The Tactical Side of Things From SHOT Show 2011

_From the get-go, this year's SHOT Show had an overwhelming tactical flavor. We would be remiss if we didn't provide some coverage of the many police- and military-geared products on the show floor and at Bass Pro Shop's Media Day at the Range. Because there was such an abundance of tactical weapons and gear, Associate Online Editor David Maccar became our designated tactical reporter for the show. Dave does not have a law enforcement or military background, but he's an amateur tactical weapons enthusiast and a recreational shooter with a strong interest in the field. Since many innovations in the tactical world often trickle down into the sporting and self-defense arenas, here's a gallery of some new tactical products and firearms from SHOT Show 2011._
Chiappa Firearms Rhino Revolver Here, from Media Day at The Range in Boulder City, NV is the Rhino revolver from Chiappa Firearms. Admittedly, this thing, especially with the 2" barrel (top), is an ugly bulldog of a gun, but there's a reason for its homeliness. The Rhino's barrel is aligned with the bottom-most chamber in the cylinder rather than the top, which brings the bore more in line with the shooter's arm. A defense revolver chambered in .357 mag, the Rhino is designed for "pointability" and to reduce the recoil and muzzle flip felt in most revolvers firing that cartridge. The flattened cylinder also makes it more comfortable for carry. I got a chance to fire this gun, as well as the new 5" barrel version (bottom), and the controllability is outstanding with hardly any muzzle flip at all and surprisingly little recoil. $650. ChiappaFirearms.com
Blaser Tactical 2 Sniper Rifle This is the new Blaser Tactical 2 sniper rifle in action. The synthetic stock and receiver design is based on the concept of one strong aluminium block holding the main parts. It features Blaser's radial locking system, so you just pull the bolt back and push forward to chamber the next round with no manual rotation. The stock is fully adjustable, including a cheekplate that moves vertically and laterally. When fired at Media Day, the Tactical 2, which was chambered in .338 Lapua Mag, made even those who had been surrounded by gunfire all day shrink back a bit. This is another gun I had the good fortune to fire. It was loud as hell and kicked like a mule, but I was able to get three out of three hits on 1,000-yard targets. All the credit goes to the rifle. $5,500; Blaser-usa.com.
KRISS Vector Submachine Gun Even the nice lady handing out tickets for 5.11 Tactical's lunch at the range was strapped--and with a pretty serious piece of hardware at that. That's the newest KRISS Vector (formerly TDI Vector) from Transformational Defense Industries. The gun's action includes a mechanism that allows the block and bolt to recoil off-axis into an L-shaped recess behind the mag well--all designed to reduce felt recoil and muzzle rise by directing that energy downward rather than up and toward the shooter. There was a semi-auto and full auto/3-round burst version available to try at the range and let me tell you...firing off a magazine of .45 ACP with this staple-gun-looking thing felt like shooting 9mm rounds with an MP5. The Vector is also available in .40 S&W. It takes a standard 13-round Glock magazine. An optional 17-round KRISS extension kit provides a 30-round capacity. With its extreme controllability, compact size and big punch, plus a promising fully ambidextrous redesign coming later this year, the Vector is poised to take its place as a major defense sub-machine gun, like the HK UMP, MP5K-PDW and Uzi before it, especially for security forces. Oh, and this nice lady is holding the semi-auto civilian version with a suppressor, in case you were wondering. KRISS-TDI.com.
Blueguns Before we get to the real hardware on the show floor, let's take a look at some fake guns. The display of Blueguns from Ring's Manufacturing was impressive and surprising, to me, at least. I knew Blueguns firearms simulators have long been made in common police and military models, but I had no idea they made the steel-reinforced polyurethane replicas in everything from derringers and Thompsons to RPGs. The reason for Blueguns? They are designed to provide police and military personnel with 1:1 scale replicas of the expensive weapons and gear they carry and use in the field during non-fire training exercises. All external features from the real hardware are included, from the iron sights and mag releases to the knobs on the radios. Blueguns offer an important training advantage: they can be dropped, beaten up and flung across the room during disarming drills without causing damage to a real, and expensive, weapon...and they also remove the safety hazards of drilling with real weapons. They are even balanced like the equipment they represent. I can attest from my time as a newspaper reporter covering a police academy in South Jersey, these replicas are a very important tool that allow officers and cadets to train full-out without worrying about firearms safety or causing damage to expensive equipment, while also maintaining the dimensions and feel of the actual gear they use. Blueguns.com.
