I spent all of last week in Las Vegas. Normally, I’d rather be in the mountains somewhere, or chasing wild hogs across Texas wheat fields. But last week was the annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoors Trade Show, aka, SHOT Show. Or just SHOT. 64,000 people showed up this year to see what’s new, what’s hot, what’s recycled… The fact of the matter is that no one can take it all in and I’m not going to write a review on something I saw for ten minutes at SHOT. Instead I submit my high altitude overview of my impressions to you here. In depth stories around these things are in the works for 2016.
A trade show, you have to be a part of the industry to get into SHOT, or at least that’s the official line. Then there’s the more exclusive Industry Day at the Range where you can test drive all kinds of guns and accessories like scopes. Even more exclusive private events are scheduled and you cannot make them all. Between those venues there’s a lot to see and some great people to meet. I was fortunate to meet Marus Lutrell (Lone Survivor) at one such event.
Magnified Optics from Unexpected Places
For me, the biggest surprise this year was in magnified optics. Aimpoint is revamping its line of magnifiers, including 3x and a new 6x. I shot with the 6x and my initial impression is that it merits an in depth look. It’s an awfully nice magnification for hunting. The magnifier mounts now not only twists to remove quickly, but can also flip to the side. You can now go 1x to 6x with a flip of the magnifier. Lots of potential here.
Much more surprising is that EOTech launched magnified optics. The 1-6x prototype looks pretty sweet, especially if you like the EOTech circle around the dot for aiming. In this conventional scope, however, the reticle is etched glass, nice and smooth. At 1x it will look quite familiar to EOTech users. Zoom to 6x and you’ll see a small circle – dot reticle along with bullet drop subtensions. It looked super well thought out and made. Again, worthy of further investigation. It won’t be available until the Fall, and the 2.5-10x, and 3.5-18x models will follow.
Everywhere I looked I saw some of my favorite Nightforce and US Optics scopes on rifles, and even the Shield red dot sight I recently reviewed. The new Trijicon ACO was on display everywhere. I also got acquainted with the much lesser known IOR scopes from Valdada. They have quite the story to tell and I hope to bring you more on them this year.
Two companies rolled triggers that got my attention this year. We ran a comprehensive story and video on Timney’s excellent two stage triggers launch, something previously inconceivable. The new Timney Targa two stage triggers are available for AR-15 and Remington 700 rifles. CMC Triggers launched a remarkable AK style trigger with their recognizable flat bow. I shot this trigger and it’s impressive.
Yes, there were a few guns there. I don’t know how many, but thousands would be a conservative number. Ranging in style from black powder to military miniguns, there was simply no way to take it all in. That said, some did stand out. The new IWI X95 Tavor was one of those. Since I had some trigger time on it previously, I was able to publish a more in depth review of the X95 from SHOT Show. Battle Arms Development had some very nice PDW type AR-15 guns, and Cobalt Kinetics showed off their AR-15 variants that automatically drop empty mags and close the bolt automatically when reloading.
Shooting the 300 Blackout Daniel Defense ISR was enjoyable. It is a one stamp solution. I enjoyed shooting a Gunwerks long range hunting setup, something I’ve wanted to explore for several years. These guys have some serious “fruit on the tree” and I hope to tell you more about them and how you can benefit from their work this year. I shot the Tracking Point rifle. It’s interesting. They approach shooting from an entirely different thought process that’s different enough to have some people dismiss the concept entirely without giving it a chance. I can sympathize with that, but the technology did what it’s supposed to do as I was pulling the trigger. My conclusion? Inconclusive. We’ll see what happens as the year progresses. The gun I was most eager to shoot was the Falkor Defense 300 Win Mag Petra. It’s an AR-15 on steroids. Yes, you can rapid fire a 300 Win Mag! Why? Well, because you can first of all. I’d like to go hog hunting with one….
In 2015 I was most impressed with Rugged Suppressors and Dead Air thirty caliber cans. Both are doing some pretty cool things and consequently growing. You’ll definitely see more of the Surge 7.62 on SHWAT this year, along with other yet to be announced offerings. Tactical Solutions has some new fun for .22 shooters that we’ll test drive in 2016. That said, the single most intriguing thing I saw at SHOT Show was from silencer maker Delta P. Imagine what you could do to the internals of a silencer if you weren’t bound by traditional manufacturing constraints. What if you could 3D print solid metal instead? The result is an unbelievably lightweight silencer. I hope to dig deeper into this in 2016, but will say up front I’m already impressed!
That’s your quick SHOT 2016 debrief. Want to keep up with these developments and whole lot more? Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media.