Greetings from SHOT Show 2013! The gun trade definitely got plenty of media attention this past few months, but I am happy to report that SHOT Show 2013 was not about the controversy. It was about the new products, and it was full of surprises.
The biggest surprise was from tactical clothing and equipment manufacturer 5.11 Tactical. Yes, they did release some new stuff that law enforcement officers worldwide will use when kicking down doors. Notably, they have the new 5.11 Tactical Traverse Pant System with new quick drying stretch fabric and a new pocket design, and their Tac Tec Plate Carrier, which I plan to test soon. This was what I expected to hear when I went to their press conference.
In fact, the 5.11 Tactical press conferences I attended was not about their new designs at all. Instead, they mesmerized us with their Tactical Writers Conference, a face-to-face with some of the most prominent tactical writers in the industry.
SHOT Show is all about what’s new. Here’s my abbreviated list:
Trijicon has produced a set of taller Bright and Tough Night Sights for co-witnessing with their RMR with machined slides. I used to think it was just a trend for officers to add optics to their duty handguns, but handgun optics are now mainstream. I shot a milled 1911 with RMR mount and found the unlimited field of view was a tremendous advantage for patrol officers. An RMR can be mounted on almost any handgun; most shooters can pick up the optic and shoot well with it right away. Think of it as a handgun-sized ACOG.
Konus has improved on their Sight Pro Series with the Sight Pro TR. This is a 1X optic with 1MOA adjustments and multi reticle choices. They also released a 3 x 9 x 40 (30 mm main tube) tactical scope from their T30 Series. The scope is waterproof, shockproof and fog-proof.
I have done several extended tests on Konus products. Their scopes have rather distinct looking coatings; the tactical ones have a bright green tint, which gives great contrast in twilight. These models have etched reticles and their edge-to-edge clarity makes them one of the best bargains in the business. Konus uses efficient illumination for their reticles, and the fact that they have brought more tactical scopes to the table (including several NTOA-approved models) only betters the situation.
SIG Sauer showcased two introductions that quickly caught my attention. First the SIG MPX, a 6.5-inch short barreled select fire SMG which comes in 9mm, .357SIG, .40 S&W. The most striking feature is the integrally suppressed barrel, which has a uniquely designed, easy-to-keep-clean system. Law enforcement officers will immediately notice the receiver feels and operates like an AR-15 platform, making the learning curve easier. Adam Painchaud, director of the SIG Sauer Academy, talked me through the MPX. I think I need to check this one out myself. Exeter, here I come...
The second addition to the SIG Sauer line is the P227, a double stack that will fit leather (Kydex, etc.) designed for the P226 and P220. For officers used to the P226, this is your 45.
Clothing: Magnum and Darn Tough
For law enforcement officers, the tactical clothing releases during SHOT 2013 were the best ever.
Magnum released their new Response series of outerwear. This is packable stuff, made of 100-percent nylon Dry Tec, which is waterproof and breathable.
Magnum responded to a need that many of us had on patrol. Waterproof uniform jackets didn’t fit in the bug out bag, and even the zip out lining ones were too hot for a summer downpour. The Magnum Response Series is lightweight and packable. The wicking mesh liner keeps the climate inside the clothing different from the climate outside. One only needs to put patches on the jacket and it’s good to go.
Magnum’s Mach 2 8.0 Side Zip Waterproof boot is a 14.2-ounce duty boot with an athletic shoe type of fit. It has a Clarino upper, which looks and wears like leather, in a lighter package. The Mach 2 8.0 Side Zip uses a waterproof bootie. Most users know the Magnum design keeps feet dry.
I know this doesn’t sound like a big thing, but I’ve done plenty of standing on the range and have had a road march or two. I’m particular about socks and you should be, too.
The tactical footwear line includes Tactical Boot, Tactical Dress and Tactical PT Berry Compliant socks that don’t have seams that rub on the foot. My personal experience is the breathability of their products. They combine Merino, Nylon, and Lycra Spandex in different ratios, depending on the application.
Darn Tough makes athletic socks too; I plan to stock up on cycling and running socks for this season.
FLIR put us on a range for a night shoot. I was reminded of my earlier tenure where I spent much of my military career navigating by feel. The fact that it was about 28 degrees with a head-on 25 mile-per-hour gust on the range made trying to feel anything a challenge.
I got to shoot a FLIR S135 MUNS (Magnum Universal Night Sight) mounted on a LaRue OBR. I found this combination was very suitable for the patrol officer shooting mid range targets. Since the OBR is an icon in tactical carbines, not much has to be said about it. It is a sweet shooting instrument and appropriate for this application.
I kind of skipped over to the last shooting position on the range. Mind you, this position was closest to the portable heater than the others.
The best was last, the last was best: A Barrett MRAD (.338 Lapua) with a mounted FLIR S140 ADUNS-S.
I am somewhat familiar with the MRAD, but had yet to shoot one by feel. I was completely mesmerized by the clarity of the FLIR product mounted on it. The range laid out in front of me was around a kilometer or so. It actually went further, but the targets generally didn’t.
We were shooting at 200, but one could scope way further than that. No one missed. Really. For anyone who enjoys precision shooting, this is the experience.
The Recon M24 is a pocketable observation product that delivered outstanding resolution. This product is definitely a great agency purchase. It’s lightweight and fits in a cargo pocket.
DKX Max III
I was walking around the show and one of the booths had an armor plate on display floating in a tub of water. This was beyond comprehension: a rifle plate with positive buoyancy. DKX has produced a Dyneema plate that is multi hit rated, lightweight, drop resistant and RFEV chipped. Hats off for a product made in Bismark, North Dakota. If I ever put a carrier on, this is the plate.
Springfield XDs (Springfield Armory)
I got to shoot a Springfield XDs, the 9mm version. This is a compact, almost pocketable, 7+1 handgun with a thinner slide and profile than previous models. The beavertail portion is dramatically radiused, pulling the web of the hand high on the grip. It allowed the shooter to squeeze off rounds efficiently, which makes it a contender in the smaller gun market.
I like the fact that Springfield uses the grip safety, which really improves the utility of the compact carry gun. The XD shot very smoothly, with a great texture in the grip that really helped while my hands were gloved. Believe me—the chill on my hands gave me great perspective for critical gun review.
I also shot the Daniel Defense Integrated Suppressed Rifle (ISR), a carbine chambered in 300 Blackout. The name describes it all. The suppressor is the barrel, rather than an add-on item. The result is an integrated system that shoots like a sum that is greater than its parts. Probably the most noticeable quality is the maneuverability of the package. It simply balanced well.
Streamlight has debuted their new HL Series (High Lumen), which run 500-600 lumens per beam. Their beams are designed for a large volume of light— great on a traffic stop when the officer needs to illuminate the entire passenger compartment at once. The beam doesn’t necessarily reach out, but the floodlight effect will seriously increase safety for entry teams.
Wrapping it up
This year promises to be an exciting year for the Firearms Tactics column. I always like to start it off at SHOT. I’m looking forward to shooting more stuff and talking about it.
Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer and retired military small arms trainer. He teaches criminal justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California. Lindsey has taught shooting techniques for over a decade. He enjoys competing in shooting sports, running and cycling events. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.