February 2, 2008

SHOT Show Media Day Rock-and-Roll Shooting Party

Shooter’s Paradise – 2008 SHOT Show Media Day

Las Vegas, Nevada – Most serious shooters know that the Shooting and Outdoor Sports Trade Show, SHOT by any other name, is the annual showcase for new guns, ammunition, accessories and more. But for a select few gun writers, editors, TV producers and hosts, the day before the SHOT Show is a chance to not just look, but also shoot, the latest and greatest from gun makers from around the world.

In fact, a typical media day offers an opportunity to shoot up to 50 different firearms, although a typical participant can’t tally more than a couple dozen. The key is the variety of firearms that manufacturers have on parade—everything from sweet-shooting 20-gauge O/Us, to belt-fed .50 caliber machine guns that reverberate throughout the stark but beautiful Nevada hills that ring Sin City.

Our tastes are nothing if not eclectic. Here’s a rundown of first impressions from the GunReports.Com shooting staff from the 2008 SHOT Show.

Citori 525 Upland Quail Small Gauge:
This one gets the nod for sweet handling and, dare we say it, productive shooting: Some members of the GunReports.Com staff are woefully average (you know who you are). But this marvelous over/under was so light, so tight, and so point-and-shoot easy to handle that we surprised ourselves with how well we performed on the SHOT trap and skeet range. (Don’t worry. We were able to disgrace ourselves elsewhere after flying high with this amazing shooting tool.) Negligible felt recoil, a rapid-response sight picture and a pleasurable swing and follow-through meant we were hitting birds we didn’t know we could hit…Fun!

No. 013420604 Spex: Steel receiver, silver nitride finish; high-relief gold enhanced engraving featuring quail. Barrel: Lightweight profile; 28 inches long, ventilated rib; ivory front and mid bead. Stock was Grade II/III walnut with a close-radius pistol grip and chnabel forearm. Act quickly: These are

SHOT Show

Monster deer slug gun at SHOT Media Day

limited to 100 in each gauge—first come, first served. MSRP, $2,999.

Citori 525 Feather:
Confession. Some of the members of the GunReports.Com shooting team had never shot a .410, so it was a whole new experience trying to gauge the effectiveness of this nice handling over/under. But we able to handle distant, approaching, and rapidly dropping birds with aplomb. Recoil with this gauge is trifling, but that only means there are no excuses when it comes to proper shot placement. Bottom line: If you can hit crossing birds, rabbits and high incoming with reasonable prowess… there might be hope for you as a shotgun shooter. The .410 was a humbling and therefore valuable excursion into accuracy training that proved its worth elsewhere.

Details: We shot No. 013380913 with 28-inch barrels and an Overall Length of 45". Weight, 6 lbs. 10 oz. Oil finish. Suggested Retail $2,295.

Winchester Supreme XP3 Sabot:
With too many decades between Upstate New York deer hunting and Media Day’s brush with a bruising (Browning BPS) deer slug delivery system, we didn’t have too much preparation for the massive recoil 3-inch slug loads can offer. The Culprit: Winchester’s new Supreme Elite XP3 Sabot round, a 3-inch load that develops 2100 fps in a 300-grain load. We learned it has plenty of pop on both ends.

While we were tickled with our ability to brush back a bowling pin hanging from a string downrange, the gnarly “scope cut” we gave ourselves by crowding the optics on the Browning pump gun reminded us in clear terms that there’s nothing delicate about these deer slayers.

A New Standard in Laser Sights:
We had a chance at Media Day to operate a Springfield Armory .45, an XD in .40 S&W, and a .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson revolver, all equipped with the Crimson Trace grip-mounted laser sighting systems.

First blush: The laser is blended into the grip, a light-years advance over bulky underslung laser sights

SHOT Show

Testing the Crimson Trace laser sight on a Springfield 1911

of years past. Its unobtrusiveness and solid performance showed us that laser sights are now within practical reach of both target shooters and those interested in more effective home defense. Our best group of the day was with a smartly recoiling Smith double-action .44 on a downtown Las Vegas range. The cringe-factor was amply suppressed when we could utilize an accuracy assuring beam from Crimson Trace.

The Springfield units were the LG-446, $329; the S&W .44 Mag. grips were the LG-314 rubber overmold round-butt units for N-frames, $299.

Smith & Wesson M&P 15T w/suppressor:
Best personal group of the day? A fine-shooting AR that delivered tightly grouped rounds downrange with negligible recoil. Key point: You can’t minimize the effect of reduced recoil when delivering rapid, accurate follow-on shots—and the AR action style is now battle proven and an American classic. Our team shot the No. 811001 unit, which includes a 6-Position Telescopic stock, a 4-Sided, 10" Free-Float Modular Rail Forend (MRF), a 16" barrel fitted with a suppressor instead of a flash hider, 7075 T6 Aluminum upper and lower, and a 6.85 lbs. weight.

FN’s Machine Gun Party:
We shot a full spectrum of FN guns: Great handling pistols, long-range sniper rifles, capable tactical shotguns, businesslike bull-pups for security work in global hot spots, heavy-duty full-auto battle rifles topped by can’t-fail low-light optics, a and belt-fed machine guns from 5.56mm to 50 BMG that will rock your world.

All of these astonishing firearms are brought to you by the brilliant, hard-working folks at Fabrique National, FN for short. Talk about a pot-pouri from a single maker!

And don’t get us started on what it’s like to stand 10 feet from a belt-fed .50 caliber weapon… If the range safety officers don’t get your attention with their “Now Children. Listen Up” attitude—then the sound and vibration from this monster surely will.

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