BigJimFish 2019 Shot Show blog

BigJimFish

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So here we go getting ready for another Shot Show. This thread will be where I will post information about new products from the show as well as general thoughts I might have along the way. I have chosen to use the thread format instead of the article one in order for the community to be able to comment so feel free to weigh in.

My first thoughts are about the fact they are not mailing anybody their passes this year. I probably should not speak ill of any of the management decisions but what a giant PITA. Lines for picking up passes day of the show, or range day, were already always long. I can't imagine what they would be like this year if I waited until the day of. That pretty much means I have to pick up the pass when I fly in Sunday. Of course, Sunday the passes can only be picked up all the way down at the Venetian and not at the locations they are going to set up in other hotels on Tuesday. Tuesday is a day late if your going to range day though isn't it? So basically, a couple hours of wasted time for me and probably most of the other folks going to the show.

Range day is always the most fun part of the show. Really, how could it not be, your shooting shiny new stuff all day on somebody else's dime and you don't even have to clean afterwards. Sig said that they are planning to have the BDX stuff at the range so I will be interested to try that out. That line is a very interesting implementation of opti-electronics trends that are changing the way the basic process of long range shooting is done.

In the past I have never proven to be spot on when it comes to what types of new products I expect to see at Shot vs what shows up. There have been years of switch caliber rifles, years of thermal imaging, years of rangefinders, and years of lower cost well equipped scopes. Because of industry cross pollination, shared OEM's, and government solicitations, the one thing that seems to be the case is that new types of products tend to come in waves. It will be interesting to see what concepts show up this year. I will be posting my thoughts here as well as some Tweets @BigJimFish47.

range day 2017.jpg
Range day 2017 from up on top the long range platform
 

BigJimFish

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I believe you can pick up at the airport...but I agree!
I'll look for that, It would be a real help as my flight in early Sunday just got canceled and I had to reschedule for later in the day. I don't think that I will be able to pick up my pass on Sunday in the Venetian now and really don't want to stand in the cluster line at rage day wasting the early, less crowded, media only time.
 
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BigJimFish

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Monday 1-21-2019 (Range Day)

Boy has a lot changed in the two years since I have been to Shot. The strip has an arena and a significant amount of change to the frontage, the range has a paved road, and the exhibitors at the long range pavilion have both zeroed their weapons and brought dope sheets. There are still some folks who think that jeans and a t-shirt are going to do them in the cold and 30mph wind though. I’ll give you the run down on what caught my eye.

range day pose.jpg
Father and son enjoying Shot Show range day 2019

LOMA (Location hits and misses) This is an acoustic triangulation device that gives you a readout of where your shots went to a claimed accuracy of 3mm + bullet diameter. The transmitter has a range of 10 miles and any target or no target is fine as it can catch the bullet flight path. The target area it reads is 3M square. It worked well, reading shots where I thought I put them. The only thing it had issues reading when I tried it was shots that hit a berm not far behind it. All that bullet scattering gravel noise seemed to cause issues. I did not think to ask if it works at subsonic velocities. They did tell me that it will catch each shot of a mini-gun spraying an area though. That would have been fun to see. In any case, with the $3-5k price tag you can probably afford the mini-gun.

Sensight must be what happens when social media plans to go hunting. It is not a riflescope in any traditional sense. It is most akin to bending a cell phone 90 degrees 1/3rd of the way from the top, mounting it to a rail, and installing an app that gives the camera a reticle. It has a rudimentary ballistic calculator in it but no rangefinder so you must add range yourself and it will adjust the point of aim based on your chosen ballistic data from one of their numerous factory pre-sets. There is no incorporation of wind and no accurate mil or moa graduations on any reticle choice though so your hit chances are rather slim. Additionally, the lcd or camera has a slow refresh so there is a lot of delay in what you see as you move the optic so it is very hard to get and stay on target. The resolution is quite poor and field of view small so don’t expect to see any splash. Lastly, I did not feel that shots were landing where I put them or missing in a predictable way so I have my doubts about it even holding zero. It may do social media well, I don’t really know and am certainly not qualified to judge that, but the Sensight does riflescope very poorly.

sensight.jpg
Sensight riflescope?

Primary Arms was showing off some new reticles, most notably, one for the TA31 Acog and one for a 6-30 scope. You can easily google these to see what they look like. I judge both to be very good designs. Dimitri, who designs reticles for Primary Arms thinks along some similar lines to me in terms of design features and priorities so I naturally think he is good at designing reticles.

S&B brought the 3-21x50mm hunter they have been teasing as well as a new 5-25x reticle. I turned out to be totally wrong about what the hunter would be. I though lightweight ffp tactical scope with maybe a little sacrifice in optics and smaller but still 10mil / turn knobs. They thought, lets compete with Swarovski. It is 2nd focal plane, has a German 4 type reticle, and bright phase diffraction dot illumination. It does have the smaller turrets but is not what I was hoping for. The optics look great and perhaps it will do well in that market. I have no understanding of that market. The new 5-25x reticle, called the GR2ID, is best described as a mil Christmas tree reticle with fine lines. Because of the thin lines, it is not as busy looking in practice as it looks on paper but I did still notice that I picked up less splash off the steel using it than in the past with S&B scopes so you do give up some ability to resolve things down range for all the grid features. Expect that GR2ID reticle to percolate through the other S&B platforms in due time.

schmidt gr2id.jpg
S&B 5-25x GR2ID through the scope reticle pic (target ~1k yards and really big to make you feel good)

Leupold brought the new MK 5 7-35. This is basically the same size and weight as the 5-25. I found it to perform well and think it will do well in the market. The Nightforce competitor proved there is a robust market for higher power tactical scopes.

leupold m5 5 7 35.jpg
Shooting the Leupold Mk5 7-35x

Swarovski brought the DS (digital scope) 5-25x but did not actually have it on a gun on the range. Man I am annoyed at that. The scope takes your full custom BDC data and calculates a firing solution using the range, angle, and atmospherics it measures. It will only do this out to 1,120meters (EU export restrictions) though it will range further (not that there is anything you could do with that range as it does not dial in a traditional sense.) The firing solution it gives you is a superimposed horizontal line with 5 and 10mph windage bars. I don’t know if it works because, you know, they didn’t put it on a gun, but it does look like the best of these digital scopes that I have seen both optically and in terms of the functional output. I neglected to ask them if they had ballistic curve correction capability in their software function to taylor the curve to your measured shots but it would be sort of difficult to do that using this scope anyway as you don’t dial and also don’t have a graduated reticle.

swarovski ds tts.jpg
Swarovski DS reticle read out

Desert Tech Did an update to their bullpup chassis. It is lighter by about 3 lbs, employs an improved clamping system for more even distribution of clamping force, has M lock, a new trigger, and a tripod mount stud. Older barreled actions can actually be dropped in the new chassis if your so inclined. The new trigger felt good and, unsurprisingly, the rifle shot well. They also are now making their semi auto in 5.56.
 

thestacche

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Have my eyes on that new desert tech covert a2. You manage to get any pictures?
 

TacticalDillhole

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Monday 1-21-2019 (Range Day)

Boy has a lot changed in the two years since I have been to Shot. The strip has an arena and a significant amount of change to the frontage, the range has a paved road, and the exhibitors at the long range pavilion have both zeroed their weapons and brought dope sheets. There are still some folks who think that jeans and a t-shirt are going to do them in the cold and 30mph wind though. I’ll give you the run down on what caught my eye.

View attachment 7010086
Father and son enjoying Shot Show range day 2019

LOMA (Location hits and misses) This is an acoustic triangulation device that gives you a readout of where your shots went to a claimed accuracy of 3mm + bullet diameter. The transmitter has a range of 10 miles and any target or no target is fine as it can catch the bullet flight path. The target area it reads is 3M square. It worked well, reading shots where I thought I put them. The only thing it had issues reading when I tried it was shots that hit a berm not far behind it. All that bullet scattering gravel noise seemed to cause issues. I did not think to ask if it works at subsonic velocities. They did tell me that it will catch each shot of a mini-gun spraying an area though. That would have been fun to see. In any case, with the $3-5k price tag you can probably afford the mini-gun.

Sensight must be what happens when social media plans to go hunting. It is not a riflescope in any traditional sense. It is most akin to bending a cell phone 90 degrees 1/3rd of the way from the top, mounting it to a rail, and installing an app that gives the camera a reticle. It has a rudimentary ballistic calculator in it but no rangefinder so you must add range yourself and it will adjust the point of aim based on your chosen ballistic data from one of their numerous factory pre-sets. There is no incorporation of wind and no accurate mil or moa graduations on any reticle choice though so your hit chances are rather slim. Additionally, the lcd or camera has a slow refresh so there is a lot of delay in what you see as you move the optic so it is very hard to get and stay on target. The resolution is quite poor and field of view small so don’t expect to see any splash. Lastly, I did not feel that shots were landing where I put them or missing in a predictable way so I have my doubts about it even holding zero. It may do social media well, I don’t really know and am certainly not qualified to judge that, but the Sensight does riflescope very poorly.

View attachment 7010087
Sensight riflescope?

Primary Arms was showing off some new reticles, most notably, one for the TA31 Acog and one for a 6-30 scope. You can easily google these to see what they look like. I judge both to be very good designs. Dimitri, who designs reticles for Primary Arms thinks along some similar lines to me in terms of design features and priorities so I naturally think he is good at designing reticles.

S&B brought the 3-21x50mm hunter they have been teasing as well as a new 5-25x reticle. I turned out to be totally wrong about what the hunter would be. I though lightweight ffp tactical scope with maybe a little sacrifice in optics and smaller but still 10mil / turn knobs. They thought, lets compete with Swarovski. It is 2nd focal plane, has a German 4 type reticle, and bright phase diffraction dot illumination. It does have the smaller turrets but is not what I was hoping for. The optics look great and perhaps it will do well in that market. I have no understanding of that market. The new 5-25x reticle, called the GR2ID, is best described as a mil Christmas tree reticle with fine lines. Because of the thin lines, it is not as busy looking in practice as it looks on paper but I did still notice that I picked up less splash off the steel using it than in the past with S&B scopes so you do give up some ability to resolve things down range for all the grid features. Expect that GR2ID reticle to percolate through the other S&B platforms in due time.

