The 41st annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, the largest event of its kind on the planet—including 16 acres of exhibit space and 12.5 miles of aisles—has begun. It’s the first and only chance to see virtually all of the new guns and gear for 2019 in one (very big) place, and F&S experts are on the floor separating the best and most badass from the meh. With some 1,500 firearms and a few million pounds of outdoor products, there’s a lot to sift through. So, over the course of the next few days, we will be posting their picks as they find them. Be sure to check in regularly for a first look at the hottest, most innovative new gear of the year, straight from the show floor.
This new bolt-action from CVA is designed from the ground up to be a true 300-yard muzzleloader. Yup, 300 yards. I fired a few shots out of it at the test range yesterday, and while I didn’t shoot it out to 300, I did find that ringing steel at 200 was easy—and that was with a heavy crosswind. The gun is .45 caliber with a 26-inch, 1:22-twist Nitrided barrel, and the stock is adjustable for both length of pull and comb height. Instead of the usual 209 shotshell primers, the Paramount uses Large Rifle primers, which provide hotter, more consistent ignition (though the primers must be loaded into a reusable case before shooting them). The gun is made to handle “super magnum” powder charges (we used 140 grains of loose powder on the range) and 280-grain PowerBelt ELR bullets. CVA claims velocities of 2,200 fps with that combination. I don’t doubt this rifle’s ability to kill a deer (or an elk) at 300 yards, but that performance does come at a price—the gun alone weighs almost 10 pounds, and even at that weight, there’s pretty significant recoil. (Petzal’s post about the gun earlier this month compared it to a .338). But if you’re watching a beanfield from a box blind during muzzleloader season and need something better than a lob and a prayer, this gun is up to the job. $1,062.95; cva.com —Will Brantley
This all-new, straight-walled rifle cartridge from Winchester may be the most talked-about product at at his year’s SHOT Show. In an industry that’s currently obsessed with long range, I found it refreshing to see a big ammo maker introduce a round designed for whitetails inside 200 yards—the range at which most of us actually shoot them. Hunters in states with straight-wall rifle cartridge restrictions should really like the new 350. I’ve heard it compared to the old .357 Maximum, and while ballistics are similar, the .350 has quite a bit more punch, with a velocity of 2,325 fps and 1,800 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. And it’s still carrying 903 foot-pounds of energy at 200 yards. The 350 is based on a modified .223 case with a .357-caliber bullet, which means that, unlike the rimmed .357 Maximum, it should be semi-auto friendly. Winchester played this product launch tight to the vest, and as a result, only the bolt-action XPR rifle is currently chambered for the new round—but I’d lay good money that ARs are in the works. Current factory loads for the 350 Legend include a 145-grain FMJ, a 150-grain Deer Season XP, a 160-grain Power Max bonded, a 180-grain Powerpoint, and a 265-grain subsonic. Price not yet available; winchester.com —W.B.
One hundred years after building they’re last handgun, Mossberg has finally made another, and they did the research to make sure they got it right. The MC1sc is a sub-compact, striker-fired, single-stack, polymer-framed semi-automatic that weighs only 19 ounces. The slide measures less than an inch wide, and the pistol ships with two see-through magazines, so you’ll always know how much ammo you have on board. The pebbled and serrated grip has a nice palm swell, and the magazine release can be positioned on either side. But the pistol’s best features are its trigger, ease of disassembly, and cost. With a real-world price of about $375, this—like all Mossberg offerings—is a gun the workingman can afford. Mossberg.com —Richard Mann
Benelli’s 828U O/U now comes in a sporting version, which may not sound like a big deal, but in this case, it is. While manufacturers often take a field gun, lengthen the barrels, and write “Sporting” on the receiver, Benelli made major changes to the 828U to make it a serious competition gun. The most notable change is the receiver, which is now made of steel instead of alloy to increase the gun’s weight for recoil reduction and smooth handling. The stock has been beefed up, too, and features a right-hand palm swell, Benelli’s Progressive Comfort recoil reducer, and 3.5 ounces of adjustable weights in the stock, allowing you to alter the balance. The gun weighs just over 8 pounds with 30-inch barrels and comes with extended choke tubes. It has all the great features of the innovative 828U field model, plus all the features you want in a great sporting gun. $4,399; benelli.com
The unique Monobloc rifle from Steyr is one of the most exciting new hunting rifles for 2019. With this introduction, Steyr has changed the notion of what a high-end hunting rifle can be. The Monobloc’s barrel is cold-hammer-forged from a single piece of steel and then milled to form the chamber and action; the barrel and action are one piece. The result is an ultra-accurate rifle with an aluminum bedding block and host of exciting shooter interfaces, including leather accented inlays in the stock, a four-round detachable magazine, and a removable trigger group. It will initially be available in .308 Winchester and 30-06 Springfield. It’s about time a rifle made like this made it to America—even if it does cost more than $5K. $5,250; steyr-arms.com —R.M.
