My Sweetie and I slept 14 hours last night and things here at the Secret Hidden Bunker have returned to normal, such as it is. There's always a feeling after SHOT of so much I missed (which this year is almost everything) or didn't get a chance to handle...much less shoot.
On the plus side, I finally got a chance to have a long conversation with Alex Robinson of Robinson XCR, and that lead to my decision to get get one. As we look at the AR world moving to piston systems of various flavors, I think it's important to note that Robinson was there first (at least for this iteration of gas piston guns) and has the most evolved system. What Alex has done is repeatedly simplify the system...instead of endless bells and whistles being added, he kept focusing on honing down his platform. Very smart, and in the case of the XCR, simple is indeed better. I may pay the money and go for an SBR version.
Over at Century Arms, I was really impressed with a bunch of their new guns, especially the VZ-2008 and their 5.56 C-93 CETME clone and their all-American-made flagship, the Centurion 39 Sporter in 7.62 X 39. Every since I visited the CZ factory in the Czech a few years back I've had a jones for the CZ Vz.58 battle rifle, even though I made the near-nonrecoverable error of asking the head of CZ worldwide whether the rifle was based on an AK platform. Open mouth; insert foot. They are wonderful little rifles, and in the $600-700 MSRP range an excellent and affordable alternative to the AKs. C-93s are what they are...tanks...the rifle equivalent of blunt trauma....a rifle you can't break on a bet. And the Centurion Sporter is a really slick implementation of the AK platform, and I love it that it is all American.
Before we get away from Century — and BTW, all the guys there seem to be having a wonderful time! — yes, the Sterling pistol (more correctly, the ColeFire Magnum) in 7.62 X 25...the more I handled it the more I thought this bad boy might need to come home with me. Sterlings only make sense when you handle them. Looking at one, you'd think it was some kludged-together mess that only the Empire would issue to Storm Troopers (insider joke alert!), but when you handle one they start making sense. Heaven knows I don't need a 7.62 Tokarev pistol (I already have a CZ52, just like everybody else in America), but the little Sterling is cute as a speckled pup.
One thing I keep forgetting to mention — and considering Ruger is a major sponsor, a very stupid omission! — is the redesigned Ruger 22/45 RP semiauto pistol. For years Ruger has offered their classic .22 pistol with a 1911-contured frame, making it a viable practice vehicle for 1911 shooters looking for a rimfire alternative. For the same number of years, I and many others have urged Ruger to make the 22/45 more 1911-like, and this year Ruger stepped up. The 22/45 now features standard 1911 grip panels for a much more 1911-y feel (looks a lot better, too). Magazine release and safety are in the same places. Serious competitors are going to go with conversion units for their 1911 frames, but if you don't have a .22, the 22/456 is the way to go.
And speaking of .22s, there we two that caught my eye...the DoubleStar .22 AR pistol and the MasterPiece Arms Mac-style MP-22T. Mossberg also took a major step in the right direction, rolling out their 464 lever action rifle in .22LR. I begged for a lever .22 464 when we got the first production line gun (and gave it away on DRTV) last year and the newly nimble Mossberg responded.
We're going to talk about the Mossberg ASAP backpacks on the podcast this week...I spent some time with my friend Dr. Bob Arnot, who'd just flown in from Haiti and has been instrumental in the survival backpacks, and we'll cover all of that on Wednesday. I've got good video with Dr. Bob as well.
I mentioned the Colt Defender series in 9mm (and shot the gun a bunch at Range Day), but Colt was also showing a DA 1911-styled .45 ACP. Colt has ventured — unsuccessfully — into double action with the Double Eagle...it was never a bad gun, but it paled in the face of the alloy-framed Sig P220 DA and other more modern designs.
Things I walked by and didn't even get a chance to touch...the Big Horn Armory .500 S&W Magnum lever action carbine, which cried out to me from the aisle..."take me home, Michael...take me home!" I'm going to order one for T&E ASAP...the Freedom Arms single shot pistol I've talked about before...you'll definitely be seeing this one on our new handgun hunting series later this year...reall smart of Bill Baker to offer this in the excellent 6.5 X 55 chambering made famous in the Swedish Mausers. I did some SHOOTING GALLERY video on the S&W 329XL Hunter, a 6 1/2-inch hunting version of the ultralight scandium-framed 329...one thing I really like is the use of a blackened stainless steel cylinder instead of the 329PD titanium cylinder. I think the stainless cylinder should alter the recoil wave enough to take care of the pesky auto-locking problem on the bantam-weight guns. I also like the beefed-up fiber optic front sight on the Hunter. Black Dog Magazines rolled out their 50-round .22LR drum for the 10/22 and .22 AR conversions...there have been a bunch of 50-round LR extended capacity magazines, but none of them worked worth a darn. Black Dog has an enviable reputation for quality 100% feeding, so I'm hopeful.
Check out the video blog and the ever-faithful audio podcast on Wednesday! Marshal will be posting videos all week long! There's already a huge amount of video coverage of SHOT on OutdoorChannel.com and DRTV!
I gotta go walk Alf the Wonder Beagle, who has found it in her munificent beagle heart to forgive us for leaving her and the rest of the menagerie for a whole week!
PS: I don't care what the rest of the Internet thinks! I wanted a Bren Ten in the mid-1980s and I still want a Bren Ten. They're cool and they're unique...and hey, I shot Col. Cooper's Bren Ten #1, and it DID NOT SUCK! So there!