View attachment 7010088
S&B 5-25x GR2ID through the scope reticle pic (target ~1k yards and really big to make you feel good)

Leupold brought the new MK 5 7-35. This is basically the same size and weight as the 5-25. I found it to perform well and think it will do well in the market. The Nightforce competitor proved there is a robust market for higher power tactical scopes.

View attachment 7010090
Shooting the Leupold Mk5 7-35x

Swarovski brought the DS (digital scope) 5-25x but did not actually have it on a gun on the range. Man I am annoyed at that. The scope takes your full custom BDC data and calculates a firing solution using the range, angle, and atmospherics it measures. It will only do this out to 1,120meters (EU export restrictions) though it will range further (not that there is anything you could do with that range as it does not dial in a traditional sense.) The firing solution it gives you is a superimposed horizontal line with 5 and 10mph windage bars. I don’t know if it works because, you know, they didn’t put it on a gun, but it does look like the best of these digital scopes that I have seen both optically and in terms of the functional output. I neglected to ask them if they had ballistic curve correction capability in their software function to taylor the curve to your measured shots but it would be sort of difficult to do that using this scope anyway as you don’t dial and also don’t have a graduated reticle.

View attachment 7010089
Swarovski DS reticle read out

Desert Tech Did an update to their bullpup chassis. It is lighter by about 3 lbs, employs an improved clamping system for more even distribution of clamping force, has M lock, a new trigger, and a tripod mount stud. Older barreled actions can actually be dropped in the new chassis if your so inclined. The new trigger felt good and, unsurprisingly, the rifle shot well. They also are now making their semi auto in 5.56.
I thought the Mk5 was pretty nice. Not sure I’ll be rushing out to buy one but using it on the Cadex 338 made hitting at 1089 real easy. I was really shocked the scope makers didn’t bring optics to look at in the outside light. Also shot the new SARS A2 and MDR. Really enjoyed both.
 
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BigJimFish

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Have my eyes on that new desert tech covert a2. You manage to get any pictures?
The Desert tech I fired on range day was the longer forearm and barrel but they did have the covert on site and being used. Here is a pic all filthy from the 30 mph dust wind.
desert tech covert.jpg

Any info or impressions on the new Leupold Vx-5/6HD’s?
I only saw these in the show hall and they were not something I was focused on the time so I don't have any thoughts on them, sorry.

I'll try to get another installment of products up tomorrow but today is getting pretty long in the tooth and I'm not really up for it at the moment. Me and Ilya are also planning to shoot a little video tomorrow with what struck us that I will link when we get it up. The biggest take away I have so far from this year as far as trends go is that many optics manufacturers that were perviously not making anything in mil/mil, ffp, and zero stop, have gotten with the program and so that optics landscape is much more wide open. The bluetooth rangefinder integration between devices (LRF, Scope, Kestrel) and smartphone apps is getting much bigger.
 

Kadams1563

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Can we get some details on the CZ Bren 2?!?

Specifically if the 11” 5.56 has the stupid short hand guard they originally out on it.
 

thestacche

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The Desert tech I fired on range day was the longer forearm and barrel but they did have the covert on site and being used. Here is a pic all filthy from the 30 mph dust wind.
View attachment 7010798



I only saw these in the show hall and they were not something I was focused on the time so I don't have any thoughts on them, sorry.

I'll try to get another installment of products up tomorrow but today is getting pretty long in the tooth and I'm not really up for it at the moment. Me and Ilya are also planning to shoot a little video tomorrow with what struck us that I will link when we get it up. The biggest take away I have so far from this year as far as trends go is that many optics manufacturers that were perviously not making anything in mil/mil, ffp, and zero stop, have gotten with the program and so that optics landscape is much more wide open. The bluetooth rangefinder integration between devices (LRF, Scope, Kestrel) and smartphone apps is getting much bigger.
Awesome dude.
I bet it balances really well with the diet it’s been on.
 

BigJimFish

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1-26-2019 Wrap up post 1 (Meopta, Sightron, Burris)

I was planning on doing daily recap of what I saw but like every other time before that didn't happen because there just isn't time to write it every day after getting back from the show. So, rather than doing it like that, I'm going to start, in rough order, with what interested me most and so when I eventually loose enthusiasm, it will be with the products I lacked much enthusiasm for anyway. I'll emphasize this is a rough order as I'm just going though my notes and seeing what sparks joy.

I mentioned earlier that one of the trends this year was optics manufacturers, who are typically much slower moving and connected to market trends, starting to get on to the bandwagon to a greater degree with the mil/mil, ffp, zero stop, load out. For me, point in case for this is Meopta, Sightron, and the Burris XTR III.

We will start with the Meopta Optika 6 line. Meopta is probably best known in the U.S. for being the OEM for the original Zeiss Conquest scopes which were essentially unchanged Meopro designs. Meopta is an industry leader in a lot of non-consumer level OEM work but seems to have problems both with OEMing consumer level optics and properly marketing and following trends with it's house product line.

wrap up 1 optika 6 meopta.jpg
Meopta Optika 6 scopes, hunting styling with real long range features.

Meopta made some changes in their personnel over the past couple of years in order to better connect with the market and the Optika 6 line is a very aggressive new push. This line is ffp or 2fp and has mil, bdc, and old school reticles. Some of the models also sport reticles with Meopta's new, and unique, DichroTech reticle elements. This tech essentially allows part of the reticle to appear colored to the user without illumination, a sort of stained-glass looking element done with multi layered metal oxide deposition. There will be 1-6x24, 2.5-15x44, 3-18x(50,56), 4.5-27x(50,56), and 5-30x56 options. So far the reticle options are not what I would call 100% but a couple of mil options do exist. The scopes are very light with both 4.5-27x models below 26oz. The turret would be on the small side for a tactical or large for hunting and sports the full features of both classes. The elevation turret is push down to lock, and has an internal collar style zero stop similar to Athlon. The travel is 80moa on the 2.5-15x, 70moa on the 3-18x, 60moa on the 4.5-27x, and 80 on the 5-30x which sports a 34mm tube instead of the 30mm on the other models. The prices are very aggressive, ranging from $499 to $899. They styling on these is very subdued. In a market where it seams everybody tries to out aggressive everybody else I think that this approach will be very successful as lots of people would like the whole suite of long range shooting features without the, often faux, military styling. I don't plan to do a whole lot of reviews this year with a new baby coming but I may try to do one of these, especially if I can get a 4.5-27x50mm with Zplus Dicro (a combination that does not yet exist but is planned.) If they track well, and perform optically to my expectations, these scopes will be real winners.

wrap up 1 dichro reticle color tech meopta.jpg
Meopta's DichroTech passively colored reticle highlighting.

I should also mention, before I move on, that Meopta has some interesting new lens filters that can attach to any scope or bino. These basically partially block the particular wavelengths of light reflected from green plants. This results in game appearing highlighted against verdant backgrounds. It will be interesting to see how effective this is in practice as there are no verdant backgrounds in an exhibition hall, or a desert, like Vegas for that matter. The theory is sound though so it may be quite effective and a game changer for spotting game.

I mentioned in my Sightron SIII review earlier this year that the existing SIII and SV lines would have an external collar style zero stop and that a less expensive, $699 MSRP, S-Tac model that is still mil/mil and zero-stop, was being added. All of this has now come to pass. The SV has also received the .2mil graduated, floating dot, Christmas tree reticle (called the Mil-Hash-H in this case) that has sort of become the industry standard. All three of these models should be compelling and successful offerings. The SIII certainly looked good in my review of it this summer.

wrap up sightron sIII v tac.jpg
From top to bottom, Sightron SIII, SV, and S-Tac. All in FFP and with the new zero stop.

A few years ago Burris did a rather strange thing in concert with Steiner (who is owned by the same corporation.) They branded a scope made in the U.S. Burris facility the Steiner T5Xi while doing a new XTR II Burris line that was not made in the Burris factory but rather bought from a third party OEM. This was strange as it meant that Burris best scope was made by an OEM while, at the same time, Burris was making and even better scope but branding it Steiner. Burris is now doing and XTR III which will be made in the Burris facility and is expected to be a significantly better optical performer (I was less than impressed with the XTR II's optics.)

wrap up 1 burris xtr III.jpg
Burris XTR III 3.3-18x50mm with optional race dial and 5.5-30x56mm

The XTR III has some very compelling features even if it also features Burris's stiff, flesh-removing, meatgrinder turret knurling (they actually call them dragon scale and apparently think this is a good thing.) The Field of view on these is very large, the elevation massive, they have the .2mil graduated, floating dot, Christmas tree the industry is going towards, and they have an aftermarket (should be included but isn't) dial that is a winner. This dial features just mil markings on a white background exactly the size of scotch tape. This is for you to sharpie your ranges on the tape allowing you to easily mark and re-mark your turret. Very nice. For those to whom this probably matters a lot, I am not sure if these will make PRS production class guidelines as the website lists the MSRP as $2,039 on the 3.3-18x50mm and $2,159 on the 5.5-30x56mm but I was told in person it will be $1,699, and $1,799. They will certainly cost less than the $2k limit, hopefully Burris will figure out a way to make them look it on paper as well for the rules. I also don't know how that knob that you, me, and everyone, will want to use but won't be included will change eligibility. Weight is moderate at 29.8oz and 32oz respectively.

The takeaway from this is that it is going to be another good year for optics.
 

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Great info. Thanks. Does the Sightron ED Glass come with a sample of BlueChews? Might have wanted to rethink that one.
 

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""Flesh-removing, meatgrinder turret knurling!!"" You know you have a good gig when you get to use those words in a sentence.

I honestly didnt even notice them. And I use Palmolive. It softens my hands while I do the dishes... ;)
 
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1-28-2019 Wrap Up Post 2 (Leatherman Free)

I don't usually do write-ups on knives, but I'll make an exception for Leatherman, especially this year. I have been passionate about Leatherman for many years now, have carried a Charge Ti every day for almost fifteen years, and have stopped by the booth many times a year each of the five or so years I have been at SHOT in an attempt to get my Charge Ti signed. I missed Tim again this year as I stopped by Wednesday when he did a signing Tuesday. I'm not going to lie, that one hurts.

