25 Jan

Shot Show Media Day 2012

Steven K. Ledin,

Involuntary facial expression when burning buckets of free ammo

The 2012 SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) show media day event is held annually the day before the actual SHOT SHOW convention starts. It was held 20 miles outside Las Vegas again this year, at the Boulder Pistol and Rifle Club in Boulder City, Nevada. The media day event invites bona fide gun writers from around the world to fondle and learn about new products, and most importantly to us, burn truckloads of free ammo of every kind imaginable out of every kind of gun and optic system that is new and innovative and cool. Some of our marketing department tagged along with cameras to share the fun with you.

I’ve been to 20 or so SHOTs, but never to media day. Riflescopeblog.com gave me legitimate entry this year for the first time. It’s something that makes me smile.

Driving through the parched, post-apocalyptic looking burnt terrain of Nevada made you yearn for eye drops, and the fine airborne dust invaded everything, including firearm operating systems. BTW, black piston guns ran no better that black gas guns. Leave this alone.

Snuggle into expensive guns. Press trigger. Repeat.

It wasn’t what I thought it would be. I expected many vendors at tables and booths displaying their wares, and a fair amount of sequestered ranges for new guns. Nope. There were actually very few stand-alone booths (that mattered, anyway), but instead there were hundreds of yards of firing lines for pistols, rifles, and shotguns of every kind, with ranges for clays games, pistols, and targets up to 1000 yards.


We saw friends and compatriots and familiar fellow gun monkeys right away.

The inimitable Gunny, Mr, R. Lee Ermey

I’ve met the gunny a bunch of times over the years, but you really can’t imagine what a patient and gracious gentleman he is. He is bombarded with picture takers and hand shakers from the early morning until he’s ready for bed after playing slots. I don’t know how he does it. The ranges were set up exceedingly well and the layout was very user friendly. We started arbitrarily at one end: the shotgun section.

I love Browning products in general. A lot of people say you pay for a name. No kidding. They worked to get that name. Pay it, it’s worth it. Growing up in the upland bird fields, my dad always used one of his several Auto 5s. He shot them faultlessly and fast. I own a pre-WWII internal trigger guard safety example myself. I never shot them so well, and they kick the heck out of me. I always used Remington gas guns. This year, Browning introduced their NEW A5! Retro-looking products are popular with cars and coffee machines, but this A5 is completely redesigned mechanically with a short-recoil Kinematic drive operating system as opposed to a long recoil operating system like was popular for almost 100 years since the genius John Browning designed the gun in 1898.

I stepped to the 5 stand line and shot a series of flurries, which is a whole bunch of targets coming out from all angles that everyone gets a chance to shoot at. The birds never stop flying. After a while we got a chance to shoot a single fast low left to high right crosser for a prize. Somehow, my muzzle was ahead of the bird enough to dust it, and I won some stuff! I like when that happens.

After the shotgun area we navigated to a long line of ranges with guns and unlimited ammo and targets and started with getting our first look at the new EOTech Zombie Stopper (HWS)  Holographic Weapon Sight with the G33 Switch to Side magnifier . The previous FTS (Flip to Side) mount on the G23 magnifier was and is superb, but EOTech got the mount from Sampson. It had a lot of parts, and if you for some reason removed the wrong screws it would shoot apart like a bucket of parts in a tornado. If you were actually able to retrieve all the parts and springs, you needed three hands to reassemble it. Not that I would be so inept as to remove the wrong screws…. The new G33 promises to be a simpler, more robust unit that will actually improve on one of the best designs ever made.

Throughout the whole range there was the staccato resonance of machine guns and submachine guns. The Kriss guns have been known in the law enforcement field for a few years, mostly by really cutting edge go-fast people. They are delayed blowback .45 ACP Swiss designs made in our own Virginia Beach, South Carolina. A great place to visit. The design of the gun lets the recoil flow relatively straight back into you, allowing for noticeably more control than a similarly sized Uzi or MP5. Typical Swiss workmanship and innovation. The worst thing about shooting buckets of ammo out of them at the show was the poor gal stuck with loading magazines all day.

