Last week, I wrote that this year’s 35th anniversary Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show could be their biggest ever — and it was.
Two records were set — overall attendance (62,371) and number of dealers/buyers (2,000).
I wasn’t able to visit all 1,600-plus manufacturer’s booths, but with the addition of the “New Products” area the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) started several years ago, I was able to concentrate on what’s new and pick most of my best-of-show items. Here are some of my choices.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about the new Winchester cartridge .17 caliber Super Mag rimfire ammunition and that Savage Arms was the only firearms manufacturer to have a gun for it. I had the opportunity to shoulder the new Savage B. MAG that will handle this fireball cartridge that leaves the barrel at 3,000 feet per second. Savage staff members said they had to design features into this rimfire rifle that are usually reserved for centerfire rifles. To attain total accuracy in this long-range shooter, Savage used a unique thread-in barrel head spacing system, rear locking lugs and a cock-on close bolt.
It comes with Savage’s great Accu-Trigger. The magazine is a center-feed rotary, and the gun, which comes with a soft rubber butt pad, weighs in at less than 4 1⁄2 pounds. This one’s going to tip over a few varmints and perhaps it might even take a Florida Osceloa turkey for me in March. Manufacturer suggested retail price begins at $350 (www.savagearms.com).
I also saw the new Lady Hunter model 11/111 Savage is introducing in its specialty series. Custom-designed for women who hunt or shoot, it comes with a good-looking, oil-finished, walnut stock, 12 1⁄2-inch pull length, is 391⁄2 inches long and has a 20-inch, matte-finished, carbon steel barrel. Other features include the AccuTrigger and detachable box magazine. It weighs just 6.5 pounds. The Lady is offered in 22-250, 223 Rem, 243 Win, 270 Win, 30-06 Springfield, 308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor and 7MM-08 Rem. Suggested retail price is $819.
Here’s some speed without any gun powder. The new Hunter Extreme airgun by Gamo pushes its PBA .177 pellet out at 1,650 feet per second and a normal lead pellet at 1,250 fps. All this speed generated by the 18-inch break barrel, single-cock system. The bull barrel is jacketed steel and requires just 58 pounds of cocking power. The trigger is second-stage adjustable, and the stock is a selected grade beech hardwood.
Included in the Hunter Extreme package is a 3-9×50 Illuminated center glass etched reticle and one-piece mount. Total weight with scope is 10.55 pounds, and overall length is 45.8 inches. Suggested retail price is $485 ( ww.gamousa.com).
With the renewed interest in the 28-gauge, Rossi has added one to its popular Circuit Judge wheel gun series. This should be of interest to both hunters and clay bird shooters. The Judge has a five-shot cylinder that shoots 2.5-inch, 28-gauge shotshells. This single/double-action Judge has an 18.5-inch blued barrel, hardwood stock with ventilated butt pad, transfer bar, red fiber optic front sight, Taurus security system and weighs five pounds, 10 ounces. Whether chasing small game or breaking clay birds, this is an easy-to-carry, fun gun. Suggested retail price is $665 (www.rossiusa.com).
The Model 1873 is credited with being “The gun that won the West,” and Winchester has added a new caliber to its current line that should be of interest to collectors, cowboy shooters and hunters, as well. This year’s introduction is chambered in .357 Mag, but can also shoot .38 special ammunition. This good-looking, 20-inch barreled lever-action carbine has a walnut, straight-grip stock with a satin oil finish, classic style forearm with blued steel cap and a full-length magazine. Sights are a semi-buckhorn design in the rear and a Marble Arms Gold Bead front. Other features include a crescent butt plate, steel loading gate and a receiver rear tang that’s drilled and tapped for an optional tang-mounted rear sight. Suggested retail price is $1,300 (www.winchesterguns.com).
One tool outdoorsmen and women all carry/use is a knife, and what good is a knife if it’s dull? I found the easy answer to sharpening at the EdgeCraft booth — their new model 12 Sportsman. It sharpens straight and serrated edge knives for hunting, fishing, pocket and household. The sportsman features a three-stage sharpening process that provides stronger and more durable Trizor edges, a triple bevel. Gothic-Arch edges are created using Stage 1’s 100 percent diamond abrasives, Stage 2 hones the edge, creating a second bevel with finer diamond abrasives and Stage 3, the UltraHones, uses ultra-fine micron-sized diamond abrasives that create the third bevel. Serrated edge knives can be sharpened with Stage 3. For honing the best edge, the Sportsman has built-in, patented flexible spring angle guides that ensure proper angle control. Suggested retail price is $130 (www.edgecraft.com).
Hunters who like to scout and/or hunt new woods or want to get to and from tree stands or ground blinds in the dark should consider Bushnell’s HuntTrack handheld GPS Navigator. Not only does it allow navigation, but it can also be loaded with five standard and 20 additional storable locations such as where a vehicle is parked, or a cabin, tree stand, downed deer or favorite stump where a hunter likes to sit opening day. All can be found in the dark. Other features include recording and logging in the distance traveled and a directional arrow to get the user out. The HuntTrack displays and graphics are on a 1.6-inch screen with a color supported grayscale. Powered by three “AAA” batteries, it’s water-resistant and measures 4x3x.9 inches. Suggested retail price is $130 (www.bushnell.com).
The Hogue family has been manufacturing handgun grips and gun stocks since 1968. They have some new ways to dress up and improve firearms. To get a better grip on a Ruger 22/45 pistol, they offer two choices — wrap-around rubber grips with finger groves or rubber-grip panels checkered with diamonds. For the popular Smith and Wesson Centennial/polymer Bodyguard Tamer J frame, they have a black rubber grip. Ruger 10/22 owners can really dress up their gun with Hogue’s new Tactical Solutions X-Ring with .920 diameter barrel channel and a handsome red lava stock. For pistol protection, there are three new zipper bags, small, 6×10 inches, medium, 9×12, and large, 10×16. Suggested retail prices are $30 for the Ruger and Smith and Wesson grips, $90 for the Ruger stock and $20, $25 and $30 for the pistol bags (www.getgrip.com.).
I like to find “different” firearms for hunting various big and small game. I found two guns I thought would provide real challenge hunts — the North American Arms (NAA) new addition to its line, the NAA-PUG-T, “runt of the litter.” The PUG .22 magnum is a single-action, five-round revolver measuring 4 9/16 inches long, 2 13/16 inches high, 1 1/16 inches wide — and here’s the challenge — a one-inch barrel. When I first picked it up, it was very balanced and quite comfortable with its soft pebble-textured grip and easy-to-use tritium/white front sight. This mini revolver series has removable cylinders which include notches milled between the chambers and have a traditional half-cock position as a loading and unloading aid.
So this will be my squirrel hunting challenge, and should a cottontail happen to stop in front of me, I’ll take the shot. However, my plan is to find an area with a good supply of squirrels, set up my ground blind and wait for a good shot. Should be fun (www.northamericanarms.com).
Next week, I’ll reveal the rest of my Best of SHOT Show picks which will include a sweet, economical .410 over/under, something for those of you who have pistol carry permits, how to keep your feet warm, a new crossbow and a new challenge I plan to try in the turkey woods of Pennsylvania this fall.