Most knife companies are neither very focused on quality nor very interested in innovation. They behave more or less like appliance companies, devoting their creativity and effort not to improving the quality and function of their product but to looking for cheaper ways to manufacture it. (Though Gerber's creativity sought probably the strangest outlet this year in giving away Gerber tattoos to fans. Were talking real tattoos here, not the temporary kind.) Leatherman operates differently. Leatherman spends massive resources on R&D, is willing to make bold gambles on risky, untried, sometimes strange, concepts such as tool-laden watchbands, and seems to continuously improve the quality at their Portland Oregon facility instead of spending all their time and energy looking for cheaper labor amongst the more oppressed peoples of the world. Leatherman has taken its creativity to another level with its new "Free" series of tools which replaces virtually all of the individual spring-locking elements with a few multi-use magnetic locks. These tools were debuted for the first time at SHOT 2019. I should note here that no tool pics will be present in this article as media was requested not to take any shots on the floor. Many of the blade media guys did one-on-one interviews so you can get all the pics and vids you need with a quick Google of "Leatherman Free".

wrap up 2 leatherman tatoo.jpg
You thought I was kidding about the tatoos didn't you, nope.

The use of magnets in place of tensioning springs for the "Free" line has a few advantages. The first is that tool parts are tensioned only in close proximity with no friction added at other points in the movement. This allows you to one handed balisong flip open the new Free multi-tools. It is similarly easy to close the pliers and they won't jam when closing as older, worn, Leathermans like mine can when the pliers pivot loosens up but the handle ones, which are tensioned, stay tight. The interior tools that were formerly difficult to fingernail pry out are also more easy to extract and can be extracted with a clumsier gloved hand now. Lastly, the magnets take up less total room than having an individual spring mechanism for each tool, allowing for more tools or structural elements. As a result, the scissors, long the only garbage part of a Leatherman, have been improved and the pliers are the strongest ever. The permanent magnets will also not change in their tension, or feel, over time.

So, the magnetic locking feature of the new Free line is a big win. However, other elements of the two multi-tools (P2 and P4) and four knives (K2, K4, T2, andT4) set to be released concern me. First off, though presented as a higher end product, all of the introductory Free tools use 420HC steel blades. At this point, 420HC is a low grade steel. Leatherman has shown it can use mid grade steels in 154CM and S30V before and these yield 2-3x the number of cuts per sharpen as 420HC. If Free is a premium product, it should have, at minimum, what is now common mid grade steel present in much cheaper products. Personally, I would pay the extra ~$50 or so it would cost to have something truly "cutting edge" in M390 or Elmax since I do not "cut corners" on the knife I carry with me all the time. The extra ~$20 for the S30V on the main blade seems a bare minimum. What I would ideally like to see, and would pay for, would be S30V on the serrated sheepsfoot, and M390 on the main blade.

In addition to the steel problem the Free series has, the multi-tools also have a tool problem. Where Leatherman typically leaves the competition far behind is in the design and function of the individual implements. Foremost among those are the destructible and replaceable implements. While the replaceable wire cutters are present, the large, and eyeglass bit drivers are not. Instead, just a single Philips and flat screwdriver are present. Even the scale (ruler for troglodytes) has been inexplicably removed from the scales of the tool, where it takes no room at all, and added to its own, very short, single purpose, flip out implement. Lastly, the sheath is not of the clever invertible Leatherman design, but just a typical fabric pouch like everybody else uses. I might add that in the past I have averaged less than twelve months on a fabric sheath and more than four years per leather one.

The result of all this is that while Free delivers a great new locking technology to the world of pocket knives and pocket tools, it is shackled to low-end knife steel and tool implements whose design is a big step backward. Hopefully Leatherman will remedy some of this before putting product on the shelf, or at least properly identify the causes of the problems I expect sales to have post launch. I am ready for my next generation of Leatherman, but it doesn't seem yet ready for me.

My next SHOT show blog update will be on rifles / actions with Tubb, Badrock South Fork / Defiance, DD Delta 5, and ARC Archimedes.
 
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wjm308

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1-26-2019 Wrap up post 1 (Meopta, Sightron, Burris)

View attachment 7012260
Meopta Optika 6 scopes, hunting styling with real long range features.

The prices are very aggressive, ranging from $499 to $899.

I should also mention, before I move on, that Meopta has some interesting new lens filters that can attach to any scope or bino. These basically partially block the particular wavelengths of light reflected from green plants. This results in game appearing highlighted against verdant backgrounds. It will be interesting to see how effective this is in practice as there are no verdant backgrounds in an exhibition hall, or a desert, like Vegas for that matter. The theory is sound though so it may be quite effective and a game changer for spotting game.
Thank you BigJim, I look forward to watching the videos you and ILya put together.

That is some crazy pricing on the new Optika 6 line! If they perform at least as good as the old Zeiss Conquest line I might have to look into these.

The new lens filters you mention have me the most intrigued, if they really work to help distinguish game from foliage I can see me getting some for my binos when I'm glassing areas, but before I put one on the front of my scope I'd want to make sure there is no shift in the image like polarizers can do. Also, you mention the wavelength of green plants, but up here in the Rockies there are not many "green plants" come big game season (as they've all shed their leaves or turned brown), but there are plenty of green evergreens (aka pine tress), hopefully the wavelength applies to those as well?

Also curious if their Optika 1-6x24 is a true 1x...

Did they have any information at the booth regarding their statement "including reticles specific for .223 and 6.5 Creedmoor " are they simply saying that the .223 BDC has similar drop characteristics to 6.5 Creedmoor, or do they have specific reticles for each?
 
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BigJimFish

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Thank you BigJim, I look forward to watching the videos you and ILya put together.

That is some crazy pricing on the new Optika 6 line! If they perform at least as good as the old Zeiss Conquest line I might have to look into these.

The new lens filters you mention have me the most intrigued, if they really work to help distinguish game from foliage I can see me getting some for my binos when I'm glassing areas, but before I put one on the front of my scope I'd want to make sure there is no shift in the image like polarizers can do. Also, you mention the wavelength of green plants, but up here in the Rockies there are not many "green plants" come big game season (as they've all shed their leaves or turned brown), but there are plenty of green evergreens (aka pine tress), hopefully the wavelength applies to those as well?
On the lens filters, they are more than just filtering out green. He mentioned being optimized for transmission of flesh tones and fur. In the exhibit hall they had an enhancing effect for the flesh tones even with nothing natural around. This was not so pronounced in the hall but I expect it will be better in the real world. The filters are pretty new and don't show up in the catalogue I have yet so all the info I have is from conversation, memory, and notes. The price was set to be quite resonable. $40-$60 just like camera lens filters.

Also curious if their Optika 1-6x24 is a true 1x...
I didn't ask specifically but they would have said yes either way and it would have likely depended on the observer whether there was agreement on the point. Magnified optics at 1x are not the same as clear glass. They have a specific eyebox and behave differently for things closer and off optical center than for those further away and centered. How exactly this is percieved has a great deal to do with the users eyes and, more importantly, imaging processing parts of the brain.



Did they have any information at the booth regarding their statement "including reticles specific for .223 and 6.5 Creedmoor " are they simply saying that the .223 BDC has similar drop characteristics to 6.5 Creedmoor, or do they have specific reticles for each?
I don't have any more information on that. The reticle options were in their infancy at the booth and in the literature. They didn't even have the Zplus Dicro FFP mil one that will be the most popular on display. They also don't yet have what has become the industry standard .2mil graduated christmas tree with floating center dot as an option at all. Meopta actually makes their own reticles (almost nobody does this) so they can switch stuff like that up in a matter of weeks. For what it is worth, Meopta currently lists two .223 reticles and two .308 ones total but only generic bdc reticles in the optika 6 line. Of course, many of the new models do not even yet list what reticle combinations they can come with so it's not like the options are complete at this point.
 

BigJimFish

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2-1-2019 Wrap Up Post 3 (rifles and actions, Tubb, Badrock South Fork / Defiance, DD Delta 5, and ARC Archimedes and Xylo)


Tubb gun, scope, and magic dust

It never ceases to amaze me who has lines to meet them at Shot Show and who you can walk right up talk to without even a wait. Some "reality star" I never heard of, big long line, an Olympic gold medal winner or perhaps 11 time NRA high power rifle winner with a couple of Wimbledon cups, no line. Who wants to talk to the best shooters in the world anyway? I'm sure there is nothing worth learning from them. Of course, the 11 time NRA winner with a pair of Wimbledon's is David Tubb since nobody else has ever done these things.

Tubb had his 2nd generation Tubb gun on display along with some magic dust, his non-symmetrical bipod, and some information on his DTR reticle scopes. The rifle is actually named the Adaptive Target Rifle. The first rifle he designed was called the Tubb 2000, but everybody called it the Tubb gun as I expect this one will continue to be called. If Tubb 2000 wasn't catchy enough to stick, there is know way Adaptive Target Rifle has a chance.

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David Tubb with his 2nd generation Tubb gun.

The main focus of the changes in the new Tubb gun is on keeping firing pin movement, case alignment, and barrel all coaxial. In the past, I have seen these issues mostly addressed through tighter tolerances on the parts involved. This is particularly so in benchrest actions. Tubb address things with a more engineering, rather than manufacturing, strategy. His new 3 lug non-symetrical bolt features cone shaped lugs that are actually pulled tight to self center by a spring at the back of the bolt. So, the bolt is both centered, and tight to the lugs, before firing. This will prevent the case from shifting, and seating, the whole arrangement during firing. The interface on the trigger with the firing pin in the new Tubb gun is not the conventional angled one that puts force upwards on the firing pin and down on the topsear. Instead, this interface is totally vertical so that the topsear will actually rotate forward when released not downward so no off axis force will be applied to the firing pin. No torque will be applied to the firing pin either thanks to Tubb's reverse coiled duo firing pin springs. When the Tub action is fired you do not see the bolt shudder at all. It is uncanny. The trigger itself is very similar to the Tubb 700 one with just the necessary sear geometry changes. Obviously, the action is not compatible with any other triggers. The new Tubb gun has a rather unusual proprietary magazine system. It takes just 1 magazine or a single feed block for all calibers and the magazine is machined rather than stamped for tight tolerances. This magazine is double stack, accepts different length limiting inserts for different cartridges, and can feed most of the sort of things you might want to feed from the .308 family, to WSM's, all the way up to 338 Norma (gun comes in standard, magnum, and 338 bolt heads). Magazine Capacity varies with what it is feeding. The front end for the new Tubb gun incorporates rounded, non-fleshpealing, picatinny rails and the barrel utilizes a barrel extension for the locking lugs rather than having them in the reciever. This both makes it easy to change calibers, and to have new barrels made. This generation of Tubb gun also incorporates the key features of the last such as face forward cheek positioning, cycling with no head movement, and lots of stock adjustability. the stock folds sideways for storage or to remove the bolt to clean. The rifle typically runs $5,850 and includes bipod and barrel extension but no barrel.

Overall, I was impressed with the new Tubb gun design. It includes a number of novel engineering solutions to problems I have seen others handle only by degrees. I am telling you, that bolt doesn't even shudder when you fire it. Furthermore, the geometry of a tube gun, with bore axis below, rather than above, the top of butt stock, has been well established as superior to the conventional alignment. The only thing I would suggest would be some variety in the forearm tubes available as different competitive disciplines are becoming quite specialized, and polarized in this respect. A PRS specific forend would certainly be a boon in that sport with it's dependence on quick adjustability of stops and bipods.

I'll talk a little about Tubb DTR scopes here. This is probably the most controversial product Tubb makes because it is a totally different system of drop and wind compensation than any other. The two sentence overview is that DTR reticles are caliber family specific reticles where you hold both drop and wind on the reticle. The system includes corrective formulas for differences in atmospheric conditions and ballistic variations from the model. This can get a bit complicated and if you want to fully understand it there are both guides, and a very nice shooting simulator / trainer, at davidtubb.com under DTR training. The advantage of the reticles is that they are both very fast to use and also show the shooter, on the reticle, their margin for error on range and wind calls. In fact, by simply googling the DTR reticle right now, you will probably learn that spin drift is a lot more important than you thought and that you have been missing some shots up or down because of wind left or right. Just looking at the reticle was a very enlightening experience for me. While I have mixed feelings about the trade offs and calculations nessicarry to use the DTR reticle in situations that increasingly depart from the ones it was ideally calibrated from, I can see the advantage it has for the trained user in the field. I can also see some glaring problems with the way wind is compensated for in what you might call the standard approach.

The last thing I want to talk about is Tubb's new magic dust. If this stuff works as well as he says it does this is going to make him a very wealthy man. Tubb dust is a very fine, non-carcinogenic (except probably in California) powder that you mix a tiny amount of (10 - 12gr / lb) in your gunpowder before loading to vastly reduce copper fouling in your barrel. The amount added is so little that you do not change your load recipe any. The guys testing it are saying the reduction in fouling is so dramatic that they are now going upwards of 500 rds between cleanings. Would I like to clean my high powered rifle as little as I clean my .22lr's? Yes please. I have some thoughts as to how something like this might work, especially, if most copper fouling is vapor deposited like my green muzzle brake suggests, rather than mechanically deposited. The dust is brand new and not yet on the site yet. I don't remember the exact price but I'm thinking it was something like $30 a tin and a tin was enough for many, many, 8lb barrels of powder. So, were not talking a lot of dough for the convenience here. Honestly, this could be the biggest change in reloading since temperature stable powders.

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Tubb Dust to prevent copper from building up in the bore.



Defiance / BadRock South Fork rifle

This year Defiance machine company has formed a rifle making division of itself called BadRock rifles and is now producing a truly custom rifle quality factory rifle $1,995. Yes, that means that it qualifies for the PRS production division. Very few rifles exist that qualify division while still utilizing full custom level components. This rifle features:

-A new, Badrock specific Defiance action similar to the Tenacity but with a mechanical rather than plunger ejector.
- MDT LSS-XL Gen2 chassis in black or huckleberry (purple)
- Triggertech Primary (Yea, I know you want diamond but it is not in the budget)
- Match grade barrel with straight taper (looked like maybe a #8 standard target contour) with 5/8 - 24 threaded barrel (makers will likely vary on the supply of this)

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BadRock South Fork rifle from the guys at Defiance machine

The price on this thing is rather shocking and there is some secret sauce to that. The greatest amount of savings is actually the bolt design on the new action. It is actually both the cheapest to make, and most precise of the Defiance line. It is done entirely, from stock to finish, without being removed from the machine, on their finest new Mazak machine. The bolt was specifically designed for manufacturing process efficiency. Similarly, the pinned recoil lug and rail vs the integral ones on the Deviant and short bolt handle with long knob vs. the opposite on the Deviant are also for manufacturing savings. Other cost savings come from volume deals with component suppliers and the ability to batch manufacture models rather than do individual custom guns. Lastly, the scope rail is not technically included in the $1995 but rather is a $75 extra. I guess it doesn't have to be and were not dealing much in the way of margins on this rifle.

The model nature of the South Fork rifle should be highlighted as you cannot order these things in any way custom. You get three choices. For color its black or purple (huckleberry.) In the short action variant the caliber can be 6cm, 6.5cm, .223, or .308. Lastly, you can get it in right thinking or sinister handedness. Barrel length, barrel maker, contour, stock, trigger, action, bolt knob, and anything else, are off the table. As far as components go, rifles don't get any more custom than this but as far as options, they don't get any less custom.

My first thought on the South Fork is that full custom level quality in the production level, $2k price point is pretty amazing. Off hand, I can think of only one other rifle that does this and most production model custom guns are not even close. BadRock did it with a nice MDT chassis no less instead of something less adjustable and plastic. I think I might even like the BadRock action better than Defiance's other actions as I far prefer mechanical ejectors that don't spit my brass all over to plunger ones and don't really care that much about integral rails and not at all about integral lugs. For now, this action is only for the BadRock rifle for those of you now wanting it. The only thing I really dislike about the South Fork is the heavy barrel contour. I know they were on the fence between a rem varmint contour and the heavier straight taper (the early prototypes on display were varmint) and I far prefer the varmint. I'm not sure if their decision on this will prove to be the correct or incorrect one as match shooters will almost all want the heavy straight taper barrel and everybody else will want the mid weight varmint or lighter.

As for rebarreling your South Fork, the tolerances are such that barrels can be cut on spec such as benchrest shooters have long had done from top flight builders like Kelbly's. BadRock is not yet sure if they are going to be willing to just ship out barrels for you to torque on with a barrel wrench and vice yourself. I expect they are a bit worried about the yahoo novice here and suspect, with no input from the BadRock guys here, that you may be able to talk them into it if perhaps you can explain to them what a chamber gauges are, how to use them, and what torque to apply to a barrel. In any case, the prices for a re-barrel are not yet set but because of the batch, factory, nature of them they will be cheaper than the blank + chamber + thread for suppressor prices you are used to. I was thinking something starting with a 6 after talking to them.



Daniel Defense Delta 5

I'm not sure what I was expecting from the Daniel Defense Delta 5 but whatever it was it must not be what I got because I came away feeling very meh and that was before seeing the BadRock rifle, so I hadn't been spoiled. The delta 5 combines some AR like features with some 700 ones. It uses 700 triggers and AICS mags but has a barrel / barrel nut design similar to an AR. Some things I have read say that the barrel has a barrel extension though the rep said it did not. I believe it does as the 55 ft/lbs you are supposed to torque it on with is not enough for no extension. The bolt is 3 lug 60 degree and the barrel is cold hammer forged and user replaceable, I believe, with an extension, AR15 style.

I think the big turn offs for me were the $2,199 price, the cheap looking reinforced plastic stock, and the CHF barrel. Sure, you can make a really accurate CHF barrel, but most are not. Also, aside from 700 trigger interchangeability, what precisely am I getting that makes it $600 more than a Ruger RPR that looks better, has better stock geometry, and I can get a $550 Kreiger barrel for that I can install myself when the time comes.

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Daniel Defense Delta 5, not a pretty gun.

It may be the case that the DD Delta 5 shoots great. The machining on the bolt does look a bit cleaner than an RPR though, not custom rifle clean. Of course, the RPR is already well known to shoot lights out and I think we are all familiar with Ruger not doing the cleanest machining on non-critical surfaces and then re-directing that money critical components. My mark 2 is basically a pipe with a barrel screwed into it and it shoots lights out. Bottom line, the Delta 5 just didn't light it up for me.


American Rifle Company Archimedes and Xylo Chassis

This year ARC rolled out a new action, "improvements" to it's original Mausingfield action, and a new chassis. Yes, I put "improvements" in scare quotes because not everybody seems convinced that it is being improved. For what it is worth, I agree that some things are improvements and others look like small steps down that make it significantly less costly to make. Several of the changes also bring it closer to the Nucleus in appearance and function. My guess as to the net effect of this will be more migration to the lower priced Nucleus action. I can't say that I see much in the way of advantages the Mausingfield has to justify the price difference. Most of the improvements, and changes for that matter, were actually found in the Nucleus already.


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American Rifle Company's new Archimedes action in the Xylo Chassis


ARC's new action is called the Archimedes and departs significantly from most actions on the market in the way it handles extraction and loading. The key difference is that, on almost all actions, rotating the bolt also moves cams it forward (closing) or backward (opening.) This gives mechanical advantage to the final seating of the round in the chamber and to the initial extraction of the fired case from the chamber but, at the price of a heavier feel to the bolt lift and movement of the extractor on the case during primary extraction in most actions. The Archimedes has squared lugs and the bolt does not move forward or backward when being opened or closed. For the primary extraction, the bolt handle actually pivots backwards around a pin in the bolt while the other side impinges on a shelf in the receiver creating mechanical advantage and no movement of the extractor on the case. To ease some folks worries, the pivot between the bolt and handle does not feel sloppy. It feels different, but not in a way that is loose or will turn you off. That is what the proverbial "she" said anyhow.

