By Chris Choat
This year the SHOT (Sporting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show was again a sellout with over 1,800 exhibitors displaying their products in an area that covered 1.3 million square feet of exhibit space inside the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida January 11-14, 2007. These numbers broke all previous records. There was a 40,000 square foot increase in the Law Enforcement section alone – an area that generally holds interest to SAR readers. But there was something for everyone throughout the show. Here are some of the products that caught my eye and knew would be of interest to readers of Small Arms Review.
Magpul Industries Corp., (P.O. Box 17697, Boulder, CO 80308, Phone (303) 828-3460. Website: www.magpul.com.) drew large crowds this year to their booth with the introduction of a new rifle. Called the Masada, the new rifle offers innovative features that are labeled as an Adaptive Combat Weapon System. The new rifle makes extensive use of polymers and features such things as a tool-less quickchange barrel system that is also M16 compatible. The barrel is free floated for maximum accuracy. The Masada uses M16 magazines as well as the high reliability Magpul Polymag. The gun is totally modular with grip assemblies, forearms, fire control groups and stocks being interchangeable. The Masada’s stock is not only extendable, like an M4’s but also folds, has an adjustable cheek piece and a water-proof storage compartment. For ultra- reliability it has a piston-driven gas system. Other features include a built-inflat-top Picatinny rail system, ambidextrous charging handle, magazine release and bolt release hold-open. An extensive review of this new weapon system will be in an upcoming issue of SAR.
MicroTech, long known for their extensive line of very high quality knives, now has another division called MicroTech Small Arms Research (300 Chestnut Street Ext., Bradford, PA 16701. Phone: (814) 363-9260. Website: www.msarinc.com.). They created quite a buzz with the introduction of their in-house made version of an AUG bull-pup rifle. The new rifle, called STG-556, features some major improvements over the Steyr made AUG rifle. Some of the key features include a newly designed receiver group with a removable 3X optic with Close Quarter Battle (CQB)aiming reticle. Once the optic is removed, stainless steel threaded hard points are exposed so that a Picatinny rail can be installed for different optics. These same hard points are also at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions on the receiver making it possible to install lights, lasers or whatever else the operator might need. The new gun features the same removable barrel unit as the Steyr rifle except it is now fluted for added rigidity and accuracy and will come in 14, 16 and 20 inch lengths. There will also be a suppressed barrel assembly available. Assembly is the key word as the suppressor is not removable and features advanced technology and 36 dB sound reduction. The rifle will be ambidextrous but will now be equipped with a last round bolt hold open and forward assist. Magazines will come in 10, 20, 30 and 42 round capacities. The STG-556 will also be available in select-fire models for qualified customers. While the Steyr AUG had an optional 9mm conversion available, the new STG-556 will have a redesigned “sister” model rifle available in 9mm. This rifle will also be featured in an upcoming issue of Small Arms Review.
Leitner-Wise Rifle Company, Inc., LWRC (7200 G Fullerton Road, Springfield, VA 22150. Phone: (703) 455-8650. Website: www.lwrifles.com) was well represented and showing a rifle that was the talk of the show. At first glance it looked just like any of the other excellent AR-15/ M16 variants that they produce. It turned out to be a very special M16 that fires from a closed bolt on semi-auto and from an open bolt on full auto. One key feature is that the parts for this conversion can be fitted to existing M16s. This gun promises to set the pattern for more great things out of this company. Watch the pages of SAR for a feature article on this amazing new rifle.
While on the subject of “hot” new rifles, mention should be made of a new rifle from Kel-Tec Industries (1475 Cox Road, Cocoa, FL 32926. Phone: (321) 631-0068. Website: www.kel-tec.com) called the KEL-TEC RFB High Efficiency Rifle. The term RFB stands for Rifle Forward ejection Bullpup. This new rifle is a gasoperated bullpup design in caliber 7.62x51mm. It ejects its empty brass forward out the front of the rifle through a tube that runs above the barrel. The RFB will be available in three models with three different barrel lengths: the Carbine with an 18 inch barrel, the Sporter with a 24 inch barrel and the Target version with a 32 inch barrel and QD bipod. The new rifle uses metric FAL magazines. Other features include ambidextrous controls,Mil-Spec Picatinny optic rail attached to the barrel, completely adjustable trigger assembly, optional free-floated four sided Picatinny rail forearm and tool-free disassembly. Kel-Tec says that the rifle will not be available for about a year.
