Here's a couple of subjective observations about last January's SHOT Show in Las Vegas: (1) There really is a Silencer Tsunami (OK, suppressors)--, (2) There seems to be a spike in 6.5 Creedmoor precision rifles--both bolt and AR; (3) While polymer-framed, striker-fired autos may be driving the handgun market, revolvers (SA and DA) are far from moribund. So let's get to things that caught my attention. Oh, we'll be continuing the overrun next month. There really was a ton of stuff to see.
I usually get a good dose of new SIG SAUER items at their media day at the range before the official SHOT opening. This trip was no exception. First off, I got to shoot their MCX carbine in .300 AAC Blackout using their new ROMEO4H red dot sight. Although it had a SIG suppressor attached, it was tough to appreciate the sound reduction with my ear protection on.
But I was able to score a gratifying percentage of small-gong hits out to 100 yards with it. This sleek, modular carbine would make a fine hog eradicator with either the company's new subsonic Elite 220-grain (its new SIG-designed bullet functions better in full mags--a problem with other subsonic rounds) or 125-grain supersonic loads.
The big news from SIG, however, came the following day on the showroom floor when it was announced the company had been awarded the US Army contract for its modular P320 9mm pistol. Talk about a case of perfectly timed good news!
In terms of significance, however, the star of the show was arguably the reintroduced Colt Cobra. The new stainless steel version with a newfangled fiber-optic front sight isn't exactly the alloy "old Cobra" with its naked, old-school ejector rod, but it still carries 6 rounds of +P .38 Special instead of the 5 offered by the competition.
With a rate of fire between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm, Empty Shell's XM5.56 Micro-gun is all about the firepower--hand-held, intimidatingly suppressive firepower. A prototype was on hand at the company's booth and was hefted admiringly by our own "fuller-than-full-auto" addict, Dr. Will Dabbs. This chunky little beast runs off a 24-volt DC power source and feeds from an M-27 linked ammo belt. And at 16 pounds you don't have to be an Arnold Schwarzenegger to lift it (although controlling it during a lengthy burst might be a different matter).
Benelli's Super Black Eagle III is an ergonomically-tweaked variation of the company's legendary inertia-driven waterfowl favorite. It features a slimmer forearm, a 3-sided magazine cap for a more solid grip during disassembly and a kinder, gentler ComforTech stock. But the main enhancement as far as I'm concerned is the new "Easy-Locking Bolt System" which ensures the bolt locks into battery even if you ease it down gently to keep things quiet in those pre-dawn hours.
As diversified as Mossberg is now with modular bolt actions, tricked-out rimfires and ARs, it was pump shotguns that put them on the map and they haven't forgotten it. This year they've introduced two pumps in the defensive or "home security" category. The aptly-named 12-gauge Model 590 Shockwave may feature a 14-inch barrel, but its "over 26-inch OAL" (thanks to a Raptor grip) means it's BATFE compliant--no tax stamp is required.
Then there's the M500 Security ,410-a featherweight synthetic-stocked sub-gauge obviously tailored for current "personal defense" .410 buck/disc loads. Me, I'm thinking skeet or garden pest control! On the AR side of things, Mossberg's JM Pro drop-in trigger will fit any standard mil-spec lower.
Nighthawk Custom is now handling a line of German-made revolvers, long the Holy Grail for price-is-no-object wheel-gunners. At the top end is the Korth Super Sport. It's a 6-inch barreled, billet-machined .357 Magnum featuring a Lothar Walther cold-forged polygon barrel and an adjustable Roller Trigger mechanism. This allows for adjustment of the trigger stop, trigger return, mainspring, sear adjustment and DA trigger progression.
The Super Sport's got Picatinny rails for anything you might want to hang on it. The sights--both front and rear--are infinitely adjustable. A 9mm/.38 Special conversion cylinder is optional. Nighthawk describes this bad boy as a "tactical and/or hunting/ target/competition pistol." That sounds like a pretty fair description to us.
Long-range rifles--bolt-action chassis guns and ARs--were a recurrent theme this show and Savage was at the forefront. Their new MSR 10 Long Range can be had in either .308 or the trendy and efficient 6.5 Creedmoor. This direct impingement heir to the AR-10 features a 2-stage target trigger, fluted, heavy 20-inch barrel and Magpul PRS Gen 3 adjustable buttstock. Anyone in the market for a more compact version--in the same chamberings--should check out the 16-1/8-inch barreled Hunter version featuring a collapsible Axiom buttstock.
