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2014 SHOT Show, Day 1

Chris Upchurch

Today was the first day of the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (the SHOT Show), the firearms industry’s main trade show. This is my first time attending the show and I'll be doing some blog posts about things that catch my fancy.

I spent the better part of the day driving up from Prescott so I didn’t get to the show proper until early afternoon. Since I didn't have a full day, I decided that I would spend today looking at particular things I wanted to see. Then I'd have the three full days to make a more complete sweep of the show floor to see everything (or as close to everything as I can get at a show this big).

The Remington R-51 pistol is pretty interesting. It's grip is long enough that I can get all of my fingers on there, but overall the gun is barely taller than a Walther PPS or M&P Shield. In part, this is made possible by the fact that the R-51’s recoil spring is wrapped around the barrel, rather than underneath it. The trigger is very good: light and crisp. The reset, on the other hand is very indistinct (even more so than the M&P). There really isn't the slightest click that I could detect (at least not on the noisy show floor) just a change in the amount of force pushing on your finger as you let the trigger forward. The grip safety will disengage even with a less than perfect grip on the gun, as long as that grip is fairly firm. There is a very distinct feel to the grip safety disengaging. It doesn't just press down, there’s a distinct point where it lets go and drops. The Remington rep said these should be available mid-February. This seems like a nice gun for those with smaller hands who need a single-stack 9mm or those looking for a NPE gun.

Remington shared their very large are with the other Freedom Group companies, including Bushmaster and Barnes Bullets. Barnes had a bowl of expanded bullets at their booth. As I walked by the Bushmaster section I took the opportunity to handle the ACR a bit. Still not very impressed with it.

I stopped by the Walther booth, in part to compare my recent experience with the R-51 to the PPS. While I was there I handled the PPQ M2. Very nice gun, with the same ergonomics of the original PPQ, just with a more conventional button mag release.

Stopping the Beretta booth I had a chance to handle the ARX 100. My first impression was that while the gun is fairly slim side to side, it’s very tall (even more so than the SCAR, which gives me a similar impression). It was also rather odd to handle a conventional rifle with so much polymer. Given my experience with the FS2000 I should be used to it, but it still seems unusual.

The distinctive feature of the ARX 100 is that you can change which side it extracts from in a matter of seconds. I was able to get a look at how it does this: two extractors, with the one that is actually being used to hook the cartridge dictated by the position of the charging handle. The trigger is quite decent for a standard service rifle, with a very distinct reset.

They had a rather odd set of sights on there: very wide, with a rotating disk in the rear sight that has different holes for different ranges. Unfortunately, even at the 100 yard setting the hole was tiny (about like the small aperture on an AR sight). Thankfully these are just attached to the picatinny rail so they are replaceable. The one real undesirable feature about this rifle is the A2 style grip, which I dislike, and which appears to be molded directly into the receiver rather than being a replaceable part.

At the Glock booth I handled the new Glock 42. As has been widely reported, it's fairly large for a .380 these days (though still smaller than most pocket 9s). Unlike many, I don’t consider this a bad thing. It’s big enough to actually shoot. I can get two fingers onto the grip (barely) whereas the smallest .380s are one-finger on the grip guns.

Glock’s other new product, the Glock 41, is basically a G21 with about half an inch more slide. It provides exactly what anyone familiar with the G21 would expect. I do think this would make a very nice candidate for an aftermarket 10mm barrel.

Virtually all of the guns on display were Gen 4 models. The only exceptions I noticed were some of the “SF” guns and the G30S.

The first thing I noticed at the SIG booth is that most of their rifles were on display with Lancer magazines. There were a few PMAGs here and there, but Lancers were dominant by far. They are also producing some SIG 516 and 716 rifles with the Lancer carbon fiber handguards. These are unique models that extend over the gas block with a cutout to access the adjustable gas valve.

I checked out the SIG 556xi. This is definitely aimed at the SCAR, with a reversible charging handle and adjustable magazine release. The cheek riser they have on there is very nice, much better than the airsoft crap that I've seen out there.

They had several MPXs on display. I tried one with the collapsable stock. The cheekweld is uncomfortable and it only has 3 positions (collapsed, halfway, and fully extended). The halfway position might be useful if you had very thick clothing or body armor on, but otherwise it’s way too short. The model with the folding buffer tube and SIG pistol brace was much nicer, actually. I asked when the civilian model would be available and was told “sometime in the first quarter” and that the pistol model was coming out first.

I also got a look at the new SIG P320. It’s a fairly conventional polymer frame striker fired pistol. Fairly Glock-like, no manual safety (no trigger tab safety either). The trigger pull was fairly nice, with a very short, distinct reset. They definitely heard the complaints about the long revolver trigger on the P250 because this is practically the exact opposite. I don’t know if the world really needs another striker-fired polymer pistol, but the P320 looks like a serviceable option.

A Camaro in Mossy Oak camouflage is just wrong.

I stopped by the Sneakybags booth and talked with Karl and Dan for a bit. The new sneakybags that they had on display looked to be very high quality, with several improvements on the original. Dan confirmed that the medium S.U.B. is the successor to my beloved 2-cell Sneakybag, size-wise. I'll be needing to get one of those.

The Lancer booth had some examples of their new .308 magazine. Very nice, solid construction, if anything even better quality than their 5.56mm magazines. They were quoting April for availability.

At the Geissele booth they had examples of all their triggers in rifles for people to try. This would have been really useful a couple of weeks ago when I was trying to decide which trigger to get, but it did confirm that my choice of the SSA-E for my rifle build was the correct one. I also had a chance to try their Tavor trigger. It’s nowhere near as crisp or light as their AR triggers, but it is probably the best bullpup trigger I’ve tried and is light-years better than the stock Tavor trigger.

My last stop of the day was the Magpul booth where, lo and behold, they had one of the new AK mags in a 556R. I tried it out and it went in and out just fine, so I can definitely confirm it works with the SIG.

That’s all for Day 1. More to come tomorrow.