The big question you should have when contemplating the Archimedes is what reloading sins do you commit? Do you push your pressures and often get stuck cases and difficult extractions? Do you ride the edge on shoulder bump back to maximize brass life and, some people think, accuracy? Do you load into the lands for the various good and mostly terrible reasons people sometimes do that? Your answer means a lot when it comes to the Archimedes action because, in changing the way primary extraction is done, you may be getting more extraction force, but you are also removing the mechanical advantage in the final seating motion of the round into the chamber altogether. For my part, I do not tend to push pressures or get stuck cases. I do try to ride the edge on shoulder bump back though. So, I get a snug close from time to time. I don't feel like I need more extraction force and don't really want to give up mechanical advantage on close. I think that whether or not you like the Archimedes really comes down to whether you frequently have issues with stuck cases and how frequently you have rounds that fit tightly in the chamber.

In addition to the new action, ARC released the Xylo Chassis. This is a very competition oriented Chassis in that most of it's features are designed around speed. It's Cheek and LOP adjusts are more rapid than any others I have seen. They do not lock down to use and then have to be loosened to adjust. Instead, adjusting them is a one step, operation. The forend is also built for speed and has both the Arca rail system for bipods, barricade stops, and tripod mounts while also having an Anschutz rail for handstops. There are holes in the Anschutz rail for barricade stop pins. These would presumably be of the MPA variety. The mag well is low and flared for easier mag changes. The part that I like best, aside from the Anschutz rail which I love, and nobody else puts in any more, is the grip. Lots of folks have seen the big, ugly, oven hardening polymer clay grips I have on all rifles I compete with because the hand position on most stocks is terrible and that is a huge disadvantage. They Xylo has a grip that fits my hand perfectly. The pad of my finger lands relaxed and perpendicular on the trigger and the thumb fits comfortably vertically up the back of the grip. If it doesn't fit your hand, that is not a problem, you can get a big, unfinished walnut grip blank that you can hack on yourself. If you want it uglier, you could also slap some polymer clay on the stock and mold one. The fasteners are already there so it is easy. The designer, Keith in this case, also has an interesting idea about making the grip sides flat so you are only gripping with the front and back of the grip to prevent the application of torque to it. I would have to experiment with that to see if I think it has any value but the grip is quite comfortable and I like the unfinished sanded wood feel as well. Overall, the Xylo has some great points.


BAT TR action

BAT Machine Co. has been making benchrest actions for many years now with far more titles than I could count. In 2017 they decided to do a tactical version called the TR. The TR has the changes you would expect in such a product: different fluting, integral rail and lug, bigger port, better extraction and ejection geometry, more open magazine well for AI and AW mags, and a re-profiled bolt for better toleration of dirt. Like the Kelbly Atlas, it retains the trigger hanger from it's benchrest roots so you can tune the firing pin fall that way if you have a problem. I mention this action here even though it is not new this year because it was the smoothest I felt at the show. At $1,645 it may also have been the most expensive, but it did feel crazy slick.

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BAT TR tactical action

Next up I think I'll do triggers and maybe some miscellaneous stuff before circling back to optics again.
 
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BigJimFish

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2-2-2019 Wrap Up Post 4 (TriggerTech 2 stage, CMMG trigger, ELF trigger)

TriggerTech 2 stage Diamond and Special Triggers

This year, as part of the Kelbly's and Mesa Precision Arms rifle reviews I did, I had the opportunity to review some excellent triggers from TriggerTech (page down to trigger section of MPA review), and Bix'n Andy. Each of these triggers employed a novel new technology to solve some of the fundamental problems in trigger design and each performed exceptionally well. At that time, a major advantage the Bix'n Andy had was that it was available in the two stage configuration that many competitive shooters prefer and the TriggerTech was not. This is no longer the case. TriggerTech has now introduced both the Diamond ($299), and Special ($199) in 2-stage configuration. Having now a good bit of time futzing around with several of the TriggerTech products, I have no doubt these will be excellent.

For those in the AR platform, there is now also a 1.5lb - 4lb Diamond AR trigger coming at $299 as well as a special safety selector ($49) that is removable with the grip in place.

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New two stage TriggerTech Special


CMC 700 compatible drop in trigger

I am not sure what possessed CMC to want to make a 700 replacement trigger to add to an already well supplied market, but that is what they did, or almost did, as the prototype examples on the floor were a bit hinky. Furthermore, the guys at the booth were entirely incapable of explaining what was supposed to make their trigger special or why the safety lever on the prototype was floppy, lacking any sort of detent or much force required to move it. The booth did not have a cutaway or acrylic sided version for me to look at and figure it out myself either. The talking point they were given seemed to be that the trigger was "fully drop in." Most 700 triggers are "fully drop in" though. Furthermore, the ones that might not be considered so tend to be some unbelievably light and often finicky benchrest specific match triggers whose potential purchasers do not care about "drop in" and want to be able to fiddle with every possible adjustment. The only thing the CMC seemed to have going for it was the large 1-6lbs adjust range. The price of $179 puts it well above some established market leaders including the aforementioned TriggerTech Primary. I think I'll go with a hard pass on this one.


ELF 700 Precision Rifle Trigger

The ELF trigger, with it's adjustable trigger shoe and anodized housing, is a nice looking piece of kit. Of course, it promises the "zero creep" just like everybody else. The ELF's big thing is that instead of just using pins for pivots, it uses "proprietary sealed bearings." They had a cutaway of the trigger at the booth as well as several rifles with the trigger set to different weights on them. It's weight range is from <2oz - >64oz. I noticed an interesting thing with the ELF. On several of the triggers, on the first pull, the trigger did not feel totally smooth. It felt like it had a little creep. This was not to the point that you could have actually stopped pulling the trigger with the sear less than fully engaged but you nevertheless felt movement instead of a crisp break as the trigger released. The most interesting part was, on all but one of the examples (where you felt it every pull), you only felt this on the first pull. I'm not sure the reason for this but it was almost like you had to get them moving a bit to sort of get the sealed bearing working. I have encountered this sort of behavior with sealed bearings in other types of products before so I guess it is not too surprising. In any case, I am not totally sold on the advantage of sealed bearings in this application and, with an MSRP of $296, I think there are better options.

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Elftmann's ELF 700 trigger



Next up I will have a smorgasbord including:

MK bullpup drop in 700 chassis, MDT ACC chassis, MagnetoSpeed riflekuhl, PVA chassis and carbon tripod, McMillan A10, and Swagger bipod. After that I will finish up with the last of the optics stuff.
 
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2-3-2019 Wrap Up Post 5 (MK bullpup drop in 700 chassis, MDT ACC chassis, MagnetoSpeed riflekuhl, PVA chassis and carbon tripod, McMillan A10, and Swagger bipod


MK bullpup drop in 700 chassis

This year Shot had a 3rd floor sort of pop up hall way exhibition hall for companies new to the show that they could not fit anywhere else. Space is becoming a big issue at Shot. They long ago filled the two big exhibition halls and has been steadily working, one by one, on the various smaller conference rooms in the facility. Of course, nobody really wants their dearly purchased space to be hidden away in one of those, surprisingly difficult to navigate, rooms. I guess this year, instead of just opening up another one of those, the organizers decided to use the 3rd floor hallway. I had seen a few booths in the hall past years but this was on a much grander scale. For what it is worth, the booths did seem to be getting better traffic than those tucked away in conference rooms and the exhibitors sounded pleased with the arangement.

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MK bullpup Remington 700 chassis

Anyhow, one of these booths was MK Machining which was offering a Remington 700 bullpup chassis that utilized a proprietary trigger linkage that attaches to a modified Timney Calvin Elite. The trigger comes with the chassis and it only uses that trigger. MK was very coy about the trigger linkage and would not let anybody see any of it. I thought this strange since it says Pat Pend and so I could pretty easily just look up how it works in public record. Anyhow, the trigger actually felt good, a general difficulty for bullpup designs. At $2k, building off of the MK chassis will not save you a whole lot over the well proven Desert Tech bullpup but I did find it enough of an interesting concept off of the beaten path to be worth a mention.


MDT ACC chassis

This has been a pretty big year for MDT. They are teaming up with Deviance to provide the chassis for the BadRock South Fork rifle I mentioned earlier, they purchased and are now the manufacturer of the popular Ckye Pod, and they came out with this new ACC competition chassis.

The big thing about the ACC chassis is weight. To start out, they have subbed out aluminum for steel on some of the smaller parts to get it to a hefty 5.9lbs base weight. That is just the start though. You can add weights to the rear, sides of the forearm, and inside of the forearm to get it all the way to 13.3lbs. So, if you looking for a boat anchor heavy gun, just start with this, throw an M40 barrel on it, and add a Razor HD II. The ACC starts at $1k but the weights will cost you extra. In addition to the weight system, the ACC was also shown with a unique vertical adjustable AR15 grip that you can purchase separately. This grip will work with the AR15 size grip attachments that many bolt guns have though not an actual AR as it doesn't accommodate the safety detent spring. The grip has about 1/2" of adjustment forward and backward so that you can get your trigger reach just right. The grip runs $49.

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MDT ACC chassis weighted like an anchor and also showing off a Ckye Pod

On a side note, am I alone in thinking perhaps PRS should have put a weight limit on guns. I'm just saying that people shooting 30lb guns, in calibers that burn up a barrel in less than 1k rounds, and also need hit indicators on the target to know you hit it, might not indicate the best planning on the part of the sports progenitors. At least, it is getting a little hard to view this type of thing as practical rifle completion with the specialized gear involved now to exceeding that of many of the more traditional competitive disciplines.


MagnetoSpeed riflekuhl

The guys at MagnetoSpeed are pretty darn clever folks who are very good at separating us from our money. From the Chrono, to the hit indicators (they came out with some new handgun ones of these this year by the way), many of their products have become absolutely standard kit for long range shooters. This year, they have come up with the riflekuhl. Basically, it is a little plastic fan with a nozzle that fits in your chamber and blows filtered air down the barrel for cooling. I guess I'm not the only one who gets annoyed sitting there on a hot day waiting for the barrel to cool after a string of shots. Well, now it will cool faster and I'll be separated from another ~$75 by these very clever bandits. I shouldn't be sore about it. Their stuff is very useful and well designed, I just always get the feeling when looking at their products, that their profit margins would make Apple blush. I can't be the only one who thinks that, instead of the crappy barrel mount spacer system that messes with your harmonics, their V3 really ought to include a proper pic rail / M-loc mounting boom so that it can be mounted properly. I mean, at $399, it really ought to be ready to be properly mounted out of the box.

