January 16, 2009
Petzal: SHOT Show Update
By David E. Petzal
The horror, the horror…
Anyway, before we get into guns, you all heard about the jet that took a swim in the Hudson River yesterday because a flock of birds flew into the engines. According to a friend of mine who works for the Federal wildlife control service, the person who got the bird-control stopped at New York City airports was Madam Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Apparently Hillary heard they were killing birds and made a phone call. Now she is off to bring peace to the world. I will not hold my breath.
Much as it pains me, I’m able to report that there is no shortage of very good low- and medium-priced rifles out there for ’09.
First on the list is the Thompson/Center Icon Venture model, which dispenses with the high metal finish and pretty walnut stock of the original Icon and replaces them with matt bluing and a very nice black synthetic stock. The caliber selection is the same, but the price is a lot lower at $499, and T/C still guarantees a minute of angle.
Mossberg’s 4x4 line of bolt-actions includes 104 different configurations, and some of the stock designs are truly radical. Calibers range from .25/06 to .338, and prices run from $500 to $700. The 4x4 employs a new and very good trigger, which really transforms it. It’s getting hard to find a bad trigger these days; what will I have to whine about?
Savage has its new Accu-Stock, which has caused gun designers everywhere to snort and fart. It is a radical way to bed a stock, and it apparently works, just as the Accu-Trigger does. Savage rifles have probably changed more in appearance than any firearms line in American history. If you compare a Model 110 from 1958 when the basic gun came out, to a 2009 version of the same rifle, it’s hardly to be credited. Sort of like Rosie O’Donnell morphing into Angelina Jolie.
If you yearn for an AR-15 but shudder at the thought of feeding it, Colt is now making the rifles in .22LR. You have to look very hard to tell that it’s not a centerfire, and you can of course hang all the goodies on that that your heart desires. A plain, goody-less version is $500, and you can get loaded models as well from umarexusa.com
And now, thank God, for the expensive stuff. Anschutz will shortly be importing the brand-new Model 1770 .223, which is what we used to call a walking-around varmint rifle, as opposed to the 15-pound synthetic-stocked beasts we use today. It’s highly Germanic in appearance, and being an Anschutz will probably be very accurate as well. The price will be a bit over $2,000.
Und vile ve are in a teutonic mode, Leica has a brand new spotting scope, which is nice, and a small binocular called the Ultravid BCR and is freakin’ wonderful. It comes in 8x20 and 10x25 versions, rubber armored, and sells for considerably under $800. If you’re planning on buying a serious rifle scope, hold off until June at least. Leica is making (its own self, not licensed out to someone else) a 2X-10X and 3.5X-14X with eye relieve that has to be aimed through to be believed. They are going to cost you dearly.
Steiner, on the other hand, has gone back into center-focus porro-prism binoculars for the first time in 20 years, with a glass called the Wildlife Pro. It’s very compact, in 8x30 weighs only 21 ounces, and costs $399.
And finally, if you would like to build a rifle for a really big cartridge, Montana Rifles is now producing a Mauser-derived bolt-action that will handle even shoulder-crackers like the T-Rex and the Nyati. It’s just under $1,000, which is anywhere from half to one-fifth of what you’d spend for anything else of this magnitude.