On the bolt action side of precision equation, Tikka's new T3 TAC Al also comes in .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor, but can also be had in the underrated .260 Remington. It features a 20-inch, mid-contour hammer-forged barrel with muzzle threads, a fully adjustable aluminum stock with a cheekpiece adjustable for height, a full-length Picatinny rail and 2-stage trigger adjustable from 2 to 4 pounds.
On the more traditionalist side of the coin, lever-lovers will be pleased to know Uberti USA now offers a beautiful take on the Winchester 1886 called the Hunter Lite. It features an A-Grade walnut stock, color-case finish and a 22-inch round barrel. It's drilled and tapped for Lyman peep sights and is rated for Level 2 .45-70 loads (29,000 CUP/PSI max). At 7.1 pounds, it's about 2 pounds lighter than the 26-inch octagon barreled version, so if you plan on humping up hills, this is probably the one to get.
ODDS AND ENDS
Case Knives' collaborations with custom guru Tony Bose have yielded some classics, but this year's Tribal Lock folder may be the best yet. This handsome lockback features a 420 HC spear blade and a 4-1/8-inch-length closed. It can be had with a variety of price-altering handle options--stag, ebony, buffalo horn, abalone, turquoise and others.
One of the first makers of premium folders I ever became aware of was Al Mar Knives, way back in the 1970's. For many years' worth of SHOT Shows, their booth has been catty-corner to ours and I've always made it a point to wander over to see what Gary Fadden and Company have on hand. This year the showstopper(s) as far as I was concerned was the Ultralight Series. Very sleek, very functional and there are several configurations, featuring the company's Front Lock and linen Micarta scales. The weight runs a feathery 1 to 2 ounces depending on model.
Oregon Trail Defense's stippling kit for polymer lets you personalize your space-age pistola with a diverse set of USA-made stippling tips tailored for different patterns--Fish Egg, Ripples, Treebark, Tire Tread, you name it. Used in combination, the possibilities are nearly endless. Everything is stored in a hard plastic case, complete with multiple vials that contain the tips.
Weaver's new KASPA 3-9x40 Rimfire Scope features interchangeable turret dials to allow adjusting for .22 LR, .22 Win Mag and. 17 HMR. It features a Dual-X reticle and is just as rugged as the centerfire models in the Weaver stable.
PETER KOKALIS JUNE 20, 1934-JAN. 11, 2017
At SHOT this year, the news of Peter Kokalis' passing triggered a flood of stories from shooters and magazine types who worked with him, knew him or were simply fans. Most gunwriters have a specialized area of expertise--sixguns, 1911s, double rifles, whatever. With Kokalis, however, the parameters were broader. Far broader. You could refer to his niche as "Military Small Arms of the 20th Century With an Emphasis on the Full-Auto Stuff" and be pretty close to the mark.
I doubt if there was an SMG or LMG obscure or short-lived enough that Kokalis couldn't give you at least 6,000 words on it, practically off the top of his head. At a previous show a few years back I was able to hang out with him and found him--despite a curmudgeonly reputation--to be a delightfully affable and witty raconteur. He kept a tableful of listeners spellbound while reminiscing about "acquiring and firing" international battlefield weaponry most of us can only dream about.
He was one of a kind.
Caption: Will strikes a brief action hero pose with the 5.56 Micro-gun from Empty Shell. Photo courtesy Will Dabbs, MD
Caption: Long distance providers included Savage s MSR10 Long Range (top) and Tikka's T3 TAC A1 bolt action. Both can be had in 6.5 Creedmoor.
Caption: Weaver 3-9x40 KASPA variable.
Caption: Uberti's good-looking .45-70 take on the 86 Winchester is called the Hunter Lite.
Caption: SIG's MCX Carbine in .300 Blackout and ROMEO4H red dot sight.
Caption: Back to a 6-shot snubbie! The Colt Cobra returns.
Caption: Mossberg JM Pro
Caption: SIG P230
Caption: Nighthawk's Korth Super Sport .357 hits the high end of the double-action revolver world.
Caption: Benelli Super Black Eagle III
Caption: Mossberg's 12-gauge Shockwave (above) and Persuader .410 Security Model (below) provide protection at both ends of the bore-size spectrum.
Caption: Tribal Lock (above), a Case/Tony Bose collaboration and Al Mar's Ultralight Hawk (below).
Caption: Get a grip! Oregon Trail Defense's stippling kit is tailored for polymer-framed pistols.