Gemtech Suppressors Besides optics and night vision gear, there was an incredible number of tactical rifles and assault weapons holding up suppressors, like this display from Gemtech. On the left, the Gemtech TREK 5.56mm threadmount suppressor is shown mounted on a Daniel Defense carbine and will fit any 5.56mm/.223 cal rifle. It measures 5.7" in length with a diameter of 1.5" and a weight of 17.3 oz. The short profile is intended to keep carbines compact. Made of stainless steel and inconel, the suppressor sports a non-reflective black oxide finish. ($535). On the right is the Gemtech G5-22 .22LR suppressor mounted on a GSG AK22 rifle. Suppressors in .22LR are generally small and can look mis-sized on newer .22LR copies of famous assualt rifles. This suppressor was engineered to look correctly proportioned on these weapons. The larger body size gives it a low-blowback result along with an extremely low-pitched, quiet tone. The G5-22 will fit any .22LR carbine and was designed specifically for the M&P1522, SIG 522 and other carbines of this caliber. It has an overall length of 6.6", a diameter of 1.375" and weighs 7.3 oz. with a balck matte hardcoat anodized finish. The G5-22 mounts to the Gemtech Quicksnap flash hider. ($495) Gem-Tech.com.
SilencerCo Osprey Silencers These tricked out 1911s from Morris Custom Pistols are sporting lots of add-ons, like a tactical light and laser sight, along with a red-dot Leupold sight and a unique-looking squared-off silencer called the Osprey from SilencerCo. The Osprey's shape isn't just to match the contours of its host gun. In an effort to increase internal volume without increasing the overall diameter of a tubular silencer, the Osprey was designed with the bore not running down the middle of the tube, leaving most of the baffles and internal volume beneath the center-line and out of the way of the gun's sights. The square design lets it fit holsters better and a patent-pending cam lever locking system allows the Osprey to be indexed to the host gun, since it must be exactly in-line, unlike a tubular silencer. When it comes to gear for U.S. Special Forces, any innovation that adds to ease of use and reliability in the field is priceless. $850, depending on caliber: 9mm, .45 and .40.
Safety Harbor Firearms SHF S50 Sniper Rifle There were also a large number of .50 cal sniper rifles on the floor. This SHF S50 from Safety Harbor Firearms Inc. is a single-shot, bolt-action rifle in chromemoly steel chambered for .50BMG with some very interesting lines. It has an 8-port muzzle break on the end of a 29-inch barrel. With it's sleek tubular profile, it weighs 19 lbs. with a 29" barrel and 15.5 lbs. with an 18" barrel and disassembles without tools. $1,900.
Mounted .50 Cal Some of the sights from the floor left me staring...dumbfounded, like this .50 cal sniper rifle mounted on a remote controlled electric shooting platform using a gyro stabilizer system from Kenyon Laboratories. This set-up, when provided some form of locomotion, could keep a human sniper out of the field, and out of harm's way, while still achieving the given objective.
Mounted SAW Speaking of mounted guns, this massive thing was a display for various weapon aiming and illumination systems from B.E. Meyers Electro Optics. It seems like a lot of optics and sensors to surround an FN Minimi, or Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) as the U.S. Military knows it, chambered for 5.56 NATO. It certainly got a lot of stares from a lot of folks, especially the giant feed belt and ammo box on the side. From many conversations with soldiers at Fort Dix, NJ who have completed multiple tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I learned the turret gunner is one of the most vulnerable, and most crucial, positions in a convoy of any size because of their nearly 360-degree field of fire--which also makes them a prime target for enemy fire. I'm sure soldiers would love to see this heavily armored rig mounted on a Humvee in place of a vulnerable turret gunner in body armor.
**Ever Aim a Minigun?
** There's nothing like getting behind the sights of a minigun, as Mike Cecil from CS Tactical (bottom) can attest to...other than maybe firing one, though I haven't had that opportunity yet. Thanks to Tactical & Survival Specialties, Inc. for the display. It's difficult to imagine the size of such a weapon, which is usually found mounted on military helicopters and other vehicles, for those who have never seen one in person. I was surprised at the compactness of the six-barreled, electrically driven machine gun with a variable rate of fire (2,000 to 6,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammo per minute). It's the spinning barrels that allow for such high rates of fire, distributing the burden and heat to six barrels rather than one. What's truly amazing is to see, first hand, the evolutionary result of Richard Gatling's concept from the 1860s.
