Top New Shooting Gear from the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational
Tom McHale 09.02.14
One of the highlights of the annual Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational (M3GI) is schmoozing time with the match sponsors. With more than 40 different companies present, I had many company reps to pester. Unlike chaotic events like SHOT Show or the NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits, the M3GI has plenty of daylight hours (shooting is only at night, remember), and the folks are captive at the remote location. Sponsors can’t run or hide, they simply have to tolerate my endless questions and make the best of it.
Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting finds at this year’s Midnight 3 Gun Event.
Smith & Wesson 929 Performance Center revolver
Look at the lead photo in this article. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Got it? Now tell me how anyone can pick that up and not immediately try for the 50-yard steel plates set-up downrange. That’s exactly what I did. I’m not the world’s best shot, but I hit them from a standing position nearly every time.
The Smith & Wesson 929 Performance Center is a 9x19mm revolver with an eight-round capacity. Since it uses rimless 9x19mm ammo, you use moon clips to load the cylinder. Weighing in at a hefty 44 ounces, the 929 is plenty stable for offhand shooting. The 6.5-inch barrel and corresponding long sight radius make acquiring a good sight picture a snap. It’s a Performance Center model and Jerry Miculek signature design. I want one.
I2 Technologies and Systems Integrations Binocular Night Vision System
I2 (pronounced eye-squared) brought several thousand dollars’ worth of cutting-edge night vision gear to the event. They are innovators in complete, integrated night vision systems. Their primary wares at the M3GI were helmets equipped with dual PVS-14 mounts. Two PVS-14 Gen 3 night vision monoculars were configured into an adjustable, quick-release helmet mount. This gives the wearer broader peripheral vision, and more importantly, depth perception. Competitors had the good fortune of cleaning a “house” in the pitch dark with a Gemtech-suppressed Glock and a suppressed, select-fire Primary Weapon Systems 300 Blackout SBR. After that, one had to clear the “backyard” with a shotgun. It was a truly awesome stage.
One of the neat little details I learned was that, due to the weight of the gear, you have to configure the helmet with a one-pound counterweight on the rear, else you’ll be staring straight at the ground. You can get your own ready-to-go rig like this for just over $7,000. Got a birthday coming up?
Leupold DeltaPoint 2 Reflex Sight
New this year from Leupold is a red dot sight that’s perfect for pistol use. We media members tried them out in Chris Cerino’s 3-gun pistol class prior to the first night of shooting. New features in the Leupold DeltaPoint version 2 model include a lower profile design, a bigger viewing window, and the ability to change batteries without losing zero.
The unit weighs just 0.6 ounces, so it won’t impact the feel of your handgun. We used them on Smith & Wesson M&Ps, which are pretty lightweight to start with. During the class we were able to holster, draw, fire, and re-holster with no interference from the optic.
The DeltaPoint 2 also has motion activation so the unit can turn on when you draw your gun and shut down after a few minutes of inactivity. It’s another product that I want to spend some more quality time with.
FLIR R-Series thermal night vision rifle scope
Night vision is pretty darn cool, but in some ways “thermal” vision is even cooler. It doesn’t require any ambient light and has the capability to “see” through barriers that might obstruct traditional night vision.
The FLIR R-Series is one of FLIR’s consumer offerings. It attaches to a Picatinny rail like any other scope and offers up to 16-power magnification. The neat thing about this optic is that, unlike night vision, you can use it day or night, as it relies on heat rather than visible light. You can configure the unit to show hotter areas in white or black. Most exciting is the InstAlert feature which shows the hottest objects, like critters, in bright red.
Not only can you do nighttime hog hunting with an optic like this, it’s equally useful during daylight hours for finding critters in heavy brush. It’ll cost you about $3,500, but that’s the price of mega cool.
FLIR gets two spots on this list just because the toys they brought were wicked cool. The FLIR ONE is an accessory that you attach to your iPhone 5 or 5s that uses the phone’s screen to display heat map imagery. The FLIR ONE attaches to the iPhone like a case and includes heat sensors on the back. Since the unit takes advantage of CPU and viewing technology you’ve already got on your phone, FLIR doesn’t have to include all that in the device proper, so the unit is very affordable at just $349 suggested retail price.
Use it to spot critters in your yard or out in the woods, see if your dog was sleeping on the couch while you were out, or find your way around at night. The possibilities are endless.
X Products drum magazines
I have to admit I haven’t paid much attention to drum magazines for modern sporting rifles. Many are made of cheap plastic and jam more often than they feed properly. Now that I’ve been made aware of X Products’ offerings, however, I’m giving drums another chance.
I got a close look at the X-15 and other X Products models while waiting for darkness to settle, and boy was I impressed. With a steel and aluminum construction, these things are solid. Open it up, and you’ll see a spiral channel for 50 5.56mm/.223 cartridges. An exterior wheel with a textured edge allows you to load by simply dropping cartridges in the top of the mag while removing tension with the wheel. The wheel also allows you to set the follower pressure that you want. The neat feature is that the overall magazine height is less than a standard 30-round magazine, so shooting from prone and supported positions is easy.
X Products’ skeletonized magazines are particularly attention-grabbing. They’re lighter than their non-skeletonized counterparts, and according to X Products, sand and dirt shake out rather than gunk up the inside of the magazine. I’ve got one on the way for a review and torture test, so stay tuned.
The 6 million candlepower tactical rifle light
While chatting with sibling 3-gun shooters Tracy and Lanny Barnes, I noticed some of their high-tech gear. One item that got my attention was their shared tactical rifle-mounted light. It’s bright enough to light up the Fra Mauro landing site of Apollo 14 and find Alan Shepard’s lost golf balls. The mounting system was also a space-age design consisting of electrical tape and hose clamps. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the ladies to give up the name of their custom rifle gear manufacturer.
These are just a few of the new gear finds. With over 40 companies sponsoring the event, I’ll have to touch on other neat product finds in future articles.
Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon.