The other week I gave a run down summary of my time at the 2023 SHOT Show. This was my first time attending the expo and I have to say it was a great experience. One of the things I brought up in my summary was industry day at the range. The industry day is usually the Monday before the official happenings of the show itself and this year was no different.
The industry day at the range was held at the Boulder Pistol and Rifle Club, which according to google maps is a 46 minute drive not accounting for traffic on the strip of Sin City. The NSSF provides transportation in the form of charter buses and everyone hops onto one of the big steeds and is brought out into the cool desert.
That day was gray and overall cool to coldish. A drizzle and light rain popped up a few times to put a damper on the parade, however, many people stuck it out until the end. I’ll confess that myself and the person I was taking the day in with stuck it out nearly to the end of the day, having boarded a bus to head back about a half hour before day’s end. By the time the bus left, the range day was officially over.
About 162 distinct brands or companies were represented at the facility and there was plenty to see and do.
My experience with each vendor was positive, with a few exceptions. Naturally, it’s a long day and dealing with both the elements and a high volume of people will wear on those working different booths, so there were a few reps that left me saying to myself “They sure did their company no favors.”
Many of the exhibitors exemplified what I’d consider solid range practices and a few were a bit loose in comparison of how I’d handle a live firing line. For the companies that were more liberal with their range oversight, if they were public ranges, I would not frequent them due to lackadaisical policies. I don’t know if anyone else considers these things when they’re at industry day at the range, but I sure do. Safety first. We’re all supposed to be professionals here and should act as such.
I had the chance to try out some new stuff and some not so new stuff.
Franklin Armory Binary Triggers
One of the first stations I made it to while at range day was over at SR-38, the Franklin Armory station. They had a good amount of product offerings to try out, but what interested me the most were the firearms outfitted with binary triggers.
The G-S173 is a binary trigger that Franklin is going to be producing for Glock 17 Gen 3 handguns. While the trigger was unveiled over a year ago now at shot 2022, I still wanted to get a chance to fire the pistol myself in such a configuration.
Due to manufacturing and design delays/changes, the trigger is not yet available. According to Franklin’s site, the trigger is expected to be released in the 4th quarter this year. A rep for the company said he hopes the trigger will be out prior to Q4, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Much like the Glock 18, the Glock 17 when outfitted with the G-S173 does have a switch on it in order to change modes of fire. The system would include a slide to accommodate the modification.
A number of years ago I did have a chance to fire a Glock 18 and sure did have a lot of fun while doing so. I found squeezing off rounds utilizing the G-S173 system was obviously not as fast as running in full-auto, but one can make up their time while running double speed in semi.
I did also get an opportunity to fire an AR-15 outfitted with one of their binary triggers. As was the case with the Glock, it’s not running the same way a full auto firearm would, but you can get close to the firing rate depending on one’s own ability to pull the trigger.
Are binary triggers for me? I don’t know if they are. Do I see practical applications for them? Absolutely. Certainly in self-defense scenarios being able to deliver a double-tap with one pull of the trigger has its advantages. I would not classify these items as fun gimmicks but rather utilitarian devices for the right user.
Stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled for the release of the G-S173 binary trigger for the Glock 17 Gen 3 pistol.
The Aero Precision Bolt Action SOLUS Competition Model
I intend on covering the Aero Bolt Action SOLUS Competition Model in greater detail in another piece. I will take this opportunity though to point out that what drew me to it is the fact that it’s a bolt action that’s been produced by a company known for making AR platform rifles. I found this dynamic to be a cool mashing of old and new technologies. They rolled out in the new for 2023 a Competition model SOLUS. Aero did have out their SOLUS bolt action rifle in the past, but the new and more modular Competition Model shows the company believes in the demand a bolt action produced by them can draw. I concur and will be talking at greater length about this rifle soon.
JTS Group, inc Shotguns
The JTS Group has a number of really unique shotguns available. What probably pulled me in to take a closer look at them were the fact they have AR and AK platformed shotguns. There was something incredibly awesome about smacking at the trigger of a shotgun loaded up with five or ten rounds in a box magazine.
Like many of the stations, I had approached JTS with friend and content creator Charlie Cook from Riding Shotgun With Charlie. Charlie gave the AK platformed shotgun a whirl first. Cook cycled through the five rounds, nailing the clays that were being tossed, and then pushed through a ten round magazine, also hitting every target.
When it was my turn to give the gun a whirl, I had a hard time reconciling with it. Aside from the fact I could barely see the targets due to the sun, I was a bit flummoxed with shooting the AK variant not as a rifle but in a dynamic setting, and got all…well, I missed a lot with it. So whatever man. I went through my five rounds and decided the AK shotgun was not for me, at least not for shooting clays. It was pleasant to shoot though and I see a high level of value in it as a self-defense option. The felt recoil was minimal, and the controls were exactly what one would expect. It must have been the Fudd in me calling for one of the other models on the rack.
I asked to give their over and under model a try, the E60. The E60 was light and felt wellmade. The lockup on the action seemed to be about standard, not too stiff nor loose. In shouldering the shotgun, I felt it was comfortable and swung well without a hangup. The perceived recoil was low and I found follow up shots to be nearly on target after the first. Granted we were not shooting at say a standard trap or clays field, but I did get a chance to run the shotgun through several rounds to get a feel for it. The model I handled was the “black” model without an adjustable comb.
