Off the Porch: Great new shooting products at SHOT Show

Jan. 23, 2013 @ 11:50 AM

SHOT Show is the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade show hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and almost everyone who is anyone is there. Manufacturers, vendors, organizations, and personalities of the shooting industry converge on the halls of the Sands Convention Center and fill the halls.
I attend because SHOT Show lays the ground work for my shooting year. Timed perfectly for just such a purpose, SHOT allows me to pick out the guns I’ll likely review this year and see everything new and coming. It is five days of hard work and fun. A reunion of the industry, in many ways, it’s like a homecoming.
Anytime a company sets out to produce new products, there are going to be winners and losers. This year, there are some real winners. Colt has expanded its Competition line exponentially. Last year, there were two models of the Colt Competition Rifle. The Pro model I used in the National High Power Rifle Championships and a less tricked out, Expert model.
This year, there are no less than eight models. In .223, the new models involve a 16” carbine and a 20” rifle version of the Pro model as well as an entry level gun in the line. There are also versions in .300 Blackout and 6.5 Grendle. The big news is the addition of a .308 version. The .308 Colt Competition Rifle is simply a big brother to my .223 version. There is a 20” barreled version as well that sports a Magpul PRS precision stock. At SHOT Show, you never know who or what you’ll stumble across next. I was looking at one side of the display and noticed no less than Carl Bernosky, this year’s and many times National High Power Rifle Champion. Carl was seriously looking over the .308 version. He reminded me that his initials are C. R. Bernosky and was talking about building a match rifle on the bigger platform. The really nice looking CR logo on the receiver of the Colt was calling his name. One can simply never have enough nice rifles.
Bushnell is a company that has for years had the reputation for making nice hunting scopes that worked but hardly captured the imagination of the upper echelon of the shooting fraternity. This has changed. Last year Bushnell introduced the Tactical Elite series. I did a review of five different scopes in the 4-20 range and I was surprised when the Tactical Elite emerged as the clear winner. I liked the scope so much I used it at Camp Perry. The turret knobs are simply the best system in the world as far as I’m concerned. They are precise, you can zero them out, and they are lockable.
This year, Bushnell is introducing an ever more serious scope with even more refined features than last year’s Tactical Elite. The new 34 mm tube scope has turrets that can be set to bottom out at your minimum zero. By having a hard stop at the minimum zero, you can never get off a revolution on elevation, something that can be a game killer when you deal in ranges beyond 800 yards with .308 class cartridges. The scope also has an extremely wide range of magnification, from 4.5 to 30 and 3.5 to 21. This is a great scope though I’d prefer MOA adjustments instead of the Mil Rad system it employs. I guess I spent too much time with the M14s ½ minute click match sights and I can’t stop converting my interpretation of wind values into ½ minute clicks. There are ten mil/rads per revolution with tenth mil/rad clicks, allowing 34 minutes of movement without going all the way around. MAT price is $1,949 in black and $1,999 in Dark Earth. There is also a 1-8.5 SMRS series with a 34 mm tube. It has a BTRT fully illuminated reticle with an etched reticule. MAT on this one is $2,149.
The highlight of my Media Day was a shooting session at the Cabot Arms booth. Cabot builds probably the finest fit and finish 1911 I’ve ever had in my hands and part of my little session was shooting a left and right hand 1911, one in each hand, at two targets at one time. My coach for the attempt was no less than Brian Zinns, a History Channel, Top Shot, finalist, and many time National Champion Pistol shooter. I managed to hit the targets but I couldn’t quite get both guns to go off at the same time.  After my tries, Brian demonstrated and succeeded on the second try. As we were shooting, Chris Cerino, of Chris Cerino Training Group, another Top Shot finalist, came up. Chris hit both targets every time and then rang a full sized silhouette 100 yards away, five shots in a row.
I’m really impressed with the Cabot 1911s. These are handmade match grade guns capable of winning a national championship right out of the box, as Brian demonstrated this past July at Camp Perry, Ohio. The fit and finish are impeccable and there are design features that make an old 1911 lover drool. One of the most impressive things I noticed was the sights. Cabot has designed the most graceful and unobtrusive adjustable rear sight I’ve ever seen on a handgun. The rear sight is rounded enough for easy concealed carry yet adjustable for both elevation and windage. The front site is a standard Patridge type sight with a fine white line engraved vertically to a point at the top center. The finely defined sight allowed Chris to favor into the wind on the 100 yard shot and hit the silhouette every time. This is a truly fine handgun and simply the best of the best.
I was also impressed with Winchester Ammunition’s new AA TrAAker load, the first shotgun shell to feature a weighted wad that actually tracks with the shot string. This allows the shooter or an instructor to quickly determine where the shooter is missing – making it easy to adjust and nail flying targets shot after shot.
“A new shooter now can learn how to lead a clay target or game bird almost immediately – that’s the results you get with AA TrAAcker,” said Brett Flaugher, Winchester Ammunition vice president of marketing, sales and strategy. “The new AA TrAAcker is a great training tool for shooters, hunters, and shooting instructors.”
It has taken me years to learn to look from behind my students and see where they’re shooting and this new load is going to be a boon for instructors, both professional and amateur. The wad comes in two colors to make it identifiable in different light conditions and there are two loadings to replicate low and high velocity loads. For now, it’s available only in 12 gauge, but I’m hoping it will soon be available in 20 gauge as well. 
Viridian had their green laser sights at Media Day and I was pleased to have a chance to see a laser in the bright Nevada sunlight. As far as I know, there is no other laser light that really shows up in broad daylight, but this one shows up bright and strong. Green lasers show up better than red ones but they’re known for being hard on batteries. Viridian has solved this problem with their unique holster system that turns the laser off when it’s in the holster and relights it when you draw. This is an amazing system that can work for both defense and competition and I look forward to wringing it out in the future.
SHOT Show is over now but Cherie and I have made even more friends who love shooting and hunting. We’ve been making plans all week for new adventures for 2013 and we can’t wait for some of them to get started.
Dick Jones is an award winning freelance writer living in High Point. He’s a member of the board of directors of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. He’s an NRA Certified Instructor, a Distinguished Rifleman, former High Master, and teaches shotgun, rifle, and pistol as well as the North Carolina Concealed Carry Certification and Hunter Safety at Lewis Creek Shooting School.  He can be reached at offtheporch52@yahoo.com.