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1989 Shot Show review.


What's New In Handguns, Rifles, Ammo, Reloading, Sights & Scopes And Programs

This past January brought the movers and shakers of the shooting industry to Dallas for the SHOT SHOW. It also brought the masses. All of us were there to see what would be new for 1989. Thousands of dealers, distributors, manufacturers, and more than a few gun writers, prowled the four miles of aisles; peering into over 1,200 booths in search of something new.

From 9:00 in the morning till 5:00 in the afternoon, I trudged up one aisle and down another in search of the holy grail of newness. I am saddened to report it wasn't there. Not that there weren't new products, they were there in abundance, but far too many called a change in finish a "new" model.

Ad Wars Add Humor To Show

High powered marketing was everywhere and there were a multitude of plots and subplots as the competitors squared off in not so covert ad wars such as Ruger's "Where's the beef?" and S&W's "Rugerburger" reply, or S&W's no bull buttons and Taurus' perfect squelch response with a smiling bull and the words, "we must be doing something right."

Remington's Duck Stamp Program

Many manufacturers have also come to the realization that marketing assistance to the dealer is something they should do, and nowhere is there a better example than Remington's duck stamp promotion. Remington will distribute the stamps in a package that also contains over $100 in coupons for free products or discounts on the purchase of Remington products. The dealer then will be able to offer his waterfowl hunting customers the convenience of purchasing his duck stamp at the shop and the coupons are a powerful promotional tool. The plan will consign duck stamps to dealers at no cost. The dealer must, of course, agree to pay for the stamps when they are sold, but he may return unsold booklets. In short, it's a no cost opportunity for the dealer to both service and attract customers. Just prior to the release of the 1989-90 Duck Stamp in July, Remington will begin a major advertising and publicity effort to announce the program to consumers.

The Year Of The .416

1989 may well go into the books as the year of the .416. Picture this: three manufacturers introduced rifles chambered for one .416 cartridge or another. Two .416 cartridges were introduced and an oldie-goldie, the .416 Rigby came back in a rifle from Ruger with ammunition by Federal.

Remington unveiled the .416 Remington Magnum which was made by necking up the 8mm Remington Magnum and Weatherby showed the .416 Weatherby Magnum which was made by necking down the .460 Weatherby.

S&W Offers New Lifetime Service Policy

After the major news from S&W of their Third Generation automatics it was surprising to see much new at the SHOT SHOW, but there were a couple of interesting items. Foremost is the implementation of a lifetime service policy. Effective February 1 all S&W pistols and revolvers purchased after that date will be repaired without charge. This applies to the original purchaser only and does not cover finish, sights, magazines or grips. To qualify the warranty card must be returned.

"Ladysmith" Is Resurrected

Smith & Wesson has also begun an aggressive marketing program designed to attract women. This result is the resurrection of the "Ladysmith" name, although the guns so named will be only slightly modified versions of the J. frame Models 36 and 60. The real intent is to provide an easy source of information to women who might be considering purchasing a handgun. To this end, S&W will establish a toll free number (1-800-331-0852) answered by a competent woman (Diane Pero), who will be able to provide information on purchase requirements, the location of the nearest dealer, and where to shoot or obtain training. The toll free number is only for inquiries connected with the Ladysmith program and routine customer service calls will not be handled. Also included in the program will be literature that will explain basic firearms information.

The long rumored compact .45 is finally here. The Model 4516 is a new addition to the Third Generation line and is significantly smaller than the 645 or 4506 models. The 4516 will have a 3-3/4" barrel and 7-round magazine capacity. There are also three special edition variations that will be offered in limited production runs of 5000 guns. First, and most interesting of these, will be the Model 625-2 which will be a 5" barrel, stainless steel version of the .45 ACP Model 25. It will feature a full length barrel lug similar to those used on "L" frame revolvers and have a matte finish and be equipped with black rubber grips. The "Classic Hunter" line is also expanded to include the .357 Magnum cartridge. The final special edition will be a Model 686 with a new "midnight black" finish.