DSA, Inc., (P.O. Box 370, Barrington, IL 60011. Phone: (847) 277-7258. Website: www.dsarms.com) was there showing off their new Swiss made B&T TP9 9mm Tactical Pistol. A version of this pistol was available years ago as the Steyr SPP but now the improved gun is made by Brugger & Thomet. The new Tactical Pistol makes extensive use of high impact resin polymers in its construction. It also features top and side Mil-Std 1913 Picatinny rails that are molded in. Front post and rear notch sights are standard with optional ghost ring sights available. Magazines are high strength transparent polymer and come in 15, 20, 25 and 30-round capacities. The TP9 is completely ambidextrous and disassembles without tools. Selectfire and SBR versions are also available as well as a very well made B&T suppressor which will attach to the already “lugged” barrel. The select-fire LE version also features a vertical foregrip, folding stock and 900 rpm cyclic rate. All models feature single point sling attachment points.
One of the hottest accessories these days in the firearms world seems to be that of optics and they were literally everywhere at the SHOT Show. Two of the most prolific in the world of police and military are EOTech and Aimpoint. Both companies were in attendance and both have new models.
The EOTech (3600 Green Court, Suite 400, Ann Arbor, MI 48105. Phone: (734) 741-8868. Website: www.L-3Com.com.) booth was buzzing with the news of their latest release, the Model 557. This is the newest in their line of holographic sights. The new 557 has side mounted control buttons instead of the rear mounted type. The side mounted control buttons allow for magnifiers, night vision optics or back up iron sights to be mounted closer to the EOTech. This means that there is less chance of reflection between the two optics as well as the ability to use two types of optics on a shorter rail. Additionally, the quick attach base of the EOTech has been relieved to fit over standard handguards found on many M4 or M16 style weapons. The new 557 also features a new reticle called the AR223. This new reticle still has the 65 MOA circle with quadrant ticks with 1 MOA center aiming dot but now has three more aiming dots that are ballistically matched for .223 ammunition at 400, 500 and 600 meters respectively. This new model is also submersible to 33 feet. Two lithium AA batteries will run the unit for 1,000 continuous hours. Eotech also unveiled two new magnifiers; a 3x model and a 4x model. Two new mounts for the magnifiers were also introduced, a solid mount as well as a flip-to-the-side model which allows the user to go from magnified to standard sight instantly. New reticle patterns were also introduced. These include the already mentioned AR223 as well as the XR500 and the XR308. The XR308 is customized for the specific trajectory of the M240 machine gun but also works great on other .308 platforms such as the Remington 700 or the AR-10 style rifles. The XR500 is made specifically for the trajectory of the .50 caliber BMG round out of the M2 machine gun but also works great on .50 caliber platforms such as Barrett or Cobb rifles.
Aimpoint (14103 Mariah Court, Chantilly, VA 20151. Phone: (703) 263- 9795. Website: www.aimpoint.com.) introduced two new models, which are the CompM4 and the Micro series. The CompM4 features a 2 MOA aiming dot, is night vision compatible and has 16 intensity settings. There are 7 night vision settings and 9 daylight settings. It features an improved QRP2 Picatinny rail mount eliminating the need for a separate mounting ring. Aimpoints have always been known for their excellent battery life and the new CompM4 sets the standard. It is powered by a single AA battery with a continuous run time of over 8 years: you turn it on and forget it. Aimpoint’s new tactical Micro sight also made its debut at this years SHOT Show. The Micro is a 1x (non-magnifying) 4 MOA red dot sight with 6 night vision and 7 daylight settings. There is also a super bright setting for use in desert sun or with laser protection filters. This tiny sight weighs only 3.6 ounces and is about two inches long. This small size lends itself well to rifles, shotguns, bows, submachine guns and pistols. Basically any firearm you want to put a sight on. The Micro comes with an integral Picatinny mount that is keyed into the sight body to absorb recoil. This tiny sight canbe used as a stand alone and also be mounted in conjunction with other magnifying optics giving the user dual capabilities. There are three models of the Micro including one with a stainless finish. This sight is also very battery conscious running over 5 years on a single CR-2032 battery.
