[*…as seen through the filter of known curmudgeon and all-around pissy person Michael Bane]
Well, I thought I at least owed you the disclaimer!
This wasn't a huge new product SHOT Show…it's too close to the election, and everyone was pretty much holding their breath (and hedging their bets). I suspect that next year will be a flood of new products, as manufacturers strive to keep the increasingly larger market buying. Still, there were four products that impressed me YUUUUGELY, and each for a different reason.
TACTICAL SOLUTIONS TLP-22 .22 LR pistol — My good friends at Tac-Sol, long known for their superb .22 barrels and their own .22 semiauto rifle, has created what I suspect will the one of the best .22 pistols ever made. Yeah yeah…big words. But the design team at Tc-Sol is one of the best in the world, and they are astute in receiving constant feedback from their cadre of sponsored shooters. In short, they know who to listen to, and they know what they're doing [And no, they are not currently a show or personal sponsor]. I will happily pay MSRP for this gun! In talking to Chet Alvord, the top guy at Tac-Sol, he pointed out that they were able to mate their proven Trail-Lite barrel with a billet aluminum lower. In my hands, the lower combined the best features of the Ruger Mark series and the Buckmark, with a just hint of Colt Woodsman (still one of my all-time favorite guns). You might think the gun is pricey at $1150, but I've built up .22 pistols for the NSSF Rimfire Challenge. This pistol is a screaming home run! I look forward to shooting the Rimfire Challenge with this gun. Oh, and BTW, we may see some interesting changes in the NSSF Rimfire Challenge in the upcoming year…I'll keep you all in the loop.
HUDSON H9 striker-fired pistol — This thing positively reeks of potential! A 15+1 9mm striker-fired all-steel pistol with 1911 ergonomics. I didn't get a chance to shoot this gun at Media Day, but I am assured I'll have a T&E sample. The trigger is listed at 4.5-5 pounds with a really short reset, but my pal Iain Harrison, who along with fellow TOP SHOT alumnae Chris Cerino had design input into the gun, says that lighter trigger pulls are easily possible. The gun does feel great in the hand, and at 34 ounces unloaded weight recoil certainly isn't an issue. For once I'll agree with the press releases — the H9 has an elegance that we usually don't see in prosaic striker-fired guns. There is a high price point — $1147, which moves it out of the polymer service pistol category and into 1911 territory — but with its unique features it might be able to make that leap.
Q's "THE FIX" bolt action rifle — Kevin Brittingham has written his name in great big letters across the firearms industry, first with AAC — the only company in the gun industry who's conference room was designed to look like the Starship Enterprise — then with Sig Sauer and now with his independent "skunk works," Q. After rolling out the El Camino .22 suppressor and the revised Honey Badger 2.0, Kevin turned his sights on completely disrupting the centuries-old bolt action rifle world. Considering his team includes Robby Johnson, a combat vet from the Army Marksmanship Unit and one of the finest long-distance shooters in the world, and Ethan Lessard, hands down the best weapons designer working today, we knew going in that the results would be spectacular. The Fix is all that and more, a sub-5 pound "unibody" bolt action rifle that quite literally redefines the bolt action market. "I wanted a gun that I could shoot in a Precision Rifle Series match on Saturday, then take deer hunting on Sunday," Robby told me. It is a brilliant rifle, and I can't wait to take it through the hoops. Here's the RECOIL magazine report (that's where we cribbed the picture)…later this year we'll be taking to the SHOOTING GALLERY crew to Kevin's farm in Georgia to meet up with the Q crew and run The Fix for SHOOTING GALLERY…that's an episode you WILL NOT want to miss!
B&T's UNIVERSAL SERVICE WEAPON 9mm SBR — Okay, maybe it's just me, but I can't wait to get my hands on the pistol version of this gun, which should be coming into the U.S. by mid-year. B&T, Brugger and Thomet, is a Swiss company that specializes in high end military weaponry, including submachineguns. The USW is sort of a classic European pistol/carbine:
The design, while pretty old in itself, is based on the emerging threat. Law enforcement equipped with a USW can use it as a pistol or, if they need a long shot, can pop out the stock and shoulder it…Europe doesn't have the same looney tunes regulations on short barreled rifles or pistols with stocks that infect the the U.S. The gun itself is your basic Swiss watch. There have been media reports that it incorporates parts from the Sphinx 3000 9mm Swiss pistols, acquired by B&T as assets of that company were sold off, and my sources gave me a nod on that. The Sphinxes always had a reputation as superb pistols...I recall lusting after the only one I ever shot. The plan is to bring the DA/SA pistol into the U.S. as a pistol, then offer the shoulder stock and nifty spring-loaded forward release for the stock for buyers after they obtain their $200 tax stamp. a striker-fired version will follow later. One neat feature is the sight, a prototype Aimpoint Nano, essentially an Aimpoint to compete with RMRs/Delta Points. Right now, the only Nanos are on USWs, but my little cherubs and seraphim tell me to expect a version of the Aimpoint Nano at NRA or soon after. I fell in love with the stocked machinepistol concept the last time I was in eastern Europe. I had a chance to put a lot of rounds through the Polish PM-63, the RAK, with its folding stock:
Note the family resemblance. I badly wanted a semi version of the RAK, but even the few parts kits had dried up. I'm perfectly happy to pay the $200 tax to come as close as I can.
Okay, those are my four home runs. I have plans to acquire all these guns for both SHOOTING GALLERY and SHOOTING GALLERY ONLINE. I'll let you know as the time frames firm up.
You're probably wondering what I bought. Well, expect to be surprised. I ordered 2 guns, a handgun and a rifle. From my friend Ronnie Barrett I ordered his first hunting rifle, the Fieldcraft in 6.5 Creedmoor, introduced last year. I was blown away by the rifle. It is built to Ronnie Barrett's standards, which are indeed high. I talked to Chris and Ronnie Barrett about the new rifle, and they were effusive. With the carbon fiber stock, stainless steel action, barrel and bolt and Timney trigger, I was sold.
Sig Sauer P210. It's not polymer, striker-fired or even particularly practical, but it is a pistol I have always wanted. The P210 rolled out in 1949, the year before I was born, as the Swiss army pistol. It's a single action, single stack 9mm pistol, arguably the most accurate 9mm ever made. For years the German guns were like unicorns, much discussed, seldom seen in the United States. The few that I was able to shoot certainly lived up to their reputations, but the price was staggering…hell, the P210 reference book is $350! Last year Sig began producing P210s in the United States. We all held our breaths…would the American guns match the flawless quality of the legendary German guns. Sig answered that question on Media Day this year. Magnificent! Still pricey, but now within reach.