Firearms - Part 1 of 2
Attendance at SHOT Show 2016 nearly topped 65,000 from the world of hunting, shooting and related firearms interests. Nearly every square foot of the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas was covered with booths representing the shooting sports industry and there was barely room to walk through miles of crowded isles. The show was spread out over 3 floors of this convention center and due to demand from manufactures, ballrooms were converted into show space.
Way back when the first firearms industry shows began there was a mix of firearms, accessories and archery. When interest in archery grew to record levels across America, the bow and arrow industry broke away from the shooting sports industry and created a standalone archery show. Today, with tactical interests and applications at seemingly peak levels, SHOT Show 2016 could again be ready to spin off the black gun tactical and accessories industry into a standalone show in the near future.
SAVAGE 17 HMR SHOT FLAT — The new CCI 17 HMR caliber, with a 17 grain varmint tip, shot well on the rifle range out past 100 yards. WON hunting and shooting editor, Jim Niemiec, targeted in on a gong at 125 yards hitting the target with each shot. WON PHOTO BY TONI NIEMIEC
It was some 50 years ago that this hunting editor was national sales manager for a company named BUCO, which manufactured pre DOT motorcycle helmets for police and sheriff departments. Back then, before SHOT Show, police and related protection agencies would hold conventions in different states across the country. Today SHOT Show hosts hundreds of manufacturers of police, service, military and related tactical products.
Recalling one of the first firearms industry and mixed use conventions in America, under the name National Sporting Goods Association, which was held at the old Anaheim Convention Center, shows are now huge. SHOT Show is one of the largest conventions held in Las Vegas and it rates as one of the top 5 conventions in the world.
The first SHOT Show took place in St. Louis, MO. back in 1979. The mission statement for the National Shooting Sports Foundation is: To promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. NSSF is the trade association for America's firearms industry.
SHOT Show is not a consumer show, attendance is limited to those directly involved in the shooting sports industry. Manufacturers, distributors and retail dealers from all over the world attend this convention to fill gun racks and cases with the latest models of rifles, shotguns and pistols, stay up with the demand for ammunition and newly enacted ammo regulations and check out the latest in shooting sports and tactical accessories. Though probably today the height of interest from show attendees is seeing the vast selection of tactical guns, armament, scopes, tactical gear and equipment and to stock shelves and mail order warehouses with the latest and greatest being offered by the tactical firearms industry and its accessories.
There is too much to cover from Shot Show in one Western Outdoor News hunting column, so it will be published in 2 parts. Part 1 includes modern firearms, some tactical firearms as related to hunting. Part 2 will cover new ammunition, hunting optics, accessories and shooting sports related equipment.
Every convention seemingly has a best of show and believe me that's a hard decision for a hunting editor to have to make. Booth after booth gets your attention with major manufactures in the shooting sports industry occupying 100's of square feet of the show room floor. This editor is always drawn to high end shotguns from Perazzi, Beretta, Benelli, Weatherby, Winchester shotguns, Caesar Guerini USA, hunting rifles from Winchester, Remington, Legacy Sports International, Kimber, Thompson Center, CZ-USA and Mossberg; while Rocky, Filson, Boyt/Bob Allen, Realtree and Mossy Oak offer up great shooting accessories and camo clothing products. One would be remise in over looking neat hunting related products from Vista Outdoors, Trijicon, Aimpoint, Zeiss, Swarovski Optics, Steiner Optics, Nikon and Final Approach.
Prior to opening day of SHOT Show, most all major firearms manufacturers of hunting, sporting, pistol and tactical firearms host Media/Industry Day At The Range at the Boulder City Rifle and Pistol Range. This event allows hunting editors and buyers to live fire a huge selection of new firearms and ammunition on the range.
After shooting a number of new sporting rifles, shotguns, AR15 style tactical rifles and pistols this hunting editor's choice for best of show for SHOT Show 2016 is a new shotgun from Browning. This long established firearms company has brought back the "Sweet sixteen", which is a lightweight version of the old hump-back A5 auto loader in16 gauge.
NEW BROWNING "SWEET SIXTEEN" A CLASSIC TO SHOOT — Browning introduced the new "Sweet Sixteen" shotgun at Media/Industry Day at the Range during SHOT Show. This shotgun shouldered just fine, ammo loading was easy and this lightweight 16 ga. shotgun was fun to shoot. WON PHOTOS BY TONI NIEMIEC
Not only does this shotgun shoulder and swing extremely well on targets, it features a very smooth action and a low recoil makes it a pleasure to shoot. WON was introduced to the "Sweet 16" by Kevin Howard, president of Howard Communications, whose company handles public relations for Browning. Howard kept handing over Browning 16 gauge trap ammo until the box was empty. We both commented on this lightweight shotgun and its fit when shouldered and how well it would be suited for any upland game bird hunt.
The "Sweet Sixteen" is built on a smaller, lighter receiver for reduced weight and uses kinetic energy to power a recoil-operated drive system for reliable function with any load and under the full extremes of weather, temp, moisture or grime. This shotgun is chambered for 2 and three quarter inch shotgun shells, weighs just 5 pounds 12 ounces, has 3 Invector-DS chokes and retails for $1699.99 including a ABS hard case.
Another firearm introduction at SHOT Show that was a fun rifle to shoot was the legendary Winchester model 1866 "Yellow Boy" chambered in .44-40. This rifle was the first ever gun to bear the Winchester name. This 150th year commemorative edition salutes the role this rifle has played in Winchester history. With open sites this rifle was amazingly accurate "off- hand" hitting gongs out past 100 yards on the range, with no notable recoil in the .44-40 caliber.
It was a total blast shooting the new Savage Arms B.MAG, a 17 HMR Sporter model, chambered for the new CCI A17 rimfire cartridge which has a muzzle velocity of 2650 FPS for its 17 grain varmint tip ammo. The accuracy of this fast little bullet, out to a 150 yard gong, was impressive with this rifle matched to a Bushnell Rimfire optics scope AO model available in a 4-12x 40mm power.
One of the most interesting rifles introduced at SHOT Show was a sport hunting rifle from Kel-Tec. Their model RDB-C, with its unique downward case ejection, 24 inch barrel accuracy and choice of either .223REM or 6.5 Grendel configurations, this rugged looking rifle would be an ideal choice for small game hunting, varmint hunting or plinking. The OD color, rail and many adjustments will allow for good shooting in the field or at a target range.
There were not a lot of new sporting/target pistols on the firing line, but there sure were a lot of tactical pistols and rapid fire AR15 style rifles. WON singled out the new Smith and Wesson model SW22 Victory to highlight in SHOT Show coverage. With introduction for 2016 the SW22 comes with standard adjustable fiber optic sights and a match grade, interchangeable barrel for superb accuracy at the range or in the field. This new model includes simple one screw takedown, two 10-round magazines and a stainless steel frame. In addition there is a Picatinny-style rail for mounting optics or other equipment, creating a versatile pistol for both hunting and target shooting.