Crimson Trace (8089 SW Cirrus Drive, Beaverton, OR 97008. Phone: (503) 627- 9992. Website: www.crimsontrace.com.) was on hand to show off several new models of their Lasergrips. Crimson Trace came out with the first Lasergrips years ago and has never looked back, introducing models every few months as new handguns are introduced. Their new models include the LG-490 for the small semi-auto Bobcat and Tomcat from Beretta, the model LG-660 for the new Smith & Wesson M&P pistol, the Defender Series to fit Ruger, Taurus and Smith & Wesson Revolvers and the new LG-303 for the Ruger SP-101.They were also showing several of the existing grips in their new Burlwood Finish which looks as if it’s made from a highly figured hardwood.
When the SHOT Show first started, and even up until just a few years ago, police and military guns, items and accessories were taboo. Even targets with a human shape were not allowed. Several years ago the SHOT Show started to allow such items and a new Law Enforcement section was added to house them. Today, this is one of, if not the most, popular section of the show. Traffic in this area is shoulder to shoulder and sometimes almost impassable. With the addition of this section came a large number of added exhibitors, most of whom are familiar names to SAR readers. Following is just a sample that I was able to visit.
Gemtech (P.O. Box 140618, Boise, ID 83714. Phone: (208) 939-7222. Website: www.gem-tech.com) also introduced several new suppressors. One that really caught my eye was their new UMP which is made for the H&K UMP submachine gun. This 8 inch long, 12 ounce suppressor features unmatched suppression levels coupled with a very high tech mounting system. The quick mount suppressor is simply dropped over the barrel, pushed back toward the gun against spring tension and then a locking “gate” is pushed down to engage the flange on the UMP’s barrel. Called the Posi-Lock mount, it is simple to operate and once locked in place it cannot be inadvertently unlocked. Gemtech now also markets its own suppressor pouches that are Mil-Spec cordura, Molle compatible and come in multiple colors.
Another suppressor manufacturer was represented with the same name but new faces. Most SAR readers are familiar with long time suppressor maker John Tibbets and his company John’s Guns (110 Commercial , Coleman, TX 76834. Phone: (325) 382- 4885. Website: www.johnsguns.us.) John is now semi-retired and has sold his business to Brent and Candys Hemphill. They will be continuing John’s long tradition of high quality suppressors and automatic weapons.
With the hundreds of firearms manufacturers on hand at the SHOT Show, accessories still dominate the aisles. Accessories seem to be the backbone of the shooting industry and their manufacturers are there by the hundreds. It is very interesting to follow the progression of some of these companies. I have not missed a SHOT Show in the last 30 years and have seen start-up accessory companies grow to some of the biggest in the industry.
One of the notable accessories that I uncovered was the UpLULA magazine loader from an Israeli company, Maglula, Ltd. It is being distributed in the USA by Butler Creek Corp. (P.O. Box 1690, Oregon City, OR 97045. Phone: (503) 655- 7964. Their website address is: www.michaelsoforegon.com.) and is a universal pistol magazine loader. Universal is the key word because one size fits all pistol magazines. It doesn’t matter if they are single or double stack, metal or plastic or extended capacity. This one loader loads them all without special inserts or adjustments. Maglula makes loaders for a wide variety of rifles and submachine guns.
