January 31st, 2012

New Dimension Switch-Barrel Rifle from Thompson/Center

Thompson Center T/C Dimension rifle
At Media Day right before SHOT Show, Thompson/Center Arms unveiled an innovative hunting rifle that features interchangeable barrels and multiple bolts. This allows a single gun to shoot a wide range of chamberings — from .204 Ruger all the way up to the large, belted magnums. The gun employs some unusual engineering, with an AR-type barrel nut on a barrel extension which contains the bolt-lug recesses. There is no conventional recoil lug. Instead a slot on the underside of the barrel extension mates to a metal bar molded into the stock. With the supplied tools, the entire gun can be assembled or disassembled in under one minute (in the Video, a T/C rep assembles the gun in 55 seconds.)

T/C’s Dimension rifle is definitely innovative; there is nothing like it on the market anywhere near its price range (MSRP is $648.00 with tools). For a walking-around deer hunter who is satisfied with factory barrels, and who doesn’t shoot with a rear bag, the gun will probably have appeal. On the other hand, varminters won’t be impressed — the stock won’t work well with a bipod or rear bag, and T/C will be the only source for barrels. The nature of the design, for practical purposes, precludes the use of affordable 3rd-party barrels. You won’t be able to buy a Shilen or PacNor prefit barrel, as you can for a Savage.

Thompson Center T/C Dimension rifle

Factory Promo Video (Loud Soundtrack — turn down speakers before playback!)

Action Features
Pro: One size fits all — single hard-anodized aluminum action can be used to shoot multiple chamberings from .204 Ruger to .300 Win Mag with bolt, barrel, and magazine swap. For all chamberings, T/C guarantees 3-shot accuracy of one MOA with premium ammo.
Con: You have to replace complete bolt assembly to go from one family of cartridges to another (e.g. from .308 Win to Magnum). This is much more expensive than swapping a bolt head on a Savage.

Barrel Fitting
Pro: Barrels can be quickly exchanged using provided tools.
Con: Bolt recesses are machined into barrel extension section, so barrels must be supplied by T/C. We were told that both bolts and barrels “absolutely have to come from Thompson/Center”.

Stock Features
Pro: Stock is lightweight with rubberized surface texture — good for wet climates.
Con: Stock is ugly. Forearm too flexy to use with bipod. Concave arc on underside of buttstock is terrible for use with rear bag. Stock finish tends to retain dust and grit.

Scope Mounting
Pro: T/C offers a bridge scope base that mounts to the barrel (like on Blasers). This allows an optic to stay with a barrel — so you could have a low-power close-range scope mounted and zeroed on one barrel, with a higher-power variable scope on another barrel.
Con: If you keep optics on the barrels, you need to buy a separate bridge for each barrel. That’s an added expense, plus many hunters can’t afford multiple scopes anyway. Thankfully, conventional Weaver bases can be fitted on top of the action.

Commentary: On viewing and handling the rifle, and watching the assembly process, it was obvious that some intelligent, clever engineering went into the gun. The AR-style barrel engagement system functions very well — the whole gun can be disassembled in under one minute. T/C provides some fairly sophisticated assembly tools with the gun, including wrenches that automatically set correct torque values. That’s cool. The gun is relatively light and balances well. On the other hand, the stock design fails in many ways. The fore-arm is short and too flexy for serious use with bipod. The curving underside of the buttstock is a odd-looking, but what is worse, the curve is just about the worst possible profile for use with a rear sandbag. Most observers thought the gun was ugly.

T/C Dimension Caliber Groups
The T/C Dimension LOC™ System has 7 parts — a universal stock and receiver that accept multiple barrels, magazine groups (magazine and housing), bolts and bridge scope mounts. Dimension hand tools work with all Dimension rifles. Interchangeable parts are stamped with letters: A, B, C or D. Match the letter on the barrel with the one on the bolt and magazine group.

A Family: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem
B Family: 22-250 Rem, .243 Win, 7mm-08 Rem, .308 Win
C Family: .270 Win, .30-06 Sprg
D Family: 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag

Permalink - Videos, Hunting/Varminting, New Product 25 Comments »
January 31st, 2012

The Freedom Group Acquires Pistol-Maker Para-USA

Freedom Group acquires Para USAFreedom Group Inc., owned by private holding company Cerberus Capital Management, has swallowed up another medium-sized gun manufacturer. This time the target (or victim, depending on your perspective), was Para USA, Inc., (Para). This is Freedom Group’s first acquisition of a pistol-only manufacturer.

Para is best known for a high-capacity pistol based generally on the 1911 design but with options such as a Light Double Action (LDA) Trigger and double-stack mags (though it makes traditional single action, single-stack 1911s also). Freedom Group acquired control of Para through an asset purchase agreement. For the time being, Para will continue day-to-day operations at its Pineville, NC-based factory, but we would not be surprised if the Para plant is eventually shuttered and Para production is moved to other Freedom Group facilities.

Freedom Group acquires Para USA

Founded in 1985, Para has a solid but not stellar reputation for handgun performance and design innovation. There are numerous fans of Para pistols, with many shooters attracted to a 1911-style design with a higher capacity (up to 14+1 in .45 ACP and 18+1 in 9mm). In recent years, Para’s designs have moved out of the the spotlight, as other manufacturers have produced 1911-style pistols in large numbers. Major 1911 builders now include: Kimber, Springfield Armory, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson. Remington Arms, another Freedom Arms company, successful launched its own 1911 last year.

