SHOT show 1999

February 1-4 saw the SHOT show take place at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Your intrepid Editor took the trip across the pond and this is the news he came back with:

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A-Zoom ammo: I mention them only because they had some neat snap caps, made from aluminium with a plastic primer. They are much better than the stupid red plastic things.

Armalite: The gun of interest here was the new AR-50 in .50 BMG, a single shot bolt-action. It appeared to be a competent piece of kit. And it’s Section 1! Southern Gun Company are the Armalite distributors in the UK.

Advanced Interactive Systems: This company makes an interactive video system which is similar to a video game, projected onto a screen which can be used with airguns, airmunition guns, lasers etc. There are various programs available, for IPSC, police training and so on, and also there are some adapted video games, though you’ll need LOTS of ammo for the games. The cheapest system is $20,000, but it’s an option for clubs. You can also use real guns using a shoot-through screen. It’s a lot of fun, I was very impressed with it.

Airmunition: This company makes compressed air cartridges which together with a conversion barrel convert a pistol or revolver into an airgun. The cartridges telescope, and when the firing pin hits the valve, they expand, forcing the pellet on one end down the barrel and on the other end forcing the slide open. Very neat gizmo, used already in the Webley Valtro AP92 pistol. Of serious interest is the new Glock 17T which uses these cartridges. Muzzle energy is about 1.5 – 2 ft lbf, effective range about 11 metres.

Aimpoint: Aimpoint sights keep getting smaller, the US Army now uses the model M which is essentially a shorter version of the Aimpoint 5000. and

Beamhit: These are so neat that I bought one and brought it back with me. Essentially a laser reactive target and a laser device you mount in the barrel of the gun. You can use it with most rifles and shotguns, and also with your deactivated pistols if you have one with a plugged chamber rather than a rod down the barrel. Basic system comes with a laser and one target, and costs $299. The laser runs off 4 lithium batteries and the target off a 9V transformer or 4 AA batteries. You

can do basic target practice and there is also a par time function. It works up to quite a distance away, I’ve used it at 10 metres furthest so far. The newer lasers fit almost completely inside the barrel, but the older ones are better if you intend on using a deact as most of it hangs out the end of the barrel thus the rod is shorter. It’s mostly plastic so it doesn’t harm the balance of the gun. Only problem I’ve found is that it’s quite difficult to zero, and you have to zero it again when you reattach it. The zeroing adjustments are just a tad too crude, though I got it done eventually.

There are various higher priced models, with turning targets and so on. The club version costs $1,799 and hooks up to a PC serial port and tells you exactly where on the target you hit, your speed, and so on, and it can be set up for more complex functions.

This system turns dry-firing from boredom into a serious challenge, especially with the timing function, and I strongly recommend it.

Barrett: The new product this year was the Barrett 99, which is a single-shot bolt-action .50BMG with an SRP of $2,800. This puts it within the reach of most shooter’s pockets, and sales appear to be brisk. Definitely the best of the cheaper .50 rifles, IMO. Don’t know who imports them, but they are Section 1.

Beretta: New products were essentially repackaged old products. The only real thing of interest was the ES100 semi-auto shotguns, which are budget semi-autos for field use. All of the new pistols were things that were essentially relaunched, such as the 92FS Type M and the Brigadier. I tried a Brigadier out in 1994, I have no idea why it’s taken this long to get them generally distributed.

More interesting were the Stock and the Combat pistols, with cocked and locked safeties and the Combat models have SA-only pulls. The Combat guns would make good entry level IPSC guns, IMO.

Also the 96 is now available in stainless, though there were only pictures of it on the stand.

Benelli: The new product here was the Nova pump-action shotgun. It’s a competent pump, but I can’t understand why anyone would want one over a Super 90 semi-auto.

Briley: Some neat stuff, especially their custom 10/22s and shotgun chokes. Hopefully there is someone out there with the sense to bring in their chokes at least.

