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January 16th, 2009

SHOT SHOW Report: Day 1 Discoveries

SHOT Show 2009 officially opened yesterday, with thousands of gun industry professionals, wholesalers, retailers, and media persons streaming through the gates of the Orlando Convention Center in the morning. Check out the SHOT Flickr PhotoStream for a bird’s eye view inside the Convention Hall. CLICK HERE to see the crowd on opening day.

No “Super-Zoom” From Sightron
Sightron 8-32x56Our Asst. Editor Jason Baney continued his quest for cool, new stuff at the 2009 SHOT Show in Orlando. Sadly, he had to report that the rumored 10-50×56 Sightron competition scope was nowhere to be seen. We know that Sightron is working on a 10-50X and maybe even 10-60X zoom scope as a followup to its very popular 8-32×56 scope unveiled at the 2008 Shot Show. However, the ultra-high-power zoom is still in the development stages. There ARE prototypes, we know that, but when (and if) the Sightron “super-zoom” gets finalized is still uncertain. Given the outstanding performance of the 8-32×56 30mm Sightron (as tested by Jason), we’re hoping its “big brother” will make it into production. Message to Sightron: If an 8-32 is good, a 10-50 might be even better…

During gaps in his busy interview schedule, Jason was able to meet with some of our “friends of the site”. At left, Jason meets Jim Scoutten, host of the very popular ShootingUSA TV series. This past year, helped connect the ShootingUSA production team with leading long-range benchrest and F-Class shooters. We look forward to continued cooperation with ShootingUSA and other leading shooting sports broadcasters.

Jason also met up with Gordy Gritters, one of our recommended gunsmiths. As he did at last year’s SHOT Show, gunsmith Gordy was holding forth in the Grizzly booth, demonstrating chambering and barrel-fitting to a wide-eyed crowd of on-lookers. In cooperation with Grizzly Industrial, Gordy is working on a series of gunsmithing DVDs. These will be a far cry from the typical smithing videos that show you how to tap a receiver or install a buttpad. Gordy’s DVDs cover the advanced methods used to produce precision competition and varmint rifles. In one video segment, Gordy shows how to chamber and headspace a match barrel using a Grizzly G0509G 3-Phase Gunsmith Lathe. Below is a segment from the DVD showing Gordy fine-tuning the headspace as he fits a BAT Machine ‘MB’ action to the barrel. Working with precise indicators, you can see Gordy set the headspace to within a few ten-thousandths of an inch.

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Ken Lunde — The Ansel Adams of SHOT Show
While Jason was roaming the floor, our friend Ken Lunde was doing his usual, masterful job of photographing new firearms at the show. Check out Ken’s 2009 SHOT Show Report. It has dozens of great images of guns on display in Orlando. A very gifted photographer, Ken is also a serious varmint shooter and the owner of multiple Cooper rifles (one of which was featured as Gun of the Week). Naturally, then, Ken’s “first stop was the Cooper Arms booth”. There, Ken got a great photo of a sectioned (cut-away) Cooper m21 action. This is a “must-see”. The Cut-away shows the inside of the chamber, tenon section, and even the inside of the bolt. It’s like having X-Ray vision. Click on the Larger Image button to see even more details.

Cooper 21 rifle cutaway

Photo copyright Ken Lunde, used by permission.

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January 16th, 2009

SHOT Show Report: New Bullets and BCs from Berger

Jason’s first stop on his 2009 SHOT Show tour was at the Berger Bullets booth. Our readers know that Berger manufactures some of the best varmint and match bullets in the world. Eric Stecker, Berger’s master bulletsmith, announced that Berger is organizing its production into three main lines: Varmint bullets (flat-base and standard boat-tails), Target bullets (both Tangent Ogive and VLD designs) with thicker jackets, and Hunting bullets (low-drag VLD with standard J4 jackets).

Berger Bullets

A design effort is underway to optimize the “long range” bullet shapes, centering around a tangent ogive BT design with shorter than normal bearing surface. This allows a longer nose shape with a better BC. It should also be easier to tune, given the tangent ogive design. Berger’s designers are also working with a double ogive shape for big bore bullets. This will feature a tangent ogive immediately above the bearing surface to allow a smoother transition into the lands. Then the shape transitions to a secant ogive for better BC and a smaller meplat.

New 20 Caliber Bullet is Ready and Two .338 Projectiles in the Works
Berger announced a new 55gr, 20-caliber “Long Range” BT bullet. Prototypes have been tested successfully in 8-twist barrels. With sufficient velocities a 1:9″ twist might work also, but Berger wants more field testing–by shooters like you. NOTE: Berger is currently looking for “volunteers” to test this new 20-cal 55-grainer in 8-Twist and 9-Twist barrels. Contact Michelle Gallagher at Berger for more details.