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MagnetoSpeed riflekuhl barrel cooling fan


PVA chassis and carbon tripod

RRS makes some great tripods. Of course, when you see the price tag, you might think it has the wrong number of digits. PVA has what you might consider an RRS alternative in the COMP-40. It is 72" fully extended, has 4 section 10 play carbon legs, weighs 5.5lbs, and can be used with the RRS TA-3 leveling base as well as other parts if you so desire. PVA also has a panning ball head ARCA rail mount of their own for $130. Though the COMP-40 claims to be rated to 110lbs, they were anxious to have me try hanging from it. Brave men. I am not 110 lbs. I am double that and was thinking perhaps they were about to have a pile of splintered carbon fragments where a tripod had been. That would not have been a selling point for them at their booth. I was a little surprised and relieved when the thing held me with no problems at all. At $499 headless, the COMP-40 is by no means cheap, but it is less than half the closest RRS.

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220 lbs hanging from the PVA COMP-40

In addition to the PVA tripod, Patriot Valley Arms also had a prototype carbon and aluminum chassis. This chassis has a few interesting innovations. First off, it uses carbon, rather than aluminum as the primary structural element. As such, it is very light, around 3 lbs. It's forearm is basically an ARCA rail but it incorporates an Anschutz rail for a handstop towards the shooter as well as a section that can accommodate a pic rail for a bipod near the front end. The forearm is quite long. At the very end, it has a tiny little shelf on it that you can sit on those barricade holes that many PRS matches have grown fond of including to try to keep you from being able to see through them without having to rest the rifle on the barrel. PVA also claimed an innovative new tensioning system on the cheek piece and LOP but it looked pretty much like the single screw, clamp on bars system that my McMillan has so I'm not sure what the difference was supposed to be. This stock is still relatively early in the development so I did not yet get a price on it.

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PVA's upcoming carbon and aluminum hybrid chassis


McMillan A10


This year, when I did the Mesa Precision Arms Crux review, I used on of McMillan's new Edge carbon adjustable Game Warden stocks. I have been pleased with the performance of that stock and, in general, I prefer the feel and recoil properties of composite stocks to that of chassis systems. The biggest problem that stocks have, relative to chassis systems, is that they often do not provide good hand support to your trigger finger hand. The A10 that McMillan introduced this year seeks to remedy that by slimming down the area for your trigger finger hand and moving it closer to the trigger for a shorter reach. Mcmillan also altered the forend area, relative the A5, making it squarer, and giving it a more pronounced, and it appears to me lower profile, rail attachment area for your competition accessories. I think that most shooters will find all of those changes to be improvements.

You may have guessed that the stock in the picture here is Britainy McMillan's personal rifle in Tiffany blue. Tiffany blue is actually a color that you can order from McMillan so now you can finally buy your wife something from Tiffany that you both enjoy.

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Britainy McMillan's new A10 stock in Tiffany blue



Swagger bipod

Swagger bipods are the opposite of any other bipod I have ever seen. They are not trying to be stiffer so you can load them better. They are also not aimed at competitive shooters. These are designed for hunters and varmint shooters who want something that is quick to deploy, can move with the shooter, is tall enough to shoot over brush, weeds, and grass, and is still stiff enough to provide some support. The key to the swagger design is the spring at the top of the legs. The spring does not compress but will flex allowing the shooter to move the rifle around on a roughly horizontal plane while retaining vertical support. Frankly, these look great for sitting down on a lawn chair on a hill top, glassing ground hogs, and then detonating them. Prices range from $130 - $200. This is more than you would expect since these are not showpieces of CNC machining and aircraft aluminum, but rather, tube steel and injection molding. I guess you are paying for the design aspects rather than the manufacturing elegance. They do look like a really slick idea.

wrap up 5 swagger bipod.jpgSwagger bipod showing it's flexibility



Next up I will be back to Optics with: Athlon, Zero Compromise, GRSC, Blazer, March, Hawke, U.S. Optics, Trijicon, and Crimson Trace.
 

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kennyg

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Thanks for taking the time to write all this out for those of us unable to go to Shot. I really appreciate it!
 

Dixie Rifleman

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I too appreciate the write up of the new products that are especially of interest to our niche in the shooting world.
 

BigJimFish

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2-6-2019 Wrap Up Post 6 (Athlon, Zero Compromise, GRSC, Blazer, March, Hawke, U.S. Optics, Trijicon, and Crimson Trace)


Athlon

This summer, in my Sub $1k long range rifle scope series, I did reviews of both the Athlon Ares BTR, and the Midas TAC. Both of these scopes received a mid year upgrade this year in the form of a stainless steel adjustment clicker to replace the formally brass one. The examples I reviewed both had the newer adjustments. I was pleased with the performance of both of these scopes and so was excited to see what Athlon would have up this year.

The biggest new things are probably the Cronus 2k yd 10x50mm laser rangefinding binoculars and the Cronus tactical spotting scope. The binos range to 2k yards on a reflective target with +- .5 yd accuracy, have high end ED glass, and have an angle compensated range mode. They are looking to fit the combined role of field glass and rangefinder and come in at an MSRP of $1,560. The Cronus tactical spotting scope

The Cronus Tactical 7-42x60 ED spotting scope with FFP mil reticle is something that ILya and I have been talking about with the Athlon guys for a couple of years now. They introduced it last year but it wasn't really available in any quantity until this year. There have never been a whole lot of good options in FFP mil reticle spotting scopes. Most spotters are designed solely with bird watchers in mind and cannot be purchased with a reticle. Furthermore, many of these companies are not interested in courting the shooting market as they think it will put them on the outs politically with their most cherished customer base. Just having an FFP mil reticle, and being a spotting scope at ~$1k would have put the Cronus Tactical on the map but it goes a bit further than that. Included with the scope, in addition to pic rail mounting locations on all sides, is a high riser rangefinder mount. This will allow you to mount a little hand held rangefinder to the top of the spotter and to adjust it to point the same direction. This should help you get a stable rangefinding platform. The reticle in the Cronus is also better than most. It features an un-obstructed top half of the field of view with a mil ladder in the bottom half. The major parts of the this are .2mil hash with .1 mil sections out twords the edge and a quick stadia section calibrated for 18", 24", and 72" tall targets near the bottom. I think that it is likely I will do a review of one of these this summer.

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Athlon Cronus Tactical 7-42x60 ED spotter with FFP mil reticle


Zero Compromise

Jeff Huber has had a pretty impactful career in optics. He was VP and head of R+D at Nightforce during their rise to market dominance and then in charge of the USA side of Kahles as they successfully launched their tactical line. While these might not have always been the most amicable of relationships, they were clearly productive.

Zero Compromise Optic is clearly built from the people, and knowledge, gained in Jeff's time in the industry. ZCO is located in Orofino, ID, just as Nightforce is and utilizes components from Austria, where Kahles is. ZCO optics are assembled in the U.S. from those Austrian components.

From the company name through all the literature ZCO wants you to know that quality is their driving force. They believe they are making the best stuff out there that will meet, or exceed, all others in any aspect of performance. They make the scope the best it can be made and the price comes out to what it comes out to (it actually comes out a little lower than you, or I, expected.)

The ZCO scopes have a few unusual features to distinguish themselves. First off, the turrets are 15 mil/turn, zero stop, and push/pull locking, but not particularly huge. These turrets feature a unique detent system on the clicks. With this system there are 2 detents rather than 1 and they are opposing so that no asymmetrical force is applied to the adjustment internals. Furthermore, the detents are not ball bearing but rather roller bearing so they will not wear a grove into the clicks over time. Lastly, the adjustments actually turn on needle bearings rather than in a bushing. All of these changes appear to me to be improvements. ZCO scopes also feature a 36mm main tube to allow for larger optical elements in the erector system for better overall optical performance while still fitting in 35mils of elevation in both models. Lastly, the illumination in the ZCO scopes is rather full featured including nightvision modes as well as auto off on tilt.

Currently, Zero Comprimise Optic is offering two models, a 5-27x56mm @37.9oz, 15.24" long, and $3,600 as well as a 4-20x50mm @34.8oz, 12.8" long, and $3,500. There are 2 reticles available in each, a .2mil ladder, and a .2mil Christmas tree, both with a floating dot center. The reticles look pretty much exactly like you are envisioning them.

I think that ILya is going to try to have a look at one of these this summer in a new installment of his high end tactical scope shoot out. I am interested to see how it performs as I think it is probably a genuinely new optical design from someone who likely knows how to do optical designs well.

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Zero Compromise Optic ZC527 5-27x56mm rifle scope


GRSC

This year Ed Verdugo had his new GRSC 1.1-10x30 Full Spectrum Optic (FSO) on display. This scope is the latest, and highest magnification range, iteration of his ffp, base 10, horseshoe, bdc, reticle concept. Over the 10 years I have known Ed, I have reviewed a couple of his scopes and seen various concepts he pioneered in his reticle design permeate much of the industry in 1-(n)x scopes. If you are not familiar with Ed's concepts you can find them detailed in his thread on this FSO scope as well as soon on the GRSCinc.com website. With this update, Ed added walking and running leads, a vertical mil-scale, m118lr calibration, quick count dashes, and targeting out to 1,100yds instead of 800.

The scope itself is also a 1.1-10x instead of a 1-6x this time and is lower cost at an MSRP of $575. For those concerned with "true 1x," it is worth noting that is a flawed concept in magnified optics. Being perceived by the user as "true 1x" has a lot to do with things not actually related to the magnification such a field of view, barrel and pincushion distortion, distance of the target from shooter and where it appears in the field of view, eyebox (itself a screwy imprecise concept,) and even what the reticle looks like. The magnification most perceived as "true 1x" is actually closer to 1.1x according to idealized thin lens equations but that is only the start of the story. For what it is worth, this is as much a "true 1x" as anything else marketed as such. I will be taking a look at one of these in more depth later this year.

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Ed's new GRSC 1.1-10x30 Full Spectrum Optic (FSO)



Blazer

When I saw Blaser was branding optics I could not have been less interested. I figured that it was just another case of a company looking to leverage it's name in a market by branding an off the shelf OEM'd optic to it's rifle customers. That was not correct. Blaser is owned by the same company as Minox and these are actually new optical designs from the guys who did the newest designs for Minox. This design team has an interesting history starting with a group who left S&B, became Optronika which did some designs for Premier reticles, then sort of partnered with Minox becoming German Sports Optics (GSO.) Obviously, the optical designs they have left in their wake have been excellent.

