SHOT SHOW 2018 (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) was held in Las Vegas in January. I was fortunate enough to attend this huge annual event to check out the latest and greatest products from the hunting industry. One of the highlights of the 2018 show for me was field testing guns and gear during Industry Day at the Range, at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club in Boulder City, Nevada.
Here are my thoughts on some of the new gear featured at SHOT Show 2018.
If you’re looking for a new long-range rifle, the Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target is a pretty good choice. It’s only available in .300 Win Mag, but with great supporting features like a heavy-contour target barrel, muzzle brake, target stock with two-way adjustable comb, and two-stage target trigger, you can’t go wrong.
I’m a big fan of the original Finnlight and this update makes a great gun better. The updates are mostly with the stock, which is made of lightweight RTM fibreglass that has a fully adjustable cheek piece. The barrel has been treated with a weather-resistant Cerakote coating, which makes this rifle the perfect choice for all conditions.
Savage Arms’ model 110 has been outfitted with the company’s new AccuFit Stock. This system provides five comb riser sizes so you can adjust to the perfect cheek-to-stock weld, and four composite inserts for your preferred length of pull — all done with the turn of a screwdriver.
The Tikka T1x is the company’s first rimfire rifle. Its barrel has a crossover profile, which offers the benefits of a heavier barrel without the extra weight. And a 10-round magazine comes standard for both 22 LR and 17 HMR calibers.
The Citori CX shotgun is designed to be a crossover gun. You can shoot trap, skeet, and sporting clays equally as well as grouse and woodcock, and carry it all day in the Ontario bush. It’s a good choice for a hunter who also wants to participate in clay-target competitions without having to buy a purpose-built gun for each activity.
I strongly believe that all shotguns should have two barrels and be arranged side by side, but that’s just me. Not many are made that way anymore. So I was pleasantly surprised when Savage came out with their new Fox A Grade side by side. I shot this gun at the SHOT Show 2018 Industry Day at the Range and was impressed. It’s a great looking offering (English straight stock and splinter fore-end) that is backed up with good balance and a nice feel in the hand. It also comes with the more modern option of interchangeable choke tubes. From the factory, the right barrel is fitted with a skeet choke and the left with an improved cylinder. Modified, improved-modified, and full chokes are also included.
OK, the SHOT Show is not known for its bows, but Ontario’s Excalibur is one of the bow brands that does participate. This year Excalibur showed off its new Assassin. It’s based off the Micro platform for size and the Suppressor platform for quietness. But the true centrepieces of this new crossbow are the Tru-Fit stock, which lets you quickly adjust the length of pull from 12” to 15″, an adjustable cheekpiece, quiet Charger Crank System, and an integrated crank aid.
Although Browning has been in the hunting market for a long time, they just recently released their own ammo. Their new BXS is a solid expansion polymer-tipped copper bullet designed to achieve deep penetration on both deer and big game animals. The polymer-tipped copper bullet helps with controlled expansion and deep penetration, and the nickel-plated shell case resists corrosion and improves feeding.
If you’re like me and enjoy shooting paper shotshells, the new Gold Medal Grand Paper loads combine Federal Premium Ammunition’s classic paper hull with an improved design that provides less felt recoil, more reliable ignition, and improved shot hardness. The two-piece wad utilizes SoftCell technology to decrease perceived recoil and produce more uniform patterns than one-piece designs. A Rigid PrimerLock head improves primer sensitivity, ensuring proper ignition in the event of a light hit; and lead shot is engineered for the optimum blend of hardness and density for even patterns and maximum downrange power.
The new Grand Slam shotshells were designed to perform comparably to other high-end lead offerings while maintaining the former Mag-Shok price point. Copper-plated lead pellets produce dense patterns and ample energy. The shot is delivered via the Flitecontrol Flex wad, which opens from the rear and allows a controlled release of the load, resulting in thick, even patterns through standard and ported chokes. Also, buffering prevents pellet deformation for more consistent patterns. Available in 10-count packs, with a Spur Tape imprinted on every shell.
SHOT Show is a great venue to see new and upcoming brands and products. One of the more interesting ammo accessories is Huntego CleanShot gun bore cleaner. It’s a high-velocity bore field cleaning device that power scrubs your shotgun bore clean. Just load a CleanShot round as you would a normal round, and safely discharge your shotgun, cleaning the bore in the process.