What Are Freedom Group’s Real Intentions?
“We welcome Para into the Freedom Group Family of Companies,” stated E. Scott Blackwell, Freedom Group’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer. “Para USA… is a perfect complement to our industry-leading family of brands[.] We look forward to deploying both human and financial resources to continue to develop and supply current and future handguns for consumers and our channel partners.”

Freedom Group acquires Para USA

Will Para-USA Production Be Moved?
“Deploying both human and financial resources” — well, that phrase could be read two ways. It may mean that the Freedom Group will pump resources into Para-USA. On the other hand, the Freedom Group may be contemplating moving jobs, machinery, and production assets. Mr. Blackwell concluded by saying: “We also wish to thank all [Para’s] employees for their continued dedication….” Notably, he did not say those employees will retain their jobs. Time will tell. It will be interesting to see if Para USA remains a viable brand in five years time, or whether it simply becomes the Remington pistol division. Think of the evolution of Bushmaster. After being acquired by the Freedom Group, all Bushmaster’s production was moved to Remington’s Ilion, NY factory.

Download 2012 Para-USA Catalog.

Permalink Gunsmithing, News 2 Comments »
January 30th, 2012

HS Precision offers Factory-Made PPC and F-Class Comp Rifles

Our sharp-eyed researcher EdLongrange spied something very interesting in the 2012 HS Precision Catalog. Among HS Precision’s complete rifle offerings are two competition rifles — an F-Class gun, and (believe it or not) a short-range Benchrest rig chambered in either 6 PPC or 22 PPC. It’s been a long time since a major gun builder came up with a turn-key rifle for the short-range (100/200) benchrest discipline. The HS Precision BCR™ Rifle complies with all NBRSA short-range rules and is even set up with a tight-neck 6 PPC or 22 PPC chamber. The BCR Rifle features a single-shot action, competition trigger and an aluminum trigger guard. And get this — with each BCR Rifle, HS Precision supplies a 5-shot test target measuring .250″ or less. For guys who don’t compete, but would like to use this rifle for varminting, other short-action calibers are available with a ½”, 3-shot 100-yard accuracy guarantee.

HS Precision PPC Rifle BCR

Will we see this BCR 6 PPC rifle on the firing line at registered benchrest matches? Probably not, as the $3375.00 price is comparable to what you’d spend for a full custom gun. On the other hand, we’re pleased that HS Precision is building something for the accuracy market. If the gun is a commercial success, perhaps other large gun-makers will follow suit.

New HS Precision F-Class Rifle
In addition to the surprising “point-blank” BCR rig, HS Precision is introducing a new F-Class competition gun, the FCR™, designed to compete straight out of the box. The rifle is available in short or long actions, and in chamberings such as 6.5×284. With multiple barrel lengths, stocks, and accessories available, this rifle “can be made as individual as its user” according to HS Precision. We don’t have a price on the HS Precision FCR, but it looks like a well-thought-out F-Open rig. The listed barrel length is 26″, but we imagine many F-Classers will prefer a longer tube. Hopefully HS Precision will offer a .284 Win or 7mm WSM version with a 28-30″ barrel. For more information, visit HSPrecision.com, or call (605) 341-3006. HS Precision is based in Rapid City, South Dakota.

HS Precision F-Class Rifle FCR

CLICK HERE to Download 2012 HS Precision Catalog (PDF File).

Permalink Competition, New Product 8 Comments »
January 30th, 2012

SHOT Show: New RCBS Reloading Products for 2012

RCBS rolled out some handy new products at SHOT Show 2012. The first item will be welcomed by AR and Service Rifle shooters who reload inexpensive military .223 Rem (5.56×45) and .308 Win (7.62×51) brass. RCBS now has a Primer Pocket Swager Bench Tool that removes military primer pocket crimps quickly and easily. Watch the video and you can see how effortlessly it does the job in just seconds. A hardened steel rod supports the case from the inside allowing the case to float for perfect alignment with the swager head. The RCBS Swager comes complete wtih hardened steel small and large swaging heads and rods to accommodate cases 22-caliber and larger.

We think the RCBS Swager certainly rivals Dillon’s Super Swage 600 which performs the same task. The Dillon employs a vertical (up/down) lever, while the new RCBS Swager uses a horizontal lever arm, with a nice cushioned handle. MSRP on the RCBS Swager is $106.00 compared to $100.95 for the Dillon Super Swage. Either tool will pay for itself by allowing you to reload inexpensive milsurp brass.

RCBS Primer Pocket Swager Bench Tool

RCBS Adds Universal Shell-Holder to Trim Pro
RCBS has also updated its popular Trim Pro® case trimmer with the addition of a spring-loaded universal shell holder. This has spring-loaded jaws that can hold anything from a 17 Fireball case up to the large magnums. No more fiddling around with cartridge-specific shell-holders — you just snap your cases (of any size) in and out of the spring-loaded jaws. The system works well and the jaws hold cases securely during the trimming process. Again, watch the video to see the system in action.