Of all the new tactical guns at this year’s SHOT show—and there are lots of them—CMMG’s new line of AR pistols and short-barreled rifles (SBRs) is probably my favorite. Chambered for the FN 5.7x28mm, the new Mk57 line is fed from FN 5.7 pistol magazines and uses CMMG’s patent-pending Radial Delayed Blowback operating system. The Banshee in 5.7×28 has a 5-inch barrel and comes as either an SBR or an AR pistol. Other distinguishing features include CMMG’s new ambidextrous charging handle and an RML4 M-LOK hand guard. Used internationally for tactical applications, the 5.7x28mm cartridge will push a 31-grain bullet to 2,350 fps. It offers a level of firepower not found in other handguns, and recoil is negligible. Starting at over $1,500, it isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s not bad either when you consider how badass you’ll look when you uncase this thing at the range. $1,550 and up; cmmginc.com —R.M.
Short 12-gauge loads are a thing now that people have learned how many mini shells they can stuff into the magazine of a Kel-Tec or a Mossberg pump with an OPSol miniclip on board. So, Federal has introduced the Shorty–a 1¾-inch shell that remarkably offers almost the same ballistics of a 2¾-inch shell. Shorties hold nearly an ounce of shot (15/16 ounces) and boast a velocity of 1,145 fps. They come in No. 8 shot, 4 buck, and slug loads. Besides their obvious fun potential, the birdshot loads will be great low-recoil trainers and a blessing for those who own older shotguns with short chambers. Although they will not function in semiautos nor some pumps, they’ll be delight in break-action guns, and manufacturers are already working on shotguns made specifically to shoot them. $5.95 for a 10-pack of 8s; $11.95 for slugs and buck; federalpremium.com —P.B.
There was a line of people in the Marlin booth waiting to just pick up and look at this little lever gun, and I was one of them. This new 16 ½-inch carbine blends the quick handling and high capacity of the company’s revolver-caliber Model 1894 with modern lines reminiscent of the 1895 SBL .45/70 (aka, the Guide Gun). It has a stainless-steel finish with an all-weather laminated stock, XS LeverRail for a variety of optic-mounting options, a large lever loop, and a ghost-ring sight. It’s available in .44 Magnum/.44 Special (SBL version) or .357 Magnum/.38 Special (CSBL), both of which have an 8-round capacity. Handgun-caliber lever guns might not be the first choice for a dedicated deer rifle, but they have their place—particularly if you’re in a state with a straight-wall cartridge restriction. But deer hunting aside, both modles would make fine all-around truck guns, plenty suitable for coyotes or self-defense. I’m itching to get my hands on one. $1,145.89; marlinfirearms.com —W.B.
Leupold has a couple major new products for 2019—including a sweet rangefinding binocular—but my favorite is the VX-Freedom RDS. This isn’t an item packed with groundbreaking technology, but it is a rugged 1x34mm red-dot backed by Leupold’s legendary quality. It’s made in the U.S. and comes with a lifetime warranty. Features include scratch-resistant glass and Motion Sensor Technology, which means that once activated, the dot goes into a battery-saving standby mode after five minutes of inactivity. Move the gun—say, when you hear a turkey gobble—and the dot lights up. Unlike most red-dots in its class, which require turning a dial to adjust the intensity of the dot, this one works at the push of a button. It comes from the factory ready to go on a pic rail with a mount base and rings (but you can swap that out for a lower profile option on your turkey gun, or wherever you decide to use it). It comes in two versions: one with standard capped ¼-inch adjustments, the other with a CDS dial. The factory dial comes calibrated for a 55-grain .223 out to 500 yards—but rifle shooters can order custom turrets for a .300 Blackout, .450 Bushmaster, or whatever other caliber they’re shooting. Best of all, MSRP for the standard version is just $299.99, while the CDS version is $399.99, mounts included. Leuopold.com —W.B.
