I decided to go to IWA this year, as my impression (which I believe is correct) is that IWA in Nuernberg offers more that is of interest to shooters in the British Isles.
This time I have made the pictures separate, click on the link to see pictures - some of the links go to company websites:
First is Aimpoint, who stole the show with their LaserShot setup, this is an interactive system made by LaserShot, but an excellent demonstration for Aimpoint's products. Eric Gauffel, IPSC World Champion was on hand, showing us all up! My efforts on the IPSC Challenge course of fire elicited the comment: "Hey, he's not bad!" from Eric, which is without doubt the best complement I have ever gotten!
Airmunition were there, with their innovative air cartridge system. This is detailed at length in the SHOT show 1999 report. Currently it is for sale to law enforcement only, due to the staggering price - a Glock 17T costs about £450, the air cartridges cost £18 each (eek!) and you also have to fork out for the reloading press and the pellets themselves. It's as close as you can come to a centrefire semi-auto pistol and be legal in Great Britain, but you won't have much change out of two grand.
The Russians were there in the form of Baikal and Izhmash, several guns caught my eye, the first was the 12 gauge version of the Kalashnikov, which theoretically is legal in the UK although I think you will be hard pressed to come up with a "good reason", but more power to you if you want to try. There is also a .410 version, which could be used on indoor ranges with slug. I've seen Cotswold Arms advertising both of these guns. Also on display was the 9mm pistol that may become the new Russian service pistol. Although it looks a bit crude, in the hand it actually felt surprisingly good, and the safety was well-located and easily operated. It's also a very solid piece of ordnance. As Mikhail Kalashnikov likes to say: " 'The Best' is the worst enemy of 'Just Good Enough' ". I also took a picture of a double-stack Makarov, because in the hand I couldn't tell any real difference between it and the CO2 version that is becoming popular.
Beamhit were in attendance, I covered this in the 1999 Shot show report, it is a very neat gadget which I mention again only because I am told they will shortly have a UK distributor. It is a very clever widget that makes dry firing practice much more effective.
Beretta were showing off their new pistol, the plastic framed 9000S. This still uses an open top slide, but has an innovative new locking system that is similar to the Browning delayed lockup but without the top locking. Reviews I have read do not indicate stellar accuracy, however. I personally found the trigger reach to be too short and narrow, making it difficult to cycle the hammer in DA mode. Also the hammer is narrow and quite difficult to thumb back. On the bright side, the magazines are similar to those of the 92FS, similar enough that you can use 92FS mags in the gun. Capacity is 12+1 in 9mm, 10+1 in .40. The gun uses a traditional safety mechanism, as found on the CZ-75 and Government Model. Also worth mentioning are the natty holsters, available in a variety of different colours.
Another new gun is the Cougar 8000L, basically a slab-sided compact version of the Cougar, which I found to be superior to the original model. One of my complaints about this pistol is the bulky slide, but Beretta seem to have solved that problem. Also my concerns about the magazine release have been addressed, it is now the same as on the 92FS, without the exposed spring. Capacity is 13+1 in 9mm, the invariable 10+1 in .40.
Beretta also has a .22 conversion kit available for the 92FS. There are several new models of the 92FS, the most interesting to me was the 92FS Inox Brigadier, essentially the Brigadier model in stainless steel. They also had the 98FS models, engraved and with silver or gold plating, if you want! And if that isn't enough for you to pose with, there is also a line of Beretta clothing.
Blaser now has their own range of hunting ammunition, UK importers are Beechwood if you want some. It seemed well made but the proof is in the shooting, obviously. On the stand they had the intriguing Blaser 99, essentially a side-by-side with an overtop rifle barrel. Blasers are lovely rifles, but if you have to ask how much, you can't afford one. Of interest to target shooters was the R93 Long Range Sporter 2, which goes for around £1,500. Available in 6mm Norma BR, 6.5x55, 7.62 NATO and .300 Win. Mag., I expect I will be seeing these at the range shortly!
