March 2008

Shooters’ Paradise: SHOT Show Media Day 2008 Quick Report

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 shoot the latest and greatest from gun makers from around the world. In fact, a typical media event offers

Browning Shotguns

Here’s a partial look at the rack of shotguns Browning rolled out at its event at Desert Sportsman range in northwest Las Vegas. Our favorite (see inset) was the Citori 525 Upland Quail in 20 gauge.

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 Las Vegas. Here are some items that caught our attention:

Citori 525 Upland Quail

Small Gauge No. 013420604

This one gets the nod for sweet handling. 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 Browning/Winchester shotgun range.

Quick hits: The gun had negligible felt recoil, a rapid-response sight picture and a pleasurable swing and follow-through. 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 Schnabel forearm. These are limited to 100 in each gauge—first come, first served. MSRP, $2999.

Ammo

Using a bruising Browning BPS, 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.… Also at the Winchester shooting lines, we saw Winchester Ammunition’s commemorative ammunition line celebrating 150 years of Theodore Roosevelt’s influence and achievement as a great conservation hero. The Theodore Roosevelt cartridges feature a nickel-plated shell casing bearing a special Roosevelt head-stamp in three popular calibers: 30-30 Win, 45 Colt and Roosevelt’s favorite big bore lever-gun round, the 405 Winchester.… One of the new 2008 loads we’re looking at for .38 testing is Buffalo Bore’s "20C" formulation, a .38 Special loaded to +P velocities but standard-chambering pressures. The load uses a 158-grain soft lead cast wadcutter bullet with gas check that hits 854 fps in an S&W Model 60 with a 2-inch barrel.… Federal Premium’s new Vital-Shok Trophy Bonded Tip is built on the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw platform and adds a neon translucent poly-carbonate tip and boat-tail. The load also features a nickel-plated case.… Hornady supplied ammo for the Smith & Wesson .44 Mags, which we’ll comment on later. The .44 Magnum load we shot generated an impressive 1410 fps with its 225-gr. FTX bullet leaving the muzzle of a 7.5-inch revolver.

Optics

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 of years past.

Our best group of the day came with a smartly recoiling Smith double-action .44. 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.… Bushnell’s new Videoscope is a compact, lightweight video camera designed to mount on top of a riflescope so users can digitally record their hunt. The Videoscope will record up to 30 minutes of digital video with its 512 MB internal memory and rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Suggested retail: $249.… Leupold’s new Mark 4 6.5-20x50mm ER/T M1 Front Focal riflescopes come with a TMRTM or Mil-Dot reticle in the front focal plane, allowing the shooter to range at all magnifications. A lockable, fast-focus eyepiece makes focus simple to achieve and maintain while keeping the sight picture crisp and clear.… Carl Zeiss Optical, Inc. is now shipping riflescopes with its Rapid-Z Ballistic Reticles. The Rapid-Z ballistic reticles were designed for Zeiss in cooperation with Pride Fowler Industries, Inc. and allow for quick and easy target holdover. These reticles also provide a simple to use range-estimation feature.

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 battle proven and an American classic, whether on the battlefield or at the range. Our team shot S&W’s No. 811001 unit, which includes a 6-position telescopic stock, a 4-sided 10-inch Free-Float Modular Rail Forend (MRF), a 16-inch barrel fitted with a suppressor instead of a flash hider, 7075 T6 aluminum upper and lower. All in, it weighed 6.85 pounds.

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, and belt-fed machine guns from 5.56mm to 50 BMG, including the 7.62mm unit shown at left.

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. —Tim Cole