By David Link
As the editor of the 1800GunsAndAmmo and 1800Gear Blogs, the SHOT Show is a must-see event each year. That said, I’m still fairly new to the SHOT Show, but I’m happy to report this year went smoother than ever. I saw more new and interesting products than ever before, and I had great conversations with the brands that produce those products.
Of course you need a good survival kit for SHOT Show, and this year my kit consisted of quality hiking boots, my Panasonic GH-3 camera, a notebook to scribble in, and my iPhone with the SHOT app for successful navigation. In addition, you need to take care of your body, and you can never drink enough water on the floor, so a strategic stop for water was always on the to-do list. Staying healthy is more than just water intake, and a good dose of vitamin C is part of the day’s regiment. Having done all these things, I was able to stave off sickness and keep my feet from aching after each day.
This all said, SHOT is a great experience that transcends much of the woes of sore feet or an unwanted cold. SHOT Show is about gear, and there was plenty of great products and brands to check out. Here are some of my favorites from SHOT Show 2017.
New Pistols – Walther, Ruger and CZ
There is no shortage of new pistols showcased on the SHOT Show floor each year, and in 2017 several new models caught my eye. Over the past few months I’ve been pondering a new striker-fired 9mm pistol, and up until now the Walther PPQ was the front runner in my search, that is until I looked at the Walther Creed this year at SHOT. The Creed feels like a perfect update to the PPQ but in a sleeker, more ergonomic design, and it offers an exceptional trigger design with a consistent 6.5 lb. pull. The best part of all, the Creed retails for only $399.
Aside from the Walther Creed, I also took a closer look at CZ’s much-anticipated pistol, the P-10 C. The P-10 has a great trigger with a 4 to 4.5 lb. pull and CZ has really worked hard to make it stand out from other stock factory triggers. The grip and ergonomics look great on the CZ P-10 as well, and the takedown works similar to a Glock. While I have always respected the Glock brand, it’s interesting to have a new alternative like the P-10 C, and I’ll definitely give it a closer look as I shop for a new 9mm. The P-10 is a bit more expensive at $499 for the 9mm, but it is available in .40 S&W for $516 as well.
As for pistols built for fun, nothing quite compares to a Ruger for plinking and range day exploits. One of the big announcements for Ruger this year was the Mark IV update to their popular rimfire pistols, this time with an easy, one button takedown. Gone are the days of tedious cleaning and field stripping of Mark III models. However while I was looking at the Mark IV something else caught my eye – the Mark IV 22/45 edition. This slick pistol has a copper-colored aerospace-aluminum receiver with a threaded barrel and the same one-button takedown new to the Mark IV series. However just as attractive is the grip of the 22/45 – it’s a 1911 style pistol grip. I’ve got to say I was pretty smitten, and the next Ruger pistol for me might just be the Mark IV 22/45.
Ruger Mark IV 22/45 pistol.
New Camo Patterns
Alright, it’s no secret that the camo pattern world is flooded now, so much so that when someone announces they have a new camo pattern, excitement rarely follows. That said, I did find myself attracted to two new camo patterns for 2017. The first is Sitka’s new Subalpine Optifade pattern. Everyone knows Sitka does hunting apparel extremely well, but I’ve always felt like the Sitka line was missing a pattern like Subalpine. This new pattern has more touches of green and is designed for those hunting areas below the treeline but above the high plains. The engagement distance for Subalpine is short at an average of 50 yards, and many of the Subapline apparel is lightweight and tailored towards warmer, more active spot and stalk hunts. I’ve always been a fan of Gore Optifade patterns, and this newest one from Sitka is no different.
I’m a big fan of Eberlestock packs, and I think they are innovating in ways that other pack brands simply do not. The mainframe pack setup is simply ingenious, and the fact that Eberlestock packs clip into one another and work together is something that makes them useful in almost any situation. However, this year Eberlestock had something else in store for SHOT visitors, the new Dopplel:ganger camo pattern. This pattern is designed for use at any engagement distance, and it works by forcing animals to focus on one layer among many in the pattern.
Another SHOT highlight, I was able to meet Glen Eberle, creator of the brand and the Doppel:ganger pattern, at the Eberlestock booth. He discussed the process of creating the pattern and the unexpected result of finding the image of a fierce cat in the corner of the pattern afterward. The image of the cat surprised even Eberle, and right then and there he decided it was the hunter’s doppleganger, and probably the coolest marketing plan for a camo pattern was born. I’m certainly a fan, and I can wait to check out one of their packs in the new pattern this year.
SHOT Show is all about optics as well, and this may be the category where I looked at the most products. However instead of starting with a new binocular or spotting scope, I want to highlight the Leupold LTO Thermal Scope. This sleek, hand-held device is ultra-compact and it weighs next to nothing, but what it brings to scouting and game recovery in the field is what really caught my eye. The thermal imaging tech is much clearer than other affordable models I’ve seen, and the device features several color modes and a push button 1-6x zoom (stopping on each power 1x, 2x, etc.) This device registers targets at up to 600 yards and can pick out a full target like a deer at 200 yards, and at only $699, this optic is a steal for what it offers.
It’s tempting to choose the Nikon LaserForce rangefinding binocular as my other favorite optic from SHOT, but instead I’ll focus on a regular Nikon binocular that really caught my eye – the Monarch HG. 1800GunsAndAmmo writer Tony Martins selected the same binocular in his Best of SHOT Hunting, and at the risk of too much overlap, this binocular makes my list as well. The Monarch HG utilizes Nikon’s Field Lens Flattening System to replace the normal convex lenses with flat lenses, and the result is unforgettable. The moment I put these binoculars up to my eyes, I was impressed with how fast the image came up and how remarkably clear it was. The extremely wide field of view offered in these binoculars was impressive as well. As far as 2017 binoculars go, these were my favorite mid-range priced binocular.