Colt: They had no real new products, the only one being the Pocket Nine which is essentially the Colt Pony in 9mm. The thing that caught my eye was the Buntline Special, which can be custom ordered with an 18″ barrel which would make it legal in GB. But prices would be steep.

Colt also had an AIS system set up using the same lasers as the Beamhit called the Colt HomeFire system. This is really the best of both worlds, and costs only $800. But you really need a large screen TV to get the most out of it. Available in July, they told me.

Civil Defence Supply Group: These are the people making the .224 BOZ featured in G&A. Essentially a 10mm Auto necked down to .22 using a variety of different .223 bullets. Chambered in modified MP5/10s and SVI pistols. The MP5 version I think is a waste of time, why not just get an H&K 53? The pistol is more interesting. The idea behind this is that you get ballistics approaching a .223 Remington (a long way short though) for the purpose of piercing body armour.

A bit of a niche market, though, they’re only selling it to Govt. entities so I don’t think they’ll get far with it, I’m afraid to say.

Dillon: New gizmo is the SL900 shotshell progressive reloader. Not only the best but the only such loader in it’s class. Frankly you’re mad to buy any other reloading equipment other than Dillon if you’re into quantity reloading. There’s a reason Mike Dillon has the money to buy a helicopter and put two miniguns on it.

DPMS: Getting a reputation now for seriously accurate AR-15s, Jerry Miculek waxes on about them in the back of their brochure. The sidecocking version is very neat, but could use more spring tension on the cocking bar, plus a cut-out for the cocking handle to fold down into would be nice. That version is Section 1 and is sold in the UK by Southern Gun Co.

Dynamit Nobel: I think the new CP96 is actually sold under a different name in the UK, basically a poor man’s Steyr LP5. Very neat, with a 5-shot mag, designed for UIT rapid fire, but also a good plinker for those who want something of higher quality than the Umarex CO2 guns. 425fps, pretty respectable.

Eley: Launching the Match Xtra Plus, the poor man’s Tenex. Can’t really

comment more without actually using it, also Tenex is now higher spec. Presumably whatever they’re using on the MXP they’re using on the Tenex. And it’s made in Birmingham!

Federal: Interesting stuff from these guys, even now they’re owned by Blount. A large increase in loads using the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, which should be looked at seriously by most people using rifles for field purposes in the UK, going by the specs of it. Of more interest is an increase in the loadings for Tungsten-Iron shotshells, which is claimed to be the best ammo there is bar none for use on birds. More energy downrange than lead, the speed of steel, safe in shotguns designed for steel, cheaper than Bismuth, etc. On to a winner here, methinks. Also developments in sabot slugs, which should be looked at seriously by anyone contemplating the use of a rifled shotgun, such as the Mossberg or Marlin bolt guns which are Section 1.

FN/Browning: Two new products, one of them quite big though hardly anyone noticed it. First is a straight-pull hunting rifle, which has no name yet and is still in pre-production. Basically a capitalisation on the Mauser 96 and the Blaser’s popularity with a name you know stamped on it.

Of more interest though equally unimaginative is the FN Forty-Nine pistol.

Sometimes being boring pays off, this is the first plastic-framed pistol I have come across which looks capable of beating Glock at their own game.

The top half is pure Glock, but made from stainless steel. The mechanism differs only in that the trigger cocks the striker completely when you pull it, rather than the prepped method the Glock uses. This means you can pull the trigger twice or more on a round which hasn’t gone off.

The bottom half of the gun features a very nicely shaped grip which feels better than that of the Glock in my hands, with a nice big round mag button.

The trigger pull is quite long, but not as long as a revolver, but it was clean though a bit mushy, but letoff was just in the right place. There are no external safeties at all.

This is a serious contender in the police pistol market. In many ways it is better than the Glock though the Glock still has the edge for target shooters.

Wholesale price is only $330, available in .40 and 9mm, mag capacities 14 and 16 respectively.

Glock: I didn’t make too many friends on the Glock stand, I think they have become more than a little complacent with the success of the company.