Pistol Bullet-Feeder Kit
Last but not least, RCBS has released an inexpensive, gravity-fed bullet feeding system. Much cheaper and simpler than a motor-driven feeder, this system, which combines a tube with a special die, reliably drops pistol bullets, one by one, as you operate your progressive press. Importantly, this manual bullet-feeder works with jacketed, plated, cast or swaged lead bullets. (Some other bullet feeders cannot handle lead bullets). This device should be a major time-saver for those who load a lot of pistol rounds.

This Editor was sufficiently impressed with the gravity-fed bullet feeder that I ordered one for my own RCBS Pro 2000 Progressive. Note, however, the RCBS feeders work on Dillon and Hornady presses also — these Bullet Feeder Kits are designed to be used with ANY 7/8″-14 threaded progressive press. Each clear tube holds 20-25 bullets depending on weight and profile. Two bullet tubes are included with each unit. Extra bullet tubes sold separately. MSRP is just $36.00.

RCBS 2012 Rebate — $10 Off $50.00 Order
RCBS has a “Get Green” Rebate Offer that runs through December 31, 2012. When you purchase $50.00 of any RCBS product, you qualify for a $10.00 mail-in rebate. Then, earn a bonus $5.00 mail-in rebate when you purchase one of the following: 5 sleeves of Federal Premium or CCI primers, 1 pound of Alliant Powder, 1 box of Speer Bullets, 1 bag of Federal Premium brass. There is also a $50.00 Rebate on a purchase of $300.00 worth of RCBS Products.

CLICK HERE for RCBS 2012 Rebate Form

Permalink - Videos, New Product, Reloading 2 Comments »
January 30th, 2012

Download Free Guides to Federal and State Firearms Laws

How well do you know the key provisions of Federal firearms regulations? If you want to play the game, you better know the rules. Thankfully, you can access most important Federal firearms laws in one convenient PDF document, the Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has collected and published key federal firearms statutes in this 242-page, downloadable Reference Guide. The actual statutes and rulings are collected in the front of the document. There is an index on page 169 that will help you get answers to specific questions. NOTE: this Reference Guide came out in 2005. If you have serious concerns about compliance with Federal law you should check with the ATF directly to obtain the latest versions of federal statutes.

Important Topics in the Q&A Section include:

  • Building of Firearm for personal use
  • Transfers of firearms
  • Out of state purchases of firearms
  • Rules for Shipment of firearms
  • Mailing firearms via U.S. Postal Service
  • Residency Rules
  • Curio and Relic Firearms
  • NFA Firearms Rules
  • FFL Sales at Gunshows
  • Special Rules for Gunsmiths, Pawn-brokers, and Auctioneers
  • Ammunition Manufacturing Rules
  • NICS Procedures

ATF Guide to State Gun Laws
Along with the Guide to Federal Regulations, the ATF offers a free downloadable guide to State Laws and Published Ordinances. The latest version we found online was the 30th Edition, drafted in 2009 and revised in 2010. This 526-page PDF guide covers all 50 states, and provides a “Ready Reference Table” to assist gun dealers and FFLs comply with all state laws when selling or transferring arms.

This is a very useful resource, but we remind all readers that they should check for updates or changes in state laws since this document was published four years ago. To aid in that task, the ATF’s State Law Guide has a complete list of state Attorneys General Offices with contact information. The ATF also provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions on its website. CLICK HERE for ATF FAQ. Other ATF Publications are available at http://www.atf.gov/publications/firearms/.

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January 29th, 2012

SHOT Show: Remington RACS Modular Stock for Rem 700s

Remington once again showcased a “civilian” production version of the Remington Arms Chassis System (RACS), first shown at the 2011 SHOT Show. The full-adjustable, modular RACS are designed as drop-in upgrades for any Rem 700 action. A Rem 700 action is clamped directly (metal on metal) to the center section of the RACS, which has a V-block type profile and central magazine well. There are both short-action and long-action versions of RACS. These look nearly identical in design, other than the length of the action section (see photos below by EdLongrange.)

Remington RACS Rem 700

Remington RACS Rem 700

The RACS features a folding stock, with adjustable cheekpiece, LOP, and buttplate height/cant/cast-off. This stock will accept AI magazines which also come with the kit.

Remington RACS Rem 700

No Release Date or Price Yet
What we still don’t have is a firm price and a date when RACS will actually be released to vendors. This system attracted much attention when first introduced, and it appears Remington has made evolutionary upgrades, but right now Remington is still not disclosing a final prices or a reliable delivery date. So keep your figures crossed, but don’t get too excited. Rem’s RACS may remain “vaporware” for an extended time.

Remington RACS Rem 700

Video from SHOT Show 2011

2012 Photos by EdLongRange, used by permission

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January 28th, 2012

2012 Traveler’s Guide to Firearms Laws

Many readers will be driving across multiple states this spring and summer to attend competitions. Other shooters will be heading out of state for a game hunt or to spend a week in the prairie dog fields. For $13.95 you can purchase a state-by-state Traveler’s Guide to firearms laws. Written by a lawyer, this 68-page guide covers all firearms types and all 50 states. It even has info for Canada and Mexico. The latest edition of the Traveler’s guide, updated with 85 changes for 2012, has just been released.

