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Let's talk shot: Shooting Industry's writers speak out on the 1992 SHOT Show.

Shooting Industry's Writers Speak Out On The 1992 SHOT Show

In order to avoid accusations that Shooting Industry magazine features only the viewpoint of its big-mouth editor, I spoke to several of SI's regular contributors before the 1992 SHOT Show in New Orleans and said, "Tell me what catches your attention at the show."

With the request foremost in their minds, the writers toured the show looking for the new products that they thought were going to make a big splash this year. I didn't prompt any of them or give them any restrictions -- although I did have to pull Cameron Hopkins away from the biggest plate of barbecued shrimp I'd ever seen, hunt down Jon Sundra in one of the finest wine shops in New Orleans, kick Frank James out of a delicious jazz brunch in the French Quarter and roust Jerry Lee from a sing-alone at a nearby Irish tavern. (Oh, the things I do to get a good article for this magazines!)

Nevertheless, everyone finally completed their rounds at the SHOT Show and got their reports back to me. None of them collaborated with one another or hand a chance to change their minds once they found out what the others had picked. Let's see what they had to say.

"Frank James, What Caught Your Eye?"

Four different products stood out at the 1992 Shot Show. The first was the new Ruger Mark II Heavy Barrel Varmint Rifle. The main feature of this new rifle is the stainless steel barrel that is hammer forged on new machinery at Ruger's factory. The hammer forging of rifle barrels is the state-of-the-art method for superior rifle barrels and this is a rifle that was expressly designed for the varmint shooter.

The stock has a wide flat fore-end that will work well with a sand bag rest and a hard rubber butt pad is standard. The Mark II M77 Varmint has a steel trigger guard and a flush mounted floorplate latch to prevent accidental contact with the trigger finger. It comes with scope rings and no metal sights.

The MkII M77 Varmint from Sturm, Ruger & Co. is a good looking new varmint rifle and will come with all the extras that many experienced varmint hunters have learned to appreciate. The initial offering will be available in .223 Rem, .22/250 Rem, .220 Swift, .243 Win and .308 Win.

There were fewer "new" handguns to found among the aisles of the 1992 Shot Show as opposed to recent years, but two handguns stand out. While not a "new" product, one has had a profound influence upon handguns shooting in the United States and the world for over 15 years. It is the CZ-75.

This pistol is not new as it had its debut in 1975, but that was back in the days of the Evil Empire and the frigid winds of the cold war. Among the first to establish business ties with Czechoslovakia in the current thawing of relations was Action Arms Ltd. This former importer of the UZI semi-auto carbine is the authorized representative to sell and market the CZ-75, and the follow-on CZ-85 9mm pistols in the United States. Other items in the Action Arms product line-up include the CZ-83 .380 pistol and the well-made Brno bolt action rifles.

The other handguns that felt a lasting impression from this year's show was the new Dan Wesson Model 738P small-frame, five-shot .38 Special revolver. Dan Wesson revolvers have always been noted for robust construction and innovative design. This new little revolver will surely carry on that tradition, but with the added benefit of a reasonable price as it has a recommended retail price of $270.

The last item of note would have to be the Gerber Multi-Plier tool. This handy little tool is truly an innovative, yet extremely practical device that any shooter or outdoorsman will appreciate. With stainless steel construction and multiple tool heads located within its handles, this is a tool that almost anyone can use and appreciate.

"Jerry Lee, What Did You Like?"

I was quite impressed with the new Taurus Model 431 .44 Special double-action revolver. It's an all stainless five-shooter on a medium frame. Made in Brazil, it comes in a choice of a 3-inch or 4-inch barrel with fixed sights, or a 6-inch model with adjustable sights.

This classic cartridge hasn't been available in a domestic double-action revolver since Smith & Wesson's short run of Model 624s a few years back and the demise of the Charter Arms Bulldog. Many revolver fans consider the .44 Special to be an ideal self defense round and while it can be fired in any .44 Magnum, a more compact gun especially chambered for the smaller cartridge should get some immediate consumer attention.

The ClassicMark is a fine looking new rifle that got a lot of attention at the Weatherby booth. The real story here is that after all these years the company has finally decided that the original Weatherby stock design was a little dated after all.

As the name implies, the ClassicMark is the basic Weatherby Mark V action mounted in a stock with classic lines that is best described by what it doesn't have: a high-gloss finish, Monte Carlo, white diamonds, or sharp-angled grip or forend. The ClassicMark has an oil-finished hand-selected American Claro walnut stock with 18 lpi checkering and a rounded forend.

This is in response to a trend in recent years to more traditional stock styling, due in great part to the influence of custom gunmakers. The ClassicMark is available in nine Weatherby calibers plus the .270 Win., .30-06 and 7mm Rem. Mag.