For the most part, these new Blaser scopes do not have a feature set that is of interest to me regardless of optical performance. Though, I do think that it is interesting that Blaser is making these ffp and targeting exactly the market S&B thought that their new hunting scope needed to be 2fp to get. The one model that did catch my eye despite the features was the ~$3k 1-7x28. This thing just looked spectacular at low power. It features a unique 2 stage, daytime bright, phase diffraction illumination system where you are actually looking at a tiny lit circle until about 5x when it switches to a dot. The effect is of a very clean dot at 1x and the overall feel of the optic at 1x is very open, clear, and fast. It was enough to get me to pay attention even without much in the way of interesting features. I should also mention that all of these Blaser Optics utilize a Zeiss rail mount instead of rings. I think that is probably a win for the well healed hunting market. Rings have actually never been a very good way of mounting optics. It is amazing that they are still the standard. Rings just add unnecessary weight, a failure point for loosening up, and a hazard for crushing the main tube.

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Blaser 1-7x28 IC rifle scope


March

March, which is the house brand of Deon optical design, tends to produce things a little outside of the industry norms. They put a high premium on magnification ratio, weight, and size, often to the exclusion of other considerations. They also sometimes seem out of step as for instance with their new 5-42x56 HM precision rifle series target scope. This scope features .25moa clicks on a 50moa per turn turret. I was not aware of a whole lot of interest in MOA calibrated stuff among PRS shooters. I'm pretty sure that PRS is a mostly mil crowd just as the F-class that March's new U.S. president shoots in is mostly MOA. Presumably, at some point March will adapt this optical platform into mil as it has done with most of it's platforms. Hopefully they will go with .1mil clicks this time instead of the .05 mil ones they sometimes choose.

Probably the most interesting thing that March is doing is it's Genesis series externally adjusted scopes. What external adjustment means in this context is that the adjustment screws do not move the erector tube inside the scope housing as in most modern scopes. Rather, the whole optical system is moved by adjustment screws outside of the main tube. This allows for a few things. First, the reticle is always in the middle of the optical system so the image does not degrade the further you adjust from optical center because your adjustments do not move anything optically off center. More importantly though, the adjustment range of the scope is no longer limited by the size of the main tube and optical considerations of an off center erector. The adjustment range can therefore be pretty massive. March produces 4-40x52 and 6-60x56 externally adjusted Genesis scopes with 300moa and 400moa of elevation respectively. The 4-40x52 is new this year and only MOA so far. The 6-60x56 can now be had in mil/mil though, it is in .05 mil clicks, and I could not begin to explain some of the features of the reticle design. Also worth noting on these Genesis scopes is that, unlike other makers previous externally adjusted scopes, the external adjustments on the Genesis scopes are protected from dust with a rubber booty. These scopes are colossally expensive, the 6-60x56 runs ~$7k, but they do offer something totally unique for people looking to shoot exceptional distances. Of course, I expect you will find your barrel getting in the way of your line of sight well before 400 moa.

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March 6-60x56 externally adjusted Genesis scope with 400moa of elevation


Hawke

Hawke is a popular brand in Europe that has seen a less penetration in the U.S. market probably because of a combination of market saturation and being a little out of step with U.S. feature preferences. This year they revamped their top of the line mil / mil FFP frontier scopes to have 8mil / turn zero stop turrets. The zero stop is most similar in design to the system employed in Athlon scopes. I am mentioning Hawke mostly because of the odd little black sheep scope of the line. The smallest frontier is a 1" tube 4-20x that goes for $549 and has 19mrad of travel. It is the only 1" tube in an otherwise 30mm line and just strikes me as a killer scope for long range .22lr especially, if your looking to teach a younger one the basics of long range shooting on a small, lightweight, set up.


U.S. Optics

U.S. Optics is making a lot of core changes to their business model this year. Many know that U.S.O. started as a small scale custom manufacturer of alpha tier optics. After it's founder died, 15 years ago or so, they seemed to refocus on improving their manufacturing process and efficiency with a goal towards better quality control and more efficiency at the cost of limiting the custom options. At this time they also transitioned away from a solely direct sales model to the utilization of retail outlets. In the recent past, U.S.O was purchased by Pat Harrigan, a former SF commander and West Point grad who is a partner in ZRODelta, a firearm maker dealing mostly in AR's. This ownership change has lead to a relocation from California to Montana. This year, USO debuted a new U.S. made, and in-house designed 5-30x as well as a variety of products OEM'd in Asia. These include a 1-6x, 1-8x, and two red dots. The idea seems to be to transition to a multi-tier brand that both imports and manufactures along the lines of something like Leupold or Burris.

The new 5-30x caught my eye for some unusual elevation knob options. One of these is basically the former EREK knob of the past U.S.O. SN-3's in function but without the wide, flat, profile. The other is a unique 2 speed offering having a course adjust that moves in 1 mil clicks and a fine adjust that moves in .05 mil clicks. The 5-30x is also unusual in that the parallax has been moved from the illumination side over to share real estate with the locking windage adjust knob instead. This scope was in prototype form at the show so I am not yet sure what to think of these features or of it's optics, which displayed a small field of view at the show.

wrap up 6 uso 2 speed turret.jpg
A prototype of the 2 speed adjust elevation turret on the new U.S. Optics 5-30x scope


Trijicon

A few years ago, 2012 to be exact, Trijicon launched the TARS 3-15x50 as their first real entry into long range scopes. This was U.S. made like their ACOG scopes but, at 47oz, despite having only a 50mm objective and topping out at 15 power, I don't think it was a big success. In fact, they don't even include it in their catalog any more and I am not sure if still are making them. The interesting thing about this is that the TARS came out at a time that FFP mil/mil scopes OEM'd at Light Optical Works (LOW) in Japan were making huge market gains. Trijicon had had, for years, a lower cost AccuPoint line made by LOW so it was surprising that they were not part of this trend. I guess they have decided to remedy that this year.

The remedy is a new, high power, 4.5-30x56 FFP, AccuPower scope. These have an MSRP of $2.6k but you seem to be able to obtain them at a street closer to $1.8k. I expect this optic is fine but have a hard time getting excited about it. It just seems more of a box check for Trijicon than something they are really excited about. Trijicon is very focused on their military end and this means that Electro Optics, ACOGs, VCOGs, and reflex sights seem to be what they are really into.


Crimson Trace

Crimson Trace, of laser sight fame, launched a new optics line this year. Rather, they launched 3 of them, designating them the 2,3, and 5 series riflescopes. All three of these series are Japanese made ED glass, FFP scopes, with the higher two lines being mil/mil and the lower MOA/MOA. I remember the higher two lines were Japanese made as well though I don't recall checking the MOA/MOA line. The reps talked about these being engineered by in house Crimson Trace guys in Oregon but the website is a little more cagey about this and talks about how each design "incorporates" designs by Crimson Trace engineers in Oregon. What struck me mostly is that the scopes seemed competitively priced with the 3 series 5-25x56 having and MSRP of $1,199 and the 5 series 3-24x56mm at $1,999. They didn't look half bad as far as things can look one way or the other in a conference hall so they might be worth a consideration.



Next, I will finish up with some Opti-electronics from Leica, Sig, Steiner, Revic, Axeon (ok, there's no electronics with Axoen but it had to go somewhere), and let you know about some new reticles in Nightforce and Tangent Theta
 
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BigJimFish

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2-6-2019 Wrap Up Post 7 (Leica, Sig, Revic, Steiner, S&B 1-8x, Axeon (ok, there's no electronics with Axoen but it had to go somewhere), and let you know about some new reticles in Nightforce and Tangent Theta)


Leica

Leica is known for their rangefinders so I make it a point to check out their new offerings each year. This year at Shot, they debuted the 2800. This is basically a 2700b with bluetooth capabilities. That doesn't sound like much, but it is a pretty significant change as it allows you to interface with a Kestrel and bypass the EU's ban on all exported civilian products outputting ballistic solutions beyond 1,200 yds. This is because the Kestrel is using applied ballistics, a U.S. software, to actually do the calculations. The Leica is merely feeding it data and I understand that this data includes all the environmentals except the wind so it will be the Leica readings and not the Kestrel ones used in this mode. So, you basically have two different operating modes with the 2800 since it can only bluetooth to one device at a time.

1) You can use it with Leica's smartphone app that includes their ballistic calculator and is limited to 1,200 yards, but is free with the rangefinder.
2) Or, you can hook it up to a kestrel with onboard applied ballistics and have that output your firing solution.

In either case you have the ability to input your own ballistic data including BC, MV, etc but the Leica software is limited to G1 BC values, you cannot adjust your ballistic curve automatically later to incorporate your real world firing results, and you are limited to 1,200yds. The AB software does not have these limitations but does require the Kestrel. I do not believe that you can bluetooth the Leica directly to AB software on your phone and yes, that does mean that you are basically talking about a $600 Kestrel being part of the loop to, at best, provide a wind reading, and at worst, to co nothing but handle communication issues between the Leica and the AB smart phone app.

The Leica 2800 is $1,100 and would be an interesting competitor to the Sig Kilo2400ABS if the direct rangefinder - smartphone AB app software existed. Since it doesn't, it is sort of a strange thing. You can use it like a basic angle compensated rangefider, with Leica's probably ok but not super accurate and range limited app, or as a companion to a Kestrel. There is probably a lot of use for a lot of people in each of these modes but I am left thinking that it would look a whole lot more shiny with that one step more software wise.

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Leica 2800 bluetooth rangefinder


Sig

From a long range shooters standpoint, the big thing going on at Sig is that earlier in 2018 they launched the Ballistic Data Xchange (BDX) system. This is really more of an ecosystem than a product and it allows you to mix and match BDX capable rangefinders and scopes. Basically, you have a BDX app on your phone to upload your ballistic profile to, a bdx rangefinder that gets the profile from your phone and measures the targets range and environmentals, and a BDX scope that has a reticle that will display an illuminated dot corresponding to the drop at that range calculated by the onboard applied ballistics in the rangefinder using your ballistics data it got from your phone. Right now this ecosystem is really only available on hunting tier products in the range of ~$799-$1,499 for combined packages. These are range limited in the calculations to 800 yds though, you can bypass that with a Kestrel. The eventual plan is to continue the ecosystem into higher lines and even thermal unit of which there was actually an example at the show upstairs but only the cool kids (not me) got to see it.

