Taking Shots Before SHOT Show
What happens on the range in Vegas, does'nt nessecarily stay on the range in Vegas. Steve Coulston takes us to SHOT a couple of days early.
I just attended another SHOT Show and have emerged unscathed... Well sort of. I didn’t sleep much, which is to be expected, but at least I didn’t get the SHOT Show crud after the fact. It seemed my time at the largest firearms exhibition came and went in the blink of an eye. It was six days of balls to the wall meetings, interviews, booth visits and social engagements. If you do SHOT Show right, you bust your ass during the day and play hard at night. While I could go into all the new (or not so new) firearms, gear and accessories I happened upon on the convention floor, I’d rather take a different approach. Everyone and their mother covers that. I could write a book summarizing my findings, but quite frankly, it’s been done already. I’d rather acquire select items to test and review throughout the year in order to give you, the reader, a more thorough review of the 2015 offerings.
Before all the miles of walking and meetings there is the coveted Industry Day at the Range event that takes place the day before the convention. This is the day select members of the media gather at the Boulder City Pistol & Rifle Club to go hands on with other people’s guns and ammo. It went a little something like this...
The Secret Meeting
I arrived with my crew on Sunday evening and after a great dinner we found our hotel late and got in some quick shuteye. The next day would come quickly, but I had a date prior to hitting the media event. In the wee hours of the morning firearms photographers Crossfire, Zero7one and I drove to the Pro Gun Club located in Boulder City, Nevada. The Pro Gun Club is 160 acres of gun loving paradise. If you can dream it up and shoot it, you can do it at the Pro Gun Club. We arrived at the secured gate at the ass crack of dawn. After being admitted we hooked up with the crew from Battle Arms Development and Bentwood Gunsmithing.
We were there to get a first look at a top secret project both companies had been collaborating on. Battle Arms Development is known for their BAD A.S.S. safety selectors. As far as I am concerned, they are the standard in which all safety selectors are judged. That being said, they have been very busy and now make all kinds of high quality AR parts to include uppers, lowers, barrels and more. They are even developing their own rifles. They brought a handful of their new lightweight prototype rifles built with their own rifle components. The fire sticks were painted up by Hillbilly223. One rifle was made up in a distressed bronze Spartan look and the other two were done up in a Stormtrooper Star Wars theme. Talk about blasters! They even brought authentic Star Wars Stormtrooper helmets to complete the look. These rifles are absolutely beautiful and would prove to be very popular in the week to come.
Side note: While the Stormtrooper helmets are awesome, they are damn near impossible to see out of and forget about acquiring a proper cheek weld. That must explain why they were such horrible shots and had to fire from the hip all the time...
Bentwood brought something special as well. They have been collaborating with Battle Arms Development on a very special light weight rifle project. They brought the prototype rifle as well as the different variants leading up to the final production version. The rifle is called the OIP which stands for Ounces Is Pounds. For anyone in the military this is something you have heard before. "Ounces equal pounds and pounds equals pain." The concept behind the OIP rifle is to make the lightest rifle on the market. Everyone wants a sub 7 lb rifle. 6 lbs is now considered light weight. Whatever. The OIP comes in at a feather weight 3.8 lbs. Yes, you read that right! A sub 4 lb rifle that is not made out of plastic. You can read about the specs on the Bentwood website. I had the honor of putting around 30 rounds down the tube on this ultralight rifle. To my knowledge I was the first person outside of Battle Arms Development or Bentwood Gunsmithing to ever shoot it. I must say, I was skeptical prior to shooting it. I may not be a smart guy, but I do know Newton’s Third Law of Motions states, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." So logic says by removing mass from the firearm and setting off the same explosive charge as is initiated in the operation of a 5.56 rifle the felt recoil would be increased as there is less weight to counteract the forces. Guess what..? I was wrong.
Somehow, the mad scientists at Battle Arms and Bentwood defied the laws of physics. I was extremely surprised on how soft the recoil impulse was. Later, I was shown how they achieved the soft recoil, but I’m not spilling the beans. If you want to know, you will need to buy one. This rifle will be produced in a run of 100. It will not be cheap, but I must say it will put a massive smile on your face.