For honorable mentions I would also call your attention to a couple of shotguns: Remington's trimmed-down Model 11-87 autoloader, the Ruger Red Label Sporting Clays Model, and Springfield Armory's Firecat 9mm, a 1911-type design that may be the most compact nine yet. And for the lower-priced market, H & R's (New England Firearms) Topper single-barrel shotgun with interchangeable centerfire rifle barrels, and the Model 999 .22 revolver should be noted. It's items like these that will bring younger shooters into the market which we desperately need.

"Cameron Hopkins, What Was Your Favorite?"

Diversity is what makes the shooting sports so exciting and popular. There's something for everyone, young and old, male and female, hunters, competitors, plinkers.

You can get involved with big game hunting, varmint hunting, waterfowling and upland game. If you're competitive in nature, you can enjoy target shooting in disciplines ranging from skeet to bowling pins to silhouettes.

Then there's handloading, that wonderful art that is mostly science. There's gun collecting, both old and new models, and there's a world of accessories for every conceivable handgun or long gun.

Just how much is there? Well, if you went to the 1992 SHOT Show you walked over 15 miles of carpet down the interlacing aisles of the conveniently laid-out convention floor. If you took in all of the 1,200-odd booths in four eight-hour days of browsing, you would spend some 45 seconds at each display.

Yes, there was just a mind-boggling amount of stuff at the SHOT Show!

And so it is with a very large grain of salt that I ask you to consider my picks for the most exciting products in New Orleans. I did not see everything there; I didn't see half of it! Nor yet are my picks based on marketability, saleability, profitability or any other "bility". These are just things that I found exciting for anyone in this wonderfully diverse world of the shooting sports.

Heym, the German gunmaker that is represented in the U.S. by Heckler & Koch, is a devotee of the Robert Ruark school of thought, "Use Enough Gun." Heym introduced the most powerful bolt action rifle ever made, a .600 Nitro Express! The mammoth Heym Express action -- basically a sophisticated revision of a Mauser 98 -- is big enough to accommodate the humongous .600 case. The engineers at Heym don't expect to sell too many of the .600s, which shoot a 900-grain bullet at 1,950 fps, but they wanted to demonstrate the prowess of the new Express action with this elephant cartridge.

The workmanship on the Heym Express rifle, be it in .600 NE or a more reasonable .338 Win. Mag., is perfectly executed in every aspect. From the cold hammer forged Krupp steel barrels to the hand-soldered express sights to the wood-to-metal fit, the Heym Express rifle is one of the finest production hunting rifles in the world.

Blount introduced their new Foul Out II device, a gadget for cleaning lead and copper fouling from gun barrels with a sort or reverse-electrolysis process. A metal rod is inserted in a dirty barrel and a solution is poured in. (Various sizes of rubber stoppers are provided to plug the chamber end of the barrel.)

Two electrodes are attached, positive to the rod and ground to the gun. Plug in the Foul Out II, come back in a couple of hours and, presto, sparkling clean barrel.

For pistol shooters who pour thousands of lead bullets downrange, the new Foul Out II is a welcome relief from tediously scrubbing out lead buildup with various pastes, solvents and cleaners. For rifle shooters, there is no amount of elbow grease that will ever remove the copper fouling that virtually plates itself to the bore of high-velocity calibers like the .220 Swift. The Foul Out II is the only way to remove such fouling.

Hey Blount, neat idea! From all us lazy guys who view gun cleaning as only one notch up from raking leaves--thank you, thank you, thank you!

Dakota Arms debuted their new .22 rifle, which is everything you would expect from Dakota Arms in terms of immaculate craftsmanship, superlative styling and classically clean lines. Accented with the sort of beautiful wood that discriminating shooters have come to expect from Dakota Arms, the new .22 rifle is sure to fill the void left by the late Kimber Of Oregon. There is a spot in the market for a high-grade .22, and Dakota has filled it with style.

Oh, and did I mention that the tasteful little rifle will retail for under $1,000? That's an outstanding value for the sort of quality you get from Dakota Arms.

"John Taffin, What's Your Opinion?"

This year's SHOT Show must go down as one of the most interesting in recent years for handgunners. There were no announcements of new calibers nor radical new guns but certainly one could find many items of great interest. Handguns announced last year and just now available are the Desert Eagle .50 and the scope ready Ruger .44 Hunter Model. Dan Wesson has a new lightweight +P+ .38 Special, the 738P, Smith & Wesson's new LadySmith .357 will find its way into the holster or waistband of many a gentlemen, and Taurus has brought back the .44 Special in a five-shot, fixed-sighted or adjustable-sighted version.

Freedom Arms also stirred much interest for the second year in a row. Last year it was the 252 Casull, a premium grade .22 Long Rifle target revolver. This year the big Freedom Arms revolver is available as the 353 Casull. No it is not a new cartridge. I talked to Wayne Baker at the show last year and he asked my opinion on a .357 Magnum Freedom Arms Single Action. I said I thought it would sell well as many handgunners would like the quality of a Casull without the recoil of the .454 or even the .44 Magnum. The .357 would serve these shooters well.

