The Column, No. 102:
2016 SHOT Show
The 2016 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show was held in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 19-22 with attendance of over 64,000 people, with some 1600 exhibitors filling up about 630,000 square feet of booth space. It was an extremely busy show, with this year's show ranking second on the all-time attendance list. Additionally, this year marked the 150th anniversary of Winchester and the 200th anniversary of Remington. An international industry-only show, SHOT is attended by folks from one hundred countries.
Monday was the 11th annual Media Day At The Range, also called Industry Day At The Range, held at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club located about twenty miles from Las Vegas. It turned out to be a pleasant, slightly overcast day that was only slightly breezy. It was certainly pleasant by my standards, for when I flew out of O'Hare it was 2 degrees F. with a -28 degree wind chill.
It looks like 2016 is going to be a very good year for new products. Here are a few of the things I found interesting.
It is a big year for Remington, their 200th Anniversary. The natives are restless, to say the least, waiting for the new V3 autoloader, which I believe everyone is going to think was worth the wait. At its price point, I am convinced it will prove to be the best in class and the best general purpose autoloader Remington has ever made.
Browning is one of the very few companies that has offered 16 gauge shotguns over the years. The Citori O/U gets released in 16 gauge every so often, in different configurations, and the 16 gauge BPS pump gun has been part of the Browning line for several years.
For 2016 it was the new Browning A5 Sweet Sixteen that gathered the most attention and the most comments. It is an under six-pound (with a 28 inch barrel; a 26 inch barrel will also be available), blazingly fast inertia gun completely resized from the A5 12 gauge, with a true 16 gauge barrel and receiver. The 16 gauge market has been largely ignored, except by Browning, and this is the first new 16 gauge autoloader in decades. Despite its not so sweet $1699.99 MSRP (the Euro has crashed, did you get the memo?) Browning should do well with this model. It is the gun that every 16 gauge autoloader aficionado has claimed they always wanted.
I found it to be pleasant to shoot. It was surprisingly soft, considering the ammo used was all 1-1/8 oz. loads.
Browning is also busy launching their Browning-branded line of Olin ammunition. At the range, I hit some bowling pins with a Browning AB3 rifle, while the most memorable Browning bolt action rifles I shot were the new X-Bolt Hells Canyon Long Range McMillan, X-Bolt Stalker Long Range and X-Bolt Hell's Canyon SPEED models.
Benelli introduced the ETHOS 28 gauge with a 3 inch chamber. I liked it the best of all the ETHOS models, shooting the 12, 20 and 28 versions one after another. There has been some chatter about the 3 inch chamber, a move by Benelli I think is intelligent. Nothing precludes anyone from shooting the common 3/4 oz. 28 gauge 2-3/4 inch loads for quail, short-range dove, clays and so forth, so quit your whining, Harvey Keck. For the 28 gauge fan that hunts wild pheasants only a couple of times year, the 1-1/4 oz. Fiocchi 3 inch lead loads scheduled for release later this year will be a godsend. It will also make the 28 gauge an adequate, short range, spring turkey gun.
It is a great way to somewhat future proof the 28 gauge, for as more and more areas are no-tox, you will still be able to use your 28 gauge with similar payloads to the standard 3/4 oz. lead shot load. Right now, a 2-3/4 inch 28 gauge is generally limited to about 5/8 oz. with steel shot. Federal, for example, catalogs only one 28 gauge steel load, FRS283, which is 5/8 oz. at 1350 fps, available only in #6 and #7 shot sizes. Choices are a good thing, as is versatility.
Stoeger did a fine job with their M3K (3-gun model) 12 gauge autoloading shotgun, an easy-loading model that is a lot of inertia gun for about $600. Aside from attention to the loading gate, the M3K has an extended bolt handle and a very generous bolt release.
The Fabarm L4S is being introduced in a left-hand version for 2016. It is already the most satisfying 12 gauge autoloading shotgun I've used in many years.
The LHR Redemption .50 caliber muzzleloader is back as the T/C Strike, with an appealing MSRP starting at $499. It is essentially the striker-fired Redemption with the addition of the traditional T/C QLA at the muzzle.
On the pistol front, North American Arms is getting set to release their Ranger II and there is also a Walther PPS M2 9mm on its way here. Remington is sending an example of their new RM380 .380 auto, the first pistol produced at their new Huntsville, Alabama factory, apparently based on the Rohrbaugh R9 / Rohrbaugh .380. Back in 2009, the Rohrbaugh .380 had a sticker price of $1150; the RM380 sells for around $360.
Ruger's autoloading pistols have steadily improved, see the LC9S Pro review, and the big splash seems to be the new Ruger American Pistol, available in 9mm or .45 ACP. It looks good, I already have a 9mm example incoming, along with their ten-shot GP100 .22 revolver and an AR-556 rifle as a bonus.
For those interested in long range custom rifles, Gunwerks makes it a lot easier to hit a target at 973 yards than you might think. Later on, we paid a visit to Machine Guns Vegas for some brass-making with the KRISS Vector Gen II 9x19mm and the Kriss USA line of Sphinx SDP handguns. There may not be fewer zombies around, but at the moment there are a few less zombie targets left.
There is a Savage A17 HMR .17 autoloader here to be tested, along with a new affordable bolt-action Merkel .270 Winchester that I have been shooting, essentially the Haenel Jaeger 10. We will follow up with T/C, Blackhorn 209, Hodgdon, Hornady, Barnes, Trulock Chokes, Federal, Winchester, Weatherby and so forth with all of the details on their 2016 product offerings.
Expect full-length reviews of these products later in the year.
Copyright 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.