Yesterday was my first Media Day at the Range at my first SHOT Show, and it was almost overwhelming. There were literally too many firearms to shoot in one day, but we did manage to cram in as many as possible, and get pictures of some of the most interesting ones.
Media Day at the Range was held at the Boulder City Rifle and Pistol Club, which had more bays than I could count for carbine and pistol shooting, an expansive area for shotguns, and a wide range of targets for the long-range shooter going out to 1,000 yards. As a shooter living in the densely-wooded rolling hills of the North Carolina Piedmont where opportunities for long-range shooting generally top out at 500 yards, it was a true treat to be in the desert where you can see for miles.
Here’s a quick pictorial review of some of the most interesting arms I was able to fire.
I’ve been saying since I first saw the TrackingPoint XS1 that I thought the company’s claim that they were marketing to civilians is a ruse… and Oren Schauble, their Director of Marketing, tells me that I’m dead wrong.
While they are indeed showing some rifles to the military for potential contracts, Schauble says that their bolt-action precision guided rifles (PGRs) are flying off the shelves to well-heeled businessmen and collectors who enjoy shooting at long ranges, and are becoming something of a status symbol. Obviously, I misjudged the market. It is the first time I’ve been wrong, kids, and it won’t be the last.
It took longer for the factory rep to explain how the system works than to actually use the rifle, which is scary simple and deadly accurate. There is a small red button on the triggerguard, covered by my finger in the photo above. Once you have your target in sight, you tag it by touching that button, and the rifle’s sensor’s do all the work. You then bring the crosshairs back up on target and squeeze the trigger. The shot will not actually break until the crosshairs are perfectly aligned to the firing solution.
My target was a steel gong 1,000 yards away. I put the crosshairs of the XS1 on the gong, painted it, and then reacquired the calculated firing solution. It was then a simple matter of squeezing trigger and moving one dot to another.
One shot, one hit at 1,000 yards with a .338 Lapua that I’d never touched before.
I have to admit it… I’m impressed.
TrackingPoint has done a wonderful job integrating existing firearms and sensor technology into a fearsome rifle system, and while the purists among us may not be entirely thrilled with it, I think that this technology is going to be with us a long while.
The company’s AR15 and AR-10 based lines were not at Media Day, but will be ready in March.
I sense a possible trip to Texas in my future.
One of the big disappointments of Media Day was the Barrett M107A1 semi-automatic .50 BMG sniper rifle that the company brought, but that we weren’t allowed to fire. The rangemaster was apparently worried that the M107A1 would destroy his long-range armor steel targets… and he was likely right.
The rifle itself is an upgrade of the existing rifle, but isn’t “new” new. What I thought was particularly interesting was the suppressor for the rifle. It is a quick detach model that covers most of the length of your forearm. It’s huge.
It reduces the sound signature, but more importantly, contains the flame and shock wave of the muzzle blast so that there isn’t a huge dust cloud giving away the location of the shooter… a very important consideration for any shooter, but especially military units.
If you like the AR-15 but don’t think that it has the long-range firepower you want, Miller Precision Arms has the rifle for you. The MPA 300 Guardian claims to be a true direct impingement AR, scaled-up to fire .300 Winchester Magnum ammunition.
The rifle was incredibly popular, and I simply ran out of time to get some trigger time on the MPA 300 Guardian. We are going to make a point to get to it next year, if we can’t get an opportunity before then.
The MPA 300 seems to be the current upper limit of what you can do with the AR platform… for now.
Yes, all the cutting-edge, long-range power on display at the range yesterday was awesome… but my single favorite rifle at Media Day was one designed in the 19th century, chambered for a thoroughly modern rimfire cartridge.
The Winchester Model 1885 Low Wall Hunter is a classic, but the 17 Winchester Super Magnum is another matter entirely, a thoroughly modern long-range rimfire cartridge.
Accurate Shooter has a very nice article on the 17 Win Super Magnum, and I encourage you to read more about the new cartridge there.
Not too shabby for a cartridge inspired by a nail gun.
While everybody and their mother brought an AR-15 to the firing line, I was more interested in two relatively new 5.56 NATO-chambered semi-automatics derived from selective-fire military rifles, the Beretta ARX100 and the IWI Tavor bullpup (we’ll talk more about the Tavor after SHOT).
The American-made ARX100 looks like something out of Starship Troopers or Alien, but the controls are where you would expect them to be if you are familiar with the AR-15 platform.
As far as modularity goes, it doesn’t get much more simple than the ARX100.
The ARX100 uses a lot of polymer on metal, and so requires a lot less lube than many other firearms. We had the afternoon session at the range, and since we were shooting in the desert, everything had fired hundreds (if not thousands) of rounds by the time I got behind the trigger. You could feel the grit in the actions and triggers of many guns. Not so with the ARX100; with no lube for the grit and dust to stick in, it was slick… and that is after being taken apart and slapped back together numerous times.
It might look a little odd, but the ergonomics work and it’s a soft-shooting rifle with a lot going for it.
This is the interesting part of the Daniel Defense ISR in 300BLK.
“ISR” stands for “integrally-suppressed rifle,” which means that a suppressor is built into the barrel itself, so that you get sound suppression in your rifle without adding the additional length traditionally associated with suppressors.
If you look closely at the photo above, you can see the end of the integral suppressor hidden deep inside the handguard. How quiet is it? We have no idea. While we were able to shoot it, they were out of the subsonic ammunition by the time we got there in the afternoon. Even without the subsonics, however, the 125-grain Blackouts were substantially quieter than anything around it.
One of our contributors says that the ISR was his favorite rifle of the entire day… and I certainly understand why.
One of the other interesting innovations for Daniel Defense this year is that they are expanding their production to bring their own line of stocks and grips to market on their rifles. They are very comfortable, and I think they’ll end up becoming very popular.
These are just some of the firearms we were able to fire at Media Day at the range, and you’ll note that we didn’t even have time to get around to all of the interesting handguns that we had an opportunity to shoot, including both new Glocks, four flavors of the Walther PPQ in three calibers, and a new, soft-shooting Turkish upstart. We’ll cover those in more detail when we get back east next week.
Keep tuned in to Bearing Arms, and we’ll report back more later today from the floor of SHOT Show as the actual trade show kicks into gear.
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