Industry Day at the Range
After departing the Pro Gun Club we hit up Industry Day at the Range. As previously mentioned, Industry Day takes place on Monday before the official show kicks off in the convention center. This is the opportunity for media folks, like myself, to go hands on with the latest and greatest firearms industry offerings. I was a bit more selective this year. Trying to hit every booth kills time and before you know it you are only half way through and the joint is closing down. Time to work smarter, not harder.
There were a lot of 30 caliber platforms to shoot which was great. As a guy who spends a lot of time sending 5.56 down range, it is nice to move to the larger caliber without having to pay for it, I might add. First, I spent some time with the IWI guys getting rounds on their new Galil ACE. The ACE is pretty much a modern AK and takes AK mags chambered in 7.62x39. My understanding is more calibers are to come. It has a full flat top rail for optics and built in iron sights. The thumb safety was easier to access over a traditional AK, however there still isn’t a last round bolt hold open. My hope is to get one of these in the near future for testing.
Next, I took the time to find the .308 AR type rifles. This included the new Adams Arms light weight .308. This was a really fun rifle to shoot with all the familiar controls as you would expect on an AR. It also uses their reliable piston driven system. I shot multiple magazines out of this rifle and I was very pleased. It has a $1,200 price point which is outstanding for a .308. I will need to add one of these to the safe based on the price point alone.
Another treat was shooting the SI-Defense ambidextrous .308 rifle. Ambidextrous is a term used a lot these days when talking about our favorite black rifle. SI-Defense is very different than all the rest, but in a good way. The controls on the lower receiver are completely mirrored on each side. Even the bold release is identical. The machining is flawless as was the operation. On top of that, the owners of SI-Defense, Jason and Melinda, are some of the nicest folks you will meet.
One of my favorite experiences was shooting Lancer Systems new .308 semi-auto precision L30 rifle. It has a tunable Viper muzzle brake which does an amazing job with recoil. It works so well, they kept handing me magazines as fast as I was shooting them from the prone position. While the distance wasn’t extreme (200 yards) the follow up shots were extremely fast for a .308 rifle.
Next up was a visit to my friends at Seekins Precision to shoot their SP10 .308 rifle. Now I had seen this rifle at SHOT Show 2014 and written an article on it, however I have never had the chance to shoot it until now. I must say it was an enjoyable rifle to shoot and the unique trigger finger activated bolt catch and drop was a very handy feature. The Seekins muzzle brake worked very well and follow up shots were quick.
The last notable 30 caliber rifle I shot was by Proof Research. It was a bolt gun chambered in .300 Win Mag and it sported their carbon fiber wrapped barrel. Now I will never claim to be a long distance precision shooter. I wish I was and hopefully that will change one day. But, a good rifle and a good spotter can make all the difference. I had a nice long range to work with and the spotter told me to engage a 4 inch clay at 960 yards. The scope was already dialed in so I let the first rounds loose. I was a bit high or low by about 6 inches. Hell, I was impressed with that. After about the 4th round or so I obliterated the clay. I was very impressed. It may not be a huge feat for some but for this ol’ boy, I’ll take it. I hope to get one of their carbon fiber wrapped AR barrels for testing soon.
There were plenty of 5.56 ARs there as well however I skipped most of them. Like I said, I shoot a ton of 5.56 and wanted to find other unique firearms to shoot. I did make an exception and shoot the new Salient Arms International rifle called the GRY rifle. It is a sexy rifle just like the rest of SAI offerings. It has a unique device that attaches to the rail called the Jailbreak. It screws on to the rail and envelopes the muzzle device without touching it. Any muzzle device can be used. The concept the ports on the Jailbreak capture and redirect the gasses during the firing cycle. It does work, however they are still tweaking it a bit. The one on the range had a lot of blowback into the shooters face and gas was also directed onto the shooter’s support hand turning it black. I was told this was still in the prototype phase and the attachment method on the production model would be different as would be the gas porting.
I found my way to the SilencerCo bay. I wasn’t looking for a new shotgun, rather I wanted to try out the recently released SilencerCo Salvo 12 sound suppressor. The Salvo 12 is the first sound suppressor for the shotgun to be readily available to us consumer folks. It will fit most shotguns on the market today regardless if they are semi or pump. They had the Salvo mounted to a semi auto Mossberg which appeared to be a 930 variant. I removed my ear pro and shouldered the shotgun. As would be expected it was long and front heavy. But the additional weight aided in muzzle rise while shooting. The suppressor can also be adjusted length wise depending on the desired application. The Salvo was completely ear safe with 136.8 dB at the muzzle. I really enjoyed shooting 12 gauge with the Salvo attached. I may have to pick one up in the future.
