A hands-on look: SHOT Show 2016

March 16, 2016


Hello from the SHOT Show 2016. With a limited amount of pages here, I know I’ll just have to test all of the great products I got to see. But here are some of the stand outs…


Flashlights

Coast flashlights are known for their focusing heads. The Coast TX9R is a rechargeable, 300 lm flashlight with a lockable beam focusing capability. It delivers about seven hours of service at its highest setting. This particular type of beam does a great job penetrating fog and smoke. Like many of their products, it can use four AAA cells with the optional module.
On the extreme side for law enforcement lights, the Streamlight ProTac HL 4 delivers 2,200 lumens, 30,000 candela which translates into a 346-meter beam (1.45 hours runtime on high). This is basically a handheld searchlight. The beam is more floodlight than concentrated center, which loans itself nicely for high risk ops that require beam periphery. It uses 18650 cells or CR 123 cells, depending on the purpose of the user. I like 18650 cells, especially since Streamlight also introduced a USB/AC dual charger for them. Let’s say your search for a suspect went from city limits to a nearby wooded area. Let’s say the operation extended way past your shift. This is the light.
Last year, Streamlight introduced the TLR 6 for Glock 42 and 43 models. This is a tiny light and laser aiming module that fits on the trigger guard. It’s completely out-of-the-way, yet allows for really intuitive manipulation. This year, the system has increased in flexibility with a Weapons Kit. This consists of a TLR 6 module and six different housings for various firearm platforms. Since they have one for an M&P Shield, I get to use one too.


Guns and ammo

Ruger released the Ruger American pistol. It comes in 9mm and .45. There is a 10- and 17-round version in 9mm and a 10-round .45 version. I put a few rounds downrange with the .45, which was very easy to handle. The recoil reducing barrel cam and ergonomic design really work for me. I anticipate that this gun will receive outstanding reviews. Interestingly, when I went to grab a magazine, I held up the gun for the range assistant present and asked him if this was the 9mm or the .45. 

The range assistant told me he didn’t know. The gun had to be in battery to see the inscription on the chamber, which indicated the caliber. This illustrates a point: although the dimensions are slightly different, the .45 doesn’t feel much different than the 9mm. Ruger has nailed the “pointability factor” when it comes to handguns. It just flat felt good to shoot. Did I tell you that the 9mm 17-and 10-round guns are exactly the same? Ruger has made the American Pistol and the “More American Pistol” with a 17-round capacity.
What gun stopped me in my tracks? The UTAS 15-round shotgun with a polymer receiver. I’m not going to say a whole bunch about it yet—we’ll be testing one later this year.
Glock celebrated their 13th anniversary in the U.S., just a little while longer than I have had one. Their innovation this year was the MOS (Modular Optics System), a slight mounting system that allowed for a variety of optics. I tried the Glock 19 MOS.
The Glock 19 is on my list of top five handguns to own. The ability to put one’s favorite optic on it is awesome.
Meanwhile, Winchester released its USA Forged Steel Case Handgun Ammunition, a great way to practice without breaking the bank. I got to shoot the 9mm and, while it felt similar to the “Train” part of the Winchester Train & Defend Ammunition, it was significantly cheaper than most other factory ammunition.
I also got to shoot a Surgeon Precision Sniper rifle (PSR) in .338 Lapua. This is a custom rifle with complete attention toward accuracy. The rifle was actually one component out of the three mechanical components of shooting: rifle, optics, ammunition. We were shooting Nexus .338 Lapua Match Grade ammo. Since I will be testing the .308 version of this ammo soon, I will leave our readers thinking about this: I got behind a sighted-in PSR and went “four for four” on an iron target that was over 900 meters away. I can’t shoot 900 meters with anything in my personal inventory right now. For agencies needing precision intervention at extreme distances, this is one of the best packages I’ve shot in a long time.
At the SIG SAUER range we were treated to a private demonstration by Max Michel—one of my favorite shooters in the industry. (Another is Rob Leatham, whom I met at the Springfield range.) Michel talked us through several different aspects of shooting, teaching his audience about delivering shots faster and more accurately. He broke it down into components such as recoil management, drawing from the holster, gear selection, and magazine changes. I love attending these demonstrations, not just because I am a big fan of World Class shooters, but because I learn something every time. Michel used an electronic timer to start and time his shooting strings. The timer was set to start randomly, and buzzed again when the preset number of seconds had elapsed. We talked about using a proper shooting stance, “I need to have all my shooting done before the buzzer goes off the second time,” Michel says. In this demonstration, he was doing this with time to spare. I need to point out that he was shooting a nearly stock SIG SAUER P320, probably one of the most advanced duty guns on the market today. If this was not encouragement for law enforcement officers to purchase this gun, nothing will be.
In the few minutes that Michel presented I learned several new ways to improve my shooting I’d never thought of before. This was worth the trip. At the end of the Michel demo, Adam Pinchaut of the SIG Sauer Academy announced their latest Academy instructor. To tell you the truth, I was pretty psyched to hear it was Kyle Lamb. This was capitalized by Team Sig Sauer announcing their latest member: Lena Michulek. Wow!
Quite a few things happened at Sig’s range. They introduced their new SIG SAUER ASP air rifles and pistols. They are almost exact copies of popular models, intended for real tactical training. For example, the handguns in P226 ASP and P250 ASP configuration have similar weight, feel, and operation, including slides that blow back. Why they didn’t introduce a P320 ASP is beyond me, but I am ready to start a petition.