CLICK HERE for Sample Page.

The Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States has sold more than 900,000 copies since it was first released in 1996. The book’s author, Attorney J. Scott Kappas, has written numerous magazine articles and has appeared on television, explaining the unexpected pitfalls that shooters may encounter when traveling with firearms. Along with being an attorney, Mr. Kappas serves as a director on the Board of the Kentucky Firearms Foundation, and Kappas is a Class III firearms dealer.

The Traveler’s Guide is especially useful for shooters traveling in RVs and motorhomes. The American Rifleman Magazine declared: “This book is a must-have for truck drivers, motor home enthusiasts, campers and other travelers…easy to read and understand, well-organized and concise….” One reader from Texas adds: “I used to think that my RV was the same as my home when it came to gun carry….the Traveler’s Guide set me straight. Now I know my motorhome is subject to the same laws as any vehicle when it comes to guns.”

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January 27th, 2012

Accuracy Int’l Updated AX PSRII Rifle — Tooley Reports

Noted gunsmith Dave Tooley saw our coverage of Accuracy International (AI) “Skins” in the Daily Bulletin, and he wanted to inform our readers about updates to AI’s AX line of rifles.

Updated 2012 AI AX Rifle for PSRII
Dave wrote: “As you know I do AI’s smithing in this country. Attached is a picture of the latest version of the AX rifle. This is what was submitted to SOCOM for PSRII the first of January. AI has incorporated a right-hand hinge to make the rifle more compact when folded. There are some other major improvements. First, the way the rails lock up on the tube now completely eliminates any chance of movement (that’s important for lasers and other things). The buttstock is now considerably lighter than the older version, and it now uses simple knobs on the cheekpiece, the LOP adjustment, and the adjustable recoil pad. I think the knobs are more user-friendly than push-buttons.”

CLICK for FULL-SCREEN Photo
Accuracy International PSRII 2012

New Barrel Swap Kit
The most significant improvement to the AX, according to Tooley, is the ability for the operator to change barrels with minimal tools. Tooley explains: “The complete barrel change tool-kit is one 4mm Allen wrench stored in the cheek piece. If you look at the picture you will see a screw about midway under the receiver. Loosen two captured screws under the forearm and the tube comes off. Then loosen the screw under the receiver and unscrew the barrel. This is dead simple and it works. I’ve tested six rifles with a total of 10 barrels and there were no issues. This is a great precision sniper rifle.”

Accuracy International PSRII 2012

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January 27th, 2012

Hyskore’s New “Bench Beast” Linked Front/Rear Rifle Rest

Editor’s NOTE: Though the product has some shortcomings, we wanted to show you guys the Hyskore Bench Beast Coaxial Competition Rest because it has some interesting engineering features (such as the scissors-jack primary elevator). The front bag holder won’t accept very wide fore-ends, and the high sides of the rear rest compromise your ability to get in close to the gun and work the rear controls while aiming. Still, there are few integrated front/rear rests on the market, so we thought you’d want to see this new offering from Hyskore.

At SHOT Show 2012, Hyskore unveiled an combined front/rear mechanical rest system appropriately named the Bench Beast. The front rest has a coaxial-type control activated by a long, angled joystick. Hyskore claims the joystick control provides 110 MOA adjustment for both windage and elevation.

For gross elevation changes, this contraption uses a scissors-jack type lift in the front that is definitely industrial in origin. In fact, the Bench Beast looks like something made in a Latvian tractor factory. But this may be useful for someone who wants a linked front and rear mechanical rest that can support a very heavy rifle (50 lbs. or more). It looks like the max width in the front is limited to 3″ so this would not work with a super-wide stock without modification. Too bad. Moreover, the front bag supplied with the Bench Beast is designed for narrow, hunter-style fore-ends. Even to run a 3″-wide gun, you’ll need to purchase an aftermarket bag. While Hyskore calls this a “competition rest”, the Bench Beast is not really set up for competition rifles.

About $500.00 for Combined Front and Rear Rests
The front and rear units can be purchased separately. Exact pricing is not yet set, but the front section should cost about $300, with the rear priced about $200.00. People should note, however, that, if you have full windage and elevation adjustment in the rear, you really only need gross height control in the front (to get on target). With a good rear rest, all the fine windage and elevation adjustment can be done from the rear, and, because of the geometry, a little bit goes a long way. It would be interesting to combine the Bench Beast’s rear unit with a simple (non-joystick) front pedestal rest.

Design Concerns
We’re intrigued with the Bench Beast’s rear unit, since there are few mass-produced, mechanical rear rests on the market. However, we have some concerns about the footprint, height, and overall size of the rear unit (SEE video 1:00-1:10). Ideally, a rear mechanical rest should allow the shooter to tuck in comfortably beside the gun. The Bench Beast has fat control knobs and tall support shafts placed far out from the centerline, on the extreme edges of the rear base.

While the wide rear base provides a solid platform, the outboard support columns and control knobs, we believe, make it difficult for the shooter to position his upper body close to the gun.