My thought on the BDX concept is that it is a very smart way to integrate this sort technology into your products and into shooters ways of doing things. You have a lot of freedom to mix and match as well as a lot of ability to use all, or none, of the whole integrated system. I am also pleased that the system uses AB's backend and technology instead or trying to do their own built from scratch system.

I was excited to try out the BDX system at the range this year to see if it actually worked but that was not to be. Sig decided that rather than attend range day, they would go off and do their own, invite only, range day at the same time but 45min away. I guess they had done this last year as well but the day before instead of at the same time. Sig fed the press well last year and that got around so quite a few folks went for it this year instead of, or in addition to, attending the ShotShow range day. Boy was the joke on them. It actually rained all over the Sig range day this year and there was no swanky spread. The descriptions were pretty forlorn. Meanwhile, it did not rain 45min away at ShotShow range day and, though not swanky, we did have the tastiest selection of food trucks we have ever had at range day. So, bummed I didn't get to test out the BDX system but not so bummed that I didn't miss half of range day to get starved and rained on.


Revic

A couple of years ago at Shot Show Chris Thomas, the VP of Revic and former owner of Premier Reticles, had a prototype of the Revic optic at the Gunwerks booth. Now their PMR 428 smart rifle scope is on the market and they have been acquired by Gunwerks (also located in Cody Wyoming). The two companies were never really totally separate though so that would go down as a distinction without a difference except that the Revic PMR's price is not what I would describe as typical for Gunwerks. The price is not a whole lot different than other Light Optic OEM'd high end scopes despite all the advanced tech in the Revic.

The Revic scope incorporates envorinmental measurements for temp, pressure, altitude, cant, and compass. It also has an onboard ballistic calculator that you upload your specific ballistic data to from a smartphone app. The scopes little internal display then tells you what elevation and windage your knobs are currently at even including calculations for spindrift (an important but usually ignored factor) and the cant of the scope. It is pretty fun to tip the scope up and down and watch the range number change. Shooting the Revic in the field, you essentially bring your wind read and ranging information to this scope that is already ready for it. At the same time that you dial a drop you are also dialing a range and the scope shows you both. The display even has a little flexibility with regards to what you can output to it. For instance, you can have it display the 10mph wind hold at the currently dialed drop. It is an interesting system that at the same time feels backwords from how most integrated setups are working and also seems a pretty rational way to do things.

I should also mention here that the Revic has a pretty nice way of resetting the zero involving just a push of a bullet tip on a little button in the top of the adjustment so no little hex wrenches required. I think the way the Revic does things is pretty clever and will probably save a little time in practice over the traditional progression of steps from measurements to shot.

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Revic optic's HUD


Steiner

Steiner must have liked the Revic concept as well because their M7Xi 4-28x56mm and sister M8Xi 1-8x24mm include basically straight up copies of the technology. These are totally different optical platforms, have a bulkier eyepiece, have the UI arranged slightly differently, don't compensate for spin drift, and include a digital bubble level, but the rest of what the tech does, and how you interact with it, is exactly the same. Most of this tech isn't patented, so I'm not saying this is a bad thing or anything like that. I'm just not going to go though all the description again. The Steiner IFS products are simply copies of the Revic system in Steiner optical platforms. I should also mention they are a long way from the price of a Revic with the 4-28x56mm running $5,749.

The M7Xi 4-28x56mm and sister M8Xi 1-8x24mm are themselves new products even without the "intelligent firing system". The model names derive from the erector ratio they have. These are higher than previous Steiner products, and there are some other changes as well. Both of these scopes have 1/10mil click, 15mil / turn turrets that are 2 turn with indicator. These turrets are on the larger size for the 4-28x56 and frankly look ridiculous on the 1-8x24mm. The 4-28x56mm is FFP but the 1-8x24mm is 2fp. Additionally, the 1-8x24mm does not feature the bright dot phase diffraction illumination you would expect it to have in that role to compete with products like the Minox, S&B, and Leupold, and instead has a duller illumination that looks like reflected LED to me. At $2,800, the M8Xi 1-8x24mm looks dead in the water feature wise to me regardless of how it performs optically. The M7Xi 4-28x56mm has more promise. It is very expensive, starting just north of $3k but it's features are more in line with the competitions. I think ILya may put one of these in his high priced / high power optics review this summer. I should note that Steiner does not seem to do much reticle wise themselves and so this comes with the MSR, MSR2, G2b, and Tremor 3.

wrap up 7 Steiner M7Xi.jpg
Steiner M7Xi 4-28x56mm in not-FDE


S&B 1-8x

I have the press release for the S&B 1-8x Short Dot. It is dated 1-8-2010 and speaks of a 1-8x scope that features a ffp reticle with 2fp bright dot illumination. This was one of the first scopes I sought to review back when I did a lot of reviews of lower power, 1-n x scopes designed for the AR market. The full rock and roll 1-8x ShortDot is now available, and I am told actually shipping, in the form of the S&B 1-8x24 PMII ShortDot Dual CC. I think the very optimistic price estimate on this 9 years ago was around $2k. If you invested that in Tesla while you waited you would have no problem buying one now at the final price of ~$4.5k. It does exist now though, and I feel good about that. There is a sort of closure to it. And for what it is worth, it looked very nice at the show and had a nice little Christmas tree reticle for use at high power.

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S&B 1-8x24 PMII ShortDot Dual CC's daytime bright 2fp dot


Axeon / TACOMHQ

A few years ago the worlds longest sniper kill record was shattered by more than 1000 meters by a Canadian sniper team. This was rather surprising to most of us, not only for reasons of the difficulty of making such a shot, but also because it was so far outside the elevation adjustment range of the type of equipment that we were familiar with being used by such units. It would come out later that this issue had been solved through the use of a Charlie TARAC unit designed by John Baker of TACOMHQ. This is a unit that contains a prism and snaps on and off of a mount attached the objective bell of a rifle scope using neodymium magnets. When attached, the unit adds a large set number of mils to the scope.

Since then, TACOMHQ has been busy adding more products to their line including a couple of products that add smaller fixed numbers of mils to your optical system in the Alpha and Bravo TARAC's, a product which offsets your sight line beside the barrel like a periscope, in the Delta TARAC, a lightweight armored cage around the optic called the armor optic, and some uniquely cooling structured barrels.

This year in a move a little surprising for a company making such high cost, specialized equipment, they teamed up with Umarex to offer what are essentially much lower cost versions of thier Alpha and Bravo TARAC's. These are being marketed under the branding Axeon and the product name Second Zero. They are marketing it as the ability to have your primary zero with the product flipped out of the way and a second zero, at a different distance, with the product in the optical pathway. These currently come in 4.3 and 11.5 MOA (roughly 330 and 530yds from a .223) flavors and rail or optical bell mounts. I am not a huge fan of the 2nd zero concept as I shoot at targets at more than 2 specific distances. I am a fan of being able to add mils to a scope that has run out of adjustment though. My hope is that we will see one with a nice round 5 mil version marketed for that capacity. Essentially, that would be a cheaper mid power Bravo TARAC.

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Rifle with a TACOMHQ Charlie TARAC, Structured Barrel, and Armor Optic.


Nightforce

The Nightforce ATACR line has become pretty popular and especially so in the FFP configuration. One thing lacking though was a Christmas tree reticle that was not Horus (Nightforce owns Horus BTW.) The Mil-XT reticle is that .2mil hash, floating dot center, Christmas tree reticle that seems to be becoming the industry standard and you can get it in all the mid and high power ATACR F1 flavors.


Tangent Theta

Just like Nightforce, Tangent Theta lacked that .2mil hash, floating dot center, Christmas tree reticle that seems to be becoming the industry standard. They have remedied that with the Gen 3 XR.



Well, there you have it for my ShotShow 2019 report. I hope you all found some valuable information in there about the new products in the industry or at least were amused by the telling of it. I won't be reviewing as many products this year as last year since I have a little one on the way but there will be a few. When I get the arrangements for those done I will start up a 2019 review blog thread similar to the 2018 one.
 
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BigJimFish

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The Steiner M8Xi would be one to bypass? Any others (1-8's) in your opinion to look at.
Yea, at that price it's illumination system should be better and brighter with beam splitter or phase diffraction technology. The big ridiculous turrets are also a hard pass.

Of the high end 1-8x's, I really liked the Leupold's optical design when I did a review of it a few years back (pg 13 here near the bottom.) They may have updated it's illumination in the intervening years to improve the angle sensitivity of it's phase diffraction illumination. I am not quite sure as I didn't look at it at the show. The capabilities of that tech have improved over time and it will eventually be the go-to for high end scope bright dot illumination systems. The Minox, which I also reviewed, is another good choice. It's phase diffraction illumination has been improved since the sample that I had was made so it is not as angle sensitive as it was then. I also liked the look of the finally released S&B 1-8x24 PMII ShortDot Dual CC that I mentioned in my last post though it is crazy expensive. There are less expensive versions of the S&B but you either give up the dot or the ffp functionality on them. The three I have mentioned are the best 3 1-8x scopes I can think of at the moment. The new Blazer 1-7x also looks excellent optically though it has a less than desirable feature set.
 

BigJimFish

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ILya and I did a video discussing some of the optics we saw at the show while we waited for our lunch to come. I believe we discussed U.S.O. Leupold's MK 5 7-35, the new Nightforce and Tangent Theta reticles, S&B's reticle and 1-8x, the Burris XTR III, Blazer's optics line, and Steiner. Here is the video.

 
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koshkin

Dark Lord Of Optics
Belligerents
Feb 22, 2006
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www.opticsthoughts.com
Next year, we should plan this video a little better. Either find a conference room somewhere or just retreat to a hotel room and do a longer and more detailed video. I think doing a discussion like this after the second day would be beneficial to us both. When we talk several things that are worth investigating immediately come up.

Aside from that, it was really great to catch up for a bit.

ILya