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SHOT Show 2016 In Review

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By David Link

I was privileged to attend my first SHOT Show this year, likely the first of many, and although I couldn’t see everything, I gave it my best shot throughout the week. Over 64,000 people were on hand to see what the industry had to offer for 2016, and of particular note was the number of buyers, a new record according to the NSSF, proving that the industry is healthy and well heading into 2016. As a member of the media, I was also pleased to find brands welcoming and eager to show off their new products. Of course, there was always plenty of chances to get lost on a massive two floor showroom at the Sands Las Vegas. Here are some personal observations and recounts of the week at SHOT Show:

Day At The Range

Select invited buyers and members of the media are invited to SHOT’s Industry Day At The Range that takes place an hour or so drive outside of Las Vegas. Situated near Boulder City, a spacious range accommodates many brands from the industry as they showcase some of their new firearms and optics for testing. Held the day before SHOT Show begins, Range Day is an all-day event for some, and there is plenty to see and do around the range. This year highlights included a chance to test the new Browning ammo line, check out the new IWI X95 (mini Tavor), and fire the quiet Daniel Defense ISR. There were also thousands of clays to burst and even the new Benjamin Pioneer Airbow was available for testing.

There has to be quite a clean up operation on the clays course after Range Day that’s for sure.

New Rifle Scopes

Each year, rifle scopes get better and better, and this year’s crop at SHOT Show was no different. The biggest announcements I was able to see were from the following brands. Leica may have the most exciting rifle scope coming this year in the ER5 series that allows shooters to get their hands on coveted German glass and parts at an affordable price. The Leica ER5 series is composed of all German components, but it is assembled in the US, which allows the company to offer it at an exciting $799 to $1400 MSRP price point. Rifle scope price points were also the big news at the Leupold booth, where they had the new VX-3i rifle scope series on display. The price for this Golden Ring Guaranteed scope? A mere $399 MSRP. Vortex Optics had their own announcement in the Golden Eagle rifle scope series as they made their first move into F-Class shooting. Nikon had a new Monarch 7 BDC model on display at their booth at the great price of $850 – $1100 MSRP. Finally, Hawke Optics re-introduced their Frontier series rifle scopes in a new 30mm body at just $699 to $799 MSRP.


New Camo

New camo patterns were also part of the buzz on the showroom floor this year. Sitka launched their new Optifade Timber camo line this year to rave reviews, and this flooded timber pattern is sharp and provides an advantage in an environment that few other patterns do. Under Armor also had their new camo line on display at SHOT this year, and there were some interesting and eye catching patterns at their booth from a company more associated with athletics than hunting. However, the Under Armor Hunt line looks legit, as best represented by the Ridge Reaper jacket displayed below.


New Handguns

New handguns are always a big draw for crowds at SHOT Show, and this year there were some interesting additions. First, Walther has put out an affordable, “Americanized” pistol in the PPSM2 standard and LE editions retailing at $469. SIG had their cool Legion pistol line on display as well, and this exclusive SIG series, available in 220, 226 or 229, allows owners to purchase exclusive gear like holsters and knives only after they become part of the Legion and own one of the pistols. Finally, the new Ruger American Pistol was on display and drawing plenty of attention with its MSRP set at $579.

The new Ruger American Pistol is available in 9mm Luger and .45 Auto.

New Shotguns

Benelli had several new shotguns on display, but my eyes immediately gravitated towards the Super Black Eagle 25th Anniversary Flyway Editions. Based upon the four major waterfowl flight paths in the US, these beautiful limited-run shotguns feature gold and silver artwork on each receiver. Unless production changes, there will only be 1000 of each flyway available. Benelli also had an impressive over-under on display in the 828U, and this light and fast shotgun was a joy to hold, I can only imagine how it performs in the field. Mossberg issued new shotgun lines this year as well, something fellow contributor Tony Martins reported on in more depth in: Best Of SHOT 2016 – Hunting: Part 1.

Benelli’s 25th Anniversary Super Black Eagle Flyway Editions.

New Optics

Steiner and Zeiss had some very cool pocket binoculars on display this year, but I especially like the Zeiss Terra ED 10×25 pocket binoculars. These guys were super-light and yet a breeze to use despite their size. Some day these might just have a spot in my pack. Classic hunting binocular brands Leupold and Vortex had new editions of their Mojave Pro Guide HD and Diamondback series binoculars respectively. Finally a big step in the right direction for thermal scopes came in the compact, Echo1 Thermal Sight in the SIG Electro Optics line. This cool sight offers 6 different color modes and 3 different reticle colors so you can customize it to your environment, and it’s light and doesn’t take up much space once mounted. It’s certainly not for everyone at $2500 MSRP, but it beats many bulkier models no doubt.

Zeiss Terra ED 10×25 Pocket Binoculars.

Other Activities

There were plenty of other things to do at SHOT this year, like celebrity appearances from The Gunny R. Lee Ermey at the Glock booth, Survivorman at the Camillus Knives booth, Eva Shockey at several booths, Jerry Miculek at the Smith & Wesson booth, World’s Strongest Man Magnus Samuelsson, and reality TV stars from shows like Swamp People and Gold Rush. You have to pick and choose your favorites due to lines and waits to meet them, the Gunny draws an especially large crowd, but there is a chance to say hello to a few celebrities while exploring the vast SHOT floor. And that is exactly what you do during this show, explore. It is easy to get turned around on the main floor not to mention the bottom floor where even more brands are showcased, and regular navigation via the SHOT Show app and booth numbers is a must. Even so, you can get a little lost and find a new brand you’ve never heard of, but one thing is for sure, there is no way you can take it all in. That said, I’m already thinking about my plan of attack for next year…

David Link

I grew up in the Midwest with a strong background in the outdoors. My father, grandfathers, and a whole host of uncles exposed me to hunting, fishing, and even some rarer outdoor activities like mushroom hunting. I feel fortunate to have grown up in small town America with such an opportunity to experience the natural order of things, and I believe that safety and outdoor ethics always come first. During my youth, I also learned that firearms are tools meant to be cherished and respected, not feared. The great privilege of being human is having choice, and we should always honor the rights of the men and women who make correct choices so our world isn’t compromised by those who make poor choices. Today in addition to writing for Gritr Sports, the Rocky Mountains are my playground, and I enjoy exploring the natural spaces of this world through writing, photography, drawing, and painting. Get out an enjoy the majesty of nature, but always do your best to leave it as you found it.

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