Freedom Arms did their homework and found that by chambering their revolver in .357, not only did they come up with the finest built .357 Magnum in decades, or perhaps ever, but they found themselves with a revolver that could out-Super the .357 SuperMag using standard .357 Magnum brass. Preliminary tests show that the 9-inch 353 Casull will deliver 180-grain bullets from .357 Magnum brass at 1,600 to 1,800 fps. Does that mean 160-grain bullets will break 2,000 fps? And what can we expect from 200-grain bullets? It looks like a very interesting year ahead for the oldest Magnum, the original .357. Dare we even say that the Freedom Arms 353 will rewrite the book on the .357 Magnum? Keep your ears open for the results.

"Jess Galan, What's Your Favorite?"

A difficult task for sure, picking a favorite among so many new and exciting airguns introduced this year. In truth, I must admit that there are several new models that I like and expect will be excellent sellers.

There is, for instance, the new RWS-Gamo "Hunter 440," a full-fledged adult air rifle in .177 using the spring-piston system for a muzzle velocity of 1,000 fps and retailing for around $205. A definite attention getter as far as I am concerned because it offers some nice features, plus European quality and sizzling power at a very affordable price.

I could go on about other models high on my list, but after careful consideration, my top pick of the 1992 SHOT Show is the Crosman 1008 Repeat Air.

Now here is a really interesting new pistol that I predict will sell like the proverbial hot cakes. The Crosman 1008 Repeat Air is a pretty darned close replica of the 10mm Smith & Wesson 1006 autoloader.

Unlike the potent S & W blaster, the mild-mannered Crosman 1008 is powered by on 12-gram [CO.sub.2] Powerlet and features a novel eight-shot rotary magazine that can accommodate any pellet style in .177 caliber.

It can empty the magazine rather quickly too, in either single- or double-action firing at an average muzzle velocity of up to 400 fps and comes with a rifled steel barrel.

The barrel pops up for easy loading of the rotary magazine--each pistol comes with two, by the way. An adjustable rear sight completes the works.

Because of its realistic looks and reliable semiautomatic operation, this Crosman pistol is ideal for training purposes as well as old-fashioned plinking. The price is mighty attractive also, retailing at under $50. This is one pellet pistol that will appeal to a wide cross-section of shooters due to its price, versatility, and quick-firing performance. Of course, the name Crosman is widely recognized as America's top producer of [CO.sub.2] -powered guns. For all those reasons, I submit the Crosman 1008 Repeat Air as my number one airgun pick of the SHOT Show.

"Scott Farrell, What Do You Think?"

Well, heck, you didn't think I'd miss one last opportunity to shoot my mouth off, did you? I must say that of the hundreds, possibly thousands of guns I saw in New Orleans, the one which impressed me most was the Ruger P91DAC.

The P89 and the P90 are both excellent guns and the newest in the series is no exception. The .40 S & W chambering means that this series is now available in all three of the most popular defense calibers. (The P89 is a high-capacity 9mm and the P90 is a big-bore .45.)

The P91 offers an 11-shot magazine, an ambidextrous decocking lever, and a double-action first shot capability. With a stainless steel frame and an aluminum alloy frame, this gun weighs in at just over 2 pounds.

As Ruger is famous for, they have listened to their customers in the design of this gun. The decocking lever is ambidextrous and has a much shorter arc of travel (meaning you don't have to push it so darned far in order to drop the hammer).

The P91 is also available in a double-action-only model for those who want a simple gun which goes bang every time you pull the trigger.

It's no surprise to find that this gun come with all the support dealers have come to expect from Ruger. Customers receive a molded carrying case, a padlock, and a spare magazine with the gun, making it a very attractive comsumer package.

Well, it looks as though everyone else has picked more than just one product, so I guess I'd better do so too. I was very impressed by two products I saw at the European American Armory booth: the Witness and the PM 2. The Witness is a solid little auto pistol in 9mm, .40 S & W and .45 ACP. It is available in size from an extra-compact carry version to a full-length competition version complete with compensator and extended magazine. The Witness is a very well-built gun and I predict that it is destined to give the established gun makers a real run for their money.

The PM 2 is a box magazine-fed, 12-gauge pump shotgun which has an action that I can only describe as "smooth as glass." This pump gun feels every bit as solid as my Remington 870, but with its removable magazine, the PM 2 is perfect for the homeowner who has to worry about the security of their gun, especially with youngsters in the house. With the magazine in a drawer and the gun under the bed, its absolutely safe if the kids find it, yet simply by inserting the magazine, the user can bring six rounds of 12-gauge firepower to bear.

There you have it, the favorites of the SHOT Show, 1992. The show was a great way to kick off the year, and if the attitude of the buying public is as good as that of the manufacturers at the show, it's going to be a great year for the shooting industry.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Shooting Industry writers review their favorite products from SHOT show
Author:Farrell, Scott
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Previous Article:Sizzlin' hot: the 1992 SHOT Show review.
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