Big-bore shooters will be pleased to learn Berger hopes to release both 250gr and 300gr .338-caliber bullets by the end of 2009. While design work is on-going, Berger expects to offer tangent ogive, secant ogive, and double-radius .338 projectiles in both 250gr and 300gr weights. So you’ll have a choice of three different bullet shapes, each in two weights. That’s good news for hunters and ultra-long-range shooters.

Bullet Ballistic Coefficients (BCs) to Be Analyzed and Updated
Berger recently hired Bryan Litz as an in-house ballistics experts. Bryan, a top-level High Power and long-range shooter, formerly worked with the Air Force as a rocket ballistics scientist. Drawing on his expertise, Berger will be testing its match bullets to establish more precise drag figures. So, you may see the stated BCs on your favorite Berger bullets changing a bit in the future, but those changes will be based on improved design analysis and testing.

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January 16th, 2009

SHOT SHOW Report: New Zeiss Laser Rangefinder

In’s 2007 comparison test of Laser Rangefinders, the Swarovski Laser Guide came out on top, though the Leica CRF 1200 drew praise for its light weight and extremely compact format.

There may be a new challenger to the Swaro for top honors. Zeiss has come out with a completely new, high-quality rangefinder, the Victory 8×26 T* PRF. Zeiss claims this is “the world’s first premium monocular with digital laser rangefinder, LED display, and integrated Ballistic Information System (BIS™).” Looking at the new product, we like the ergonomics, the centrally-located viewing lens, wide field of view (330′ at 1000 yards), and the superb optics. The “T*” in the title indicates a scratch-resistent, high-light-transmission lens coating.

Zeiss Victory RangefinderIf field tests show that the new Zeiss ranges as well as the Swaro and Leica, the Zeiss Victory 8×26 could hold the edge because it delivers ballistic drop info, while the others do not. With the Victory’s minimal beam divergence, Zeiss claims measuring accuracy of ± 1 yard at ranges up to 600 yards and ± 0.5% at ranges beyond 600 yards (max claimed range is 1300 yards). If those claims are real, the Zeiss Victory should “hit” your ranging target at long distances more easily than most other rangefinders on the market. (As laser beams extend over distance they spread out in a cone. That’s called beam divergence. The greater the beam divergence, the greater the risk of false readings, or getting no reading at all.)

Zeiss Victory Rangefinder

The Zeiss Victory has a “street price” of about $700.00 and is currently instock at, and other major vendors.

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January 16th, 2009

SHOT Show Report: New Products from Lapua

For precision rifle shooters, Lapua brass is about as good as it gets. It is definitely the preferred cartridge brass for short-range benchrest, 600-yard benchrest, and F-Class competition. Jason visited the Lapua booth to find out what new products the Finnish manufacturer will offer in 2009. In the video below, Sales Manager Adam Braverman reviews Lapua’s new offerings.

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Lapua Revives .222 Remington Line
The big news is the re-introduction of .222 Remington brass. In late 2008 we revealed that Lapua would resume production of .222 Rem brass, and now we’ve learned that Lapua will be producing .222 Rem loaded ammo as well. Notably, this new .222 Rem brass (and ammo) will be produced “in-house” by Lapua. We expect it will meet the same exacting standards as other Lapua match brass. The .222 brass will be available immediately, and you should soon find it in stock at

Lapua bullets BC

NEW 300gr, .338 Scenar Bullet
Big bore shooters will be pleased to know that Lapua has introduced a new 300gr, .338-caliber Scenar match bullet. When launched from the .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge, the new GB528 300-grainer will stay supersonic past 1500 meters. And even at 1700 meters it still carries over 1000 Joules of energy. You won’t find the 300gr Scenar in a silver cardboard box, however. From now on, Lapua match bullets will arrive in durable blue plastic containers. That’s progress we guess.

Lapua bullets BC

New BC Data Available for QuickTARGET
The ballistic coefficient of the new 300-grainers, as well as most other Lapua bullets, can now be inputed directly into the QuickTARGET ballistics program. BC values for Lapua bullets were confirmed with actual “real world” testing using Doppler radar.

Lapua bullets BC

No luck this year for .260 Rem and Short Mag Shooters
Despite persistent rumors, we won’t be seeing .260 brass or Short Mag brass from Lapua this season — though Lapua hasn’t ruled this out for some time in the future. Lapua does invite input from shooters, particular on the Short Magnum question. If Lapua feels there is adequate demand, it might (we stress might) consider production of a short mag. The question is “which short magnum?” The WSM family certainly has been more widely adopted thus far, but for match shooters, particularly 7mm shooters, the Remington SAUM may be a more efficient (and potentially more accurate) case. Right now, Lapua is leaning to the WSM, according to our sources.

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