The main rear rest control knobs are also not conveniently placed. Look at the video carefully. Better rear rests have the controls further forward and closer to the centerline where they can be easily reached by the shooter’s non-trigger-pulling hand, in a comfortable shooting position. That way a right-handed shooter can easily use his left hand to work the controls while viewing the target through the scope, and holding the rifle grip with his right hand. We like the idea of an affordable rear mechanical rest, but we think the rear section of the Bench Beast would benefit from a major redesign.

Permalink Competition, New Product 2 Comments »
January 27th, 2012

MidwayUSA’s 35th Master Catalog Digital Edition Now Available

MidwayUSA’s Master Catalog has been the “magnum opus” of gun gear catalogs. Over 1,000 pages long, the Master Catalog includes more than 100,000 products. This year, the 35th Annual MidwayUSA Master Catalog is available is a convenient PDF Digital Edition. There are over 1,040 pages in this new digital edition, complete with color photographs, firearm schematics, reference charts, detailed product information, and an extensive index to help you find exactly what you need. You can even download these files to your tablet, laptop, or smartphone.

Download the 200mb digital edition by visiting MidwayUSA’s Catalog Center. Scroll down the page until you see Click to Download the Entire Catalog in the lower left. We’ve tried out the 35th Annual Master Catalog loaded on an iPad and it’s very handy. It’s nice to have it on the iPad drive, so you can access the complete inventory of gear and reloading components even without an active web connection.

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January 26th, 2012

SHOT Show: New 1-8x28mm & Hunting Scopes from U.S. Optics

Background: Last year, when Leupold introduced its 1.1-8x24mm FFP Mark 8 CQBSS scope at a whopping $3,999.00 price, jaws dropped in the shooting world. Folks rightly wondered whether anyone (other than Uncle Sam) would pay four grand for a small, compact scope, even if it did offer a broad magnification range and other innovative features.

U.S. Optics SN-8 Is Thousands Cheaper than Mark 8
Well U.S. Optics has just undercut Leupold by a couple thousand dollars, providing a much more affordable 1-8X option for tactical shooters and 3-gunners. If you were thinking about the Mark 8, you better take a close look at the new 1-8x28mm SN-8 from U.S. Optics. From what we can see, the SN-8 performs on a par with the Mark 8, plus it features a true 1X magnification on the low end — which is best for fast, both-eyes-open target engagement. The new SN-8 is offered in two models. The 1-8x28mm SN-8 Standard version retails for $1945.00, while the higher-end version with Red Dot-equipped eyepiece runs $2445.00, still substantially under the cost of Leupold’s Mark 8. These new SN-8s should start shipping in June, 2012.

U.S. Optics sn-8 1-8x28 scope

New “Slim-Line” Hunting Scopes from U.S. Optics
For 2012, U.S. Optics is bringing out a series of compact, light-weight “Slim-Line” hunting optics: 1.5-6X, 1-4X, and 3.2-17X. Though they offer a significant weight-savings over typical hunting scopes, these new Slim-Line hunting scopes are built for hard use, and U.S. Optics backs them with an impressive, transferrable, “full lifetime” warranty. Prices start at $1100.00 and the Slim-Line Hunting scopes should hit the market in late March or April, 2012. We like what U.S. Optics is doing with this “Slim-Line” scope series. For daylight deer and varmint hunting, many hunters are better served with a compact 1.5-6X variable, than with a large, bulky high-power scope with a relatively small field of view.

U.S. Optics Scopes

At SHOT Show, in addition to its all-new SN-8, U.S. Optics also showcased its innovative dual-focal-plane tactical scopes. Offered in 1-4X and 1.5-6X, these offer the best of both worlds. The FFP reticle allows consistent ranging at all magnifications, while the Second Focal Plane functionality allows more precise aiming, since reticle line thickness does not increase as the magnification goes up.

Permalink - Videos, New Product, Optics 1 Comment »
January 26th, 2012

SHOT SHOW: Download Digital SHOT Dailies for Free

SHOT Dailies 2012If you weren’t able to attend SHOT Show last week, you can still read the Digital editions of all four issues of SHOT Daily, the magazine printed each day of the SHOT Show. You’ll find some interesting product announcements in the SHOT Dailies, plus late-breaking gun industry news.

The DAY 1 edition features the annual round-up of new firearms, while the DAY 2 edition highlights new-for-2012 optics. On Pages 20-23 of the Day 3 edition, you’ll find an interesting article by John Snow on a 6mm Creedmoor wildcat (6.5 Creedmoor necked down — see below). The final Day 4 edition includes a guide to .375-Caliber big game cartridges, along with coverage of the latest Air Gun technologies.

The 2012 SHOT Show Dailies are available online at Shotbusiness.com and the SHOT Show Blog, or just click the links below. You can read the Digital Editions online, or download PDF versions to your computer. NOTE: The PDFs are very large files, slow to download.

6mm Creedmoor

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January 25th, 2012

SHOT Show: Savage Smallbore & Big Bore Highlights

Correspondent Kelly Bachand visited the Savage booth at SHOT Show 2012. As always we were impressed with the wide range of affordable, rimfire rifles marketed by Savage. The popular Mark II BTVS is a good choice for rimifire tactical games, and it is also a nice carry-around varminter for squirrels and other small critters. The model 93 ‘Package Series’ rifles are real bargains. MSRP on the model 93R17 XP Camo package (which includes 3-9x40mm scope) is $456.00, while the “street price” is around $385.00.