The new product is the Glock 36, essentially a Glock 30 with a single stack six-shot magazine, thereby giving the 36 the welcome feature of a grip you can get your hand around.

Another new product which is of major interest to British shooters is the Glock 17T in 7.8x21mm AC, which uses the airmunition cartridges. Apart from the barrel, recoil spring and locking insert, it is identical to a Glock 17 but should be legal in GB. Won’t be cheap though, as you need the press to compress the cartridges and also a tank of compressed air in addition to the gun and the pellets.

Glock’s other big thing was a new dealer’s kit with signs, leisure wear etc., which is all well and good but they couldn’t tell me when their website would be finished. The other thing I had a go at them about was this stupid habit they have of not stamping the full calibre names on their guns, because of misplaced pride and “Not Invented Here” syndrome. First it was the Glock 22 and 23 stamped “.40” instead of “.40S&W” (though later some guns were stamped “.40SW” but not anymore), then the 21 stamped “.45 Auto” instead of “.45 ACP”, and now, worst of all, the Glocks 31-33 stamped “.357” instead of “.357SIG”. There are quite a few handgun cartridges named .357, this is an accident waiting to happen and far too serious a matter to be left to dim-witted people in the marketing dept.

Another gripe was the new grip design, which I don’t like. This is based on the 26 and 27, i.e. finger-groove grips and thumbrests. Also there is an accessory rail now on the front of the frame. Great if your hand fits the grooves, not so great if you have thin fingers like mine. Oh well, there’s always a Dremmel tool.

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Heckler & Koch: Oooh, I’m not an H&K nut, but there was some neat toys on their stand! They had an H&K OICW in a display case, and also one of the prototype .45 P7s.

One of the talking points of the show were their new rifles, it was tough to get near them for the first two days of the show. The SL-8 is based on the G36 assault rifle, which is rapidly becoming known as the most reliable and durable 5.56mm assault rifle ever made. The SL-8 is a sporter version, with a thumbhole stock, other military features removed, and in place of the combo scope and red dot of the G36 are iron sights and a two foot picatinny rail which should mount just about anything you could possibly want optics wise. There are two versions of the SL-8, one for the European market and one for the US market. They differ in their colour, the US gun has a black stock and US flag on the butt, whereas the European version has a tan “hunting” stock, and also they differ in the design of the magazine well. The European version uses the same mag. well as the G36, but the US version uses a narrower mag. well which takes a single-stack .223 10-shot mag, neatly side-stepping the ban on the import of semi-auto rifles which take “large capacity military magazines”.

The SL-8 on the stand had a reasonable trigger pull, clean, a bit of creep to begin with, but no worse than the average AR-15 really. H&K expects to import 2,000 of them, SRP will probably be $1,495.

Obviously it’s illegal in the UK, but now that H&K have a gas piston operated gun on the market, they could always make it as a straight-pull for the UK market. Oh yes. The cocking handle is ambidextrous, imagine the same cocking method as an Uzi but with a handle which folds either way attached to it.

The other long gun is a .45ACP carbine based on the new UMP .45 SMG. Both struck me as a step backwards. The UMP is essentially a fairly ordinary closed bolt SMG using a plastic receiver chambered in .45. The operating controls are in the same place as the MP5, but the bolt is simply a big chunk of metal, as with SMGs of old. The H&K rep told me the reasoning behind it was that they had had a lot of requests for a .45 SMG as many SWAT teams were going to .45 pistols. I haven’t seen much evidence of that myself, I have to say.

However, the bigger news is that the UMP will also be made in 9mm at some point in the future, and as it is only two-thirds of the price of the MP5, no doubt a lot of police here in the UK will be carrying UMPs in the future.

The semi-auto version is basically only for die-hard H&K fans. It has a

Dragunov style shoulder stock, 16″ barrel single stack .45 mag, etc. Costs four times as much as a Marlin Camp Carbine which does exactly the same thing!

Anyway, sharpen your pencils and let’s see if we can get H&K to make some straight-pull G36s.

