The wind was whipping and gun shots were already roaring as we approached the firing lines for the 2012 SHOT Show Media Day just after the first rays of light began to creep across the desert. This being my first SHOT, I was like a kid in a candy store as I roamed through the company booths and firing stations set up all up and down the range. The abrupt BOOM of a 1,000-meter .50 caliber sniper rifle at the north end of the line would be quickly punctuated by the staccato bursts of select fire guns just a few hundred meters away. Media Day is like a carnival for the gun enthusiast and it’s the place where we members of the outdoor industry get a quick sneak peek at all the goodies lined up for us at the show.
After a productive morning of meetings and interviews, fellow Outdoor Hub staff Colin Anthony and I got down to what we really wanted to see at SHOT – the awesome new products being debuted and featured this year from all the big names in the outdoor industry. One thing that was nice for me to learn was that while firearms and firearm accessories are some of the main foci of the event, there’s a ton of other awesome gear being showcased as well that are really going to rock the industry in 2012.
The first shooting booth we stopped at was Remington’s. They were busy showing off the features of their new Versa Max autoloader shotguns. Their waterfowl model has been on the market for a while now, but the one I was excited to shoot was the newer tactical model. The tactical holds 7+1 rounds in a compact package that’s ready for accessories but is also easy to shoot. I dumped a couple magazines’ worth of shells into the dirt and was immediately a fan. It’s the perfect choice for someone who’s looking for a high quality, reliable home defense gun.
One of the more unique items I got to try out at Media Day was the MKA 1919 semi-automatic AR-style 12 gauge shotgun being imported by RAAC Firearms from Turkey. They are modified with enough American-made parts to ensure legality under 922(r). All of the MKAs featured the familiar profile of an AR rifle with an ergonomically solid and rugged design along with an integral Picatinny rail on the carrying handle. Despite being a bit bulkier than their 5.56 cousins, they weigh only 6 ½ pounds when unloaded. They’ll come with two detachable five round mags and RAAC was showcasing some very cool home-made hi-cap mags that will likely hit the market this year to up the round count. Even with their light weight and the typically heavy recoil of a 12 gauge round, the guns were remarkably controllable, especially when kitted out with some proprietary muzzle brakes by RAAC. They were fun and comfortable to shoot and look like they’ll provide a solid complement to Saiga semi-auto shotguns in the year to come.
Colin stepped up to the Franchi booth and got his hands on a soon-to-be-announced at SHOT over-under 20 gauge that he quickly nailed two clays with. Franchi’s going to be talking about that gun and more over this week so I can’t release many more details on it, but it was a really slick design and is definitely going to be making some waves over the next couple of days.
Swarovski Optik brought out one of their new Z3 rifle scopes with a new ballistic turret on the top of the scope. The turret allows for a shooter to quickly switch between dialed-in distances at a variety of meters and yardages. The one I got to check out was ready for use between 100 and 500 meters and made long-range shooting look easy. It’s something any hunter who has to engage game at a variety of distances and quickly cycle between them will want to have on his gun.
Stepping up to the FAB Defense booth yielded a real treat, too. Being an AK enthusiast, it’s sometimes difficult to find a good foregrip solution for my rifles, as a foregrip can often make seating a magazine in the magwell a bit of a pain. FAB had that problem solved for me with their TFS horizontal side-to-side folding foregrip, which was being shown off on a Vz. 58 rifle (similar to an AK in profile, but different internally). By simply depressing a button located where the thumb normally rests on a foregrip, you can quickly move the grip into one of seven different positions, including a couple of different diagonal cants to the left and right of center enabling easy magazine replacement and positioning for a variety of shooting situations. I’m getting one for my AK the moment I get back home!
I was excited to finally get my hands on a Ruger 77/357 at their booth. These bolt-action rifles are lightweight (5 ½ pounds) and handy guns chambered in .357 Magnum with a five-round rotary magazine. At just under 40 inches long, they make the perfect trunk or camping gun that’ll give you power close-in without a whole bunch of recoil. The iron sights were easy to use and I was able to plink steel at 100 meters after just picking it off the bench.
On a non-gun note, Sitka brought out some of their new waterfowl camo gear and it looked great. It’s designed to hide a hunter in the marsh and wetland territory that waterfowl (obviously) frequent, taking advantage of the specific visual recognition properties of waterfowl eyesight to break up the profile of a hunter much like modern military digital camo does.
Finally, though it wasn’t something new to the gun industry by any means, I fulfilled a personal goal of mine – shooting a KRISS Vector submachine gun in .45 ACP. The gun was just as cool as I had heard, with light recoil for a select fire weapon and great ergonomics. The two-round burst allowed for quick double taps at a surprising distance and was very controllable.
Overall it was an amazing first day of SHOT and has only set the stage for the exciting things to come. Stay tuned to Outdoor Hub’s SHOT Show page for all the breaking news, new product announcements and exclusive footage from show floor.