Briley were there, makers of extremely accurate rifles, pistols and superlative shotgun chokes. Their brochure was by far the best I picked up in terms of design, suffice to say their products are along the same line.
Browning had one of the larger stands, of definite interest to shooters in Britain (but not on the stand, unfortunately) are their new range of Buck Mark rifles, essentially the Buck Mark pistol fitted with a 16-inch heavy barrel and a shoulder stock. I expect these will sell very well here.
Another new product is the BDA compact, a compact version of the "new" BDA, that is not new at all but is in fact somewhere around 20 years old.
Also I got to fondle one of the FN Five-seveN pistols, this is chambered for the toy-like 5.7x28mm round, designed to penetrate body armour. An interesting design, although the ballistics don't impress me much. It may go through body armour but it doesn't appear to do much after that.
CCI-Speer had some of their large range of products on display. I think very highly of CCI ammo, it's the best factory ammo going, IMO. CCI also own Federal, and there appears to be some cross-development now going on, as Federal is making practice ammo with the CCI cleanfire primers. CCI has a new improved hollowpoint .22 Mag loading. What intrigued me the most was the Blazer .357 SIG load, which is the first Blazer load I have seen using bottle-necked cartridges. I will have to try some of this out. The main snag with Federal and CCI ammo is that in the UK it usually costs over the odds, though Edgar Bros. sell their .22 lines at reasonable prices. Federal now has an inexpensive 62gr load in .223, another one for my "must try" list.
Another stand that caught my eye was Cybergun, a distributor of airsoft guns. The Beretta copies are very hard to tell apart from the real thing, they're made by Western Arms Co. of Japan. Also the FA MAS replica by KWC is pretty good too. Their UK agent is Shooting Planet in Brighton.
Colt's were noticeable by their absence, their stand was empty. However, they have entered into an agreement with CZ, apparently. On the CZ stand was the Z40 pistol, essentially a DAO .40 CZ-75 shaped to look like a 1911. It's actually not as awful as it sounds, it felt quite good in the hand and the trigger pull was smooth. It would not be a bad option as a cop gun, but I doubt they will sell many, and it really does show how desperate Colt's are.
Feinwerkbau were displaying their new air pistol, the C55P. This is essentially their CO2 gun redesigned to use compressed air. A very interesting repeating air pistol, competition for the well-known Steyr LP5.
Fiocchi were there too, although there wasn't anything earth-shatteringly new.
FNM, a division of INDEP, the Portugese military suppliers were there with their intriguing line of rifle ammunition in some of the more oddball calibres such as 7.5x54 MAS and 7.5x55 Swiss. I asked them why they made ammo in these calibres, and the answer was intriguing: apparently most of their sales are to Germany and other countries which hold 100m competitions using as-issued military rifles that were in service prior to 1964. I hadn't heard of this competition before but apparently it is very popular and MAS and K31s are among the guns used. I think this is something we should be doing in the British Isles as it offers real opportunity for international competition plus it is something which can be done at the club level here also. York Guns import FNM ammo.
Geco had a fascinating new product, a shotgun slug developed specifically for practical shotgun competition. Finally, my prayers are answered! Importers are Dynamit Nobel UK Ltd. Geco are also sponsoring the "Geco Slug Cup", looks like fun!
I was fascinated with the Gehmann stand, they are makers of add-on widgets for ISSF rifles and pistols and also clothing for ISSF events. I've heard good things about their gloves, they're used by many top shooters, not just in ISSF.
And where would we be without Glock? Robert Glock was on hand, shame they're banned in GB, although you can still own the cutaway guns and some of the training guns. They had a new holster which didn't really impress me much, what was fascinating was the test Glock 17 in the display cabinet, which Hirtenberger had fired over 348,000 rounds through! Impressive, especially considering this was in the AC prefix range, well before the later improvements to the barrel and the finishing of the gun.
