Once again, the hunting and shooting industry outdid itself showcasing 2008 products at the 30th National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Shot Show last week at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
In the four days that I wandered among 1,950 exhibitors sprawled over the 750,000-square-foot show, I found it extremely difficult to limit my “Best of Show” choices to just 10 in each of the three categories — firearms, optics and accessories.
Here are my top 10 in firearms, any of which I would like to see standing in my gun cabinet.
In the single-shot rifle category, the Traditions Performance Firearms Company’s new .45-.70-caliber TIP-UP rifle should catch the eye of the big-bore rifle enthusiasts. Measuring just 40 inches overall and weighing 71⁄4 pounds, this new rifle is based on the 1900 design of the Wesson Tip-Up. It features a 24-inch blue- or nickel-finish barrel with a one in eight-inch rifling and a dual safety system. This system has a cross block lock safety, transfer bar safety, and if the barrel is not securely locked into the frame, the hammer will not cock.
Other features of the TIP-UP include a quick-relief recoil pad, hammer spur, Monte Carlo soft-touch synthetic regular or thumb-hole stock, fiber-optic sights and it is drilled and tapped for a scope. There is also a Mossy Oak Treestand Camo stock pattern offered as an option. Suggested retail price is, $464 to $562 (twww.raditionsfirearms.com).
Trigger pull plays a dramatic role in the accuracy of any rifle, and Browning’s new X-Bolt rifle, with its new adjustable three-
lever Feather Trigger, has taken it to the next level. At the range, I
noticed immediately the clean, crisp pull with no take-up, allowing me to focus more on target acquisition than on trigger pull. The pull can be adjusted easily by the shooter from three to five pounds. In addition, there is a new bolt unlock button that works with the top-tang safety for safe unloading. The bolt unlock button also allows the bolt to be unlocked and opened with the safety in the on position.
Other features include a new Inflex Technology recoil pad, X-Lock scope-mounting system, detachable magazine, 60-degree bolt lift, free-floated barrel and recessed muzzle crown. As for its appearance, the new X-Bolt has all the beauty you would expect from Browning, both in the Medallion wood stock and stainless Stalker composition stock models. The X-Bolt is offered in calibers from .243 to .375 H&H, and has a suggested retail price range of $799 to $1,049 (www.browning.com).
GERMAN .22 RIFLE
It isn’t often that a .22-caliber rifle excites me, but the new German Sports Gun’s GSG-5 semi-auto imported by American Tactical Imports in Rochester really caught my eye. With a tactical design very similar to the H&K MP-5 series, which is something I have never seen in a rimfire cartridge gun, the GSG-5 has “fun shooting” written all over it. Options included a railing system for scope mounting, faux suppressor and a 10-shot easy-change magazine. Suggested retail price is $499 (www.americantactical.us).
Harrington & Richards’ Topper shotgun has been around for a long time and dedicated to the hunter, but its new 12-gauge Trap Gun will soon be showing up at sportsman’s clubs and breaking plenty of clay birds this spring. Featuring a double-white sighting system mounted atop a 30-inch vented rib barrel with a stainless- steel IM trap choke anda chamber to handle three-inch shells, the new Topper measures 44 inches overall and weighs just seven pounds. Its stock is select polished American Walnut Co. Trap with a fluted comb, pistol grip, cut checkering and Pachmayr trap recoil pad. It’s a lot of gun for a suggested retail price of $362 (www.hr1871.com).
The Remington 870 pump/slide-action shotgun has been around for a long time and is noted for its reliability. And I am sure the new Model 870 Super Model XCS
waterfowl addition to the series this year will live up to the reputation. Featuring the new Mossy Oak Duck Blind camo stock and forend, 28-inch barrel, nickel-plated internal components and special armor-like overall coating, this gun is ready for the most extreme conditions. It also has a SpeedFeed, one shell-holding stock fitted with a R3 recoil pad (www.remington.com).
As one who is somewhat partial to a side-by-side shotgun, I spent a lot of time looking at all models, and I was impressed with the new SXS that O.F. Mossberg has added to its shotgun line. The SXS offers a total of nine choices between its Field and Onyx lines in gauges of 12, 20 and 28. Barrel choices vary from 26 to 28, and all have chrome-plated bores with scrolled engraved receivers and satin-finished checkered select walnut stocks and forends. They have a single-selective trigger and tang safety, and come with a sports set of five choke tubes. Suggested retail price is $700 (www.mossberg.com).
During the last decade, the development of the muzzleloading rifle has increased its efficiency and performance dramatically. And this year is no exception. If you are looking for a new muzzleloader, then I suggest you take a look at the .50-caliber break-open Pursuit II XLT models by Traditions Performance Firearms. These new guns have carried over features from their LT and Pro models like the alloy, rust-preventative lightweight frames, quick-release recoil pad and 360-degree porting to reduce recoil, and added an Accelerator Breech Plug.
Add to this a new flat face that provides a more consistent and thorough ignition, coupled with a built-in O-ring that prevents blowback, and you have a really easy-to-clean muzzleloader. Suggested retail price is $421 (www.-traditionsfirearms.com).
After viewing many of the rimfire handguns on display. I found the new Walther SP22 to be the most versatile of all the .22-calibers. This semi-automatic rimfire, offered in four unique models, has the flexibility and performance features needed for competition and/or plinking. These features and options include an interchangeable six-inch barrel system, Picatinny-style scope-mounting rails for the four- and six-inch models, junior polymer and adjustable wooden grips, Tru-Glo sports sights, laser sights and a variety of optics.
Imported and distributed by Smith & Wesson, the Walther SP22 series has a suggested retail price range of $335 to $437 (www.-
Air guns have come a long way in the last few years, and this year, Crosman has introduced a new .177-caliber that is both fast and accurate. It is the Tac 77 Elite, and it propels a .177 pellet at a velocity of 1,000 feet per second, making it not only a great target gun, but also more than adequate for small game. It features an all-weather synthetic stock with pistol grip, padded adjustable check piece and a two-stage adjustable trigger. It comes with a CenterPoint 3-9x32mm scope with dual illuminated reticle, flashlight, bipod and laser sight. Suggested retail price is $299 (www.crosman.-
For those of you who are gun collectors, Sturm, Ruger & Company is offering a limited-edition 50th anniversary Ruger Bearcat .22LR single-action revolver. For many of us, the Bearcat was our first handgun, and I know mine punched holes in many tin cans, as well as paper targets. For this year only, Ruger is offering this anniversary special in a blued-finish with 14kt gold “50th Anniversary Bearcat-2008” inlayed in the four-inch barrel. It is chambered for six shots, has a gold trigger guard and brown cocobolo wooden grips. It comes with a unique anniversary box and Bearcat history booklet. It has a suggested retail price of $785 (www.ruger-firearms.com).