Kimber: Known for their superb 1911s, but their new product was a bolt-action .22 based on a modified Mauser action which was simply the best bolt-action .22 I’ve ever laid hands on. Superb quality even on the least expensive model, wonderful trigger pull, had it all. The cheapest model has an SRP of $915, but it’s more of a field gun than the quasi-target guns fitted with a standard stock.

Knight’s Manufacturing Company: Makers of top-end military rifles, like the SR-25, and also the SR-15 in 5.56mm, loads of AR-15 gizmos like the Rail Interface System, I wish someone would order some of these in straight-pull format (they said they’d make them that way if someone ordered them). Really, really nice guns. Also had a new .50, the SR-50, but it’s semi-auto, sigh.

Robinson Armament Co.: A new company making a rifle called the M96 Expeditionary Rifle. Basically an updated Stoner 63, the gun made famous by the USN SEALs in Vietnam. Most of the flaws of the Stoner have been eliminated. Their marketing guy said it could be easily made as a straight-pull, so here is another opportunity for you RFDs out there. Cocking handle is on the left side of the gun as well, just in the right place.

Actually, I forgot to mention DS Arms, who make FALs. They also said they could make a straight-pull FAL without difficulty, however I am a bit queasy about these as many of the small parts they use are Austrian military surplus, so they might be considered Section 5.

Mossberg: Two new gizmos from Mossberg (well, not that new) the 9200 semi-auto, which is a tough, bit crude, but reliable semi-auto 12G in a wide variety of models, and also the odd but original 500 series with a DA trigger pull! Felt really odd to dry fire, I doubt they’ll take off.

Marlin: These guys had various new calibres in old designs, however the guns of interest were the 7000T, a target version of the 7000 semi-auto, the 512P, a new version of the 512 bolt-action shotgun with various improvements and the odd but original 25MG, a bolt-action smoothbore garden gun chambered for .22 magnum! The 7000T goes for twice the standard 7000. A possible alternative to the ubiquitous 10/22.

McMillan Stocks: No really new products, but I was quite taken with their Sportsman’s Team Challenge 10/22 stock, which looks like the stock to get for steel matches. Though you really need one of the really high scope mounts that the top competitors use to go with it.

Michael’s of Oregon: All the fiddily bits we have come to know and love, I won’t bore you with the holsters for which we no longer have any guns for, but their Butler Creek line now features a Carbon Fibre 10/22 barrel, which is called the featherweight. Another extremely useful gizmo for the avid steel plate shooter. Also a new 10/22 target stock which looked like they might sell a few in the UK. Price on the barrel is $150, the stock is $100.

Nosler: Lot’s of neat and deadly bullets, their new product was a sabot bullet designed for muzzleloaders, for those of you who really want to get back to nature!

Otis: makers of cleaning kit, pretty good stuff this, better than your run-of-the-mill Outers kit. Distributed in the UK by Southern Gun Co.

Para-Ordnance: The new gizmo is the new DA 1911, it’s not your average DA, very smooth and light, I almost liked it! Problem is that it’s a one shot deal, you can’t go back and pull the trigger again if the gun doesn’t go off. And the gun is harder to cock with the hammer down.

PMC: now offer .357SIG ammo.

Power Custom: interesting company from Missouri, offering a wide variety of replacement 10/22 parts made from Titanium, such as firing pins, bolt handles, triggers, mag. releases and so on.

Professional Ordnance Inc. – Plastic AR-15s, what will they think of next! Lot of fun these, the rifle model with the fluted barrel was extremely light, essentially only the bolt assembly and the barrel are made of metal, the rest is plastic. Weight is only 3.9lb, while your average similarly equipped AR-15 would be twice that. They told me they could make it as a straight pull, if anyone cares to order enough of them to make it worthwhile.

Remington – Bringing more pain to your shoulder, the 870 will now chamber 3.5″ shells, and the 700 is now chambered for .300 Remington Ultra Mag, when you really must have a .30 which shoots so flat that it makes you flinch with every shot, thereby sending it in a direct straight unaltered line into the ground six feet in front of you. Kidding aside, it looks like a nifty product, should be good for the longer shots. It’s touted as the first commercially available non-belted magnum.