What really caught Kelly’s eye was the impressive Model 110 FCP chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum. This rifle features a stiff, high-quality HS Precision fiberglass tactical stock with V-block insert. New for 2012 is the .300 Win Mag chambering. (Other chamberings are .338 LM and .308 Win, both introduced last year). The Model 110 FCP HS Precision features a 5-round detachable box magazine, 26″ heavy fluted barrel, muzzle brake, and AccuTrigger. It even comes with scope rail.

In .338 Lapua Magnum, the m110 FCP weighs 10.7 lbs. The .300 WM and .300 Win are somewhat lighter, tipping the scales at 9 lbs. without optics. MSRP for the .300 WM version is $1192.00 — a good value, considering what the stock would cost by itself. The big .338 Lapua Magnum version has a $1549.00 MSRP on Savage’s website.

If you’re on a tight budget, Savage also offers a long-range big-caliber rifle in a polyethylene (tupperware) Accustock. The Model 11/111 Long Range Hunter is a lighter hunting variant that features a composite AccuStock with 3D bedding and a Karsten adjustable cheekpiece. It also has a 5-round detachable magazine, heavy fluted barrel, muzzle brake and AccuTrigger. MSRP for a Long Range Hunter in .300 Win Magnum, is $989.00.

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January 25th, 2012

SHOT Show: JGS Precision Mfg. — Reamers and More…

Robert Whitley of AR-X Enterprises visited the JGS booth to review the Oregon-based tool-maker’s offerings for 2012. In the video below, Cary Pugh of JGS Precision Mfg., spotlights some popular JGS products including chamber reamers, headspace gauges, core drills, counter-bores, and more….

JGS Precision

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January 25th, 2012

SHOT Show: Dustin Ellermann, ‘Top Shot’ Champ, Speaks Out

We ran into Dustin Ellermann of ‘Top Shot’ fame at the Volquartsen booth at SHOT Show. Dustin is Top Shot’s Season 3 Champion. Dustin demonstrated his shooting abilities with a totally dominating performance on the Season 3 Final episode. And before that Dustin made what was probably the most difficult rifle shot ever on Top Shot — hitting a golf ball with a .22LR rifle at 100 yards — with no sighter shots and no windflags. That’s not easy, even with a rimfire benchrest rifle and $15/box ammo.

In the video interview above, Dustin explains how he made his now-famous golf ball shot, and he also talks about some of the more extreme marksmanship challenges on Top Shot — such as shooting at plates while being attached to a giant rotating wheel suspended off the ground.

Dustin Ellermann Golf Ball

Dustin Ellermann Top ShotIn winning the Top Shot Season 3 title, Dustin, a self-taught shooter in his first-ever real competition, beat 15 other skilled marksman, most with much more impressive “shooting resumes”. Displaying poise, speed, and superior accuracy, Dustin proved he had the “right stuff”. Time and time again, Dustin sent “big name” shooters (with years of competition experience) packing. And throughout the Top Shot season, Dustin, a Christian Camp Director, kept a positive attitude and exhibited good sportsmanship.

Dustin is a “natural” — a born marksman. But he’s not just a “gun guy”. In real life he serves as a minister, accountant, lumberjack, husband, father of two and foster father of three. Dustin lives in the middle of the Angelina National Forest and considers himself a Renaissance man.

From Fellow Top Shot Competitor Kelly Bachand (Season 1)
On an NRA radio segment before Top Shot Season 3 got underway, Colby Donaldson said that in Season 3 we would see one of the most talented shooters Top Shot has ever had, while not using Dustin’s name for obvious reasons. Colby went on to say that the performance was nearly unbelievable. When the season was complete, and Dustin was crowned champion, Colby declared: “Dustin may be the best shooter we ever had. He surprised everybody, it was across the board”.

I watched Dustin surprise the other competitors and America over and over again on Top Shot Season 3. I grew to respect him as I saw that his deep faith in God encouraged humility and sincerity that was lacking in many other competitors. Whether watching twelve hits in a row while spinning upside down, or watching Dustin hit a golf ball at 100 yards with no practice shots, he impressed us all at some point. To me, however, even more impressive was the way Dustin always remained humble and showed good sportsmanship towards those he had out-shot. I congratulate Dustin on his win, and was glad to be able to meet him recently. — Kelly B.

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January 24th, 2012

SHOT Show: Oehler Model 35P Chronograph Lives On

Though it is a 20-year-old design, the Oehler Model 35P Chronograph remains one of the best chronographs on the market. By employing three screens instead of two, the 35P takes two (2) measurements of each shot — adding an extra measure of reliability. It has very simple controls, so you don’t need to bring a 100-page manual to the range. The Model 35P features an integrated printer that conveniently records every shot and calculates Average Velocity, SD and ES for your strings. We like having the “hard-copy” output from our tests. This way we can simply staple the our paper record to the target and nothing gets lost.