Charter Arms Introduces "Bonnie & Clyde" Promotion

In keeping with the trend of new marketing strategies, Charter Arms announced their "Bonnie and Clyde" promotion. Instead of concentrating on women alone, the Charter Arms effort is intended to draw couples into shooting. The company will sponsor "fun shoots" using the Bonnie and Clyde theme to attract couples to events held at cooperating ranges. I hope that some people, remembering that the real Bonnie and Clyde were not exactly nice folks, will not be offended and recognize the strategy for what it is, a valuable attempt to attract more people into the shooting sports. The centerpiece of the campaign will be two guns; appropriately his and her pistols named Bonnie and Clyde. Hers is a 2-1/2" barrel .32 H&R Magnum and his will be the same gun in .38 Special. Their 1989 line also features a redesigned grip shape on some models and the Pit Bull which will be offered in the new 9mm Federal cartridge as well as .38 Special and .357 Magnum with barrel lengths ranging from 2-1/2" to 4".

CZ-75 Handguns Are Coming

Fans of the CZ-75 should be ecstatic with the news that at least four companies will have clones. The thing you won't hear is that all are made by the same Italian firm and the race is on between the four to see who will have product first. The .41 Action Express seems to be following the P-85 principle and was widely touted for the third year, although there still aren't any guns. A source at FIE reports that they should have guns in .41 AE, "by the time you read this."

Dan Wesson Reveals Two New Target Revolvers

Dan Wesson revealed two "ready for the range" target revolvers for NRA Action Shooting and PPC competition. Both have massive barrel shrouds and are essentially the same except for sights. The Action Cup model pistol will have provisions for a scope or red dot type sight while the PPC gun will carry an Aristocrat sight rib.

Wilson's Gun Shop To Offer "Magnum Hunter" Customs

Wilson's Gun Shop announced a semi-custom version of their "Magnum Hunter" custom Rugers that will be available through gun shops. The new "R" series will be built on either Redhawk or Super Redhawk models and will have a trigger job, Mag-Na-Porting and a choice of either a Leupold or Bausch & Lomb scope. The gun will be sold complete and include a fitted case at a price that should be attractive to both the dealer and the customer.

AMT/IAI Offers New Automag III

AMT, through a subsidiary company IAI, has introduced the Automag III, a scaled up version of the Automag II except for the caliber. The Automag III fires the .30 Carbine cartridge and will represent the first commercial autoloading pistol to use this round since the ill fated Kimball of the late '50s.

Rossi Introduces Model 971

Rossi celebrates their 100th anniversary this year and marks the occasion with the introduction of the Model 971 revolver. It's a stainless steel .357 with a barrel underlug that looks stylish and adds some weight to the barrel. It also features an unfluted cylinder.

Remington displayed the Mag 10 autoloading 10-gauge shotgun which will be available in limited numbers for 1989. Owners of older Model 1100 shotguns will be interested in a replacement barrel that will allow use of steel shot. It includes specially designed Rem-Chokes for steel. Also, synthetic stock fanciers should like a new material, Arylon, that is significantly lighter than the Rhinite it replaces. The Arylon stock will reduce weight nearly a full pound compared to the older material.

News From Stoeger Industries

Stoeger Industries spotlighted the Tikka "New Generation" rifle from Finland. The Tikka name should be familiar to American dealers, but the less well known fact is that both Sako and Tikka are owned by the same Finnish conglomerate. Last year the Tikka factory was closed and production moved to the modern Sako works in Rhiimaki. The result is that both Sako and Tikka rifles are produced in the same plant using much of the same equipment. The Tikka rifle comes very close to fitting the "new" criteria for it is an entirely different bolt action design than previous rifles. It features a detachable box magazine that should appeal to hunters who are tired of dumping ammo on the ground and also has a bolt sleeve of a synthetic (polyacrylamide) material that provides extremely smooth bolt operation. It will carry a suggested retail price of $720 and will be available in a multitude of standard calibers from .243 all the way to .375 H&H.

Stoeger is also the U.S. distributor for the Spanish firm of Llama-Gabilondo and the centerpiece of Llama's line this year will be the M-87. It is the first factory produced comp gun and has received glowing reviews.

Action Arms Unveils New "Timberwolf"

Action Arms unveiled the Timberwolf, a pump action rifle chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge. It has a 10-round tubular magazine and should be a fun gun.

Colt Announces Four New Delta Elite Models

Colt seems to have fallen in love with stainless steel and the 10mm, for they announced four more models of the Delta Elite including a Gold Cup version as well as stainless steel versions of the Python .357 revolver.

Synthetic/Laminated Stocks Big At SHOT

It seemed as if the popularity of synthetic or laminated stocks has really grown over the last year and almost every manufacturer had examples of one or both.