Also a new left-hand model of the 11-87 was introduced. They told me the electronic ignition 700 is two years away.

Ruger (or Sturm, Ruger & Co, for you purists): New item which I have to say bored me to tears is the 50th anniversary Ruger .22 pistol, which differs from the standard .22 in that it has an anniversary emblem on it, red medallions on the stocks, and comes in a red box. Wow.

Also, the Super Redhawk is now available in .454 Casull, for those of you who believe it’s safe in a DA revolver (I remain unconvinced), though as Ted Rowe pointed out to me, few if any people will put more than six rounds through one.

Of more interest is the Ruger 10/22 Magnum. Now that I’ve played with one, I’m not so keen on them as I was. The bolt is incredibly heavy, uses “ultra dense” metal, whatever that is. Balance of the gun is awful, it’s all to the rear. However, the rep told me a target version along the lines of the 10/22T is on the way next year. This will be better as the bull barrel will help balance it out. And no, you can’t use most 10/22 accessories with the magnum version, though you can use aftermarket trigger bits and mag releases, and some barrels – but not stocks, so make sure the barrel fits the standard stock first!

Also there was the new Ruger P97, a plastic framed P90 .45. Doesn’t even make a good paperweight.

The 77/44 is also now available in stainless steel.

Savage Arms: The item of most interest was the Savage Striker pistol, based on the action of the 110 bolt-action rifle. This is the best of the bolt-action pistols IMO as it has the cocking handle on the left side in the correct place. It also holds 3+1, which I think is the largest capacity of them. It would be legal in GB with a slightly longer barrel.

Also of interest is the 110 Scout model, for those who cannot afford a Steyr.

Their .22 rifles also caught my eye, didn’t realise they actually made any until now. The model 64 is a very reasonably priced semi-auto (SRP on nearly all of them is less than $150) – not exactly a target gun but for blasting bunnies at close ranges it would be great, and it has a ten-shot mag. I don’t think budget starter guns like this have much of a market in the UK, but for those of you who run miniature rifle ranges with guns that get knocked around it’s worth a look.

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SIG arms – Although they’ve been in the rifle business for ages, they’ve only recently begun to hit the US market in large numbers as SIG have now repositioned themselves as an all-around gun company, rather than just a handgun company. Loads and loads of neat toys on their stand, which was by far the best looking stand at the show.

First up is the SHR 970 series of hunting rifles, which is Sauer’s budget line. All solidly built and up to the job, but not that exciting. Available in all common calibres, .25-06 through .300 Win Mag. SRPs in the $500 range.

Then there are the well-known Sauer 202s at twice the price, and then going up to the ridiculous price levels are the Blasers. SIG arms bought out Blaser a year or two ago. These Blaser R93s are really nice rifles, and I’m not a hunter, but I want one! They use a straight-pull action which is very swift and comfortable to use. The quality is superb. Available in pretty much all popular hunting calibres. One of the reps from Ray Wards was on the stand trying them out, and we both agreed these are among the nicest hunting rifles we’ve ever laid hands on. Prices start at $1,495 for the synthetic stocked rifles. There is also a tactical model, which actually I think is better than SIG’s own SSG3000, so that will probably be a thing of the past soon. Might be a choice for practical rifle, though it’s a bit cumbersome for a gun on the run. SRP is $2,130.

Something SIG is also going to make but which was not on the stand is a pump-action SG550, to avoid Bill Clinton’s mood swings on the import of semi-auto rifles. But it’s still not legal here, dammit!

Turning to pistols, there is the new Hammerli Trailside pistol which looked as though it was based on the 208. Essentially Hammerli’s answer to the Ruger. Outrageously better though, as you might expect. The trigger pull was target gun quality, not something I would tote in the field. I expect in reality this will be seen as an entry-level gun for UIT and suchlike. No prices, but I got the impression you would be looking at about $1,000.