Model 35P is Back in Production
Oehler Research decided to phase out the model 35P Proof Chronograph a few years back. But consumer demand never abated. In fact, the prices of used units started to climb. So Ken Oehler decided to bring back the model 35P, and we’re glad he did. In the video below Ken explains that the Model 35P is back in regular production, now that his company has found a source for printer components. The Model 35P, complete with printer, skyscreens, and mounting rail costs $575.00. Ken told us “If we knew how to make them cheaper, we would … but we make ‘em so they work.”

If you already own or use a Model 35P, be sure to watch the video through to the end. In the last minute, Ken Oehler demonstrates how to position the metal support that holds the paper roll. Putting this support in place can be tricky to say the least. But the video shows how to accomplish the task quickly, without losing your temper.

Another helpful tip, provided by Ken’s wife, will help you feed the paper into the machine. Simply take the end of the paper and fold both left and right sides in toward the middle, forming a ‘V’ (like the nose of a paper airplane). This will then advance much easier through the printer’s internal spools when you load new paper.

Oehler model 35p chronograph

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January 24th, 2012

SHOT Show: Quick Reviews of New-for-2012 Optics

Show Report by Jason Baney
Nearly every major optics manufacturer showcased innovative new products at this year’s SHOT Show. And some of the scope-makers surprised us by venturing into new product areas. For example, Vortex came out with a nice, compact Laser Rangefinder, and Sightron released a 1-7×24 hunting/tactical scope. Here are new product highlights from Kahles, Meopta, Schmidt & Bender, Sightron, and Vortex.

Kahles

New Tactical Scope with Parallax Control On Elevation Turret
Kahles has brought out a beefy 34mm-tubed tactical scope with some smart features. The parallax adjustment on Kahles’s new 6-24x56mm scope is located at the base of the elevation turret — not on the side like an Nightforce NXS. It may seem odd to put the parallax control BELOW the elevation adjustment, but when you think about it — this is pretty clever. Locating the parallax below the elevation is very convenient — when you dial for longer range, you can quickly dial the new parallax without changing your hand position, or fiddling around for a second turret. Putting the parallax control on the central turret allows the illumination rheostat to be placed on the left side of the tube. This allows much more scope-mounting freedom — you don’t have a big illumination module positioned next to the rear ring, limiting how far forward you can position the scope.

Kahles 6-24x56mm scope

Initially the Kahles 6-24×56 will be offered with just two (2) reticles. We would like to see a wider zoom range, but overall, this is a very well-thought-out scope. Kahles is also offering a 1-6 with nicely designed reticles.The 6-24×56 is expected to cost about $3000 while the 1-6 should be priced around $2700. Both scopes should be on dealers’s shelves by summer 2012.

Meopta

All-New 82mm Spotting Scope and iPhone Adapter
Meopta has totally redesigned its top-end spotting scope to keep up with current market trends. But we’re pleased that Meopta has maintained a more moderate price-point than most in this class of 80mm spotters. The new spotter has a 82mm objective, solid rubber armor and is available straight or angled. Two eyepiece options are offered: a 30-60X Wide-Angle and a 20-70X standard eyepiece. Meopta’s new 82mm spotter should be available in March 2012, priced at about $2200 for a complete spotter with eyepiece. Meopta has also introduced a handy adapter to allow iPhone users to take pictures through the spotter. This adapter retails for $50.00.

Meopta 82mm Spotting Scope

Schmidt & Bender

New PMIIs — at Higher Prices
Schmidt & Bender had a few new scopes on display, most notably, a redesigned (and still unavailable) 3-20×50 PMII as well as S&B’s 1-8x PMII. The most obvious difference on the revised 3-20 was the updated locking turret that is different, and much better than it was 2 years ago. Street price on the PMII scopes will be in the $3500-$4000 range depending on reticle choice. We also noted the very aggressive tactile fins on the magnification adjustment dial. Also shown was a prototype compact, tan 1.5-6x20mm straight tube dot scope. Based on S&B’s track record, this 1.5-6X might actually make it to North American dealers in 2014.

Schmidt & Bender 2012 Scope

Sightron

New Compact 1-7X Variable
Sightron unveiled a new 1-7×24 scope, which should please hunters and 3-Gun shooters. The new 1-7×24 is only offered with one reticle currently; this appears similar to the Meopta 4C red dot reticle. The reticle features an illuminated red dot in the middle, with a thinner upper post and thicker left, right and bottom posts. The scope features 0.1 MRAD clicks and 5 mils per turn with covered low profile target turrets. We hope to see an improved reticle with holdover stadia for longer range shooting in the future. The 1-7×24 will retail for $799.00 and should be at dealers by the end of March, 2012.

Sightron 1-7x24mm scope

Vortex

New Compact Rangefinder with Angle Correction
Vortex introduced a very cool little laser rangefinder at a nice price point. The Ranger 1000 is rated for 1000 yards, has a great feel, great size, pleasant red-cross aim point display, and unlike any other similar laser products out there, offers a LIFETIME warranty. Along with all these features, it also gives angle-corrected readings for shooting more accurately uphill and downhill. The Ranger 1000 is very easy to operate one-handed and has a nice rubber coating and removable pocket clip as well. Retail price will come in at $379 with availability in May 2012.