1450 + RPM from Kriss .45 ACP squirtgun


Colt Law Enforcement had on display their new select fire Colt CM 901 battle rifle. It may not have crossed your mind that .5.56×45 and .7.62×51 have the same action size: short. Why can’t they have interchangeable lowers? Answer: The magazine well is too small (read narrow) for the 308. Colt addressed this issue by making the lower’s mag well large enough to accept both cartridges.

Colt also had on display one of the most beautiful firearm systems in existence, the 1877 Bulldog Gatling Gun. Standard 45-70 caliber, only 17 were delivered in 1877. The new guns, 50 a year to be produced and just under 50 grand each, are made from the old schematics and have parts interchangeable with the originals. When this puppy barks it sounds like a series of loud fast farts and leaves a satisfying tingle of expensive brass in a gleaming pile on the dusty ground. Glad I didn’t have to pay for even one turn of the classy handle.

The FN Scar (Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle) heavy (7.62×54) was fun to shoot with an EOTech Zombie Stopper sight, and it was easy to spank 50 yard poppers quickly and regularly.

I burned lots of pistol ammo, including in the Sig 226 Navy, the HK 45, and others. Plates and zombie targets were eveywhere waiting for bullets.

HK 45 in full recoil


I like shooting long range, and a Steyr SSG08 was a similar rifle to my own SSG69. I have always loved Steyrs, and this gun at the range was topped with the new Trijicon 3-15×50 TARS (Trijicon  Advanced Riflescope System). 900 yard shots were like a bad habit. Too easy. Eminently superb combination of products.

We shot the new Winchester RazorBack ammo in 150 grain .308, with projectiles made from 95% copper and 5% zink for toughness enough to penetrate tough targets like hogs with gristle plates. Also available in .223, which from experience is lighter for pigs than you would like if you had your choice.

The Armalite SASS (Semi Automatic Sniper System) was topped with one of the stars of the show, the new Leupold Mark 4 6.5-20×50 ER/T with 34mm tube and new M5 locking turrets. There’s also new Armalite versions that take standard DPMS/Magpul magazines instead of proprietary Armalite mags.

My favorite toy of media day was a standard Remington 700 M24 in an Accuracy International chassis, suppressed with an Advanced Armament can, shooting the amazing new PCP polymer cased ammunition.

STEYR SSG08 with Trijicon TARS 3-15x50


Rem 700 with Accuracy International stock, Leupold Mk 4 with Horus reticle and AAC can shooting .308 PCP Polymer cased ammo at 1000 yards

1000 yard shots with a Leupold and a Horus reticle made it ridiculously easy. Not a lot is known about this new PCP Ammunition, but I will be keeping an eye on it from now on. This may certainly be the most exiting development in ammo in DECADES. So far I’m sold, but there’s a lot to be learned, including reloading requirements, case life, potential accuracy improvements, weight savings, and lower CUP (Copper Units of Pressure). Very, very exciting ammo, available soon in popular calibers.

My cut eyeball wan’t too much trouble but I did have an issue with it so I removed the plastic sheath over it. I play a doctor on TVand sometimes at home. Some of us jumped off the Stratosphere Sky Jump. It was fine and worth the 83 bucks, although you do have a brake on you so it’s not a free-fall. Fun, though, jumping off a 106 story building.

Only the first step off the 106 story Stratosphere is scary


We and our new doggie are learning about each other every day and having fun. Thank God for the knowledgeable and judicious use of E-Collars for loveable but schizophrenic rescued pit bulls!Tinker Bella

More to come about the SHOT show itself soon!



About Steven K. Ledin

Steve has never not known guns. Before motorcycles, money, or girls, they have always been part of his life. He was tenured as General Manager of one of the country’s largest gun stores and ranges, a buyer in a big box sporting goods store, and is currently OpticsPlanet’s Director of Product Intelligence. He was a US Navy gunners mate, and is an NRA certified instructor in ten categories, as well as an Illinois CCW instructor. He shoots competitively and has hunted from Alaska to Africa. He thoroughly loves life with his beloved wife, Shirley, and their three wildish dogs Tinker, TranRek (pronounced “Train Wreck”), and Crash Almighty. He is a stubborn stage 4 cancer survivor not yet ready to cash in his chips.

Leave a Reply

Back to Entries