Turning to target pistols, there is the fairly new SP20, which is simply

an improved 280 available in various natty colours. Also tried the 480

air pistol, once again, very nice. Lovely trigger pull.

On the centrefire front, the quietest product launch of the show was probably the SigPro SP2009, a 9mm version of their plastic framed gun. All the guns on the stand had 15-round cop magazines, so whether it will be available on the civilian market is open to question, though it will be according to the price list. SRP is $596. Overall I don’t like the SigPros very much, the trigger pulls are awful, though I’m keener on the grip design since I tried the rubber grip which comes with the gun as a free accessory.

More interesting was the P245, a cutdown P220 with a 6+1 capacity about the size of a P225. Nice gun. Costs $750.

Also there was the P220 Sport, a P220 with a stainless frame and slide, Hogue grips, LPA sights, polished trigger pull and a whopping great compensator. This goes for $1,320. I personally thought it would be more interesting if they ditched the compensator, as it’s not really competitive in IPSC Open class anyway.

Basically I spent a lot of time on the SIG stand! etc. Importers are Beechwood Equipment.

Shepherd Scopes – basically the best scopes made, in my opinion. They are calibrated for particular types of ammunition, and have a recticle which allows you to aim off for Known Distance shooting. Also a rather clever method of zeroing. Takes too long to explain, go to their website!

Smith & Wesson – Ooh, I really like that 945, I really do – essentially the front end of a 4506 mated with the back end of a 1911. Felt great in the hand, better than a 1911 as the grip shape is slightly different. Costs around $1,500 which isn’t bad compared to other custom 1911s. Yummy!

Okay, back to reality – the AirLite Titanium revolvers were another talking point of the show, my feeling is that if you have a Section 3 exemption these would be ideal as a humane destruction tool, especially the .38 Special version.

Only weighs 18.9 oz unloaded, and it’s essentially corrosion proof, so it could easily be stuffed in a jacket pocket while out deer stalking. The 242 holds seven rounds. There are various other models, including one with a spur hammer whereas the 242 is DAO. Other calibres available or on their way soon as well. The cylinder is made from titanium, as is the barrel sleeve, the rest is aluminium alloy.

Of perhaps more interest were their CO2 revolvers, made by Umarex, which hold ten .177 pellets. I quite liked these, the Umarex system seems to work better in a revolver than a revolver shaped like a semi-auto. Uses a cylinder magazine, so you’re two shots better off than with a CP88.

Steyr-Mannlicher – okay, you’ve waited long enough – one of the most interesting products at the show for the GB shooter had to be the new range of SBS Tactical rifles. SRP is only $950. Superb trigger pulls, slick action, and unlike the SSG ten-round mags are readily available. In 7.62 only, I predict these will become REALLY popular for practical rifle, in fact probably every event requiring a repeating centrefire rifle. The top end model costs $1,575 and has a 26″ barrel and McMillan stock.

The Scout is also available in a tactical model, which essentially means it’s black and costs another $100.

I find it intriguing that the Scout lists at $1,895 for the basic rifle and

$2,595 with a Leupold scope attached and a carry case. No brainer there!

The Scout is also available now in .376 Steyr as well as 7.62 NATO. I know absolutely nothing about the .376 Steyr and doubt I ever will.

The new pistol is the Steyr M-series, the M9 and the M40. I doubt they’ll sell many to police which is obviously the intended market. The problem is that the trigger travel is too short compared to the Glock. Great for target shooting, but destined to be “unsafe” for cops. The gun is festooned with safety devices though. It has a Garand style safety, a Glock style safety, and if that is not enough, you can lock it with a key.

The sights were interesting as well, a triangular front sight! Problem with that was that the top edge of the sight wears quickly and you get a shiny surface. A bit too novel for the staid gun buying public. This was confirmed when Wayne Novak appeared next to me, picked one up and muttered: “Which [beep] idiot designed these [beep] sights?”