Next are Hämmerli, who appear to be taking the same approach as Anschütz, in having a clothing line. The Swiss effort is less impressive, and called X-Esse. It seemed to me to be an attempt to make shooting hip and appealing to younger people. I suppose it might work in Switzerland. In addition, they are offering a range of coloured plastic grips in the "X-Esse" range.
Of more interest, Hämmerli were offering two new airguns, the AP40 pistol and the AR50 rifle. The AP40 appears to be a development of the old 480, and the AR50 a competitor for Walther. The .22s marketed in the US as the "Trailside" are being marketed in Europe under the "X-Esse" label. They are set up more with target shooting in mind and I suspect will be very popular given their reasonable price. X-Esse have their own website.
And now we move to Heckler & Koch, that famous British firm<G>. H&K have a new semi-auto hunting rifle called the SLB2000. It's very dull, though I'm sure it works well. There were several new permutations of the USP, I think it was called the USP Super Elite or something like that. I'm sorry, but I can't stand the grip of the full-size USP so I didn't really pay attention. There was a 50th anniversary model of the USP compact, wow.
Of vastly more interest to all concerned was the SL8 rifle. I want one! This is essentially a sporterised version of the new Germany Army rifle, the G36. The European version is more interesting that the US one, as it will accept the G36 mags. All the reviews I have read have been favourable to the gun.
What I found most fascinating about the gun (and why it is better than the competition) was the gas system. The gas plug is a true innovation, with the gas rings around it, preventing gas from ingressing into the action as with most competing designs. There is no gas tube or gas piston tube as such, just a slender rod that extends back to the bolt (at the top of the picture, not the bit in the middle). Thankfully I can show you this as they had a cutaway on the stand!
It would be very easy for H&K to make a straight-pull version (for places where semi-autos are banned, like here) as you can tell from the pictures, but don't hold your breath.
And now a real British company, HPS Ltd, makers of HPS target rifles and ammunition. Their rifles are very impressive, and so is their ammo as I can attest to from personal experience. Very accurate stuff, as good as Federal Gold Medal and a lot cheaper. And it uses RO powder! I was staggered by that.
Israel Military Industries were also exhibiting. IMI are makers of Samson ammo, and will be known to most British shooters although they appear to have stopped selling to the civil market in the UK for reasons I'm not too clear on. This is a shame as IMI must be one of the largest suppliers of ammunition and guns in Europe and I for one miss their presence here.
On the stand was their bolt-action .44 Magnum carbine, this was nothing spectacular, basically a surplus Mauser 98K action rebarrelled and adapted to use the Desert Eagle magazine. However, it would appeal to target shooters in the UK and I have no idea why they aren't trying to sell them here.
I also had a chat with Kempf Waffentechnik, who make a sporterised version of the SIG SG550 rifle for the German market, essentially the same gun with a thumbhole stock and the flash hider and other "military" features deleted. I mention them because they told me to special order they could make the guns as straight-pulls, basically the same gun without a gas port in the barrel. I'm very fond of the SG550 and I may have to buy one, though they are pretty expensive at around £1,900 each.
Lapua were there, they make loads of neat types of ammunition. I only wish someone in the UK could stock them all, check out their website.
Lothar Walther had an uninspiring stand, however, pretty is as pretty does, and they make barrels for so many gun makers around the world it's hard to keep track. Good kit.
CBC, better known as Magtech had a stand, they are well-known as a maker of pistol ammunition, which means their presence on the UK market is virtually nil since the handgun ban, however, they also make a .22 semi-auto rifle which might be of interest to UK shooters, being inexpensive and having a detachable box ten-round magazine.
Many shooters in GB bought Marlin rifles to replace their handguns, Marlin had a new rifle that should be of interest called the 1894P. This is a .44 Magnum lever-action with a 16-inch ported barrel. I found it to be very handy during my brief examination, I expect I will be seeing local shooters buying these.