Microdrone md4-1000 Onto something completely different, and unarmed: these light-weight gadgets are the unmanned drones of the civilian world. The md4-1000 from Microdrones is a four-propeller drone (technically a Autonomous Unmanned Micro Aerial Vehicle) with on-board GPS and a host of other equipment in a carbon fiber body. It can handle a 2.1kg payload, allowing cameras and sensor equipment to be mounted to the bottom. It is designed to perform documentation, coordination, exploration, surveying, communication, inspection and observation tasks...all good things to do from the air. It weighs 5.8 lbs. and has a max takeoff weight of about 12.2 lbs. with a speed of about a half mile an hour. With about 70 minutes of flight time on battery power, the little drone has a radius of about 0.621 miles. Oh yeah, and they're totally unaffordable for the average individual, starting at about $28,000. Microdrones.com. It does beg the question, how will your grandchildren scout for game? Who would have thought trail cams would be able to perform the way they do today as little as a decade ago? Perhaps this is the kind of technology that will one day be used, controlled from your smartphone, to scout the area around you even while you're in the field. Interesting to ponder...
**Bobster Alpha Balistic Goggles
** The folks at Bobster Eyewear get kudos for their creative display of a pair their Alpha Interchangeable Balistic Goggles that had spent some time down range. The goggles come with two sets of 2.5mm polycarbonate anti-fog lenses in smoke and clear. This black frame model is made of soft rubber with an anti-microbial foam frame. The lenses offer 100-percent UV protection and have passed stringent U.S. Army ballistics testing, ensuring they can take a beating, as evidenced by the display. They are designed to fit well under ballistics helmets and are marketed to law enforcement personnel as well as the military. Frame also comes in green. $89.98; Bobster.com.
Blast From The Past And thanks to Ohio Ordiance Works, Inc. for giving us a bit of revived tactical weaponry from the early 20th century. This 1918A3-SLR is a semi-automatic version of the unforgettable Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) model 1918 developed by John Browning in 1917. Tens of thousands were manufactured during WWI and WWII. Some consider the original fully automatic, heavy weapon the first U.S. military light machine gun. These contemporary reboots come with walnut or Bakelite...yes I said Bakelite...stocks. They're chambered in .30-06 and go for $4,000. A custom Pelican case sells for $350. OhioOrdinanceWorks.com.
DT SRS Sniper Rifle One of the few bullpup rifles I came across at SHOT, these different configurations of the bolt-action DT SRS Covert sniper rifle from Desert Tactical Arms displayed the array of attachments it can handle while still maintaining an overall length of 31.5" to 36.5." The barrel is 26" unless it's chambered in .308 WIN, which cuts the barrel length to 22 inches with a stock of glass-filled polymer. With a five-round magazine, the DT SRS can be chambered in .243 WIN, .308 WIN, .300 WIN, and .338 LPM. Depending on the caliber, the rifle weighs between 10.4 and 12.4 pounds. Chambered in .243 WIN, the rifle has a range of 900 yards and in .308 WIN, 800 yards. Effective ranges were not available for other calibers. The weapons are all shorter than an M16 with similar barrel length because of the bullpup configuration. The SRS can be converted among the different available calibers in less than 60 seconds. The price for the SRS chassis is about $3,000 with another $1,000 to $2,000 for the conversion kit to a given caliber. DesertTacticalArms.com.
Heckler & Koch 41D Carbine I absolutely made it a priority to stop by the Heckler & Koch booth. Pictured at the top is their new HK 416D carbine chambered in 5.56mm, which is a modified version of the military M4 carbine. An upgrade from the 416C carbine, the new model includes a 10.4" barrel and the HK 40mm grenade launcher module. The mounts for the grenade launcher are under the quad-rail system, allowing it to be removed and used as a standalone weapon. That's where the foldable fore-grip comes into play. The new stock also includes a battery housing and a rubber, recoil-reducing buttpad. It accepts 20 or 30 round standard NATO (STANAG) magazines or the 100-round Beta C-mag and has a rate of fire of 700-900 rpm. Civilian price: NA And below, because it's one of my favorites to admire and shoot (I love hard-hitting submachine guns, especially chambered in .45ACP), is the HK UMP submachine gun with a foldable stock and an Aimpoint reflex sight. The successor to the MP5 submachine gun, the UMP can also be chambered in .40 S&W or 9mm. Like the MP5, and all HK submachine guns, it fires from the closed bolt position for accuracy and reduced felt recoil. it has a rate of fire of 650 rounds per minute (600 rpm in .45ACP) and an effective range of about 50 meters. In .45ACP the detachable box magazine has a capacity of 25 rounds and 30 rounds in either .40 S&W or 9mm. HK-USA.com.
