Notes on a Yearly Pilgrimage.
When it comes to things going bang, the SHOT Show is, inarguably, the Greatest Show On Earth. But after you’ve maybe been jaded a bit by the annual unveiling of the latest array of wonderblasters, the booth appearances of shooting celebrities and the awed insider references to the newest cartridge/scope/rifle promising to revolutionize long-range shooting “as we know it,” you kind of look forward to finding small, neat gizmos. These things may not jump out at you, but are craftily designed, modest bits of hardware you look at, nod and say to yourself, “This makes all kinds of good sense. Besides, even if I never use it, it’s flat-out cool.”
Yep, the big-ticket marquee items have their place, as they should (this is America after all). But let’s start off with how some of the smaller things blew my skirt up during our week in Vegas. Then we’ll work our way up the food chain.
I have nothing against synthetic-handled lockback folders with ominous-sounding names. I’ve owned my share of “Fang of the Viper Tactical Tanto Slicers,” and have the cut fingers to prove it. However, what floats my boat are traditional pocketknives in time-honored outdoorsy patterns—Canoe, Trapper, Stockman, Toothpick, Peanut, etc. One of the finest of the old-school cutlery firms is Schatt and Morgan. At their booth I saw an intriguing specimen—the Stag Baby Sunfish, which resembled, to my untutored eye, a chubbier version of the old Canoe-pattern Case I’ve carried for years. It’s a 2-blader, featuring a large spear and a smaller pen. The Baby Sunfish is part of a limited (400-unit) run of the company’s Keystone Series. The workmanship is exquisite and the blades are razor sharp (I’d keep clear of these ones!). It’s one of the classiest little offerings in the company’s impressive lineup. Schatt and Morgan—part of Queen Cutlery Company—have been making pocketknives for more than 100 years. And it shows, from the nickel pins and bolsters to the polished stag scales.
Light and Right
One argument for extremely small handguns chambered in what were once referred to as “minor” calibers is pretty compelling. Chances are, the reasoning goes, “It’s what you’re going to actually have on you at the time when you really need a firearm.” Fair enough. Olight’s new S10-L2 Baton brings the same concept into the arena of hand-held flashlights. This LED-powered number is less than three inches long, yet its single CR123A battery delivers 400 lumens. I’m a bit foggy on the whole lumen thing, but this little light has four power settings, plus a strobe mode, and can go from “let’s-get-a-better-look” bright to “what-the-heck-is-that” blinding, all with the punch of an easily accessible side switch.
Rack ’em Up
Dino Longueira of Majestic Arms is now offering the Bolt Racker. It’s an offset, oversized cocking piece fitting the bolt knob of Ruger .22 auto pistols. The Bolt Racker comes in three styles, designed to fit Mk I, Mk II, Mk III and 22/45 variants. Dino is a specialist in “all things aftermarket” when it comes to Ruger firearms. He says the Bolt Racker was designed “due to numerous customer complaints about the difficulty in cocking the pistols. Some people would lose their grip and short-stroke the bolt, causing a jam. This is particularly frustrating in competitive shooting, especially where speed counts.” Look for Holt Bodinson to give the Bolt Racker a thorough field test in an upcoming issue.
The day before SHOT officially opens is more or less a “range day.” Mine was spent shooting various SIG SAUER products. The company has long been known for traditional SA/DA autos such as the P226 and P229. The more recent P250, however, represents the company’s maiden voyage into the striker-fired, DAO polymer frame market. It’s modular—a buzzword here denoting caliber/grip/trigger length interchangeability. It can be had in full-size, compact or subcompact versions in an array of finishes. Caliber choices include 9mm, .357 SIG, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. The ones I tried out—a 9mm and a .40—were exceptionally soft-shooting and dead-reliable. And they made me look good on a 50-yard gong. This pistol is point-and-press simple (like a revolver), with one of the best triggers I’ve seen on an auto of this type.
