The Los Angeles Handgun - Rifle - Air Pistol Silhouette Club

IHMSA News Feature Article
Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association
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SHOT Show Report
By Todd Spotti
     Question. Whatís better than a three ring circus? The obvious answer is a four ring circus. Well, what would you think about a circus with 1,846 rings? Mind boggling would be one answer.
     The Shot Show is the firearms and related industries annual trade show where the various manufactures show off their new products for 2006 to the 24,000 attending dealers/buyers from the huge sporting goods chains, mom and pop gun shops, and everything in between. The purpose of the show is strictly business. There are no retail transactions done here and the public is not allowed.
     This year the Show was held in Las Vegas last Feb 9-12. One of the most amazing things about this event is the fact that itís like this little fat kid I used to go to school with - he keeps getting bigger and bigger. Well over 39,000 people attended this time around. Interestingly, the Show had already booked even more exhibit space for 2007ís event before this 2006 Show was finished. That practically guarantees that the 2007 Show will easily have over 40,000 people attending. Whoever says the gun industry is dead, just isnít paying attention.
     Anyway, the Show is a great way to get a preview of the industryís 2006 products which will be showing up at the retail level this Spring, Summer, and Fall. With 1846 manufacturerís booths, thereís just no way to cover even 20% of whatís there to see. So the alternative is to hit just the oneís that are of interest to our sport and to oneís self. Hereís a synopsis of what I saw.

"The new Redfield's technical features are intensely impressive."

     Redfield - An American classic since 1919, the new 21st century Redfield rifle scopes have more technology incorporated into their design than any other brand on the market. No small statement, but true - any brand. Additionally, the materials used in their construction are the best thatís commercially available. So what makes them so good? For one, ED glass (the very best that there is for resolution and color correctness) is used in the sophisticated apocromatic objective lens element. The body is magnesium, not aluminum. Lanthanum glass (the clearest there is) in the eyepiece. They use a unique three cam zoom system that results in a 5X magnification range i.e. 5X - 25X, 6X - 30X, etc. All other rifle scopes use a less advanced 4X system. I could go on and on. I hope to get hold of one of these scopes soon and will do a complete review. This is one very exciting product thatís just entered into production and should be available very, very soon.

"Redding's new trimmer insures the case mouth is cut square and even."

     Redding - Their new 2006 case trimmer is the coolest, best product of its type available. I hate the tedium of case trimming but this trimmer goes a long way to make that job bearable. So whatís different? For one, itís equipped with a precision micrometer, so making fine adjustments is now simple and easy. As you well know, this is something thatís very difficult to do on a consistent basis with regular trimmers. It also has a universal collet that will accept just about every cartridge made so thereís no having to buy multiple collects for this cartridge or that one. One of the best features on the Reddingís is the fact that the trimmer rotates the case against the cutter head and not vice versa. This insures you get a true and even cut across the case mouth. Also newly available, is an optional ($12) power adapter. So now you can hook up an electric screw driver to the trimmer to make the job even easier and faster. Neat! These new trimmers should be available in the May time frame and I hope Iíll be able to do a complete review once they come out.
     By the way, if youíre lucky enough to own one of the Redding T-7 turret presses, check out the new slide bar primer feeding system. Should make reloading even faster.
     Leupold - Thereís no doubt that the VXL scopes that I reviewed last month in these pages were the hit of the Show. The brilliantly simple solution to a problem affecting all large diameter scopes had all their competitors shaking their heads and saying ďWhy didnít I think of that?Ē When I first saw a picture of a VXL, I couldnít help wondering whether the new shape of the objective lens would similarly affect the image that the viewer would see in the scope. The answer is no. When I examined the scope at the show, I saw a very bright, crisp,  perfectly round image that was indistinguishable in shape seen in any other Leupold riflescope. 
     Besides the VXLís, Leupold also has an 80mm spotting scope in the pipeline. (What took so long?) This is a Wind River product, so the price should be fairly affordable for almost anyone. 
     An interesting and fairly new trend that will accelerate at an ever increasing speed is the blending of sports optics and electronics. The digital rangefinder is certainly one of the earliest examples. Leupoldís new RX line kicks it up a notch by giving the humble range finder capabilities that are truly sophisticated. For instance, one problem that many, if not most, hunters face is the problem of shooting up/down hill or down from a stand (some of which can be pretty high). That affects the ballistics path of the bullet. The Leupold RX rangefinders have an electronic inclinometer which determines the angle of the shot in the vertical plane. You then tell the range finder what kind of cartridge youíre shooting and it will give you the true ballistic range to your target, not just a simplistic line of sight range. The range finder also has a built in magnetic inductor compass, an electronic thermometer, and a ton of different modes to range in all kinds of weather like fog, rain, and snow. Additionally, there are many more features and reticle choices than you can shake a stick at. This is undoubtedly the slickest, most useful rangefinder on the market.

