Looking Back at SHOT 2015’s Hits: Where Are They Now?
Matt Korovesis 01.15.16
SHOT Show 2016 is next week. As always, OutdoorHub will have real-time coverage from the firing line and the show floor. Every week before SHOT, we also like to take a look back at some of the most popular stories, guns, and gear from last year’s show and examine where they are now.
Without further ado, here’s the scoop on what made the news last year.
1. Desert Tech MDR
I’m starting to wonder if there will come a SHOT Show in which the MDR isn’t a hot topic. Desert Tech, one of the top names in precision bullpup bolt-gun manufacturing, has been working on their foray into the semiautomatic bullpup world for quite some time. At last year’s SHOT, Desert Tech shared that they were still in the process of refining and improving the MDR (Micro Dynamic Rifle) and aiming for a 2016 release date.
Just looking at the differences between the prototypes available at SHOT 2014 and SHOT 2015, it was clear that the Utah company was still in the process of finalizing some parts of the external design and controls (such as the magazine release and its placement). Desert Tech recently began teasing on their Facebook that they’ll offer MDR pre-orders at SHOT 2016, and before that they released pricing info (the complete 5.56x45mm rifle will retail for $1,999, while the complete .308 rifle will run $2,249). The pre-order won’t be the first of its kind—I submitted a pre-order form for one at SHOT 2014.
Hopefully they’ll have more solid info, like a release date, available at the booth next week. It will be one of my first stops.
2. The Kalashnikov USA announcement
One of the biggest stories to come out of SHOT 2015 was the announcement that RWC Group, a large-scale importer of Russian guns, would be forming a new company called Kalashnikov USA and opening a US production facility. Many firearms enthusiasts (myself included) salivated at the thought of a proper American-made, Russian-designed.
However, when it turned out that Kalashnikov USA would have no connection whatsoever with Kalashnikov Concern, the Russian company that owns the original AK production facility in Izhevsk, the excitement dulled. Most American-made AKs are looked upon with derision by the gun community, as many are poorly made and don’t live up to the standards set by foreign manufacturers. Kalashnikov USA simply has an uphill battle ahead of them.
The company has been rather quiet in the past several months, with only a small announcement about pricing making waves. Their site is pretty sparse on info. It will be interesting to see what they have at their booth this time around.
3. Sig Sauer MCX and MPX
One of Sig’s big reveals last year was the MCX, a rifle platform built from the ground up to be utilized with suppressors. Though it outwardly resembles an AR-15, the MCX uses an automatically-regulating, short-stroke gas piston. Aside from that, the gun is extremely lightweight—the 16-inch-barreled carbine weighs only six pounds. It was announced that versions in 5.56x45mm and 300 BLK would be available initially, with 7.62x39mm variants coming later.
I was incredibly impressed with the MCX during my brief range time with it and eagerly looked forward to its release. Models chambered in 5.56x45mm came out first, and most reviews have been positive overall. The 5.56 models are selling for around $1,550 online. It seems that 300 BLK versions have yet to hit the larger market and generate real feedback. I’m most eager to see how those perform.
The MPX is another new short-stroke gas piston design from SIG, but intended to serve as the basis for a pistol-caliber carbine platform. Pistol variants chambered in 9x19mm have been released and received quite warmly, grumbling about SBRs, the NFA, and “braces” aside. They’re selling for around $1,300 to $1,400 and up.
Sig recently announced that a rifle-length MPX, the MPX-C, will be introduced at SHOT next week.
4. CZ-USA Scorpion EVO 3 S1
Coming in at half the price of comparable guns (like the MPX described above), the 9x19mm CZ-USA Scorpion EVO 3 S1 pistol is another gun that turned heads at SHOT 2015. Its $849 MSRP makes it an affordable option for shooters seeking an overgrown “pistol” ready to be turned into an SBR.
The Czech-designed firearm has also been pretty well-received (though not as well as the MPX), with a few complaints revolving around ergonomics and the position of the fire selector. In any case, it’s made pistol-caliber SBRs that aren’t ARs much more affordable for the general public.
5. IWI US Galil ACE
IWI US has established a strong reputation in the United States with the success of its Tavor rifle. In 2015, they sought to bring the latest 7.62x39mm Israeli refinement of the Kalashnikov, the Galil ACE, to American shores.
Pistol variants of the ACE began showing up at retailers just a few months ago and seemed to be off to a good start. But on December 23, 2015, it was announced that all ACE pistols were being recalled due to the presence of a “third pin hole” in the pistols’ receivers. According to the ATF, any AK-style receiver that has a third pin hole is technically a machine gun—even though it might not have the necessary parts to make it act like one.
According to IWI US’ Michael Kassnar, the presence of the third pin hole was an “honest mistake in communication between IWI US and IWI Israel” and that IWI US “acted immediately and ‘out of an abundance of caution'” immediately after discovering the error. In an email to the Full30 blog, Kassnar stressed that this was not a death blow to the ACE in the United States:
IWI Israel is already at work building 2-hole ACE’s in 7.62×39. It won’t take us that long.
In the meantime, consumers will have the option of a full refund or they can wait for a new replacement after returning their gun to us. We estimate the wait at no more than 90 to 120 days.
Announcements are going up on our website and Facebook pages Monday morning. Distributors are providing us with FFL Dealer contacts and we trust that FFL Dealers will cooperate with us and assist with contacting any and all consumers that have bought this gun. We were fortunate this was discovered before there were 5,000 on the market. We estimate no more than 400 are in consumer hands, a manageable number.
Commercially, the end result of this will be the 7.62×39 version of the line (pistol, pistol with stabilizing brace and rifle) will be back on the market relatively soon and the 7.62×51 will be moved up a couple months.
And who knows, at the end of all of this, ATF may be fine the with construction of the 3-pin Galil as shipped.
6. Palmetto State Armory’s AK
Palmetto State Armory (PSA) is a provider of affordable AR parts to many gun-loving Americans. At SHOT 2015, they revealed that they were working on their own 7.62x39mm AK. Many people, myself included, hoped that if any US company could get AKs right (see Kalashnikov USA announcement above), it’d be PSA.
Unfortunately, PSA made some serious missteps with their Kalashnikovs. They opted to use cast, rather than milled or forged, front trunnions. The front trunnion is one of the most-stressed parts of an AK. Using an inferior method to manufacture the front trunnion makes them susceptible to frequent and early breakage, which is what some users reported. Following this news, many shooters opted to veer away from their builds.
Exactly where PSA plans on going from here with their AK is unclear. I’ll be stopping by their booth to ask.
7. Savage A17
Savage Arms made many rimfire aficionados happy with the unveiling of their A17, an affordable (around $460) semiautomatic rifle chambered in the flat-shooting and fun .17 HMR.
I’ve had one on review for several months now and I’m quite pleased with it. I’ll be published a complete review shortly. The overall reception to the gun seems to be positive, with a few critiques centering around reliability and other hiccups. I think that Savage has built a strong base for semiauto .17 HMRs and will only improve the A17 from here on out.
What am I missing? What would you like me to shine some light on next week? Let me know in the comments.