What's New In Ammo

Federal Cartridge company proudly displayed their new Safari line of premium ammunition in the traditional calibers of .300 Winchester Magnum, .338 Winchester Magnum, .375 H&H Magnum and .458 Winchester Magnum. That's not really big news, everyone has those, but virtually nobody has the other two Safari calibers. At long last there is .416 Rigby and .470 Nitro Express ammunition made by a major American company. The ready availability of factory ammo in these two chamberings is sure to be great news for big bore shooters.

After a long absence the .303 British cartridge is back in production. Federal announced that they will load a 180-gr. softpoint for the countless thousands of old Enfield rifles that are around, but virtually unused due to the difficulty of finding ammunition. In handgun ammo the news centers around the availability of Hydra-Shok ammunition. It was announced at the last SHOT show, but is only now rolling off the line. The Hydra Shok line includes loadings in .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .45 ACP and 9mm with two bullets available for the 9mm. Federal is first to market a 147-gr. 9mm for the civilian shooter. This bullet weight has been attracting a lot of attention in law enforcement circles for some time, but has not been available to the civilian market until now.

In shotgun shells Federal showed their new "Tri-Power" loads. These are 12-gauge, steel shot shells in both 2-3/4" and 3" lengths that contain a combination of three shot sizes.

Each year (since 1981) Remington has offered a new addition to their "Classic" line of M700 rifles and this year's product will be chambered for the .300 Weatherby Magnum. This means that they will also load ammo. Factory ammo will have bullet weights of 180 and 200 grains.

Remington's handgun offerings this year seem, to me, to overshadow those of any other maker, for they have brought +P ammunition to the venerable .45 ACP. The new round uses their 185-gr. JHP bullet and delivers an advertised 1,140 fps. They also have added a 115-gr. JHP +P load for the 9mm Luger as well as a 140-gr. JHP "practice" load that is especially designed for training use on steel targets. Although the bullet is a hollowpoint it is intentionally made non-expanding so that it will not damage steel training targets. They have also added two 10mm Auto loads with 170-gr. JHP and 200-gr. FMJ bullets. Good news for target and varmint shooters is the addition of 6mm BR ammunition to the line.

Following the growing popularity of the 10mm Auto Winchester announces the addition of a 10mm load with a 175-gr. Silvertip hollowpoint bullet. In shotgun shells Winchester has revived the very popular 1-ounce 28-gauge load. These were widely used by upland hunters but haven't been available in years. They will be available with 6-, 7 1/2-, and 8-shot. Reloaders will be interested in an addition to Winchester's new propellant line: Super Target. It is intended for target loads in 12- and 20-gauge and is the second offering in a new series that began last year with Super-Lite.

In what seems like a few short years, the PMC brand has grown from a couple of budget priced generic loads into a broad line of centerfire rifle and pistol ammo as well as .22 rimfire. Leading the line this year is the introduction of Eldorado Classic ammunition from Eldorado Cartridge Corp. (a PMC subsidiary). The line includes ammunition in .257, .270, 7mm and .300 Weatherby Magnum calibers as well as 30-06 Springfield and .308 Winchester. The addition of the Weatherby Magnum ammunition offers users of those cartridges an attractive alternative to the more expensive ammo. All of these are available with the new Barnes "X" copper bullet which offers classic expansion as well as a high level of weight retention for big game hunting.

CCI continues to expand their popular Blazer ammunition line with three new loadings this year. Blazer ammo will be available in .32 ACP, .45 Colt and .41 Magnum.

What's New In Reloading

RCBS showed one of the more clever new reloading products at the SHOT SHOW. It is a lube die that's designed to decap and lubricate rifle cases before reloading. It can be used either alone or on one of the progressive presses that are now available for loading rifle as well as pistol cases. It is especially intended for use with another new RCBS product, the Piggyback. The Piggyback allows a reloader to adapt his Rockchucker or Reloader Special-3 press to become a progressive loader for high volume pistol and, in some cases, rifle ammo. Dealers may be interested in a new RCBS display that comes stocked with an assortment of shellholders and other loading accessories. The floor display is included at no charge when the contents are purchased.

This year marks Hornady's 40th anniversary and is marked by a new name for their ammo line. The Frontier label is gone and is replaced with extremely attractive packaging bearing the "Custom" label. Their bullet line is broadened by 6 new offerings including two .416 bullets to keep up with the current big bore mania that seems to be sweeping the industry. They now have 400-gr. solid and softpoints for the various .416s.