Mauser, now owned by SIG Arms, had never-ending variations of the classic 98 on display, from the standard model which costs around £350, all the way up to the Magnum models, which cost over £4,000. Mauser also has other models such as the M96 straight-pull, a 98-year younger design that I suspect is still outsold by the 1898. Mauser has come out with a new pistol design called the M2, from what I have seen of it I don't like it, though I can't really comment until I've tried one. Beechwood are the UK importers for Mauser.
I also visited the stand of a company called MEN, short for Metallwerk Elisenhütte Nassau, who you may never have heard of but they are the contractors for the German Army, and make all their ammunition. I found out the name of the UK agents, but I suspect they are more orientated toward the military end of things. It certainly looks like quality stuff though, I'd like to try some of their 5.56mm if I could get hold of it.
NORINCO, our copycat Chinese friends were there breathlessly waiting for other people's patents to expire so that they could copy their products. SIG appears to be the latest victim, given the NC226 pistol, a copy of the P226. The Chinese version has a chromed barrel.
Dangerous Dave from the Old Western Scrounger was there, this guy comes across as being a bit nuts, but what can you say about someone still advertising 7.92mm Kurz<G>? If you can't find it, call Dave, there's a good chance he's got it!
Pardini had a stand, (drool), it's at times like this I truly resent Tony and his chronies taking our handguns off us, but they do make some air pistols.
And if Pardini is not cool enough, there is always Perazzi, whose display was at risk of serious rust from people drooling all over their shotguns, most of which are in the six-figure range. Look on the bright side, they're legal in the British Isles, if you can afford the insurance!
Coming back down to Earth there was PMC, makers of a wide variety of ammunition. A Korean company that now makes most of it's ammo in the US, PMC now apparently means "Precision Made Cartridges" although it used to mean something unpronounceable in Korean! Importers are York Guns. I have used PMC ammo for years without any problems.
Another ammo company was Pretoria Metal Pressings, better known as PMP. I have used PMP pistol and rifle ammo, my main complaint is that the primers are a bit hard. PMP were promoting their line of hunting ammunition.
I spoke to Remington, expect their electronic-ignition ammo and guns in Europe by Autumn, I was told.
Another company making clothing that we don't see too often in the British Isles is Sauer, interesting stuff, follow the link!
Schmidt & Bender had a stand. They have a well-earned reputation for quality. This was my first time having a look at their mil-dot scopes - this is a recticle with dots along the lines every MOA. I didn't dislike it, this is one of those things you have to try before you buy, hard to do with stuff this expensive!
Sellier & Bellot were there with their extensive line of ammunition, several things caught my eye: first were their brass .410 shotgun cases for reloading. These should be of interest to UK shooters as using .410 shotgun slugs seems to be becoming more popular. S&B also had a 12 gauge slug load designed for target shooting, which is another new choice for practical shotgun. Finally, they also have their own .357 SIG load, with an unusual 140gr bullet.
I visited the Sierra bullets stand where they were giving away free key rings that lasted about halfway through the first day. I'm fond of MatchKing bullets as they seem to be able to cope well in military spec barrels, but deliver vastly superior performance to any open base bullet. Of course, the purists among you would argue for a nice custom barrel and VLDs, but I'm stubborn.
Cripes, at we're at SIG Arms already. SIG Arms is up for sale, as apparently SIG prefers making food packaging to making guns, unfortunately I don't have 20 million to hand. SIG Arms has bought up several gun companies, and had the biggest stand at the show. They were heavily promoting their line of SHR 970 hunting rifles, which are available in most popular calibres, and most popular colours too. Not sure if bright green is really up my alley. They appear to be a decent if somewhat ho hum hunting rifle.
There is also the inevitable new compact version of the SIG Pro pistol, the SPC2009 etc. And also new models with slide-mounted safeties, I assume either for stupid cops or to deflect silly American lawsuits. These models have an "M" suffix.
