Today was the second day of the SHOT show, and my first full day. Rather than my more targeted booth visits from yesterday, today I decided to just sweep through the show floor, going up and down every aisle, stopping and looking at whatever struck my fancy.
The DSA booth had some nice FALs on display. I’m not sure it makes sense to pay that much for a FAL with the plethora of other .308 options on the market today, but if that’s the route you want to go, DSA has you covered.
At the CZ booth I had a chance to handle the CZ 805, the new Czech combat rifle. It’s definitely very SCAR like, you can tell the designers had seen the FN rifle when they were working on this one. The trigger is decent, though it’s a bit different from those on western rifles. I’d compare it to a shorter version of the Tapco G2 AK trigger group. Smooth movement leading to a sudden drop of the hammer without any perceptible second stage. Like the SIG 556, the upper appears to be the serialized part. The fellow at the booth I talked to said that they were “talking about” a U.S. civilian version, but that there were currently no plans in that regard.
They also had a Scoprion EVO3 on display. Very light and handy, almost all polymer. Not as good a trigger as the 805.
An oddball that jumped out at me as I was walking by was a company called Radetec that makes digital ammo counters. Their pistol models were grip panels similar to lasergrips with either a LCD readout that counted down rounds as you fired them or a Blue/Green/Red LED. They also had a rifle version that attaches to a magwell with a display that is mounted out on the end of the forearm. An interesting use of technology, but not something I really think has application in a fight.
Lothar Walther had an interesting barrel on display with a thin stainless steel liner around the bore, encased in an aluminum sleeve that takes it up to a heavy barrel diameter. Much lighter than an all steel version of that diameter would be.
If you are selling $2000+ optics and have them mounted on dummy guns or stocks for people at the show to shoulder and take a look at, make sure that your scopes are mounted straight up and down. I saw canted scopes at both the Schmidt & Bender and Leupold booths.
F4 Tactical had their picatinny rail mounted pepper spray device on display. I believe Eric has some experience with this, so maybe he’ll chime in. Some folks vehemently object to mixing lethal and non-lethal on the same weapon, but in this case the operating modes are very different (the spray is activated by pulling back on the housing (somewhat like racking a shotgun). Seems like a nice option for police officers, particularly those operating solo with backup a long way off.
I stopped at the Larue booth and asked about their wait times. They told me a 7.62 OBR would probably be more than a year. Right now they’re only selling standard configuration rifles, no customization. So if you want, say, a collapsable stock, you’ll have to get one and install it yourself.
During a quick stop at the Remington LE/mil booth, I noticed that their ambi AR lowers actually allow you to use the ambi bolt release to lock open the bolt (on most designs, including Lancer and SIG, the ambi lever just allows you to release it).
There were no FS2000s on display at the FN booth. The fellow there I asked about this said that the FS had been discontinued. Glad I got my two when I did.
One thing I ran into at a couple of booths were guys hanging out who were affiliated with the company (a company sponsored shooter in one case, an affiliated trainer in another), but did not have the knowledge to answer my question about the product. Maybe it’s just me but if they’re dressed the same as your other employees and hanging out at the booth, they should know the product line well enough that they don’t have to beg off questions.
Another product that caught my eye was the PowerFlare. This is a device about the size of a hockey puck with a ring of flashing LEDs around the edge. The really interesting thing is that they have an IR version.
At the Leupold booth I stopped and looked at their high end optics (mostly the Mark 6 and Mark 8 lines). I actually ordered a Mark 6 1-6x which arrived the day before I left, meaning I’ve gotten to handle their demo models here at the show more than I’ve been able to handle the one I actually own. The experience did confirm that I ordered the right optic though.
I also spent some time looking at the Mark 6 3-18x and Mark 8 3.5-25x. My long range plans include a bolt gun in .300 win mag so I was scoping out possible optics. I’d been considering one of these with the Horus reticles, but at 3x the reticle was so small and faint as to be almost useless (even with the illumination on, for models that had it). A snap shot at 3x or 3.5x would be very slow. Why have this huge range of magnification if the reticle isn’t even usable for part of it?. The TMR reticle, on the other hand, was decently visible at 3x. It was a bit coarse at 18, but still usable. The other thing to note is that the Mark 6 scopes with the low profile turrets only lock at 0 and only provide one revolution of adjustment (which is a full 11 mils). The higher profile turrets allow more adjustments and will lock at any setting.
The other thing I noticed at the Leupold booth was over on the hunting side of the house. They make a very compact 10-20x spotting scope. It seems like this would be just the thing for packing into the field. Light and handy, but much more magnification than binos or most riflescopes. I’ve actually got a Burris spotter in a similar size, but the optical quality of the Leupold is much, much, better.
HK had a nice historical display on the MP5, going all the way back to a pre-diopter sight model with a slim G3 style handguard and straight magazine. I also got to fondle their HK169 grenade launcher.
I stopped by the SIG booth again when I noticed they had a P210 on display. I’ve always had an inexplicable desire for one of these and handling it just enhanced that.
Arsenal had their Strike pistol on display. It’s ergonomics were very Glock-like (though the gun is different internally). Trigger was OK, but not great. They had Eric Prince of Blackwater fame there signing his book when I stopped by (what he has to do with a combloc pistol is anyone’s guess, celebrity booth appearances see more driving by who’s available rather than whether they have anything to do with the product).
Hunting camo manufacturers have some of the most elaborate booths.
At the Magpul booth I asked about an ETA on the metal reinforced AK mag. I was told it’s still in the works but there is no ETA.
Windham Weaponry is selling ARs with wooden furniture.
The Steyr booth was mostly sporting rifles, but there were a few AUGs on display, including one in 9mm. They said the first 9mm kits shipped to the distributor last week.
EOTech had their combined laser/holosight setup on display. The red laser matches the reticle color. At distance the laser dot lands right on top of the central dot on the reticle, but up close it’s about an inch to the right and a bit low.
I saw two separate companies making adapters to convert a tripod mounted AR into a spade grip configuration. I’m not sure the world even needs one of these.
I spent some time looking at the Desert Tech bullpup. It’s an interesting design, allowing easy changeout of the barrel and bolt, including caliber conversions from 5.56 to .300 Blackout and .308 (which requires removing a spacer at the back of the magwell). The handguard is held on my one pin, so you could buy the full length rifle, get a tax stamp for it, then swap out the barrel and handguard to convert to the SBR configuration. It has an ambidexterous mag release mounted forward of the trigger guard (about the same place relative to the pistol grip as an AR mag release). The charging handle on the prototypes are reversible, but they said they’re just considering making it ambidexterous and having a charging handle on both sides.
The prototypes seem better constructed than the Tavor. The trigger is easily the best stock bullpup trigger I’ve tried, probably even better than the aftermarket Geissele trigger for the Tavor. It’s not super light, but there is absolutely no creep and a very distinct reset.
Some were wondering about access to the chamber. You pull the ejection port cover back and it flips down, allowing access for chamber checks or clearing malfunctions.
All of the rifles on display were prototypes. They said actual production guns were about a year away.