Tuesday, January 19, 2016

SHOT Range Day 2016

Once again this year, my mind is boggled. I had to keep track of what I saw in the notes function of my phone. There was just too much to process to remember it all.

I may just post photos and comments and general impressions right now, because not everybody had press kits  ready today with all the info. I guess that's a "tomorrow at the booth" thing, once the Show opens for real.

One of the first places I stopped, was the Smith & Wesson tent. I got to shoot both the new ported Performance Center Shield 9mm, and the new SW22 Victory target pistol.
The ported Shield gave me good groups, quick target reacquisition, and was a very pleasant shooting gun. Whether that will be worth the inevitable Performance Center price mark-up over the standard Shield, will probably be a matter of personal choice. Personally, it didn't make me say "Wow, this is SO much better!" It was nice, but once I see the actual prices, I'll tell you "how" nice.

The SW22 Victory was slick. I'm not a rimfire gal (yet), so I can't speak with much experience, but it was smooth - very smooth. The rep assured me that it would eat "any" kind of .22lr, which is reassuring. The .22lr ammo market is finally starting to get back to some semblance of availability, but it is still a bit "take what you can find". So I'm happy to hear that this new addition to the line isn't finicky.

My personal disappointment for the day was the Ruger New American Pistol. Now remember that I'm no "expert" - I can only tell you what I liked and what I didn't - so if you are a Ruger fan, forgive me. My reaction was "Meh".  I thought the trigger was Spongy (and this from a gal who still uses factory Glock triggers). I thought the interchangeable backstraps were unimpressive. I have largish hands for a woman, and even with the small size backstrap, (which incidentally only comes with the 9mm - the .45 comes with a Med and Large only), I had a hard time depressing the magazine release. I could touch it, but not press it. When I asked the rep to show me how one swaps out the backstrap, it required a tool to change it out. The pistol shot ok, but it seems to me that other companies have done the 9mm polymer pistol in better ways. Maybe it just didn't fit me, and maybe if you are a guy with big paws, you'll like it better than I did.

For you 1911 fans, I got to shoot all three of Springfield Armory's tweaks to the Range Officer 9mm this year. One has a rail for a mounted light, one is a slightly more compact version, and one is a lovely stainless steel. They all were great shooters. I personally like the look of the stainless. At present there are still too many levers and switches on a 1911 for me, (heresy, I know) but I'd be sorely tempted by that stainless.

Colt also has some 1911's out this year for competition. I was chatting with Team Colt's Maggie Reese, who was attempting to counter my reservations about the aforementioned levers and buttons by tempting me with the trigger. "But they have a REAL trigger" she teased. And she was right - very sweet shooting pistols.

To break up the pistol fest, I wandered over to Benelli and took a crack at some clays with their ETHOS 28 gauge. You all know I love my ETHOS 12 ga, so I'm already a fan, but this gun is just cute, and light, and sweet, and if it had cheeks, I would pinch them. I guess this means I need to expand my hunting horizons so I have an excuse to buy one. 

I also popped in on Rebecca King at Devil Dog Arms, who let me shoot the Girls Guide to Guns AR-15. Very nice!

Right next door, was a new entrant in the compact pistol world, Honor Defense.
Honor Defense has come up with a subcompact 9mm carry pistol, which has several unique features, the most interesting of which to me, is that the inner bits ( do you like my classy non-gunsmith terminology?) all come out upon disassembly as a single modular "chassis". The pistol has an ambi mag release and slide catch, 7+1 and 8+1 magazines, and two different sized backstraps. There is also an option for an offset type FIST frame for close-quarters. This subcompact has been designed and tweaked with the input of several military, LE, and instructor types - including Julianna Crowder, founder of A Girl & A Gun. I think Honor Defense is going to be a gun to watch. I'm expecting great things from them.

I had been hoping to shoot the Sig P320 as well, but I'll blame ignorance for my loss in that department. Even though this is my third SHOT Show, I somehow didn't know that Sig has their own range and their own event at a completely different location. I went where the Media Bus took me. (Facepalm) But Team Sig's Annette Evans  and Jaci Janes have agreed to meet me at the booth to show me the ropes, even if I can't actually shoot the gun.

My Big Pleasant Surprise for the day was the Walther PPS M2 subcompact 9mm. I know who Walther is, but I've never shot any of their guns before. I liked this little gun so much, that I went back 3 times to check it out and shoot it again. It fit my hand, the recoil was manageable, and it was accurate. I haven't seen the MSRP yet, but I'd consider this one over a Shield if the price was right.           


Finally, I was fortunate to have met up with an interesting seat mate on the press bus, by the name of Tom Gaylord. Tom is the "Godfather of Airguns", so when we arrived at the range, he graciously introduced me to the fellows he knew at the Crosman booth. I wanted to see the new Crosman Pioneer "Airbow", and I admit I was impressed.

This is  essentially an air rifle that throws an arrow instead of a pellet. And it does this quite decisively and accurately, too.  The weight - or lack of it - was what I found most impressive though. I'm guessing here, but it seemed to be half the weight or less of my compound crossbow. That's a huge difference when you're schleping it around the woods. According to marketing manager Chip Hunnicutt, they are still working with the various states to see what hunting season this would fit into, but I sure hope they find the niche for it in my state!

If you'd like a more technical write-up, I'll refer you to Tom's page, as he knows much more about the air game than I.

I just know that the Airbow was incredibly lightweight, and ridiculously accurate.

That's it for Range Day, but there is a lot more for SHOT 2016 to come!

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