In comparison to other Turkish made shotguns, the E60 was par for course, if not a slight cut above for a budget model. It does need to be understood that I don’t know how many rounds were through the firearm, but I will say that it was not all loose and sloppy like some of the other over and under Turkish made shotguns I’ve used in classes or as loaners at different clay’s courses. I’ve used a few over and unders that were abused to high heaven and the level of slop in them shows over time.
Browning Citori Composite Over and Under
New to SHOT Show 2023 was the Browning Citori Composite over and under shotgun. I will say that I do go a little “ga ga” over those gold triggers and the shotgun that I use myself is a Browning Citori 725 adjustable. Trying to inject a level of non-bias here might seem hard, but I will say after handling and shooting the Citori Composite, I was not all over in love again – just my normal quixotic feelings towards the buckmark laden arm. I think the shotgun was a great firearm, light in weight, good lock-up, perhaps a little stiff as it was brand spanking new, and felt recoil was low.
The shotgun comes standard with 26”, 28” or 30” set of barrels. The gun is designed to be a stand-in for the “all of the above” when it comes to shotguns, meeting the needs of those in the field or while shooting clays. Rarely are shooters going to be taking their heavier target guns out into the field for hunting, it’s generally the field guns that find their way onto clay courses. The most common answer to the question “Which shotgun should I use for clay sports?” is “The shotgun you have.” Naturally with the answer meaning just get out there and give the sport a shot before going out to buy a special shotgun right away.
Since I’m accustomed to a heavier target shooting model of Citori, maybe that’s why my socks were not immediately knocked off by the firearm, or it could be just that I’m not a plastic gun kinda guy. I really could say it’s probably more of the latter than the former. Psychologically was I projecting thoughts of quality based on the plastic feel and weight of the gun?
I do think the Composite model is going to be a formidable opponent to other over and under shotguns out there, and might appeal more to people with smaller hands as the forend is noticeably slimmer than its bulkier counterparts. With the gun being designed for hunting and sporting purposes, I can see this being a good all around gun to own as an instructor, or just serve as that one shotgun someone owns. This could be a good model for youth shooters as well as women, both of which have different needs than more full figured persons such as myself.
Would I buy this shotgun today? Probably not. But as noted, I already am happy with the Citori I have. Would I buy this shotgun if I did not already have a few scatterguns in the safe? It sure would make my short list of runner ups and be seriously considered because the gun was a joy to shoot and manipulate. If I were in the market for a backup, maybe I’d find a place for the Composite Citori in my safe.
The only actual negative thing that I can point out about the Composite Citori that stood out to me that’s not “taste” related would be the rubberized grip on the forend. I forecast that the rubber that’s inlaid in the grip area will peel away over time from regular wear or from fidgeting with it. We’ll see if my prediction comes to fruition. The people at the Browning booth at the show proper did not seem overly impressed with my declaration. My advice to my friends at Browning would be to have a plan in case this prognostication does come true.
I am a Browning customer and will probably be a lifelong one, so take this all with a grain of salt. If I had more time with the gun I could probably sing it greater praise, however the half box of shells I fired off was enough for me to give this shotgun a thumbs up. It will make my list of guns you ought to try out if shopping for an over and under shotgun.
Savage 560 Semi-Automatic Shotgun
Another scattergun that was newly released at SHOT Show 2023 was the Savage 560 semi-automatic shotgun. The 560 is a well constructed field gun and I was quite impressed by it. Of all the shoguns I shot at industry day at the range, I was probably most excited by this one.
I will confess that the semi-automatic shotgun that I’m most accustomed to shooting is my old Beretta AL 390 Silver Mallard, but in comparison to the newer and modern Savage 560, I’d say it’s a solid comparison. Yes, my Beretta is over twenty years old and things change, and understand I’m not saying a Savage is the same as a Beretta, but I am saying if you’re in the market for a semi-automatic shotgun, the 560 can go toe to toe with many that I’ve shot.
Like the other Turkish made shotguns that I’ve tried out, the Savage 560 is well crafted. I did not find any defects in the fit of any of the components, of course understanding I did not take the gun apart and give it a close examination with calipers, but it did feel very well made.
The controls were easy to use and intuitive. I did not fumble around trying to “figure it out”, and the bolt release button was easy to locate, there were no weird surprises. I had locked up a shell in the chamber and then loaded up the magazine tube. The magazine tube was effortless to load up and there was no struggle, everything worked smoothly.
In shooting the firearm, the action felt smooth and crisp. This was not one of those semi-auto shotguns that you can hear and feel function its way through the operation sequence of firing, extracting, ejection, and reloading a new shell. Follow up shots were on point and I cycled through the full tube while whacking all the clays I fired at.
Looking at the information site on this shotgun, it appears to MSRP at $499.00. If the firearm has longevity and no issues after cycling many thousand rounds through it, I’d say this would be a great bargain in today’s market. I’ll admit, I’m actively trying to get my hands on one of these to try it out for a month or two and get a chance to write a longer review on it. Fingers crossed.
My first industry day at the range I’d say was a good one. I learned a lot about just navigating such an event and will have more of a game plan the next time I attend. I think I got to try some really neat stuff, and there are many more firearms that I tried out while there that I did not mention. It was these makes and models that really stuck out in my memory and I knew I wanted to highlight in an after-action report when firing them at the event. Keep your eyes peeled for more potential gear reviews from me here, and other content covering the 2023 SHOT Show.