     Hornady - If you ever used the Hornady New Dimension reloading dies, you know that if you donít have things really tightened down, the de-capping rod can slip when de-priming cases. Adjusting the depth of the de-capping rod is also imprecise. This year, that situation has changed with a newly redesigned de-capping rod called a ďZip SpindleĒ. The dies now features shallow threads cut on the rod and the locking collet which eliminates slippage and makes locking the rod in place much easier - a good idea.

"The new Hornady hand primer is a much improved tool over the old model."

     If you were thinking of purchasing a Hornady handheld priming tool, get the 06 model. Itís been seriously worked over making it much easier to work with. For instance, the old model required the seater punch and spring to be removed in order to change out the shell holders and primer trays. Not any more. Other changes also make this a much better tool.
     Caldwell - If you remember, I did a review of Caldwellís benchrest styled rest a couple of months ago.  I found it very useful when testing loads with unlimited guns, and the price is certainly reasonable for what you get.  One thing about these types of rests however is the fact that theyíre awkward to carry around because of their shape and especially because of their weight.  Caldwell now has a strong, hard sided, plastic, molded case for its rests that Ďs perfect for carrying them around.  Itís called a ďrest nestĒ and makes things at lot easier.
     Lyman - Theyíve improved their digital automatic powder dispenser system by evidently adding more memory and computing capacity. You can now store up to 100 of your favorite loads on the system and recall them by cartridge, powder, and weight. You can now also interface the powder dispenser with your PC and use its memory as well. Additionally, it will create a reloading log on your computer. Pretty cool. Additionally thereís a couple of new digital portable reloading scales. The 1500 grain model even has a flip up wind cover and a little pull out tray for the pan and other accessories.

     Alpen Optics - As you know I consider Alpen to be the king of moderately priced sport optical products. The amount of performance that you get far exceeds the amount of money that you have to pay. This particularly applies to their 80mm, model 788 spotting scope. Well, the 788 just became an even better buy because it now comes with a very cool aluminum carrying case as do their other 50 and 60mm spotters.

"Getting into digiscoping is inexpensive with the Alpen camera adapter."

     If youíre in need of a set of very versatile binoculars check out their innovative ďTrail-TecĒ series. They feature an electronic compass, thermometer, and clock. They also use BaK4 prisms (the best). Better yet, prices run from only $60-$120 depending on the size of the objective lenses.
     This year, Alpen dips its toe into the premium end of the pool with its very impressive ďRainierĒ binoculars. These are for those who want the very best. The extra large, metal coated BaK4 prisms with phase corrected coatings, extra large objectives, magnesium body, long eye relief, fast focus, and the means to lock your eyepiece/diopter adjustments make these binocs able to stand toe to toe with the super elite brands. Suggested retail is around $1200 but the street price will be substantially less. I was able to look through the Raniers at the Alpen factory and again at the Show, and I can assure you that the view is spectacular. 
     Lastly, if you want to get into digiscoping for very little money, Alpen has an adapter rig that you can hang on to just about any spotting scope. It doesnít even have to be one of theirs. Just make sure your digital camera has a threaded socket for a tripod. The adjustable arms of the adapter bring the camera lens right up against the eyepiece of the scope. Works nice and the adapter is very moderately priced.
     Freedom Arms - Our favorite revolver maker has a new cartridge for 2006 - the 500 Wyoming Express. Man is this thing hot! Think of it as a 50 caliber elk/moose whomper with a belted magnum case. The case is 1.37 inches in length and is designed to accommodate bullets between 350 and 450 grains in weight. Surprisingly, it operates at pressures under 50,000 psi, whereas the 454 is pushing 60,000 psi. Never the less this new cartridge is capable of throwing 400 grains of lead at nearly 1600 fps. This cartridge is obviously designed for handgun hunting, but donít write it off for silhouette. With 10 grains of Hodgdonís Titegroup, this FA will sling a 440 grain (think Leadheads cast bullets) at 1097 fps (just subsonic). Recoil should be manageable for an experienced silhouette shooter and the knockdown devastating. This is one very neat package!!