If I were to carry a folding tactical knife into a big-game camp or on a week-long wilderness trip, this would be the one. The SEAL XR is a bit like a folding version of SOG’s flagship SEAL Pup, with a beefy XR sliding-bar lock mated to a very smooth ball-bearing pivot. The 3.9-inch, clip-point blade is ground from stout stock and has a fearsome point but still enough belly for use as a field-dresser, and the refined grains of the powdered S35VN steel lend toughness to a sharp, hard-use knife. The glass-reinforced nylon scales are heavily textured, but without any ridges or corners that could create hand fatigue. And the heavily jimped flipper opens this beast of a knife effortlessly. $190; sogknives.com —T. Edward Nickens
Well that didn’t take long. A few days after the announcement of Winchester’s new 350 Legend straight-walled cartridge, Missouri gun builder CMMG released a Resolute 300 AR-15 in the new round. The gun comes with a 16.5-inch barrel in a 1:16 twist. The feed ramp had to be tweaked for the new round, but the biggest challenge, CMMG engineers told me, was perfecting the magazine. But they’ve got it dialed. Complete rifles will be available soon; uppers and magazines that fit any mil-spec 5.56 lower are also in the pipe line. —Michael R. Shea
When it comes to shooting in the dark or in very low light, like hog hunters often do, there’s nothing like a thermal sight. However, most thermal sights have cartoon-like imagery. Not this prototype sight from Steiner. It’s so new it doesn’t have a name yet. The company says that the sight should be available sometime in 2019. What sets it apart is that, looking through it, it appears to be just a common daylight sight, except that it picks up heat signatures—sort of blending the characteristics of a regular reflex sight and a thermal sight. If you want one, start saving now; retail price will be about $10,000.00! Steiner-optics.com —Richard Mann
This year CZ has doubled down on their excellent lineup of rimfire rifles with the introduction of the 457 series. Eight configurations are available in .22 LR, .22 WMR and .17 HMR, but the rimfire nuts here at SHOT Show 2019 are all talking about the Varmint MTR. The Turkish walnut stock has a unique shape that feels great in the hand. CZ ditched that backwards European-style safety from earlier rifles and replaced it with classic push-to-fire version, and the 90-degree bolt rotation was changed to a faster 60 degrees. The match chamber on the MTR is cut to the strictest specs CIP allows – Europe’s version of SAMMI. The heavy varmint barrel is swappable, just like on CZ’s popular 455 guns. The large, flat fore-end is perfect for bags, and also has two swivel attachments for running a bipod and a sling. The CZ rep told me that his factory in Uhersky Brod, Czech Republic, took this rifle very personally and pulled out all the stops to make a target .22 LR that could compete with the best rimfires in the world—and all for a real-world price of $700. Only range time will tell if they achieved that lofty goal, but if the 457 MTR shoots as well as it looks, it’ll be a winner. MSRP is $752; cz-usa.com —M.R.S.
I have a lot of hunting and fishing gear, but not a lot of easy and secure ways to transport it when I venture far from my neck of the woods. The problem is that my large pieces of equipment require large cases, and then I need a large storage area at home to store those large cases. It’s a conundrum. That’s why I’m attracted to Pelican’s new 1745 Air case. You can buy the case with pluck-and-pull foam to customize the storage to your gear, or you can buy it empty and create your own customized cushions that you can swap out whenever you exchange a gun for a bow or camera equipment or anything else—and say goodbye to a garage full of big, gear-specific cases. At 44 inches long, almost 17 inches wide, and 8 inches deep, the total storage space is a whopping 5,900 square inches. It’s the tenth model in the company’s Air lineup, but the first to include Pelican’s new Press and Pull latches that lock automatically, but open with just a slight touch. The case also has wheels, a watertight rubber ring around the lid, and while it offers the same tried-and-true protection as Pelican’s other cases, the company says the 1745 is 40 percent lighter compared to similar-sized trunks. $325; pelicancases.com
Late last year, I dropped a Timney Trigger into my stock, budget AR-15. Like magic, my groups shrunk from minute-of-barn-door to minute-of-gray fox. As Chris Ellis, Timney’s new director of marketing, put it when I called him with the news: “Life’s too short for crappy triggers.” At SHOT Show this year, the big news from Timney is their updated Remington 700 Elite Hunter trigger. Daniel Defense selected this trigger for their new-for-2019 Delta 5 Precision Bolt Gun, which is has turned a lot of heads. Timney went back through its original 2004 Remington 700 design and fine-tuned parts of the precision-manufacturing process, including heat-treating the sear and trigger to 56 Rockwell hardness, coating the trigger with black oxide, and coating the sear with NP-3 plating. This adds up to maximum lubricity between sear and trigger and a crisp glass-rod-like break. The trigger is adjustable for over travel and pull weight between 1.5 and 4 pounds with two forward-facing screws. –M. R. S.