Foster-Miller TALON Robot In front of the Troy Industries booth was this armed, tank-treaded robot. It's actually a Foster-Miller TALON robot--a combat monster that can travel through sand, water and snow up to 100 feet deep and even climb stairs. This puppy is obviously packing heat, sporting a mounted, tricked-out AR-style rifle, and is one of the company's new SWORDS, or Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System, designed for the U.S. Army. They cost about a ¼ of a million bucks (take a breath) and can additionally accommodate the SAW M249, M240 machine gun, M82 Barrett .50 cal rifle, a six-barreled 40mm grenade launcher or a quad 66mm M202A1 FLASH incendiary weapon. The robot is controlled by a soldier from a small console. With that kind of payload versatility and a trained soldier behind the wheel, we may soon see these SWORDS, or machines like them, patrolling dangerous urban combat zones putting metal at risk, rather than flesh. Foster-Miller.qinetiq-na.com.
Timbersmith Stocks TimberSmith, of Georgia, began making premium wooden rifle stocks for the Romanian AK-47 last year and has now expanded to SKS rifles as well. They had their best on display, and were one of the few booths with any AKs. Here, they showcase (from top) their slick-looking black laminate stock set, the brown laminate and the AK-appropriate Premium Red Romanian Stock Set. For the price, there isn't a better way to dress up your AK or replace banged up furniture. $130 - $140; TimberSmithusa.com.
Roni G1 Glock Pistol-Carbine Conversion Kit EMA Tactical debuted an incredibly easy way to convert a Glock pistol into a carbine platform with better grip, stability, range and accuracy while allowing for multiple accessory attachments. The Roni-G1 allows you to "drop" your Glock (as long as it has an integrated rail) into the 3.26 lbs., aluminum/polymer shell and boom, your pistol is a carbine. A 24cm upper flattop rail allows for combinations of sight, magnifier or night vision optics and there are three Picatinny rails for additional accessories and a detachable folding forearm grip. Other features include optional flip-up iron sights and quick-release brass catcher (pictured above). The company claims repeatable zero is maintained while removing and inserting the pistol. It's definitely a great accessory for Glock fans who want to add a more futuristic and totally tactical element to their pistols while expanding their capabilities. The G1 comes in black, green and khaki. $399; EMATactical.com.
Kel-Tec Shotgun (KSG) Kel-Tec revealed it's first foray into the shotgun market at SHOT Show this year, and it's a doozy. The KSG is a pump-action, bullpup shotgun with two magazine tubes that hold seven 12 guage 2-3/4" rounds each. That's right, 14 shells. However, they can't be fired successively. Once a tube is empty, the shooter must switch to the other magazine tube using a manual feed selection lever located in front of the ejection port, behind the grip. The lever can also be positioned in the center in order to clear the chamber without feeding another round. This also means one could load, say, shot shells into the left tube, slugs in the right, and switch back and forth as needed. With the bullpup configuration of the weapon, the shell casings eject downward, making it fully ambidextrous. The shells feed into the magazine tubes through the front of the ejection port. Put the switch to the right, and they feed into the right tube, switch it to the left…well, you get it. With an overall length of just 26.1" the KSG packs an 18.5" barrel...the magic of the bullpup. The pump has an under Picatinny rail for mounting a foregrip, a light or a laser. A top Picatinny rail accepts various optics and iron sights. To see it in action, check out this video of police officers firing a pre-production model KSG. The first release will be black with green and tan versions available by the end of the year. MSRP is set at $880 and it should be available late this year. KelTecWeapons.com Phil Bourjaily suggested I take the KSG on a turkey hunt. Little does he know, I may do just that once I get my hands on one.