Rifle replacement stocks are very prolific these days. Stocks for everything from bolt-actions to M16s to Ruger 10/22s were well represented. Command Arms Accessories (76 Vincent Circle, Ivyland, PA 18974. Phone: (267) 803-1518. Website: www.commandarms.com.) offers buttstocks, rail systems, pistol grips, light/ laser mounts, bipods and tactical vests. They have hundreds of accessories that are battle proven. Their SRS Sniper Stock is one of my favorites. This is an M4 type stock that features complete adjustabilityand a built-in monopod. This stock offers a very stable shooting platform and can withstand the recoil of .50 caliber rifles. Vltor Weapons Systems (3735 Romero Road, Tucson, AZ 85705. Phone: (520) 408-1944. Website: www.vltor.com.) is another company that has replacement stocks that have been battle proven. Their Modstocks grace rifles from local shooting ranges to Iraq and are now official military issue. They also make rail systems, light mounts and other accessories. They are also now marketing a very high quality upper receiver for the AR-15/M16/ M4 series of rifles.
Mounting Solutions Plus (P.O. Box 97- 1202, Miami, FL 33197. Phone: (305)253-8393. Their website address is: www.mountsplus.com) and run by Ned Scheer, has mounts that can attach just about any accessory to any firearm. If he doesn’t have a mount to fit something, you probably don’t need to mount it. Ned also makes the tried and proven MWG 90 Rounder, a 90-round drum magazine.
Kevin Brittingham and his company Advanced Armament Corp. (1434 Hillcrest Road, Norcross, GA 30093. Phone: (770) 925-9988. Their website address is: www.advancedarmament.com.) were there showing both their existing suppressors as well as some innovative new models. One of the new models is called the Black Box. This is a .45 caliber pistol suppressor that is very unorthodox looking. It features flat sides with rounded top and bottom. It has an offset that allows it to set lower making the host pistol’s sights visible. It also features patent-pending Hyposone technology for astonishing performance of up to 40 dB noise reduction depending on pistol and ammunition. The Black Box is user adjustable for alignment and zero-shift without disassembly or removing it from the weapon.
The Beta Company (2137 B Flintstone Drive, Tucker GA 30084. Phone: (770) 270-0773. Website: www.betaco.com.) was there with a sample of their long awaited Beta C-Mag in 7.62×51 (.308). This new magazine, although heavy when loaded, promises to provide the ultimate in firepower for .308 guns. The new drums should be shipping by the time you read this.
Finally, there are a couple of other relative newcomers to the SHOT Show. These are the airsoft and the paintball vendors. Airsoft has now literally taken the sporting firearms market by storm. Several distributing companies have emerged as frontrunners in this field. One of these companies is Spartan Imports (213 Lawrence Ave,. South San Francisco, CA 94080. Phone: (650) 589-5522. Website: www.spartanimports.com.). Spartan is the exclusive importer of Classic Army airsoft products. For those of you not familiar with these guns, they are exact replicas of currently produced firearms that range from handguns to belt-fed machines. They are either gas, air or spring powered and fire non-lethal 6mm plastic BBs at safe velocities. These BBs will not dent metal or break glass but they can leave a welt. Some companies actually license their guns to be produced in airsoft variants.These include DPMS, ArmaLite, Steyr and Arsenal just to name a few. The airsoft gun industry has also spawned accessory manufacturers that produce accessory items for not only airsoft guns but for real firearms as well.
Tippmann (2955 Adams Center Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46803. Phone: (800) 553- 4831. Website: www.tippman.com.) is a name that has long been associated with the paintball industry. They too have ventured into the airsoft arena. This year they debuted their new paintball gun called the X7. It is advertised as the most customizable paintball marker ever made. This new marker resembles a cross between an HK PDW and an M16 pistol but by interchanging optional parts can bemade to look like an AK, G-36, MP5, M4 or an MP5 SD. It features a super-light magnesium receiver and incorporates what is called a Cyclone Enhanced Performance Feed System that can feed up to 20 paint balls per second and is available in selectfire. If you are interested in paintball, this is definitely one to look at.
This article does not nearly begin to cover all the new items represented at this year’s SHOT Show but it does take a look at several of the more interesting ones. It looks like this year will be a banner year for new products so keep watching SAR’s New Review for all the latest.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V10N10 (July 2007)|