By Tony Martins

Attendance at the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s 2017 Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT) was the second highest ever, boasting nearly 65,000 industry professionals and 1600 exhibiting companies on the main show floors, and scores of first-time exhibitors. In addition to a mind boggling array of activities and events, this year’s show featured something truly special on Friday, January 20 – an historic Presidential Inauguration, broadcast live from thousands of televisions in exhibitor booths! This historic event, strong show attendance, and upbeat positive attitudes among buyers and sellers, signals a great year ahead for the firearms industry.

More than 500 new products, with hundreds more in line extensions, were displayed. Here’s a review of some of my favorites – the best of those I found for hunting.

NIKON SPORT OPTICS

The 2017 show was a particularly good one for optics, with most companies introducing new rifle scope, spotting scope, binocular and rangefinder models. Nikon’s LaserForce combines a high-performance binocular with their high-speed ranging technology in this new Rangefinder Binocular. Nikon is promoting the new LaserForce as “the single optic solution for serious hunters who depend on both their binocular for picking out distant animals and their rangefinder for getting the exact distance before taking the shot.” With full multi-layer coated lenses and prisms and ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass that corrects for chromatic aberration, the display is bright and contrast is sharp. The rangefinder is rated for 1900 yards, and includes many of Nikon’s best features – like advanced ID (Incline/Decline) technology for precise ranging at uphill/downhill shooting angles, continuous display for up to 8 seconds, and automatic power shut-off to preserve battery life. I particularly like the case design – it’s rugged and fits my hands perfectly for a steady hold. The new LaserForce Rangefinder Binocular is fully covered by Nikon’s No-Fault repair/replacement policy. Available soon – MSRP: $1199.95.

Also on display were the recently introduced MONARCH HG binoculars, in 8×42 and 10×42. The MONARCH binocular line has an excellent reputation worldwide, and these new offerings did not disappoint. They feature a wide apparent field of view (60.3° for 8x42mm and 62.2° for 10x42mm) and Field Flattener Lens System that provides sharp, clear viewing even at the lens periphery. ED glass and high-quality multilayer coated lenses and prisms achieve sharp imaging and bright viewing with up to 92% light transmission and natural color fidelity. Other features too numerous to list here include; scratch-resistant lens and eyepiece coatings, long eye relief with multi-click turn-and-slide eyecups, diopter adjustment with locking ring, and nitrogen-filled body for waterproof/fogproof performance. A soft neck strap and lightweight magnesium alloy bodies (8×42 = 23.5 oz. and 10×42 = 24.0 oz.) add comfort during extended use. Note: a binocular harness is said to be on its way. MSRP’s: $979.95 for 8×42 and $999.95 for 10×42.

Nikon’s new Monarch 7i VR Laser Rangefinder also received lots of attention at SHOT. Promoted as the “World’s First” laser rangefinder to employ optical “Vibration Reduction” (VR) technology, hand movement is reduced so distance to animals can usually be measured with a single push of the ranging button. I reviewed the new 7iVR recently for 1800GunsAndAmmo.com.

shot-2017-hunting-1

Greg Chevalier, President of Chevalier Advertising shows the new Nikon LaserForce Rangefinder Binocular (left) and Monarch HG Binocular (right). LaserForce reticle and display are shown bottom left, and Monarch HG models bottom right.