Gun accessories

This year, gun accessories definitely ruled. The good news is I didn’t just get to look at them, I tested them. Two different companies released 9mm standard capacity magazines for Glock handguns. Although they have two different approaches, their common attribute is that in all configurations they are very inexpensive. The ETS Group magazines are transparent. It’s kind of nice to actually see how many bullets are in the magazine. However, the reps at the counter spent the entire evening explaining why the bullets looked “bunched up” closer to the feed lips. That’s exactly what they look like in a clear magazine.

Since Faxon Firearms hosted the range and someone else reloaded the bullets, I was determined to wring these magazines out a little. Not only did they function flawlessly, but their smooth surface really helped with dumping one mag and slamming another one home. I’m going to get a bunch of these for myself. Some users might have reservations about magazines lacking metal feed lips. Considering the price and the build, I don’t think this is a concern at all. The advantage is the ability to increase the volume of training. The clear ETS Group Glock standard capacity 15-round G19 is $16.99. Glock and the 22 round mag come in at $21.99. The Magpul PMAG 21 GL9 magazine is $19.95 and the PMAG 15 GL9 $15.95.
Peltor reps were on the range and I swapped my cheap electronic hearing muffs for a set of Peltor Tactical 100 hearing protectors with a NRR of 22db. This is the one that takes AA batteries and has a 3.5mm input jack for radios. The Tactical 100 design is low-profile for the shotgun and rifle shooter. However, the first thing I noticed was clarity. At the Faxon Firearms sponsored range I wore my Peltor Tactical 100 earmuffs. It was a good thing, since I was sandwiched between an auto shotgun shooter and auto .308 shooter on an indoor range (ouch!). If that didn’t test this product, nothing will.
Otis Technology has come out with a 12-and 20-gauge RipCord. This is the flexible cleaning cord made of Nomex and a rubberized core. The shotgun version is flexible enough to be fed into the ejection port for breech-to-muzzle cleaning. I carry a .223 Ripcord in my bug out bag. Now I have one to keep my gauge clean. This company has also introduced Flugz: earplugs made of a soft compound that are customized using a microwave oven. They are inexpensive and very effective.
Talon Grips came out with rubber and granulate grips for several models, including the M&P Shield—a simple “must have” product for duty.

Knives

It’s always a bonus to catch up with Kristi Hunter and Michael Janich at Spyderco. The catchword in knives this year is “blurple” (blue and purple). This is the name that knife forum users are using for the G 10 scales on the Spyderco Manix 2 (CPM-110v steel) and the PM2, my EDC knife. Here’s the interesting thing: although it is completely indestructible G 10, it is slightly translucent on the PM2. It’s a great color for law enforcement, but it also means many of us will have to get another PM2.

Byrd Knives has produced a knife in CTS-BD1 (a USA Steel) and G 10 scales. It has four different mounting points for the clip and the MSRP for the Raven2 (BY08GP2) is $75.
First Tactical released their Viper Knife with a spear point. Their new line of knives is very inexpensive and have a solid opening surface for the thumb.


Holsters

The three holsters that were on my radar this year were completely different. I got a chance to test a K Rounds Kydex OWB holster for my M&P Shield. Ashley Pintos of K Rounds told me a few things about Kydex I really didn’t know, like that there are different grades. I know that it comes in different thicknesses, but Ashley explained that sometimes recycled materials or cheaper manufacturing processes are involved in making thermoplastic Kydex sheets. I tried out one of their OWB scabbards for my Shield. Their design has a 15-degree cant and the Kydex is much thicker than most other manufacturers’ products. This product has terrific retention but the draw is consistent and placement on the waistband is reliable.

Brian at Elite Survival Systems showed me their new Marathon holster, designed for—you guessed it—running. It has an innocuous exterior, including water bottle holsters. When I asked Brian what he ran with, he told me it works with an LC-1. I have three handguns that will work in this holster. Obviously, the trick to this product is the fact that one can run with a reasonably sized handgun without the bounce.
I also learned that Gould and Goodrich, one of the most respected names in duty holsters, has acquired Tactical Design Labs. While I was looking at the X-Calibur Holster, TDL’s latest design, Mike Lowe, the X-Calibur’s designer appeared. The TDL X-Calibur is a retention holster that doesn’t have a strap over the top of the gun. Rather, it uses a unique draw system that is completely natural to the user. This draw incorporates the thumb and natural movement. It has superior retention, including the locking of the ejection port of the handgun. Just playing with it demonstrated that a person not wearing the holster is stripped of access to the gun.
Of all the designs that I’ve seen for a holster, this one accounts for the loss of fine motor skills when operating under duress. Mike Lowe told me that the definition for handgun retention really is consistent across the board. Early in holster development, it often just described the holster’s ability to keep a gun from falling out. As holster design improved, some additions towards security included layers of complexity. Adding to that, re-holstering is definitely a factor when it comes to law enforcement use. That is, many times the officer is still in “gross motor skills” mode when the gun needs to be securely fastened in the holster. Lowe told me, “The balance between access and security is really a fine line.”
He talked me through the operation of the X-Calibur, which is designed for a particular handgun and several different types of mounted lights. The operation of this holster is flat-out intuitive. It is neither heavier, nor bulkier than any other security holster on the market, and definitely one of the most impressive law enforcement tools at SHOT 2016.
This is where I stop. I can’t possibly cover it all—and I’m already booked for 2017. ■


Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer and retired military small arms trainer. He teaches criminal justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, Calif. and welcomes comments at [email protected].

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