There were the usual pistols there such as Glock, Springfield, etc. Quite frankly, I wasn’t really finding anything that was blowing my skirt up. That is until I came to the Geissele and ALG Defense booth. It wasn’t a new pistol that caught my eye, rather it was a new pistol accessory.
ALG had a Glock 19 set up with their 6-Second Mount. I have seen pictures of this set up, but had never used one up to that point. The 6-Second Mount is designed to mount an Aimpoint T-1, T-2 or H-1 to the top of the pistol without mounting it directly to the slide. This reduces the battering of the sight on the pistol as the slide cycles. It is for this reason the design was requested by a special unit with the Department of Defense. It is made of aluminum and still allows the mounting of a flashlight or laser. I will admit it took me a while to get used to it. I am cross-eye dominant, meaning I am right handed with a dominant left eye. Throughout the years, I have learned to accommodate this condition and accurately shoot a pistol with standard iron sights. Shooting pistols with red dots take some time to wrap my head around. That being said, once I had a few rounds down the pipe, hitting steel with the T-1 installed on the 6-Second Mount was rapid. While it looks somewhat unorthodox it works and there are folks out there already making holsters for them.
While I was at the Geissele and ALG booth I had to look at their new trigger offerings. As most firearms enthusiasts know, triggers are what Geissele is famous for. The Geissele Super Sabra trigger, while not new, is still the hottest trigger pack right now for the Tavor. I have one in my personal Tavor and wrote about it a while back on Guns and Tactics. While it improves the trigger press significantly over the stock Tavor trigger, it still isn’t as crisp of a trigger as one would expect from a Geissele AR trigger. Well that was about to change. At the range, Geissele had their new Tavor Lightning Trigger Bow. It replaces the factory trigger in the Tavor and really removes the looseness in the factory trigger. The trigger is semi curved and semi flat all at the same time. The press is pretty much as good as the trigger in your AR. There is very little over travel with a crisp break. I have one of the prototypes on the way and can’t wait to get it in my Tavor.
Now for the big smile maker. ALG Defense had an AK47 on the bench. Could it be..? Oh, yes it could. Upon closer examination, I noticed they had a little surprise in the form of their new AK Trigger. The trigger was installed in a Rifle Dynamic AK. The drop in trigger has the same hybrid look as the Tavor Lighting Bow. This is currently a prototype and will be offered in two versions. One will have a longer pull at about 75% of a standard AK trigger with a retail price of $49. The second version will be an enhanced trigger for $75. It will have a similar feel to the Geissele Super 3 Gun Trigger. I shot the enhanced version and I must say I probably had the biggest shit eating grin on my face after the first magazine. Again these are prototypes, but hot damn that was a fine AK trigger!
I finally had to move on to find my friends at Leupold. Leupold was introducing a game changing optic and I wanted to check it out. Once I found them, I was able to get my first look at their new D-EVO optic. This is short for Dual-Enhanced View Optic. The D-EVO is a very strange looking device. It sits behind your red dot of choice.
For this demonstration it was behind a Leupold LCO. Half of the D-EVO cantilevers over the starboard side of the rifle like a single, black, ominous eye staring off into space. This eye magnifies the view 6.0 times and brings it back to the shooters face directly below the red dot. The reticle is the CMR-W which allows compensation for hold over and wind. The concept behind the D-EVO is that the shooter can keep their face mounted to the rifle and go from looking at the 1.0x red dot then glance down to the 6.0 power D-EVO without breaking their cheek weld. Once I got used to it, it worked very well. It was quite different from anything I had ever shot. Think of it like bi-focals for the tactical optic market. Very cool. I would like to do an exclusive review on the D-EVO at some point when they become available.
Until Next Year
I could ramble on about every nifty little gadget I came across that day, but for your sake (and mine) I will bring this to a close. Industry Day at the Range is a great experience and is such a great way to start the long week. I hope to test and evaluate many of the products mentioned in this article as well as many I found during my time on the SHOT Show convention floor that week. There is a lot to write about and better yet a lot to shoot in 2015! Even so, I am looking forward to what this industry will come up with for next year’s event.
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