The additions to Speer's bullet catalog are led by a 190-gr. TMJ for the 10mm as well as a 100-gr. .32 caliber hollowpoint designed for the .32 H&R Magnum.

Not all the news from the SHOT SHOW was product oriented. For 20 years Nosler Bullets has been a subsidiary company of Leupold-Stevens, but the two companies announced that the Nosler family has purchased the 52% of their shares previously owned by Leupold. Bob Nosler reports that, since he entered the business 18 years ago, it has been his goal to someday return the business to family ownership and that both companies are pleased with the arrangement.

Their line of bullets has grown to include a 170-gr. 10mm hollowpoint. Fans of the .375 will be happy to learn that Nosler is reintroducing the 300-gr. partition bullet that was discontinued some years ago. They have also begun to offer a bulk packaging of their two most popular handgun bullets, the 158-gr. .357 and 240-gr. .44 hollowpoints in 250-bullet boxes.

Redding has added a number of new styles to their Sacco bullet moulds and a small change in their die packaging that will make life easier for the reloader. Their already clever die box has been changed to hold an allen wrench and spare decapping pin and these will now be included with new dies. It's a small thing, but if you've ever broken a decapping pin it's something you appreciate.

What's New In Sights

Although my assignment was to report on guns and ammo there were a few other products that attracted my attention. Laser sights are a hot topic right now and at last there are a couple that are small enough to be really useful. Emerging Technologies displayed their LA1 and LA1000 Laser sights. The LA1 weighs only six ounces and is powered by two self-contained AAA batteries and the more powerful LA1000 weighs 8 ounces and uses two 9 volt batteries.

The Scope Scene

Illuminated scopes seem to be the rage and several makers had conventional scopes with illuminated reticles for low light use. Action Arms showed their "Ultra-Dot" which is perhaps the smallest of the red dot sights that are so popular with pistol shooters. The size reduction is made possible by the use of tiny watch or camera batteries in place of the larger sizes previously used.

There were lots of new scopes as well. Bushnell showed their new waterproof 15-45X Spacemaster spotting scope that should be popular with both big game and varmint hunters who encounter bad weather. From the Bausch & Lomb line is a new 12-32X variable with a 40mm objective for the serious target, varmint shooter.

From Simmons is a clever new spotting scope that combines the technology of red-dot sights with a spotting scope. The red dot is used as a target locator mounted above the conventional spotting scope and adjusted so that an object pinpointed by the dot will be within the field of view of the scope.

Nikon, a relative newcomer to sporting optics, announced no less than five new additions to their already excellent line of rifle scopes. Four are variables ranging from 1.5-4.5 all the way to 4-12 as well as a fixed 4X.

Leupold showed three new target scopes in 24 and 36 power that include a revamped adjustment system for precise 1/4 moa clicks and objective adjustments that permit focus as close as 50 feet.

In Summary

Every time I come home from the SHOT SHOW there is a period of reflection over what I've seen, or what I haven't. This year was no exception. As always there were some guns that seem to be at every show but never on dealers shelves and I almost wish there were a rule that nothing could be shown until the product was a reality...not merely a trial balloon. Of course that wouldn't work, but it would save all of us some frustration; especially when you see something neat and wonder whether it's real or Memorex. But most of all it is a golden opportunity for dealers to meet the movers and shakers, not just the salesmen and manufacturers reps, and tell them what you think. One of the highlights of the show as far as I was concerned was watching S&W president Steve Melvin standing in the aisle in front of their booth talking with average guys wearing DEALER badges.

Next year in Las Vegas the show will expand to four days which will, I fervently hope, allow a more leisurely pace. I always leave the show with the nagging thought that I missed something neat.

PHOTO : Smith & Wesson's "No Bull" Lifetime Service message.

PHOTO : Taurus' smiling bull with the words, "We must be doing something right."

PHOTO : Carlos Zarceno of Llama with M-87

PHOTO : Brian Herrick president of Stoeger Industries with Tikka rifle

PHOTO : Mark Bauer of Action Arms with Timberwolf .357 rifle

PHOTO : Bob Nosler of Nosler Bullets recently helped return the company to a "family-owned"

PHOTO : operation.

PHOTO : Miss Shooting Industry courtesy of Kombi. Ltd.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:firearms industry exhibition, Dallas
Author:Petty, Charles E.
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Mar 1, 1989
Previous Article:Shooting Industry's 1989 Show Off award winners.
Next Article:A view of the SHOT SHOW '89.

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