Since no blue-state denizen can resist the opportunity to shoot a suppressed firearm when the opportunity arises, I also had to give the suppressed SIG P938-22 a try. It’s a rimfire version of the company’s centerfire compact (see photo), and with the proprietary can attached, really does fit the description of a “silenced” pistol. All I could hear was the click of pin against brass, followed by the ping of the gong. Combating noise pollution is considered good manners in Europe and appears to be catching on in our more enlightened provinces here in the US of A.
It’s a pretty rare SHOT Show where Smith & Wesson doesn’t showcase at least a couple of new items worth writing home about. The one I got stoked up about is probably going to fire you up too, if you’re a revolver guy. The new Model 69 Combat Magnum is a stainless, 4.25-inch barreled 5-shot L-Frame in .44 Magnum. Yes, I said “L-Frame,” an eminently sensible frame size occupying the wide-open spaces between K-Frames and N-Frames. It’s an all-business big bore, with a red-ramp front sight and a fully adjustable rear. The weight (unloaded) is 37.2 ounces. This seems to me to be a really good idea, although if I owned one, it would see a whole heck of lot more .44 Specials than .44 Magnums. But if you want to stick mags in yours, the capability is there if you want it. In addition, Smith is offering a (nearly) mirror-image K-Frame 6-shot version in .357 Magnum, called the Model 66 Combat Magnum.
In terms of sheer mass appeal, AR’s are indeed the “coin of the realm.” However, bolt guns still have their place, and Kimber hasn’t been asleep at the switch when it comes to sporting or tactical variations on Peter Paul Mauser’s time-honored system. One of the most interesting big-ticket items I saw was their new Model 8400 Advanced Tactical Special Operations Capable (SOC) rifle. Referred to informally as a “chassis rifle,” this one may look minimalist at first glance, but it’s anything but. What the Kimber guys have done is blend AR-type features (aluminum side-folding stock, integral rails) with a match-grade, controlled-round feed bolt-action platform in .308 or .300 Winchester Magnum. The top rail has a 20-MOA elevation built in to bump up the adjustment range of serious high-magnification scopes. The stock is adjustable for comb height and length of pull. The match trigger is adjustable down to an indecently light pull weight, and the SOC accepts detachable 5- or 10-round magazines. If hitting something at long distance with a minimal amount of ammo expenditure is your thing, then this may be what you’re looking for. Pricewise and function-wise, it’s an item that serious (repeat: serious) performance fanatics will pony up for and fully appreciate.
A Superior Six-Five
The .264 bore size has always had a tough row to hoe in the US. Remington’s sweet and sensible .260 has languished commercially since its 1997 introduction. It was part of the progeny of the .308 case, which never really got the respect it was due. Now, the Big Green has given it a new chance to shine with the introduction of the 700 SPS 260. With its 1:8-inch twist, this new Model 700 variant is considerably more amenable to 140-grain bullets. Back when the .260 was introduced, Remington’s brain trust figured most shooters were naturally going to take to the spicier initial velocity of the 120-grain bullet. But the advantages of the 140 were not lost on discerning long-yardage types who recognized the downrange potential of the company’s non-mag 6.5 newcomer. Plus, the new synthetic stocked bolt gun sports a 24-inch barrel to wring every last bit of the load’s potential. This may be the start of the resurrection of a very good cartridge.
By Payton Miller
Kimber Manufacturing Company
555 Taxter Road
Elmsford, NY 10523
Majestic Arms, Ltd
101 Ellis Street
Staten Island, NY 10307
5912 Bolsa Avenue
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
Queen Cutlery Co. (Schatt and Morgan)
507 Chestnut Street
P.O. Box 408, Titusville, PA 16354
Remington Arms Company, LLC
870 Remington Drive
PO Box 700
Madison, NC 27025-0700
72 Pease Boulevard
Newington, NH 03801
Smith & Wesson
2100 Roosevelt Avenue
Springfield, MA 01104