MOSSBERG

The volume of new products introduced by O.F. Mossberg & Sons over the past 5 years is nothing short of remarkable! 2017 was no exception, with additions to their tactical and hunting lines – including a couple of cross-over combo offerings – too numerous to cover here. As a Labrador retriever breeder and avid bird hunter, their new International SA-28 semi-automatic shotgun in 28-gauge really caught my eye. This is a lightweight (6-1/2 lbs.), easy handling (26-inch barrel), gas-operated autoloader with a beautiful walnut stock and fine checkering on stock and forend. And in a bit of a scoop, Mossberg Director of Media Relations and bear hunting goddess, Linda Powell showed the brand new, not yet available Patriot Revere rifle. The beautifully grained semi-fancy walnut stock with oil-rubbed finish makes an immediate impression! Enhancements include rosewood grip and end caps separated by maple (not plastic) spacers. The 24-inch barrels are blue-polished and will be available in 243 Win., 270 Win., 308 Win., 30-06 Spr., 300 Win. Mag. and 6.5 Creedmore – the last was everywhere at SHOT and a first-time chambering for Mossberg. I see both of these long guns in my future, particularly with prices that blow the competition away. MSRP’s: Patriot Revere $823.25 and SA-28 $653.80.

Mossberg also introduced new lightweight, low recoil 410-gauge pump shotguns, including the 500 Persuader .410 Security, and 510 Mini Super Bantam with variable length-of-pull stock and spacer, and Muddy Girl Camo finish. Their MVP Series line-up now includes rifles with premium Vortex Crossfire II scopes. Barrel threading to accommodate muzzle brake or suppressor is now standard across all MVP lines. And, yet another all-new model is the Patriot Predator, available in 243 Win., 308 Win and the 6.5 Creedmore. It features a top rail, fluted and threaded barrel, adjustable trigger, oversized bolt handle that works well with gloved hands, and Flat Dark Earth stock finish. The 6-1/2 lb. rifle carries an MSRP of $441.00.

shot-2017-hunting-2

Mossberg Director of Media Relations Linda Powell shows the beautiful new Patriot Revere rifle (left) and International SA-28 gas-operated semi-auto shotgun (right). Bottom: All-new Patriot Predator rifle (left) and SA-28 (right).

CROSMAN / BENJAMIN

In the press room I overheard several conversations about airguns, with some calling 2017 “the year of the airgun.” It’s true that interest in hunting with airguns is growing rapidly, and Crosman has been a leader in this area with their Benjamin hunting lines. Big news this year is their Silencing Barrel Device (SBD) fitted to several nitrogen-piston powered (NP2), break-barrel air rifles. The SBD is over-molded on the barrel and then glassed in place with resin. It’s asymmetric design increases volume but doesn’t compromise line-of-sight. And, its shroud is removable to expose baffles for cleaning. The new Rogue comes with front and rear sights as well as a 3-9x32mm CenterPoint scope. It also features an adjustable two-stage Clean Break Trigger, and all-weather synthetic stock, available in .177 and .22 caliber. Stepping up, the new Mayhem break-barrel has all the features of the Rogue, plus soft touch inserts in the stylish synthetic stock and an upgraded 3-9x40mm CenterPoint scope with adjustable parallax. It’s also available in .177 and .22 caliber. Rounding out the SBD fitted break-barrel rifles is the new Trail NP2 Stealth, available in wood or black synthetic stock with palm-grip window, in .177 and .22 caliber, and a model finished in Realtree Xtra Camo (.22 caliber only). MSRP’s: Rogue $299.99, Mayhem $339.99, and Trail NP2 Stealth from $294.99 to $339.99.

New Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP) models include the Marauder Field and Target and Benjamin Wildfire. The Marauder F&T features a new stock design with adjustable raised comb cheek piece and on-board pressure regulator. The regulator is on/off selectable and can deliver up to 70 regulated shots from a 3000 psi air fill in .177 caliber, and up to 50 unregulated shots in .22 caliber. Also included are an integrated pressure gauge, reversible bolt handle for left or right hand shooting, and 10-shot rotary magazine. The Wildfire is a semi-automatic PCP that can deliver up to 60 shots from a 2000 psi air fill. Based on the renowned Crosman 1077 CO2 air rifle – itself a replica of the iconic Ruger 10/22 rifle – the Wildfire is unexpectedly lightweight for a PCP. It also features a built-in pressure gauge, fiber optic front sight, fully adjustable rear sight, and all for under $150.00! MSRP’s: Marauder Field and Target $629.99, Wildfire $149.99.