Vortex Ranger 1000 laser rangefinder

Permalink New Product, Optics 2 Comments »
January 24th, 2012

SHOT Show: New Skin Kits for Accuracy Int’l AE and AW Rifles

Accuracy Internation AW AE chassis skin

Accuracy Internation AW AE chassis skinAt SHOT Show, Accuracy International (AI) unveiled a new line of pistol-grip skins that will allow owners of the AE and AW rifles to match the ergonomics of the pistol grip on AI’s new AX rifles. This “skins” bolt on to the underlying AI chassis system, providing a new look from fore-arm to buttplate. We expect these new skins will be hugely popular among AI shooters, many of whom will ditch their old thumbhole skins and bolt on the new pistol grip models. Availability is unknown at this point, but pricing will be in line with AI’s other skins.

Accuracy Internation AW AE chassis skin

Accuracy Internation AW AE chassis skin

Accuracy Internation AW AE chassis skin

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 6 Comments »
January 23rd, 2012

3-Gun Nation Championship: Thacker Wins Title and $50,000

Story by Chad Adams for 3GunNation.com

Before the largest crowd ever to watch a 3-gun match, and with the largest payday in the history of the sport on the line, on the evening of January 18th, eight of the country’s top 3-gunners stepped to the firing line at the Clark County Range outside Las Vegas. With the famous Las Vegas strip illuminating the desert sky as the backdrop, the sport of 3-Gun formally announced its arrival to the shooting industry, major media outlets and a national television audience.


Photo by Tim Walsh www.seanchaicom.com

Team FNH USA’s Tommy Thacker defeated teammate Mark Hanish in the final round of the 3-Gun Nation Championship Finale, sponsored by Brownells, to become the 2012 3-Gun Nation Champion, winning an unprecedented $50,000 from Leupold Tactical Optics and NBC Sports Network.

“Unbelievable,” Thacker said, trying to put the enormity of the moment into words. “The only thing I could think is I am so blessed and everything happens for a reason. The only thing I could think is to thank God. When you think about everything that happened, I don’t know how else to describe it. Coming into this, I knew everything was right. I was in the zone more than I’ve ever been, and after the first run, I knew I was going to win this thing.”

For finishing second, Hanish was awarded a Barrett MRAD rifle fitted with a Leupold scope and BORS system, along with a check for $2,500 from Brownells.

Counting prizes awarded to other finals competitors, the Las Vegas payouts totaled $67,500, with an additional $15,000 in product value. In all, 3-Gun Nation paid out more than $150,000 in cash prizes on the 2011-2012 3GN Tour.

Champion’s Profile: Tommy Thacker is Director of Product Management for Law Enforcement & Commercial Sales with FNH USA. He is also a nationally-ranked competitive shooter, certified firearms instructor, and small business owner. He served as the inaugural Captain of FNH USA’s award winning shooting team.

The 3GN Championship Finale, sponsored by Brownells and sanctioned by NRA Sports, was the culminating event of the 2011-2012 FNH USA 3-Gun Nation Tour, Presented by SureFire. Spanning ten major 3-gun events all across the country, more than 1,500 competitors earned scores toward the 3GN Standings. From there, the top 50 competitors qualified to the 3-Gun Nation Championship in November, a one-day Tactical Optics-only match that comprised the deepest field of 3-gun talent ever assembled. The top 16 shooters then battled in an elimination Shoot-Off, with the Final 8 advancing to the Las Vegas Rumble On the Range.

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January 23rd, 2012

SHOT Show: Crosman’s New .177 Air Rifle Upper for AR15s

Crosman unveiled a great new product at SHOT Show — a dedicated upper that transforms your AR-platform gun into a .177-caliber air rifle. Smart idea. Crosman deserves praise — we wish this was on the market decades ago. This is great for service rifle shooters who can now practice at a fraction of the cost of centerfire ammunition. Since the lower is unchanged, and the sights are the same as on a service rifle, the shooter doesn’t have to adapt to a different trigger or sight height/radius.

Crosman mar177

As Crosman representative Mark Deboard explains: “With the [MAR 177 upper kit], you can take off your AR’s centerfire upper, replace it with the Crosman upper and go to your basement or garage to shoot .177 pellets. You’re getting great trigger time without going to the range and without buying .223 ammo. You can buy a tin of 500 pellets for about five bucks.” (With a good pellet trap you could practice in your basement — but first consult your state and municipal regulations).

Crosman MAR 177 air rifle AR15The 7.4-lb Crosman MAR177 Conversion Kit replaces your existing AR/M4 style upper and converts it into a PCP .177-caliber competition air rifle with 21″ free floating Lothar Walther™ barrel. Designed to support 10-meter match air rifle competition, the MAR177 is also suited for service rifle shooters who want to practice indoors in winter. Fitted with a 10-shot rotary magazine, all the shooter has to do work the bolt back every time after firing. The air reservoir offers up to 120 shots per fill.

It looks like the Crosman MAR177 will be popular. Crosman’s Deboard noted that: “We took the MAR177 to Camp Perry last summer for the High Power Rifle Championships, shot it inside the 20 foot Crosman Trailer and everyone loved it.”

Price and Availability
The MAR177 starts shipping 1/25/2012. It is available initially at crosman.com, creedmoorsports.com, and pilkguns.com. Look for retail price around $700, though Creedmoor Sports has a pre-order price of $600.

Permalink Competition, New Product 5 Comments »