Friday, January 21, 2011
SHOT Show Day 4: Got 'er Done
Tied up loose ends and I'll add some random thoughts here too...
Borka Tools: Boris is a good old Russian chap who has designed the elegant solution of a lightweight and simple torque wrench for shooters based on pure physics. These wrenches have been featured all over the Hide (Boris is a smart guy....besides his Ph.D). We have signed on to one of the few, the proud dealers, effective around March 1. Check out these neat pieces of kit at www.borkatools.com Besides being an interesting guy, Boris will forever be remembered for asking fellow Russian Ilya Koshkin if he was about 50 years old (he's in his mid-30's). After all the "old man" ribbing I take from Ilya, I got a real hoot out of that! It was one of those "you had to be there" moments....
Meopta: Having never really caught on with these guys, I still visited their booth with Ilya and the little diamond of a scope for 3-gunners is the new ZD 1-4x22. SFP, 30mm tube, tethered turret caps, light, around 9" long, a daytime visible (for sure) K-dot ballistic reticle, good glass, around $849 retail....you will hear more about this scope, for sure.
March Tactical: I posted last year that these scopes didn't blow my doors off for the price, and since then I've heard lots of good things about them, so with Ilya's guidance I went back for a second and more studied look. To be sure, the Sands Expo does optics no favors (as an aside, most of the optics manufacturers were on the best floor for them, the 2nd level main floor, but still...). What Kelbly's had was a lot of there scopes on a giant tripod/fluid head device that was elevated, with many scopes mounted; what they all were pointed at were a Berry's rifle target about 62 yards away on a far wall. The two scopes I spent time with were a 2.5-25x42 SFP and a new 3-24x42 FFP. Bottom line: I was able to read the black on white text of www.berrysmfg.com at 25x and 24x, respectively. Rather easily. How tall was the text? Don't have a ruler as I sit it my hotel room but the height is about the same thickness as three dimes stacked on each other. 3mm? 4mm? Let's assume worst case and say 4mm. By my calculations, this equates to reading (read: resolving) about 0.25moa. So, under perfect conditions, this could very well mean the March could read 2.5" tall letters at 1000 yards. Well, in my experience, the Kowa Prominar 66mm spotter could resolve 1" tall high contrast I(white on dark green) letters at 985 yards...this is at about 25x IIRC...so basically you are getting spotting scope (high end spotting scope) resolution in a 42mm objective rifle scope. In a manner of speaking. Wow. OK. I get it.
Don't get me wrong, the color "pop" just isn't there with these scopes, and there are somewhat funky edge effects and eye relief is a bit on the fussy side for me (about zero tunnel vision though) but in terms of high level optical and mechanical engineering these scopes are pretty trick. Throw in the FML-1 FFP reticle (another IOR MP-8 A5 clone), and scope dimensions of under 12.5" and about 23 ounces.....well, I'll say if you want a March 3-24x42 FFP I can't blame you. While perhaps not the ideal battle rifle optic, as a long range precision tool of unmatched versatility and easy portability, this scope has a lot going for it. There, excuse me while I eat a little crow...always learning!!
Nightforce: My man "Nightforce Ken" wasn't in the booth for the show but another cool dude Rick Owen, Senior Account Manager was very kind to spend some time with me. Make no mistake, my favorite all time NXS scope is the F1. They have a few new reticles for 2011 including the NP-RF1, the MD2, and the MLR2 are my favorites. The MD2 is the only fully symmetrical reticle of the three, but the cool factor of the mil based MLR2 and moa-based NP-RF1 can not be denied. Rumor has it Lowlight drew these up. Rumor also has it a "secret squirrel" super scope is in the works at Nightforce that will blow away anything on the market....we're all waiting...
Kahles: Went to the Kahles booth (imported and managed by Gamo, the airgun folks) to look at some new hunting binos. The Kahles guys had already skipped town, but they left their scopes behind and I swear the same "Tac" scope they had in like the year two thousand freaking six was sitting on the shelf. Next.
Laser Genetics ND3 SubZero: Stumbled on these at the Gamo booth. Bright, razor sharp, green forward projected lasers that are amazing indoors....mount in conjunction with a rifle scope and you have the ultimate predator/varmint night-time killin' rig, without the need for standard NV equipment. I see the survival and rescue utility of this thing. While I might be late to the party I'll say the cool factor is off the charts with these things..
Leupold Hunting: Guys, what I saw in the new VX-R series was pretty darn impressive. Very good looking and crisp glass, 30mm tubes throughout, "FireDot" motion sensing illumination, price around $400-$500 for most models. 2-7x, 3-9x, and 4-12x models. Lupy was out of catalogs but I believe it is daytime visible and digital illumination with various settings...very nice scopes for the money and a great move by Lupy, IMO.
Now, on to people...
Glen and Al, Seekins Precision: Took their usual spot at the Rock Creek barrels booth, both guys GTG.
Doug, Camera Land NY: "He who never sleeps"....he's like on 25+ forums now...he should bottle up whatever it is he is on and sell it to us old and slow guys and make a fortune. Doug's big time.
Kyle Lynch, Barrett Firearms: Not a classless bone in his body. Salt of the earth.
Jay Wiggins, Sport Optics: Ran into him in the waning minutes of the show, had a touch of the 1000 yard stare after finishing his first SHOT show, seem like a nice kid. He made a good impression.
What's in and out (IMHO, of course) bases on this years show
Out: Leupold Tactical
In: Leupold Hunting
Out: Booth Bimbos
In: Knowledgeable, polite sales/rep staff
In: Any dang copy of the IOR Mp-8 mil hash reticle
Out: SFP 1/4moa knobs
In: FFP mil/mil
Out: Conventional design scopes
In: Wide zoom range scopes
Out: "Non-Tactical" optics
In: Tactical Optics! I think it's viewed as an emerging market
Out: Value and discounting
In: MAP and margins
Out: Range queens
In: Active/Competitive shooters
Out: Sands Expo
In: Las Vegas Convention Center, anyone?
Finally, I think this was a fairly bad show for me, but I learned a lot and improved my game even more. I'm really "over" the Sands as a venue and Vegas in general just isn't my style, I might skip next year and see what happens. I see NSSF keeps publishing all these quotes as to how all these vendors love the new setup but nearly everyone I talked to is not very happy with it.
At any rate, thanks for stopping by and here's looking forward to a great year helping you get set up with the optics you need to accomplish your objectives...