"Iosso's new case lube cleans your cases at the same time."

     Iosso Products - I, as well as many in the benchrest community have been praising Iossoís bore cleaning paste in a tube for several years now as well as their case cleaning solutions and bore brushes. This year they have a very neat spray type sizing lube that cleans the cases at the same time. Just spread your cases on a newspaper, or some use an old shoe box, spray on the lube from the aerosol pump container, and run the case into the sizing die. Pull out, and wipe the case with a damp rag afterwards. The case is not only sized perfectly but also nice and clean. Itís totally nonflammable, biodegradable, and thereís no smell. Very nice product. Good work Dick!
     IMR - Their new Trail Boss powder looks very promising for Field Pistol shooting. I would roughly estimate that it has a burning rate of somewhere around Bullseye (very fast). However, the thing that makes it unique is the fact that very little of it (weight-wise) can occupy a large volume of space. Thus, it can often fill small capacity cases to nearly the very top ensuring more even and consistent burning for better accuracy and low recoil. Definitely worth checking out.
     Nikon - Theyíve had a digiscoping capability for their spotters for some time now, but the new P1 Pro system adds a special Nikon Coolpix digital camera to the system. Thereís two things that make this particular camera unique. One, itís optically optimized for digiscoping to eliminate problems that sometimes occurs when strapping a regular digital camera on a spotting scope. Two, itís WiFi capable. What this means is that the image from the camera can be remotely downloaded into your computer or into a printer (assuming that they are equipped with a WiFi card).

"Nikon's digiscoping outfit includes a Wi-Fi capable camera optimized for this application and their super bright 82 mm ED spotter."

     The camera also has 8 megs of resolution and a 4X optical zoom. Couple this very capable camera to Nikonís very classy 82mm Fieldscope with an ED objective lens, and you have a dynamite combination. The 82 mm has even been upgraded this year with a little finder scope attached to the main body. This helps to point the main scope so you get on target fast. The new Nikon kit is undoubtedly the best and most capable digiscoping combination on the market.
     Rocky Boots - My favorite boot and shoe maker. I donít wear anything but. Besides high quality, a huge selection, and fair prices the thing that distinguishes Rocky products, is their constant pushing of the envelope. And this is for a type of product that most people tend to just take for granted. A boot is just a boot. Right? Not at Rocky. Every year itís something startling different. Last year, it was their Revolver hunting boots with the stainless steel lacing system. (Look for a more complete report in a couple of months.)  This year, itís boots made from yak hide. Yak hide? Why yak hide? Well, if you remember from my article from a few months ago on Georgia boots, I recounted how kangaroo hide was very strong and also very light weight as a boot material. Itís also very expensive. Turns out that yak hide is also a stronger and lighter than cow hide. But, not as light and as strong as kangaroo, BUT itís much less expensive than kangaroo. Consequently, you get most of the benefit of kangaroo hide but without the high cost. 
     Theyíve also got a new line of insect repellent clothing that uses all natural ingredients for the repellent. Itís perfectly safe to wear and will keep the skeeters off of you. Those of you living in the Midwest and South will appreciate that! Having lived in both those areas, I can certainly appreciate that kind of capability.
     Streamlight - is undoubtedly one of the premier companies producing portable light products for outdoor sports, tactical, and emergency services use. One of the coolest products I saw at the Show was the new Twin Task 3 C flash light that does it all. Itís equipped with both a Xenon bulb for use when brilliant high intensity light is required, and also with energy conserving LED's for when the light needs to be on for long periods of time. Even better, it also has a laser pointer capability thatís perfect for use with a silhouette spotting board to point out your hits and misses. When used in the laser mode only, the beam has a useable range of 100 meters. It only weighs a pound, and is a fairly compact 9 inches long, but it puts out light like one of those huge flashlights that seems to be as long as a shovel.

     These products were only a tenth of the things that I saw, and what I saw was only a small fraction of what there was to see. As the year proceeds I hope Iíll be able to pass on additional information and reviews. Itís going to be a fun year.

Good luck and good shooting, Todd

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Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.