Las Vegas has a saying, “What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.”
I was there last week for the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s 36th annual Shot Show, and I have to tell shooters/hunters about what the shooting sports industry is offering us this year. Here are some of my Best-of-Show selections.
Airgun shooting popularity continues to grow in both the number of plinkers and hunters. Gamo has introduced a new model, the Whisper G2, that features a turbo stabilizing system that increases pellet velocity with less vibration and reduces recoil. The barrel is fluted, polymer-jacketed, and made of precision steel with an all-weather regular or thumbhole black synthetic stock.
I was impressed with the G2s two-stage adjustable trigger. It is crisp and creep-free, both of which will increase accuracy. Also new is its Shock Wave Absorber that absorbs 74 percent of the recoil.
The new 33mm power plant pushes a .177-caliber pellet out of the barrel at 1,275 feet per second and a .22-caliber pellet at 975 feet per second. Add to this a total weight of just 6.3 pounds and a 4x32 scope, and it is the perfect gun for punching holes in targets and/or hunting small game. Don’t forget to check out their new Luxor Cu hunting pellets. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the Whisper G2 is $270 (www.gamousa.com).
This has always been a difficult category to pick just one, but when Ruger showed me their American Rimfire, it was an easy choice.
This little bolt-action rifle is 100 percent American made and offered in barrel lengths of 22 inches (six pounds) or the one I like, 18 inches (5.38 pounds). All barrels are alloy steel with a satin blue finish and have an integral bedding block system that free-floats the barrel, adding to its accuracy. Caliber choices are .17HMR, .22LR and .22WMRF.
One of the unique features of this series is that they come with two easy-to-change stock modules that provide comb height options for scope or iron sight use. The magazines are detachable — the 17HMR and .22WMRF have a nine-round capacity, the .22LR, a 10.
The stock is a black composite with Williams Fiber Optic front and adjustable “V” slot folding leaf in the rear. There’s a three-eighths-inch rimfire scope base machined into the receiver for optics. Other features include a crisp Ruger American trigger with a pull weight that’s user-adjustable between three and five pounds.
Last May, the Ruger American Rifle was presented with the National Rifle Association magazine’s Golden Bullseye Award. MSRP is $329, but I’ve seen them out there for $250 (www.ruger.-com/americanrimfire).
After visiting all the muzzleloader manufacturers’ booths, my first choice is the comfortable, solid-composite, thumb-holed stocked Accura V2 by CVA. This addition offers a Nitride-treated, 416 grade stainless-steel, 27-inch barreled
.50-caliber rifle designed with quite a few favorable features.
They began with a fluted, Bergara barrel with its bullet guiding muzzle and its quick-release breech plug that can be removed with a short twist with your fingers — no tools needed. There’s a choice of CVA’s Dead On, one-piece scope mount or fiber optic sights.
Other features include SoftTouch coating and rubber-grip panels in the stock, a trigger guard actuated breeching action, neutral center of gravity trigger, PalmSaver solid aluminum ramrod and Realtree APG HD colored stock.
When I asked Thomas MacAulay, director of digital media for CVA, about their warranty, his answer surprised me. He said the new Nitriding process they’re using on their barrels actually hardens the layers of the steel, making it significantly corrosion-resistant and more durable, so these CVA barrels are guaranteed for life against rust pitting.
If a barrel ever develops permanent bore damage due to corrosion, it will be replaced at no charge. MSRP for the Accura V2 is $600 (www.BPIguns.com).
When I walked into the Bushnell press conference at the show, the projection screen said: “The woods no longer call, they text.”
That definitely got my attention, and shortly thereafter, I found out it was the introduction of their Trophy Cam HD Wireless Trail Camera.
The camera sends images directly to a phone, tablet or computer for up-to-the-minute scouting information from wherever it’s hung. So, if you’re back at the cabin eating lunch and that big buck walks past your stand, you’ll be immediately notified.
Wireless connectivity works right out of the box with SIM card and data included with unlimited thumbnails free for the first 30 days. Bushnell also offers affordable pre-paid data plans. The Trophy Cam HD has a fast six-tenths of a second trigger speed, runs up to three months on one set of batteries, has 8MP high-quality, full-color resolution, HD video 1,280x720 pixels, operating temperature range from -5 to 140F, is weather-proof, has an IR flash and LED night vision flash. MSRP is $599 (www.bushell.com).
If you have a New York state pistol permit, take a close look at the new Remington — yes, Remington — Model R51 9mm pistol.
I was very impressed with the feel of this 22-ounce, semi-automatic, subcompact pistol based on the Pederson design that’s easy to point and shoot. The grip has been designed for optimal target acquisition, and the low bore axis aids in lessening the muzzle rise up to 25 percent, all of which gives the shooter faster and more accurate follow-up shots.
Construction is a combination of aluminum and steel, and comes with a 3.25-inch 416 steel barrel and a six-pound, crisp trigger pull. The overall dimensions of the R51 are 6.6 inches long and 4.6 inches high.
Working the slide of this little pistol was also a surprise — it racked quickly and smoothly with little effort. Other features include an ambidextrous magazine release and a simple grip safety. The R51 is chambered to handle 9mm Luger plus P ammunition and can be ordered with a Crimson Trace Laser Guard. MSRP is $420; with Laser, $600 (www.remington.com).
Those who prefer easy-to-move, climber tree stands, will want to “pick up” the new Ameristep 13.5-pound Cliff Hanger or the 29.5-pound Sky Walker. Both come with a cast-aluminum 21.5x33-inch platform with no welds, seams or tubes, which means they’re quiet, light and sturdy.
Other features include self-leveling, which allows adjusting the platform base to the angle of the tree. Both models have fold-down seats, also adjustable for angle. The weight difference of the Sky Walker is because it comes with a lumbar support back rest. The Cliff Hanger has a flip-tip seat. MSRP is $219 for the Cliff Hanger, $249 for the Sky Walker (www.ameristep.com).
In the spring, most turkey hunters use decoys. I found a pair in the Hunter Specialties booth that serious turkey hunters should take a look at — the Snoods.
Jake and Suzie Snood’s decoys have very realistically painted heads and feathers and built-in air valves that allow the decoys to be inflated quickly. Construction is durable expanded rubber that resists creases and dents, but can still be folded and carried in a vest.
The Snoods come with dual-position stakes that allow posing the decoys in the content or receptive breeding positions. MSRP for the Jake, $80; for Suzie, $60 (www.-hunterspecialties.com).