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Shot Show 2006. A different perspective

Aug 17, 2007
When Kelsey invited me to attend the 2006 Shot Show a dream had finally come true. Nobody had to ask me a second time. I had always heard about this gigantic event and wanted to see it for myself. Friends told me "You will not believe how big it is" so I visited the official wed site to find statistics like "Over 1,700 exhibitors, 1,300,000 square feet or the size of 15 football field, and 13 miles of carpeted aisles". I must admit, however, in spite of all the coaching and advice given to me, nothing could prepare me for the first glimpse of this show. Wow!

I approached this show from a slightly different view. Although I'm a hunter and I can appreciate all types of firearms, I had a particular interest in the black, not so politically correct, firearms. Everything from handguns to long range precision rifles were found on my list.


In the area of 1911's, there was a huge selection to choose from, you mane it, Kimber, Les Bear, Springfield Armory, and a host of others. I was most impressed with the Springfield Armory 1911's. Not because they are top end handguns but because of what you get for the price. The fit and finish is good and the trigger pull is very acceptable. These handguns come with an Integral Locking System for safety, loaded chamber indicator (I guess that's for those that don't know how to do a chamber check) and they are blended and smoothed for snag free carry. These are nice handguns at a very affordable price. A Micro Compact is on my "Want List".

Springfield Armory has two other firearms that caught my attention:

* New for "06" was the XD .45 ACP. This handgun seems to be a blend of a 1911 and a Glock. It has a polymer frame equipped with a grip safety, a true ambidextrous mag release and an Ultra Safety Assurance (USA) trigger system. The trigger did feel heavy however, as it is set at 5.5 to 7.7 pounds. It holds a whopping 14 rounds and every XD .45 ACP comes with a belt slide holster, belt slide double mag pouch and mag loader.
* The SOCOM II although it's not a handgun. An urban camo version is new for "06" however; my preferences lie towards a black finish. This rifle is chambered in 7.62 NATO. It has a 16 inch barrel and a Cluster Rail System to hold all those "Do-dads" we like to use such as tactical flashlights, lasers and what have you. At nearly 11 pounds, it's a little on the heavy side but still manageable. This one goes on my "Want List" just because it looks tough.


In the AR-15 arena there were an inexhaustible number of rifle manufactures and accessory suppliers. A couple did stand out however. The Bushmaster Carbon 15 was very impressive due to its light weight. Weighing in at around 4 pounds without a magazine, it seems to be a go anywhere type of rifle. I would really like to try one out at the range or on an unsuspecting coyote.

The new Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifles looked great. I especially like the M&P15T. It has an A3 flat top upper with a collapsible stock, a very clean quad rail forearm and folding sights. Top this Bad Boy with your favorite optic sight and you are good to go.

The premier AR-15 rifles had to be those rifles manufactured by JP Enterprises. They are smooth as silk and tunable! The crisp clean lines and attention to details really makes these rifles "Art that shoots". The triggers are very crisp and the cryogenically treated barrels are capable of shooting groups well under a half minute of angle.

One unique feature of the JP rifles is a free float tube that is designed to accept picatinny rails at various locations other than the standard 90, 180, and 270 degree locations. This allows a second set of sights to be installed on the forearm for close range applications. Sights such as the JPoint Micro-Electronic Reflex or the JP Short Range Tactical Sight can be attached at the 1:30 position (about 40 degree) to engage targets from point blank to about 40 yards. Just cant the rifle and scope over and pick up the second set of sights to engage the close targets.

If you want top of the line, you need to look at JP Enterprises.

When it comes to AR-15 parts, everything under the sun was available. There were a couple of items that did stand out however:

The Chip McCormick Super Match Trigger is one slick innovation. These are one piece assemblies. Just push your existing pins out of your lower receiver, dump the trigger group out, slide the new assembly in, slide the pins back and you are done! Available in one or two stage with straight or curved triggers, these units are factory set at approximately 3.5 pounds and work great. I have already asked Kelsey to order mine.
Many quad rail systems are big, bulky and just plain ugly. The Modular Weapons System by Troy Industries does not fit that mold. Fit to the upper receiver is unsurpassed. Locking lug prevent the forearm from rotating and the rail caps provide a very comfortable grip.

Precision Rifles

When it came to precision rifles, two manufactures really stood out. These were H-S Precision and the Remington Custom Shop.

H-S Precision's FBI Model and Deployment Kit was fantastic! The rifles are guaranteed to shoot half minute groups at 100 yards for 30 caliber and smaller cartridges. The targets supplied with the rifles show that they will do a heck of a lot better job than that. The rifle target we looked at had one ragged hole. The Deployment kit includes a storm case, scope with rings and base, Harris bipod, sling, torque wrench and more. I must admit that they are expensive but if you want a real shooter, check these out.

The Remington Custom Shop had three rifles that I liked.

* The M-24 SWS army sniper rifle was great. The rifle is chambered in 7.62 NATO or 300 Winchester Magnum and can be purchased with a Deployment Kit consisting of a case, Leupold Mark IV M3-10X 40mm scope, bipod, cleaning kit, torque wrench, sling and much more. The trigger and fit are everything you would expect to find on a sniper rifle like this. As I said before, this is a great rifle but frankly it was the most expensive rifle and a little out of my league. While talking to the factory rep about accuracy, he pointed me to the 40-XS below which he felt was just as accurate but substantially lower priced.
* The 40-XS comes chambered in .308 Winchester and the factory rep indicated that a .338 Lapua Magnum version is available. It is equipped with a McMillan synthetic stock, Leupold Vari-X III 3.5 X 10 scope, Harris bipod, tactical sling and a Pelican hard case as a complete system. The 24 inch 416 stainless steel barrel is coated with a black polymer finish which looks great. The trigger felt fantastic as did the feel of the rifle when shouldered.

The factory rep told me that this rifle was as accurate as the M-24 SWS but costs much less.

* The 40-XB Tactical does not have the features of the M-24 SWS or the 40-XS but it is a very nice rifle. This rifle is produced with an H-S Precision stock. The barrel is longer than that of the 40-XS version coming in at 27.250 inches. The trigger is crisp as you would expect and a real pleasure to feel. Remington guarantees the performance of this rifle to be one half inch or less at 100 yards with the proper ammo.

When the dust finally settles, it will be interesting to see which rifle goes on my "Want List" my guess is that it will be the H-S Precision or the Remington 40-XS.

I hope this gave you a different view of some items seen at the 2006 Shot Show. I know it's not complete. There was so much to see and it's not possible to see it all in any detail. I can only encourage you to attend a future show if the opportunity presents itself.
About the Author
Kelsey Hilderbrand is a life-long hunter and outdoorsman. Born and raised in rural eastern Washington State and a graduate of Washington State University. Kelsey is both a veteran hunter and the founder of High Mountain Hunting Supplies
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