The SHOT Show is the annual extravaganza where manufacturers show off their latest and greatest shooting, hunting, and outdoors gear to retailers and the media. It's huge. Although I'm not attending it, here are some of the announced products that have caught my attention.
This update addresses the minor objections I had to the previous version. Namely, it has a master on/off switch now, instead of relying solely on the motion sensor; the battery is changeable without having to remove the optic from its mount; and there's a manual brightness adjustment. I'm eager to learn more about how the latter function works—is it a bias adjustment to the existing automatic brightness control, or does it completely override the automated function? Either way, it looks like Leupold has made some nice improvements to an already solid optic. I'd love to get one of these on a pistol.
I have some serious lust for Desert Tech's (née Desert Tactical) SRS-A1 bullpup tactical rifle. I was lucky enough to get to shoot a few rounds through a first generation SRS in .338 Lapua and I couldn't believe how good the trigger was—it's usually the Achilles heel of bullpup designs, but not Desert Tech's. Now at SHOT they've announced that they're producing a switch-barrel semi-auto bullpup that dribbles the brass out an ejection port tube, seemingly similar to Kel-Tec's RFB. While I'm firmly committed to the AR platform for my small caliber semi-autos, this new rifle looks like it could bring some good competition to the Tavor and help expand the bullpup market in the US. They say it'll support five different calibers, but the calibers haven't been announced yet.
Update: According to The Firearm Blog, initial calibers will be .223 and .308. (They didn't say what happened to the other three promised calibers.) Even more surprising, the rifle is supposed to be able to use the SR25/DPMS-pattern mags for .308, and the standard AR-15 mags for .223. These are very different magazine dimensions, so I'm curious how it's done and if it can be made dead-nuts reliable, but who wouldn't love a bullpup with flexibility like that? Maybe they use magwell adaptors like the Colt 901. It sounds like the rifle is still in the prototype stage and that they're incorporating some changes suggested by SHOT Show attendees.
A nice .308 bullpup that uses SR25/DPMS-pattern mags might also pull some interest away from FNH's SCAR-17. The SCAR-17 is a very nice rifle, and its folding stock is a great advantage in tight locations, but it's been hampered by proprietary mags that have been difficult to get, and expensive when you can. MagPul makes SR25/DPMS-pattern mags—meaning the mags for the MDR will be plentiful, reliable, and inexpensive—and a bullpup design is possibly even a better way to get a compact overall-length rifle.
Update 2: Ah, from guns.com: "The MDR chassis can be adapted to fire 5.56/.223, 7.62/.308, 7.62x39mm, 300 AAC Blackout and 6.8mm Remington SPC, with a barrel, bolt, handguard and magwell swap." I've been nervous about the MDR's price, given Desert Tech's historical pricing and the number of components you need to swap for a caliber change, but the guns.com article goes on to say that "Depending on the configuration MSRPs will range from $2,175 to $2,450, which is only slightly more than other bullpups and considering the features, not outrageous." Considering that a high-quality AR runs $1,600+, and SCAR-17s are around $2,800, if Desert Tech can keep to this price range with robust functionality they might have a real winner on their hands.
Liberty Safe's Ammo Can
The Ammo Can is a safe that is built specifically to hold ammo and reloading supplies. Not many more details at this time, but one of the key issues with safely storing ammo and/or reloading supplies is that you don't want to put them in a traditional safe in quantity because they'll turn the locked safe into a very big bomb. I'm curious how they designed it to prevent excessive pressure build-up in case of fire.
Trijicon's new 1-6x24 rifle scope is finally available this month and has quite a few nice features. I'm a big fan of the 1-4 range scopes for ARs since they provide just the right amount of magnification for the 400-yard range that the 5.56 cartridge is most effective in, while providing a true 1X for handling close-up targets. Trijicon's VCOG uses the high-quality glass, fantastic illuminated reticules, and robust design they've long been known for, but adds a little additional magnification on the top end. Honestly I don't really need more than 4X out to 400 yards, but I think 6X is perfect for a .308 that you'll stretch out to 800 yards, and Trijicon has ballistic drop compensating reticles for both cartridges with their common bullet weights. (Yea, 77gr 5.56 ballistics!) Now this type of scope isn't best suited for precision rifles shooting at very small targets, but it excels with semi-automatics where rapid target acquisition of larger (man-sized) targets is required. If I had a SCAR-17, this is the optic I'd stick on top of it.
Co-aligned visible and IR lasers, an IR illuminator, and a laser range-finder all-in-one. Wow—step aside PEQ-15! Apparently the range-finder works off the IR laser system, meaning it's one of the first laser range-finders that can work at night as well as during the day, out to 1,500 meters. The Raptar's capabilities come at a dear price, however: $6,500.
If that isn't enough for you, though, you'll certainly want to go for the Raptar-M, which enhances the system's computer to allow you to upload the ballistics for your specific load and rifle via Bluetooth. The computer will then run the data through the Applied Ballistics model and provide you with the correct hold-over for whatever distance the range-finder has calculated. And, they eventually want to have it integrate with the Applied Ballistics Kestrel for live wind and atmospheric data.
The Raptar-M is still in development, but Wilcox says they'll offer a relatively inexpensive upgrade for Raptars to the Raptar-M after the system is finalized. My guess is "relative" will be the key word, but there's no doubt that its capabilities are pretty amazing.
SureFire X400-IR Ultra
Shown at SHOT last year (2013), and planned for an April release, the X400-IR Ultra was vaporware all year. It was on display again this year (2014) with no announced release date. It promises a white light, IR light, and 5mW IR laser all in a package just a little longer than the existing X400. Sure would love to see this actually get produced.
A new 6.5mm (.260) cartridge from Nosler. It's interesting because the 6.5mm space is already pretty crowded with the .260 Remington, 6.5 x 47 Lapua, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 Grendel, and others. But Nosler must think they're on to something; It distinguishes itself with a muzzle velocity at least 200 fps faster than its nearest competitor, meaning it'll be flatter-shooting. At 3,400 fps I think it'll be quite the barrel burner, with barrels lasting maybe 1,000 rounds before losing their accuracy. I'd love to be proven wrong, though, and welcome another cartridge into this excellent class.