There were loads of interesting gizmos on their stand, including by far the cleverest cutaway pistol I have ever seen. I also finally got my hands on a custom shop brochure, I've been after one for awhile.
I picked up a brochure for their barrel-making division, and there was an impressive display of barrel corrosion resistance on their stand (sorry, forgot to take a picture). I suspect you need to order large numbers to make it cost effective, but they're probably among the best there is.
Sauer is also trying to flog what look like badge-engineered shotguns - give it up guys, stick with the rifles.
Smith & Wesson, probably the stupidest company in the world, going by their recent agreement with the US Govt., had a stand, but everything was locked up in display racks, so everyone went down the aisle to one of their distributor stands. S&W make guns specifically for the European market, the Super 9 is one of them. This is a 9mm pistol that has seperate barrels for 9x21 and .356TSW (9x21.5mm) I have never seen any .356TSW in Europe and I seriously doubt I ever will. They also make a version of the 686 for the European market, the 686 International DX, essentially the standard 686 with an unfluted cylinder and target wood stocks. S&W have also started adding attachment rails to their tactical models, it looks very clumsy as a result.
My only comment really is that S&W better start hoping international sales go up sharply, because their US sales look set for the dustbin going by the text of the agreement they signed!
Sommer und Ockenfuss are a company unknown in the UK, although I was told that John Reed of London(?) are their distributors here. This is a company of some interest, because they make a pump-action rifle that is legal here. It's legal because the action is cocked by moving the pistol grip back and forth, rather than the forend. Not cheap though, around £1,300. As a bullpup design it has a so-so trigger pull, though it it's certainly usable. Calibres are 7.62 NATO and .300 Win. Mag.
Sphinx were displaying their range of pistols. I've owned two Sphinx pistols and they're very nice, unfortunately the .40s don't work properly. All the guns on the stand were 9mm. Hmm... the 9mms are among the best in the world though, there is no doubt about that.
Steyr also had a new pistol on display, another predictable compact model, this time of their M-series, called the S-series. The trigger pulls on these guns are really light, compared to the prototypes that were really heavy. Oh well, at least from the target shooting standpoint they should be quite good.
They also had on display the SBS 96 HB Tactical model, that was originally called the practical model. These are really nice, someone please buy one so I can try it out! Also ten-round magazines appear to be available again for the SSG.
Thompson-Center have a new .22 semi-auto rifle. It looks quite nice although it's not that special. Lots of muzzle-loading rifles if you like that sort of thing!
Vektor make some interesting guns, and I cannot believe how cheap they are! The CP1 compact pistol costs around £200 in Germany. The weak Rand being the reason, I suspect. Of interest to UK shooters are the straight-pull sporter versions of the R4 assault rifle. These seem quite interesting, though not as inexpensive as the pistols. If you are an RFD and want to be a distributor, I have their number, email me!
Walther had one of the bigger stands, and one of the larger selections. Of interest to shooters in the British Isles is the GSP rifle, essentially the GSP pistol with a 16-inch heavy barrel dropped into a thumbhole stock. Very nice indeed, although I have to say I think it is more likely to appeal to oppressed ISSF pistol shooters here than anyone else. Some of the controls are a bit difficult to get to on it.
Other products included the PPK/E pistol, an "improved" version of the ancient PPK pistol - basically I think Ulm are looking for a use for their tooling. I couldn't see anything special about it.
Another gun of interest was the CP99, essentially the same mechanism as the CP88 fit into a plastic body that looks like a P99. Got to say I think the earlier CP88 is superior. I quite like the blowback CO2 Walther PPK/S though.
And nearly last, but by no means least, were James Watson's falling block rifles on the Border Barrels stand, made in Scotland no less. I'm no expert but they seemed very well made and certainly less expensive than the competition.
And finally, Winchester had their timeless designs on display, not much new except for some more variations on the Model 70.
Until next year...
"The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so." - Adolf Hitler
"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men." - Samuel Adams, 1771.
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