Back again. My favorite day of the year. Bigger even than national pizza day-Industry Day at the Range, the range day held on Monday before the SHOT Show Opens on Tuesday. Much like the show itself you have to get invited to attend. No walk ons, just grizzled and jaded old media types willing to brave the elements to shoot up all the free ammo you can handle in all the latest guns, and the best part, at the end you nod sagely, maybe take a picture of the gun or make couple of notes, and then walk away free of all further commitments! My decades as a firearms instructor always involved me packing and hauling gear to the range, instructing during the qualification, then packing and hauling back to the office, cleaning guns and doing the ammo expenditure paperwork- so imagine just walking up, shooting and walking away! Positively counter-intuitive to my programming!
Industry Day is held at the huge Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club in Boulder City, NV. The line has to be at least a quarter mile long and range distances run from pistol bays to…well, desert all the way to Mexico. I once shot a 963-yard target here, so you can stretch the possibilities out pretty good. Walker donated free eye protection (eye pro we in the biz like to say), and Macks donated corded ear plugs. If you let Bolle Tactical scan your ID badge they would give you some nice shady eye pro in a soft case. I felt a little dirty letting them scan me, but then again I am rather famous for being a swag whore. Ironclad gave away free tactical gloves, and everybody wore them by the end of the day with a strong wind, 50 degrees and rain on the range.
In no particular order, here is some of the new and newish stuff I shot and liked.
Believe it or not, they showed off a very nice snubbed nosed .357 revolver in a J sized frame with red/green fiber optics sights. Nice rubber grips and a cylinder latch you press straight in to the frame. On the other side of the frame was a nifty button. When you open the cylinder, if you push that button it relieves a detent on the crane and you can pull the cylinder and crane straight out of the frame for cleaning. Like I said-nifty. I shot it double and single action and it was dead on up close. Very likeable item with similar weight as the Ruger SP-101 and will retail for $777. If you shoot .357 Magnums in it you will learn alot. Quickly. Stick to .38spl.
They featured their 9mm Mako with polymer slide in different colors and optics (Very similar size to a Glock 26), but the big splash in their booth is the brand new KDC9 Double Stack 9mm in 2011 style frame- with Commander length slide and 4 inc barrel. Available with and without optics. Double stack 1911’s are of course all the rage on the competition circuits and this is a beauty. It features a underlug rail, ambidextrous safety and magazine release. It has a fluted SS barrel and holds 18+1 rounds. It has everything you would put in it if you were building from scratch. Shot like a dream with good sights and good 1911 style trigger of course. It was brand new as of today at the show and MSRP will $1900 but expect it to hit gun shops about $1600.
Long gun makers par excellence of course showed their new pistol. Yes, a Savage 1911 Government style in 9mm. I shot their .45 version last year at the range day and it was excellent in all measures. This 9mm has a heavy barrel, ambi safeties, white dot front sight and will be available in a variety of frame/slide colors. The model I saw was stainless steel and had 10 round single stack magazines. It of course will have optic and non-optic versions. Expect about 2-month delay in the different colored versions which will include a rail and fiber optic sights. Savage was rightly proud to state they make the slides and barrels all in house and MSRP will be $1350 and the upgraded model at $1500.
Have you seen their gorgeous new building in Iowa? An awful lot of my money has gone to Brownells over the years to fund it. A few years back at the SHOT show they announced they were bringing back the piston system Armalite AR-180 system to the market. Well every year they do something new with that system called the BRN. This year I got to shoot their new BRN-180 carbine and their BRN-4 (which is make very much like an HK 416). Both work like champs as you would expect. I thought Brownells would drop the 180 designs, but they keep upgrading it every year.
If you don’t know EAA they brought the CZ-75 clones to America as the Witness years ago. Girsan is Turkish manufacturing and has been sending over some very cool stuff for the past few years. I got to lay hands on their new Witness, already one of the most ergonomic pistols, a new 1911 or 2011 style double stack 9mm. Full bells and whistles of course. Ambi safety, rail, Wilson style beavertail grip safety etc. They will be importing it in so many versions it just shows how strong the market is for this 2011 design in 9mm. They will build it in Government full size frame, Commander size frame (4″ bbl), and even an Officers Model size. Not enough? Oh yeah, they will market them in 9mm, 45 ACP, 38 Super and 10mm! The 9mm version has a 17 rd mag with a 20 rd on the way. Imagine the price….$999 with a red dot optic already installed. Don’t want the optic? It comes with fill in plates.
Girsan brought in a Browning Hi-Power clone about 2 years ago. Last year they cut it down to a smaller slide and about a 4 1/4 inch barrel and called it the Private Investigator (PI) model. This year for the show they have the PI model Lightweight (LW). The rep told me it weighed half a pound less than the original Hi-Power model. It is trim and slim and shoots just as good with a natural point of aim. Picking it up is an experience you hands don’t quickly forget. “Ooooh, this is so nice!”
Sports/Military Armament Corporation (MAC)
Speaking of Hi-Powers. SDS saw the demand and pulled something together that is pretty cool. They bought up the “Inglis” name (think WWII and Canadian P35s). They then designed and built a “new” Inglis P-35…in 90 days over in Turkey. It is a faithful rendition of the famous warhorse. Yes it still has the cursed magazine disconnect which aficionados say prevents a great trigger pull, but SDS said the trigger is better. Felt pretty good to me. (Springfield Armory designed out the disconnect in their “new” P35 2 yrs ago.) The rep told me to come see them at their SHOT Show booth to see it in a casehardened finish. Said it is really something to see… and price? $489. Whew.
