Not the most exciting post I've ever made, but here's an update to my February 2012 post regarding which items I would buy in various categories.
If I set out to buy one of the following, this is what I would look for as of September 2012. Some things have great alternatives that aren't listed and some things have great alternatives that are listed. Some things I've gotten for free and some things I haven't. Some things might be more or less than you need. But if you ask me a general question about what (blank) to buy, this is probably what I'd recommend.
...a 5.56mm rifle - Colt SP6920.
...a .308/7.62x51 rifle - FNH USA SCAR-17S.
...a bolt action rifle - Tikka T3 Lite.
...a shotgun - Tie. Mossberg 500 or Remington 870. Doesn't matter.
...a 22LR rifle - CZ 452 Scout (kids) or Marlin Papoose (all around).
...a handgun - Glock 19.
...a handgun for concealed carry - Kahr CM9.
...a holster - Praetor Defense or Looper Law Enforcement.
...a non-magnified optic - Aimpoint PRO.
...a fixed power optic for a semi auto rifle - Trijicon TA33/TA11 ACOG.
...a fixed power optic for a bolt action rifle - Bushnell Elite 3200 10X.
...a variable power optic - Anything German. Maybe a Vortex Viper or Razor if I didn't want the German price tag.
...an AR-15 upgrade - Vltor A5.
...an AR-15 rail - Centurion C4.
...an AR-15 magazine - Lancer.
...a knife - Benchmade Griptilian.
...a watch - Casio Pathfinder. Or a Citizen Eco-Drive, if you need a watch for six months or less.
...a flashlight - Elzetta ZFL-M60.
...a flashlight for carry - Surefire E1B.
...rifle ammo for killing things - Federal Fusion or Speer Gold Dot. Barnes TSX/MRX/etc.
...handgun ammo for killing things - Federal HST. Winchester Ranger T/Ranger Bonded. Speer Gold Dot. Remington Golden Saber Bonded.
...shotgun ammo for killing things - Federal FliteControl buckshot or Federal slugs. Hornady Critical Defense buckshot. DDupleks Monolit slugs.
...practice ammo - any new lead or copper jacketed/plated factory ammo.
...a handgun .22LR conversion - anything made in the US or Europe that fits your pistol.
...a rifle .22LR conversion - anything made in the US.