Winchester Xtended Range Bismuth lead-free shot is the latest offering for turkey, waterfowl, and upland hunting in areas that require lead-free shot. With density greater than steel, bismuth with ShotLok Technology improves pattern density and increases downrange energy. The company claims that Xtended Range Bismuth puts twice the number of pellets in a 20-inch circle at 60 yards.
If you like the quick and easy target acquisition of red dots, you’ll like the new Lil Prism or “Lil P” for short and the Big Dot or “Big D”. The Lil P is the smallest 1-x prism sight on the market with a push-button operation and battery life of 5,000 to 7,000 hours. That’s a lot of hunting. The Big D is a 37 mm objective lens with six brightness settings, with over 20,000 hours of battery life. The only issue is how to get that much hunt time to test them!
Nikon’s latest rangefinder has an effective range of nearly 3,000 yards on reflective targets. They’ve also added a variable intensity red OLED display that provides either automatic or five selectable brightness levels for maximum contrast against most targets and backgrounds in virtually all lighting conditions. For incline or decline shooting angles, Nikon’s ID Technology takes the angle out of the equation.
When you pick up a Mark 5HD scope you’ll feel the difference: it’s light for its class. With three revolutions of elevation adjustment, the Mark 5HD was built to max out the performance of the latest long-range rifles and ammo. It was ergonomically designed with more tactile, audible click adjustments, larger numbers, and a high-speed throw lever so you can put accurate fire downrange faster.
Vanguard’s Endeavor series of binoculars, spotting scope, and rifle scopes deliver sharpness and clarity that every hunter is looking for in optics. The Endeavor ED (extra low-dispersion) glass effectively reduces colour dispersion and enhances colour resolution and contrast. ED glass aligns the colours to meet at the same focal plane to reduce the chromatic aberration and obtain the highest resolution and image contrast. As a result, the image is sharper.
If you are looking for a new hunting knife or tool, look no further than the many options available from Camillus. The new PRYM1 camo Line of Sight hunting series includes pocket knives, hunting knives, knife holders, tools, folding saw, hatchet, and a machete, to name a few.
What’s the point (pardon the pun) of having a great hunting knife if it’s not sharp? DMT has been the industry leader in bench stones for sharpening, and for 2018 it has come out with new handheld and table mount knife-sharpening options for hunters, in manual or electronic format.
Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Ledlenser until SHOT Show 2018. I like cheap flashlights and headlamps at the checkout, but not when they stop working an hour before sunrise on the way to a blind. I tested both the Ledlenser MT10 flashlight and MH10 headlamp and loved them. They feel very solid and cast a crisp and brilliant light.
OK, when you think of SHOT Show, cool water bottles are not likely the first thing that comes to mind. But, every hunter knows that keeping hydrated is key to a safe hunt. HydraPak is the leading hydration supplier in the world, so they know a thing or two about making great products that keep you (and even your hunting dog) refreshed. Check out their new Expedition 8L, Stow, Stash, and Seeker flexible hydration bottles and packs. They are lightweight and packable too.
Leatherman’s original PST tool that started the multi-tool craze is back, with a 35th Anniversary PST edition. It takes its design inspiration from the original and its simplicity, utility, and portability make it a classic. The Wave and Charge lines now come with replaceable wire cutters, and if you’re interested in wearable multi-tools, have a look at the Tread LT and Tread Tempo watches.
Every year at SHOT I have a, “Why didn’t I think of that?” moment. Seeing Primos’ Double Bull Surroundview blinds was just that moment this year. These are quality ground blinds with an interesting twist: they are constructed with exclusive one-way see-through walls. From the inside it’s completely see-through, but the material is constructed so you can’t see into it from the outside. Available in Surroundview 180-, 270-, and 360-degree models.
Spypoint’s Bucktracker is an antler-recognition technology offered for Spypoint Link, Solar, and Force series trail cams. This new service allows you to sort pictures from your trail cam based on whether or not they contain antlers in them. Basically, it’s facial-recognition software that enables passionate deer hunters to target and filter buck and doe images with simple device settings.
The Delta waders are Sitka’s first ever Gore-Tex boot-foot wader available as a standard Delta (no-zip) wader and Delta Zip wader in Optifade Concealment Timber and Marsh patterns. It’s a big product launch for Sitka and a much anticipated new piece of gear for waterfowlers.