The 2014 SHOT Show was my first one, and at times it was almost overwhelming with the sheer volume of products thrown our way.
While I didn’t get chance to see or shoot even a fraction of what was on display, I did come up with a list of winners and losers from what I was able to see, and in some cases, shoot. I can’t possibly list everything that was on display, but do want to take a brief look at some of the winners and losers from my perspective.
Winner: IWI Tavor
The Tavor was a favorite at last year’s SHOT Show, but this was our first go at the Israeli bullpup. Now we understand why it is so popular. The Tavor is short and well-balanced, and even with a stiff military trigger, it is incredibly easy to shoot fast and well, even transitioning from one target to another. It has been out on the market for a little while now and is gaining a solid fan-base. Aftermarket improvements are beginning to trickle in, including an improved trigger and a factory 9mm conversion kit. If I were new to the modern sport rifle market, the Tavor would be a serious contender to be my MSR of choice.
Loser: Remington R51
It made no sense at all to me for Remington to announce the R51 weeks before SHOT and not bring samples to Media Day, especially after knowing that some gun scribes had already been given opportunities to fire the pistol. We were instead only allowed to see a dozen samples of the pistol in the Remington booth, and have no idea how it actually shoots.
What we do know is that the new-old design is not remotely a subcompact nor a pocket pistol by today’s standards, but a hefty single-stack that is probably better classed size-wise a a compact. The grip safety is audible, and reminds me of a HK P7 M13 I had an opportunity to examine several years ago. The difference is, of course, that the HK’s squeeze-cocker was easy to arm every time you picked up the pistol since it was on the front part of the grip. The R51’s grip safety is on the rear of the grip, and the first time I picked up the gun in the Remington booth, I didn’t have a perfect grip on it and it didn’t depress so it wouldn’t fire, which is disconcerting.
Other complained about the “hitch” or the delay in the Pedersen action, but frankly, it didn’t bother me much.
Once I had a decent firing grip on the pistol it felt substantial and pointed well, but I’m very disappointed that Remington set aside a dozen of the pistols for the booth, but not one for the range. They either blew it with marketing or have a firearm that isn’t ready for primetime, and either way, it was a cause of concern.
Winner: Big-bore ARs from Miller Precision and NEMO Arms
I’m not unfamiliar with ARs in calibers other than .223 Remington/5.56 NATO, having some trigger time with both AR-10 based .308s and the 6.5 Grendel, 300BLK, and 50 Beowulf on the AR-15 platform. New to me, however, are the ultra-ARs built by Miller Precision Arms Guardian and the NEMO Arms Omen, both designed around the .300 Winchester Magnum, giving the AR-platform a true long-range heavy-hitter. NEMO is also going to be making a version of the Omen in 26 Nosler (shown above). These rifles cost a much as a good used car and occupy a very specialized niche, but show that innovation stemming from Eugene Stoner’s basic design is far from over.
Loser: Glock 42
I would not have wanted to be stuck in the Glock booth during SHOT Show, hearing snarky comments along the lines of “Oh, you finally made a single-stack nine? Wait, what…” for hours on end. The company swears that their market research justifies the single-stack .380, but most of the SHOT Show attendees I spoke to would have preferred it to be in 9x19mm.
When it came to actually shooting the pistol, some loved it… I wasn’t one of them. I’m sure it was purely a matter of my own personal ergonomics but the G42 simply didn’t fit my hand correctly, and I felt like I was holding a dowsing rod, with the barrel bouncing left and then right and only staying generally straight with a great degree of effort. I’ve fired single stack pocket nines with shorter grips that pointed much better for me. I’m not going to knock Glock for this, as others who fired the pistol didn’t have that complaint.
Still… Glock introduced a .380 pistol in a 9mm world. I don’t care what their marketing says, this gun is a decade too late.
The .45ACP Glock 41, however, shot very well, and I expect to read a lot of nice things about it in the months to come.
Winner: Walther PPQ 5″
Several months ago I’d asked for reader recommendations for a full-size 9mm pistol with a really good trigger, and a substantial number of you pointed me towards the Walther PPQ, telling me that it was simply the best trigger than many of you had ever fired in a striker-fired factory pistol.
You were right.
I fired as many versions of the PPQ M2 as the Walther rep would let me at range day, in .22LR, .40 S&W, and 9mm, and fell in love with the 5″ 9mm. The grip filled my hand like it was made for me, and the pistol pointed like a laser. The long sight radius made it easy for me to shoot fast and accurately, and the trigger was a thing of beauty, with a short, crisp reset. I’ve been told that I need to take a pistol shooting class this year, and if I have my way, the 5″ PPQ M2 or the slightly shorter 4.5″ PPQ M2 Navy model will be my handgun of choice.
Winner: Ohio Ordnance Works “Beast” BAR
Ohio Ordnance Works decided that their semi-auto version of the classic Browning BAR needed a 21st century update, and finished this rifle the day before SHOT Show began. If they have an official name for it yet I haven’t heard it, but until they tell me otherwise, I’m dubbing this 12.5 lbs, 30-shot .30-’06 “the Beast.” 12.5 pounds might sound like a lot, but when you consider that the original 1919A3 it was derived from weighs 19.4 pounds, you have to give them credit for shaving as much weight off the rifle as they did. Even though it is said to fire 150-190-grain bullets flawlessly, a hydraulic buffer holds the recoil down to .223 levels. OOW showed me video of “the Beast” in slow-fire, rapid-fire, and even one-handed, and recoil did indeed seem almost non-existent.
I don’t really need one of these, but I sure want one.
Loser: Kel-Tec M43
I really, really wanted to like the Kel-Tec M43, with its retro-futuristic lines and the promise of a 6.5 Grendel chambering, but the company is flat-out delusional if they think that anyone will pay $3,000 for it. It looks and feels like a $750 rifle, even with the nice woodwork.
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Now, I didn’t come close to seeing even a fraction of all the firearms on display, and I am 100% certain that we missed out on seeing some exquisite firearms… hopefully I’ll have a chance to see some of those in the year to come.