Who doesn’t love emptying the magazine on a modern sporting rifle? And who doesn’t hate reloading it? That’s what makes Butler Creek’s new ASAP Electronic Magazine Loader so handy. It saves time, prevents sore thumbs, and is just the thing at the range if you and your buddies go through more rounds than you can count. You simply plug it in, fill the hopper with loose rounds, select the capacity of your magazine, attach the magazine, press a button, and let the machine do the work. The hopper holds up to 60 rounds at one time and completes the task within 30 to 45 seconds. An AC cord is included, but if you plan to shoot off the grid, 8 AA batteries can power it through 6,000 cartridges. Price not yet available; bultercreek.com
Champion’s original Wheelybird Electronic Trap has been one of the most popular clay throwers for years. It’s easy to transport, load, and operate, and it consistently throws targets without a glitch. So, it’s a little tough to imagine Champion could make improvements—but they did. The new Wheelybird 2.0 looks very much like its predecessor, plus the addition of a second electronic motor that allows you to quickly change the throwing angle. Other upgrades include a wireless remote for custom shooting arrangements, an improved metal clay stack holder, and better power-cord storage. The magazine still holds 50 clays at a time; the unit can throw targets out to 75 yards; and it still operates off a deep-cycle battery if you’re shooting far from an outlet. Also new for 2019, Champion has unveiled two new clay-target designs. If you want to add some excitement to your shooting, try their new Flash, which unleashes a big cloud of orange smoke on the break. If you’re concerned about broken clay pieces littering the ground, the new BioBird is made of bio-friendly forestry-and-limestone materials that don’t increase soil acidity levels as broken pieces deteriorate. $390 for trap; championtarget.com
Walk past the 2A Armament booth at the 2019 SHOT Show and you might think they’re just another AR company. But pause a few seconds, and you’ll see that something special is happening here. This Boise-based gun builder is making ARs that you need to see—and shoulder—to believe. Their Balios Lite Gen 2 rifle weighs a mere 4.5 pounds, but they didn’t get it so wispy by simply skeletonizing everything. Every inch of the gun has been rethought, redesigned, and precision-machined—from a fluted buffer tube to the aluminum castle nut, right down to the Ti gas block and compensator, a gas-adjustable BCG, and a scalloped pic rail. Of course, that level of work comes at a price, as in almost $1,950. So this year, to ease that pain in the wallet, they’ve released a Builder Series, which has all the same craftsmanship but slightly fewer refinements (no scalloped pic rail and the lowers are forged, not billeted). This $1,500 version weighs only half a pound more than its thinner older brother. Still, too much? They sell stripped uppers and lowers for your own build, and all the parts that make these guns so special. 2a-arms.com –M.R.S.
In an age when everyone wants to shoot to the far side of everywhere, lever-action rifles still remain a popular choice for many hunters. One thing lever-gun lovers often struggle with is whether they should use the factory sights, mount a peep or ghost ring, or use a riflescope. Well, this new Express Sight with Mount from Skinner Sights solves the problem. Meticulously machined, the sight/mount attaches to the receiver of a Marlin 1894. That done, you have a peep sight, or you can screw out the center piece to make it a ghost-ring sight, or you can attach Talley or Warne scope rings and mount a riflescope. If you use quick-release rings, you can go back and forth easy and any time you like. $169; skinnersights —R.M.
Bushcrafting—the ability to survive and thrive in the wild without mommy or daddy—is becoming a popular pastime for many outdoor enthusiasts. If you are going to do that, you need a good knife, and this is it. Built with a great feeling handle and the traditional bushcraft blade configuration, the new Puukko is ideal for survival chores. It comes with its own leather sheath, but what really makes this knife cool is the included ferro rod to help you strike a fire. Need tinder? The ferro rod’s screw-off end cap has a small compact to store some fire-starting material. $260; benchmade.com —R.M.
Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) was all the rage last turkey season, so much so that not everyone who wanted to try it could, as inventories sold out fast. This year, help is on the way from Browning, which is loading a new line of TSS turkey loads this spring. Dense TSS pellets carry much greater energy than lead, so much so that a TSS No. 9 pellet penetrates as deeply as a lead 5. Browning’s TSS offerings will be loaded with 7 shot, 9 shot, and blends of 7 and 9, in 3 and 3-½ inch 12, 3-inch 20, and in .410, which was the surprise hit of last season. Prices not yet available; browningammo.com —P.B.
Built on a 30mm tube, with 1/4 MOA adjustments, and quick-access target knobs that are Kenton Turret compatible, the GPO’s new Passion 6-18x50mm riflescope i is ideally configured for long range and low-light performance. Unlike most modern long-range riflescopes, this one has a second-focal-plane reticle, which makes it a bit more suited for the hunter who expects to shoot long, but may have to kill his buck up close or in the timber where a first-focal-plane reticle can become near invisible at low magnification. The scope comes with GPO’s lifetime warranty, but you probably won’t need it, as their return rate is less than 3/10ths of 1 percent—which say a lot about their quality. And the price is quite friendly for what you get. $699; gp-optics.com —R.M.
This year Sitka launched its first outfit with Insect Shield, a permethrin-based treatment that bonds bug repellant to fabric. This means the new Hanger Henley and Pant repels ticks, mosquitos, fleas, ants, chiggers, no-see-ums, and flies. There’s no smell or residue, and because the permethrin is enmeshed in the fabric, it lasts through about 70 washes. It’s pretty remarkable stuff. I wore both the henley and pant through much of the late summer and fall and saw it work on mosquitos, flies, and ticks. The material doesn’t repel them like, say, a Thermacell—you’re not in a bug-free bubble—but when pests land on the fabric, they get up and move quick. So you’re not getting bit by horseflies on the back, and ticks aren’t marching up your pant leg. Being from Sitka, the Henley and Hanger Pant are well-designed. The pant has a two-way fly, tree-saw pocket, reinforced spot on the front pocket for a knife clip, and cordura reinforcement fronts. They designed this system for early-season work, like scouting and hanging treestands. Now, what they really need to do is use Insect Shield in a camo lineup that we can use for spring-turkey hunting. $79 for henley, $189 for pant; sitkagear.com –M.R.S.
Hunting with suppressors helps prevent damage to your hearing, can improve your marksmanship, and can sometimes even make your rifle more accurate. But in most cases, threading a suppressor to the end of your rifle barrel destroys the gun’s handling qualities. Or, at least it used to. The Hunter Suppressor from StingerWorx weigh only 9.2 ounces and works with a unique mount system that allows you to switch it to and from multiple rifles quickly and easily. The unique design also prevents POI shifts, common with suppressor installation and removal. The best part is that it retails for less than $600; stingerworx.com —R.M.
Why would anyone spend six grand on a riflescope? Well, partly because ballistic math is no fun to do in the field and impossible to do in your head, unless you last name is Einstein. The new 4-28x56mm IFS M-Series riflescope from Steiner is essentially an optical ballistic-shooting-solution calculator. It’s like having a genie in a bottle that you let out anytime you need to take a shot. This thing provides real-time targeting data in a customizable, heads-up display. Driven by miniaturized electronic circuitry Bill Gates probably could not understand, it takes into account temperature, barometric pressure, target angle, wind speed and direction, distance to target, and then provides a firing solution for the shot. Though I’m not sure I was able to wrap my hillbilly mind around all the finer details, I’m pretty sure I heard that the scope will also do your taxes for you. Starts at $5,750; steiner-optics.com —R.M.