Big news for us poor individuals as regards pistols is a 1911 style grip

which can be mounted on the LP5 repeating air pistol. Very neat. Might buy one, but all up it’ll set you back a thousand quid or so. Importers

are Sportsmans Gun Centre.

Swarovski – lots of very neat scopes and binoculars. I had a play with

their laser-range finding scope. Definitely one of the better gizmos.

SRP on it is $4,994. Cough.

Nearly forgot Springfield Armory – nothing spectacularly new to report,

though it was fun hanging out with Rob Leatham!

Taurus – the big new product is their Titanium revolvers. They have one like the S&W with a titanium cylinder and barrel sleeve, but also revolvers with all major parts made from titanium. A bit of overkill, and I was wondering about galling, but they certainly looked neat, available in a variety of flashy colours.

Also they had the “Raging Hornet” which is a .22 Hornet revolver built on the same frame as the Raging Bull .454 Casull, with an 8″ barrel. It weighs a ton, and I could not see any earthly reason for it.

Thompson/Center Arms – there was nothing earth shatteringly new for 1999, though there are a substantial number of new permutations of muzzle-loaders. They also told me a UK company had bought a bunch of Contenders with long barrels, however, there’s no reason why you couldn’t buy an Encore with a shoulder stock and 12″ pistol barrel, or conversely an Encore with a pistol grip and 26″ rifle barrel and be legal (in GB).

Tikka – lots of interesting rifles on the Stoeger stand, the US importer, though I don’t think any of them were new per se. Solid rifles though, JLS arms is the UK importer.

Tijicon – newer smaller versions of the ACOG keep coming out, for those of you who haven’t used one, these are similar to red dot sights but instead of a dot there is a tiny triangle which is illuminated by Tritium. I might get one of the smaller models, but they aren’t cheap. But I suppose you save on batteries! Available in various magnifications as well.

The newer reflex sight is good too, this is a basic dot sight with no magnification but using tritium. Both sights are popular with the US armed forces. The reflex sights start at $300 and go up to about $500 depending on what you’re mounting it on, essentially. The compact ACOGs start at $600 and the full size ones at $900.

I’ve used their pistol night sights for years and never had any problem.

Tasco – the only thing I really noticed was the Firepoint sight, which is made in the UK, and is best described as a miniature C-More. It was being hawked on the Tasco stand by of all people Gerry White! It is sold in the US as the Tasco Optima 2000. I’ve finally got some contact details so I might be able to buy one now!

Vektor – The US State Dept. doesn’t like LIW, who make Vektor firearms, because they sold some automatic cannons to the wrong people a few years back but apparently they have now relented and the guns are being imported into the US.

The Vektor CP1 was one of the main talking points of the show, due to the pent up demand created by various articles in US gun magazines over the last few years. It appears to have been improved as the trigger pull was much better on the one I tried than the ones I’ve tried before. Nifty gun, racy looking and largely based on the H&K P7. I was also very impressed by the Z88, the South African service pistol. This is a direct copy of the Beretta 92F but it appeared to be tighter and of higher quality. Better trigger pull certainly.

Walther – and finally, Walther. Big news of the show is that Smith & Wesson will be making the P99 under license as a replacement for the awful Sigma. Walther also had a S&W revolver customised for hunting on their stand, called the R99 – based on a 3″ barrelled L-frame.

Of possible interest was the P99 La Chasse, which is a version of the P99 designed for hunters. However, the upmarket models of it may be legal in GB under a Section 7(3) exemption due to the engraving on the gun – SRP is over $2,000, about three times that of a standard P99.

The trigger has been redesigned on the P99 and is now more curved and feels much better than it did.

The other new product which will be really popular in GB and also Ireland is the GSP rifle. This is essentially a GSP pistol frame fitted with a long bull barrel and set into a thumbhole stock. For those of you who miss UIT .22, there is no reason you could not fit it with a pistol grip, though you’ll need some kind of stand to rest the barrel on! Ten-round magazines are also available for the GSP now. UK importers are Accuracy International – SRP on the iron sighted model is £1,250, though I recommend you get the model designed for optics.