shot-2017-hunting-3

Jesse Caster, Senior Product Manager, Airguns demonstrates the new Rogue, part of the Crosman NP2 line-up of break-barrel airguns with their new SBD silencer. Racked from left to right are the Rogue, Trail NP2 Stealth in Realtree Xtra Camo, and new Mayhem. Bottom: Mayhem with cutaway views of nitro-piston action and SBD baffling (left), wood stocked Trail NP2 Stealth (center) and new regulated Marauder Field and Target PCP air rifle (right).

UMAREX

Umarex USA is an innovative company in the outdoor products arena, and a major player in the airgun marketplace. A dozen new products made their debut at SHOT, including a couple of revolutionary new ammo lines. The Umarex Havox pellets are machined from solid copper and specially drawn and tempered to deliver maximum energy. Designed to expand 100% into 6 razor sharp cutting edges immediately upon contact with soft tissue, they are touted by the company to be “the most lethal air gun hunting ammunition ever created.” Gel penetration testing displays were indeed impressive. With weight savings of up to 10% over lead they are also claimed to outperform most lightweight alloy pellets in terms of accuracy – and I can’t wait to get my hands on some! The price of admission won’t be cheap however… To be sold in packs of 25 pellets in .177, .22 and .25 caliber, MSRP’s will range from $13.99 to $15.99.

The company is also proud of their new ARX hunting ammunition line manufactured by PolyCase, boasting that it represents “the biggest jump in air rifle ammo technology in decades.” Ruger introduced their own line of PolyCase handgun ammo at SHOT last year. ARX bullets are made from an advanced polymer-copper matrix in .357, .40 and .45 caliber, housed in plastic .50 caliber sabots (ARX SpeedBand), and also in .50 caliber attached to a bore-sized plastic base (ARX SpeedBelt). They are designed for maximum expansion in game at low velocities, are suitable for use in both airguns and muzzleloading rifles, and will no doubt be expensive when available. Also making news was the new Umarex Hammer .50 caliber big-bore air rifle – notable in its absence from the show! The Hammer is reported to be a 3-shot repeater that Umarex claims will deliver 700 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, and will retail for $650.00. We’ll see…

shot-2017-hunting-4

Displays of new air rifle ammo in the Umarex booth (top). Bottom: Havox solid copper pellets (left), ARX polymer-copper matrix bullets by PolyCase (center), and image of the Hammer air rifle taken from a press release sent by Umarex marketing team, apparently making light of the fact that the new big-bore rifle was missing-in-action at SHOT.

BURRIS OPTICS

Binoculars are back in the Burris Optics line-up for 2017, with not one, but two series. Both feature stylish two-tone bodies with heavily textured rubber armoring for protection and a comfortable, sure grip. They come with a durable carrying case, neoprene neck strap, lens covers, and are covered by the Burris Forever Warranty. Internally, both series are nitrogen-filled for waterproof/fogproof performance. The new Droptine Binoculars are lightweight and an excellent value, in 8×42 and 10x42mm. They feature multi-coated lenses for maximum light transmission and reduced glare, a convenient central focus knob, diopter adjustment on the right eyepiece for precise focusing, and twist-up eye cups. The new Signature HD Binoculars will be available in 8×42, 10×42 and 12x50mm. They feature premium HD lenses and BaK 4 prisms for sharper edge-to-edge clarity and maximum light transmission, and an open bridge design to reduce weight. Droptine MSRP’s: $299.00 for 8×42 and $335.00 for 10×42. Signature HD MSRP’s: $455.00 for 8×42, $479.00 for 10×42, and $659.00 for 12×50.