As the US Military goes, so does the American shooter. The Army’s adoption of the Colt 1911 made that pistol famous, and when they switched to the M9 Beretta, many patriots followed suit. And now, if you want to own the latest pistol our troops will trust their lives to, here it is. For 2019 Sig Sauer is offering a commemorative version of the P320-M17, which shares the same components, coatings, and markings as the model that was awarded the U.S. Army contract. But if want one, like any red-blooded American should, you’ll need to get in line fast, as Sig is making only 5,000 of these pistols, serialized M17-0001 through M17-5000. The gun has a suggested retail of $1,122 and is sure to hold its value—if you leave it in the box. But few will; you just got to shoot a pistol like this. Sigsauer.com
The tiny Garmin InReach Mini weighs 3½ ounces, measures 4×2 ,inches and can save your life in the backcountry. It’s a satellite communicator that lets you text from anywhere. It also features an SOS button that alerts the GEOS 24-hour search and rescue center (the SOS button is covered so you can’t summon a helicopter accidentally). It can give you weather alerts, access maps, and allow you to track and share your journey with others. Its rechargeable lithium batteries last for 90 hours. You can also pair it with your phone. Although it’s new at SHOT, the InReach actually came out in the middle of last year and has already garnered some impressive testimonials from owners who needed help far off the grid. If you love to venture into the backcountry and you love your family, there’s almost no reason not to have one. $349; garmin.com —P.B.
Whether the Cascade is indeed one of the best new rifles for 2019 will require some testing, but it is notable, in that it’s CVA’s first ever bolt-action centerfire rifle. It will be available in the most popular short-action hunting cartridges, such as 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Remington, and .308 Winchester. It has a 22-inch, 4140 carbon-steel barrel that’s finished in a rich matte blue. A threaded muzzle and protective cap are included. The bolt design incorporates a 70-degree throw, and the rifle has a charcoal gray synthetic stock with a SoftTouch finish for easy gripping. This should be a hot seller and appeal to those who have been hunting and trusting CVA muzzleloaders for decades. $567; cva.com —R.M
Austrians are known for their excellent engineering when it comes to firearms, but they’ve outdone themselves with the Strasser RS 14 Evolution. This is a straight-pull modular rifle that’s actually more modular than any MSR. It offers caliber conversions from .223 Remington to 375. The bolt face is self-centering and interchangeable, the action is magazine fed, and the gun can be taken completely apart in minutes—and, get this, the tools that take it apart are integral to the rifle.
The trigger is a dream to pull and offers three weight settings; it even has a half-pound set feature. All of the available barrels are Lothar Walther, so accuracy is stunning. This might be the last and only rifle you ever need. On one hand, it ain’t exactly cheap. On the other hand: Take my money! Starts at $3,400; strasser.com —R.M.
that a long-range precision rifle needs to fit perfectly, too, if you want to connect at a distance. Shooter interface—how you and your gun mesh for optimum performance—is what the new Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range Hunter is all about. It features a new composite stock with an adjustable comb to dial-in eye-to-scope alignment. It also comes with spacers to fine tune length of pull. Three swivel studs; a stainless, fluted, heavy-sporter barrel; and a threaded muzzle brake (with suppressor threads and cap) round out the Long Range Hunter, which is chambered in 6mm and 6.5mm Creedmoor, .308 Winchester, .300 WSM, 26 and 28 Nosler, 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, and the .300 Remington Ultra Magnum, all with 26-inch barrels. To cap it all off, it’s quite affordable for what it is. $1,270; browning.com —R.M.
Ten years ago, when my son first looked through a Swarovski binocular, he said he thought he could see into the future. Though that was an exaggeration, that’s where Swarovski was looking. Their new dS 5-25x52mm riflescope seems like something out of science fiction. This is a laser rangefinding scope with an on-board ballistic computer and automatic aiming correction, which means that in addition to telling you how far away your target is, this riflescope will calculate temperature, barometric pressure, and shot angle based on your load. Working from data previously input by your smart phone, the scope then provides the correct aiming point—7/10ths of a second after you press a button—all the way out to 1,120 yards. All of that, plus optics that are better than anything you’ve ever looked through (unless it was a Swarovski). $4,000; swarovskioptik.com
Deep in the basement belly of the SHOT Show are some of the mom-and-pop vendors who have cooked up a great idea and are pushing them out to the world over folding tables. The BunkerHead is a terrific example. It’s a facemask that doesn’t touch your face thanks to a moldable wire rim and small, unobtrusive clips that will work with any ball cap. Because the actual mask netting is held away from the skin, you can say goodbye to fogged glasses and scopes. It’s easy to access game calls and pull the mask down for a quick sip or snack. No more screeching when your facemask snags on hearing protection. The “head concealment system” has two parts—a facemask that wraps around the front and sides of the face, and a “hoodie” that covers the back of the head and neck when you need 360-degree concealment. The inventor, his wife, brothers, and grandkids literally make and ship the BunkerHeads on nights and weekends. This is America. $25; bunkerhead.com
Not all ice is created equal. Some is cold and dry and slick, some is wet and slushy and slick, and too often, winter anglers and hunters have to stay upright in every ice condition imaginable. A new outsole compound and design from Honeywell—parent of both Muck Boot Company and Xtratuf—puts some serious science into gaining traction on ice. The Glacier Trek outsole sports an angled lug geometry that knifes through meltwater film to put more sole surface to work on the ice. Then pods of lugs built of vertical glass fibers grip the surface with serious traction—you can actually feel these fibers with your fingers, like tightly clamped bristles. The technology is coming out in a number of women’s models, and in men’s Xtratuf boots this fall. $160; muckbootcompany.com
Whenever I visit a gun shop I always ask, “What’s selling?” Since December, the answer has been the Smith & Wesson 380 Shield EZ. This new pistol requires half the force to rack the slide than the standard Shield pistols. It breaks down easy, with the takedown lever and slide cutout lining up when the slide is locked back. The magazine spring tension is reduced, too, so mags load like they belong in a well-worn .22. It’s an excellent choice for a new shooter, or anyone lacking hand strength. There’s value here, too. The real-world price is less than $340; smith-wesson.com –M.R.S.