SDS also imported 3 new Tisas and a MAC in 2011 style double stack 9mm. I shot the MAC and it was as good as any other I shot today in that frame style and a lot cheaper. The Tisas come in at $799 and the MAC with 4 1/4 bull barrel is $1100. Competition is hot and a good thing for this frame style.
They seemed awfully proud to show left-handed versions of the SX shotgun and a bolt action rifle. Why didn’t someone think of this sooner? Did someone get a pay raise for thinking of this?
Equal “blockbuster” idea. They had their “new” A5 shotgun. But not their old new one. See this one is chambered in 20 gauge. (Yawn.) So, this is “new”, not at all like when Browning had the Auto 5 for several decades in 12 ga and 20 ga, and 16 ga. Wait, what? 16 gauge…oops, crap. I may have ruined a surprise for their “new for 2025 idea” which no one had thought up yet.
Yes, another Turkish importer had a pretty cool Benelli M-2 clone the M9 on the table already tricked out for 3-Gun Competition. It was an eye catcher with 3″ chamber, nickled bolt, extended bolt handle and extended bolt release. Benelli type controls with a short rail on top of the receiver for optics mount, vent rib barrel and red front sight. A match saver is already installed forward of the chamber, and underneath the loading port is already cut away alot to allow easier feeding. They are talking $650-$700 out the door. The only thing I did not like is it came pre-ported …the barrel had lots of holes, and this would kick you automatically up into Open Class in 3 gun…think dragster class…anything goes, and it would be up a lot of better and higher functioning guns.
I waited in line to shoot it and see if I could jam it up shooting too fast, but ultimately did not. Some bearded nut in an ankle length fur coat with his midriff exposed and a red, white and blue fanny pack with speakers walked up and cut the line. The staff fell all over themselves to accommodate him and his two gun bunnies. He had a cigar in his face and his side zip boots were unzipped. I asked other people “Who is this clown?” all I got back is “He is a social media influencer. We don’t know his name.” Well, he shot a 20-round drum out of a Panzer 12 ga for cameras …raggedly at best. They then loaded another drum and handed it to a gun bunny who waved the muzzle around and had to be halted. She said “That’s ok, when the camera rolls I am just going to throw it to him.” Which she did. She tossed the Turkish made shotty, with fully loaded chamber and 20 rd mag of potential carnage through the air, and fur coat fortunately caught it and shot it down range. I eyeballed the Range Safety Officer and pointed my angry finger at him then at the fur coat and walked away. Soooo, I did not get to shoot their 3 gun ready model. We are all safety officers on every range I don’t care if you have a “following.”
They had a suppressed 6.5 Creedmoor bolt action shooting subsonic rounds so quiet it ran a chill up my spine. Very cool. On the carbine side I got to shoot one of their PC 9mm carbines which I adore. They are as solid as a baseball bat and so easy to shoot. Shot this one at 100 and knocked over a 4-inch swinger steel. They are just great 9mm carbines. Next to it was another PC (sorry Pistol Caliber) carbines. I thought it was last year’s 5.7mm. Nope. It was the brand-new Ruger LC Carbine in .45 ACP. There are no less than 3 ways to drop the bolt on this machine. Bag releases are reversible and stock folds like the 5.7mm version. Take the .45. I know 5.7mm has a lot of attention, but it was introduced as a military PDW round and Law Enforcement round. Both entities tried and left it behind. The .45 ACP has been around since, oh, I don’t know, say 1904.
Are there any new pistol sights ideas left to invent? Hi-Viz let the cat out of the bag last week ann0uncing the Fast Dot H3, and I was pleased to see it today on the range as I had a few questions and wanted to see how it worked for myself. I met the designer of this amazing sight system and what he has come up with is tossing aside all the square sights and dots and instead came up with two round tubes to aim with. Hear me out. The front tube sight is red when you look at it from an angle. The rear sight is kind of a clear looking tube. You line up the rear with the front…or vice versa and now you see just one dot…and it is super bright green. If they are out of alignment, you see the red front “dot”.
This was my favorite gun parts item at the range this year. I got to shoot the Fast Dot H3. No batteries. No bulky red dot sight optic. Just two low profile tubes, and they fit in your regular pistol holster as they are similar size to factory iron/plastic sights. Front sight is light gathering and when it lines up with the rear the resulting single dot or circle is lime bright green. I did not know how it would work with my using two eyes open, but I picked it up with practice, but felt a bit easier closing my weak eye. With a good pistol presentation that green dot became pretty consistent. A rep told me they have gotten feedback from shooters who are weak eye dominant, and this sight system is a blessing for them. They did not anticipate this but show it as another feature to this innovative system. They are also reporting good results with older shooters who have trouble seeing sights up close. I shot it and liked it a lot. They told me to use a 6 o’clock hold and was quickly bouncing a dueling tree plate back and forth. It works folks.
They currently have the Fast Dot H3 for Glocks, S&W M+P and Shields, and Sig Sauer P320 in 9mm. Replaces fixed sights-does not fit optics ready platforms. MSRP is $175