Note from the editors: David E. Petzal is spending the weekend shooting, taking apart, evaluating, talking about, dreaming about, and possibly even sleeping with the year's latest guns and shooting gear at the 2006 Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is one of the largest gatherings of gun nuts in the country; while there he'll rub sore shoulders with more than 37,000 industry professionals from around the world, probably irritating many of them. After much grumbling about how technology is destroying the fabric of our moralilty, he's agreed to send us these reports from the show floor.
Increasingly, American gunmakers are turning to eastern-bloc countries for their low-priced models, and this Russian-built .22 rimfire will sell for about $212. It looks oddly like the old Moisin-Nagant military rifle, but it's a very nice .22 bolt-action that offers a lot regardless of its price. The ones I shot were accurate, well made, had good trigger pulls, and worked without a hitch. Shoot this one and you can practically feel the hot breath of the Cossacks.
This is the second incarnation of a very classy little .22 rifle that Browning made in the 1960s and 70s. It's a straight-pull bolt-action whose locking lug cams into the side of the receiver. This version is not quite as slick and smooth as the original, but it probably costs a lot less to make, and it sells for around $400. It's a sleek, graceful gun that should do very well.
Remington Model 105 autoloading shotgun:
This one has been in the works for nearly 5 years, and is truly a new shotgun. It's a bottom-loading, bottom ejecting design with a titanium/graphite receiver and a retail price tag of about $1200. This one blew everyone away: great looks, great handling, light, very soft-kicking and the easiest loading of any auto. Remington really did this one right; they'll be back-ordered for 10 years.
Remington Mauser:(too new for a photo)
I didn't get the model name for this one, but who cares? I didn't care much for the rifle. It's a true Mauser made in Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia, or one of those depressing places, and is one of the roughest guns I've ever shot. Not to mention a truly dreadful trigger. I hope it sells at a very low price; it's the only way this gun is going to survive.
Remington Model 750:
A much-improved version of the Remington autoloader. Far better stock, significantly improved gas system, and now, carbine and small-caliber versions will be available. Same dreadful trigger as always.
Springfield Armory Socom:(no photo available)
This is not a hunting rifle; it's an M-14 minus the auto-fire option, and with a 16 1/4-inch barrel. Chambered in .308 (7.62mm), it has a built-in muzzle brake, an excellent trigger, and a synthet ic stock. It's a whale of a lot of fun to shoot if you can afford the ammo. At $1,500, it's an excellent investment if you're thinking of going into combat soon.
Savage Model 12 Precision Varminter:
Here is a super gun from Savage. It's essentially a benchrest action with left-hand loading and ejection, a right-hand bolt, a super-heavy 26-inch barrel, and of course the Savage Accu-Trigger. The small-ported action provides extreme rigidity, and the gun looks like it's going to be a sub-half-minute rifle. This is a very, very sophisticated design for $900. It comes in .204, .223, and .22/250.
This is as close to a good-looking Savage as you can get in this sorry world. It's a nicely finished rifle, and the clunky-looking Model 110 bolt action has been somewhat streamlined to help with its appearance. It's a big step forward, and if Savage ever comes up with a way to keep their amazing accuracy in a really good looking rifle, they'll put everyone else out of business.
Back in the 1960s, Weatherby offered an upgraded Mark V rifle with the moniker Weatherby Custom on the floorplate. This is essentially the same thing. The stock wood is not exhibition by any means, but it is nicer than standard, the the laser-cut checkering is truly outstanding. How they do that? If you'd like a better-looking-than-standard Mark V, here is your baby.
NoslerCustom (that's how it's spelled) Model 48: (no photo available)
Nosler's first rifle was a super-pricey wood-stocked rifle that only the wealthy could afford, but this one is within the reach of the dedicated shooter who does not own a cocaine dealership. It's called the Model 48, and will be made in .270 WSM only for the time being. It's very light (5.75 pounds), and absolutely loaded with practical goodies, such as stainless steel springs and an anti-corrosion-coated firing pin system. This is a truly weatherproof rifle, and a splendid piece of machinery as well. The price is $2,495 from Nosler. Order yours now!