta 92) on a polymer body (like a Glock) combined with a manual safety (like a 1911). That’s a lot of cool features.

David had the third pick of the round, and chose the Ruger Small-Frame Autoloading Rifle, or SFAR. This was another gun I hadn’t heard of before, and now that I know about it, I really want one for myself. It’s essentially an AR-10 shrunk down in size until it’s about the size of an AR-15. This .308 Winchester beast had the most sheer power of any gun in the draft so far.

With the final pick of Round One, Caleb chose the A300 Ultima Patrol. This handy little shotgun from Beretta boasts a lot of useful features, like a 7+1 capacity and plenty of spots to attach M-LOK accessories. It’s easy to maneuver and manipulate, giving Caleb an indisputable advantage in close-range situations.

Round Two

Since this was a snake draft, Team Build It Yourself was next. Caleb chose the Remington 700 ADL in .30-06, giving him a long-range gun that rivaled David’s SFAR in sheer power. Spoiler alert: it was the only bolt action gun anyone picked in the draft. But its accuracy, reliability, and range more than make up for its lower rate of fire.

For his second pick, Dave’s Minutemen went with the Sig P320X Full. It’s a gun that David shoots regularly, so he’s extremely proficient with it. The P320 also has one of the best triggers of any polymer “Tupperware gun,” and if he hadn’t picked it this round, I was considering (possibly) picking it myself.

With team Foreign Plastic’s second pick, Jarred chose the PSA AK-556. I never had pegged Jarred as an AK guy, and before the draft he never was. But he’d recently been at the NRA’s Annual Meeting and had the opportunity while there to check out one of PSA’s 5.56 AKs. He’d been so intrigued that it earned a place in his heart—and on his roster.

Team Bakelite brought up the rear in Round Two. I’d been torn between picking the Glock 19 and the Sig P320 this round. Since Dave had already chosen the P320, it made my choice easy—I went with the Glock. One of the most popular guns in the world, the Glock 19 has about as close to AK-level reliability as any pistol out there. Whenever I’m reaching for a pistol, whether it’s for a range day or a solo camping trip with my dog, it’s my trusty Glock 19.

Round Three

Team Bakelite was back on top for the first pick of Round Three. Since I didn’t have a shotgun yet, I went with the Mossberg 500 Field/Security Combo. This is the only gear that I picked in the draft that I didn’t actually own. It’s definitely on my list, though, since it comes with two barrels that you can easily swap for long-range applications like bird/clay shooting or up-close situations like home defense.

Foreign Plastic came out swinging in Round Three with their shotgun pick. Jarred went with the Rock Island Lion Tactical, the only shotgun of the entire draft with a pistol grip. It was also the only semi-auto shotgun that anyone picked, and with an MSRP of $299, it was one of the most affordable options in the entire draft.

The Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical was David’s next pick, and with it, each team had their shotgun. This lightweight, compact 12-gauge can come from the factory with a Holosun Micro Dot, helping to ensure fast and accurate aiming in close-range scenarios. Like the A300 Ultima Patrol, it can also accept M-LOK accessories like slings.

Team Build It Yourself was the only team that didn’t pick a shotgun in Round Three since Caleb had already chosen one back in the first round. Instead, he went with a Glock 23, choosing it for its versatility. With a conversion kit and a little bit of know-how, a gunsmith can convert a Glock 23 into firing 9mm, .40 S&W, and .357 Sig. I thought I had hit the jackpot with the Glock 19 since I had a Glock with a compact frame that fired 9mm, but Caleb had out-maneuvered me with the 23.

Round Four

Caleb continued to impress with his picks. For the final round, Team Build it Yourself went with a wireless Dremel. This was a great wild card pick, since it effectively allowed Caleb to modify his firearms as he saw fit. It’s also a natural choice for a gunsmith, since it’s such a versatile tool.

Dave kicked off a bit of a trend with his next pick: he went with an optic. His choice, the Sig Tango MSR, is a wallet-friendly Low Powered Variable Optic (LPVO) with incredibly clear glass for its price point. Combined with the SFAR, his pick from the first round, this wild card pick made an effective weapons platform.

For his last pick, team Foreign Plastic chose the Burris RT6 FastFire 3 Combo. This gave Jarred perhaps the most versatile optic of the draft. This combo features a Burris RT6 LPVO with a FastFire 3 red dot mounted on top of it. This combo allows an operator to use their LPVO to zoom in at medium-distance targets, while they can rely on the red dot for anything up close.

Team Bakelite went a little bit against the grain in the fourth round. For my final pick, I didn’t go with a gunsmithing tool or an optic. Instead, I chose the LBT 6094 with RMA Level IV Plates. These plates are rated by the National Institute of Justice to survive hits from a .308 or .30-06. While they say that no good plan involves getting shot at, I’d rather be wearing a plate carrier than not if I’m ever on the wrong side of a gun.

Learn More about Firearms with SDI

All in all, SDI’s 2023 Firearms Draft was a smashing success. If I had to pick a “winner,” though, I’d probably go with Caleb for his outside-the-box thinking. However, it’s hard to choose since everyone put together some great kits. On a personal note, I was stoked to be involved, and it was an honor to play with some of the big boys at SDI. Thanks, fellas!

If you love firearms as much as all the team managers in this year’s draft, SDI can help you expand your knowledge base. To learn more, explore all of the programs we offer.

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