The new Signature HD 20-60x85mm Spotting Scope looks as good as it functions. It features a lightweight durable design with die-cast magnesium body that’s armored for protection, angled eyepiece for comfortable viewing from any position, premium HD glass for maximum light transmission under any lighting conditions, and apochromatic lens system that eliminates color fringing and delivers edge-to-edge resolution at any magnification setting. A large ocular that offers a wide field of view through the 20-60x zoom eyepiece, and a built-in sunshade facilitate subject acquisition. A 30x fixed eyepiece is also available, with either SCR Mil or SCR MOA reticle for target shooters. MSRP: $1895.00.

shot-2017-hunting-5

Burris/Steiner Marketing Manager Dennis Phillips shows the new Burris Signature HD Spotting Scope (left) and Signature HD Binocular (right). Center strip (top to bottom): Signature HD Spotting Scope, new Droptine Binocular, Signature HD Binocular.

FIERCE FIREARMS

Fierce has a remarkable following considering the company is less than 4 years old, and it’s growing. Their flagship Edge centerfire rifle has undergone dozens of changes since inception, including several new models, and each is delivered with a 1/2 MOA 3-shot guarantee at 100 yards and a certified validation target to boot! The Fierce Edge is a high quality, long-range capable hunting rifle offered at half the price of comparable semi-custom rifles. A match grade, hand-lapped, fluted stainless steel barrel, 3-lug stainless steel action with 70-degree lift on the Triad bolt, mini-claw extractor with control round feed, detachable speed box magazine, 3-position True-Lock safety, and Limbsaver recoil pad mounted on a proprietary carbon-fiber stock are all standard features on this 6.9 lb. rifle. Upgrade options include a proprietary muzzle brake that delivers 50% recoil reduction with less noise, and camo finishes like Kuiu Vias and Verde, and Kryptek Highlander and Typhoon. It’s available in 18 chamberings, from 6.5 Creedmore and .26 Nosler to .338 Lapua and 375 H&H. MSRP: $2555.00.

Upgraded Edge offerings include the 6.4 lb. Carbon Edge with patent pending C3 carbon barrel technology, TI Edge with stainless steel fluted barrel and titanium action, and the 5.9 lb. CT Edge with C3 carbon barrel and titanium action. Each Fierce Edge rifle is available in an LR (Long Range) package with Nightforce SHV or NXS, Swarovski Z5 or Huskemaw BD optic with custom yardage etched turret, Talley rings and bases, custom Boyt rifle case with foam cut for the rifle, and Fierce sling. MSRP’s: Carbon Edge $3250.00, TI Edge $3395.00, CT Edge $3900.00. MSRP’s for LR packages range from $4760.00 for the basic Edge rifle with Nightforce SHV 5-20x56mm optic, to $7035.00 for the CT Edge rifle with Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x50mm optic.

shot-2017-hunting-6

Fierce Firearms semi-custom rifle models include the original Edge (bottom), Carbon Edge, CT Edge, and TI Edge (not shown). All guaranteed to shoot ½ MOA at 100 yards, and this left-handed Edge (upper right) is tagged to show its 0.31-inch 3-shot test group.

CALDWELL SHOOTING SUPPLIES / BATTENFIELD TECHNOLOGIES

Caldwell turned their recoil reducing Lead Sled shooting rest into a must-have item for shooting households across the country. Their new Stinger Shooting Rest combines a stylish tubular frame design, great functionality and rock solid stability in a rest that’s also easy on the pocketbook. The Stinger features an innovative front elevation system, adjustable via a spring loaded knob that provides fast, one-handed coarse elevation adjustment of up to 3 inches. One inch of fine elevation adjustment is available through a twist knob at the rear. Molded front and rear supports protect gun finish while providing firmness for solid resting. The heavy duty metal frame and quick cam locks add functionality by allowing the front rest to slide forward or backward easily to accommodate long guns of various lengths. And, the versatile Stinger works equally well for sporting rifles with extended magazines, and lever action rifles. MSRP: $119.99.

shot-2017-hunting-7

The Caldwell Stinger gun rest on display at SHOT.