The best stuff at SHOT Show is the most unexpected, like this Jerry can-sized water filter from LifeSaver. With an industrial-strength filter that’s EPA certified for bacteria, virus and cyst reduction, it’s been embraced by the Armed Forces and overland driving nuts. It could be a good addition to your next car or horse-pack hunt camp, too. The can holds 18.5 liters of water and the filters can clean either 10,000 or 20,000 liters of water, depending on which you buy. The system is designed to clog before it fails, so there’s never a risk of drinking sickly water. Like a standard gas can, it fits JEEP, Hummer, Deuce and a half, and most aftermarket truck racks. They come in multiple colors, including black, which heats up in the sun for warm showers and faster boil times for cooking water. I’ve struggled in the past with old-school handheld backpacking pump filters, and when I told the LifeSaver fellows about this, they pulled out an iPhone and started scrolling through pictures of Marine Corps convoy vehicles, loaded down with dozens of these Jerry cans, flanked by dual 50mm machine guns. “They work great for these guys,” I was told. $190 to $230; iconlifesaver.com –M.R.S.
Of all the guns at SHOT Show, I was most excited to see Volquartsen’s new Summit build in the killingest tree-squirrel round in the world, the diminutive 17 Mach 2. For the uninitiated, Mach 2 is a .22 Stinger case necked down to .17 caliber, and it is, without question, the most fun round I’ve shot in a long time. Launched in 2004, the round faced supply issues during the Great Ammunition Shortage under the Obama administration. But now it’s back, with big runs from Hornady and CCI, including the latter’s new, first-rate, .17 grain VNT load. In my old Anschutz 1502 the cartridge is capable of shooting the same hole at 25 yards and grouping better than a dime at 50. Mach 2 rises and falls about two-inches out to 130 yards or to put it better, you’re a minute-of-squirrel head farther than you’d ever want to shoot. This new Volquartsen is tailored made for just that—a go-hard, long-range squirrel sniping rig. It’s basically a bolt action 10/22, capable of taking standard Ruger mags, and a litany of aftermarket trigger groups and barrels available for the platform. Not that you’ll need to modify it. The trigger breaks beautifully right around 2 pounds and the ultralight carbon barrel is among the best available for the 10/22 platform. At over a grand, this rig is not inexpensive, but the very best rarely comes cheap. $1,150; volquartsen.com – M.R.S.
Every now again you find something at SHOT Show you were not expecting—a hidden gem that can change your entire hunting experience. Okay, I’m a sock snob. I guess I got it from my Dad. When I went off to basic training his only advise was to take care of my feet, and it was some of the best advice I’ve ever received. Nothing can ruin a hunt like sore feet, and a good way to keep your feet from getting sore or cold is with good socks. I stumbled on these Light Technical Crew socks on the first day of SHOT, and I wore them for the next three days. Adapted from a hiking sock made specifically for the armed forces and law enforcement, these socks are made with ultra-soft 19.5 micron US merino wool on a 200-needle knitting machine. They have hidden nylon plating, a targeted cushion zone, seamless toe closure, and are made from 51 percent merino wool, 45 percent US nylon, and 4 percent US Lycra spandex. And, the best part, they are guaranteed for life! $24.50; farmtofeet.com