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More From SHOT Show 2014 – Benelli Ethos

February 3, 2014

Give me an old-fashioned twice-barrel any old day.  Photo by Holly Heyser.

Give me an old-fashioned twice-barrel any old day. Photo by Holly Heyser.

Somewhere along the lines, I asked if you guys wanted to hear about anything particular while I was at the SHOT Show this year.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get the time on the floor that I’d hoped, and even at the Range Day, I didn’t shoot everything that burned powder… so my coverage was comparatively narrow.  However, someone did ask about the Benelli Ethos.

First, my ad nauseum moment… I am not the biggest fan of semi-automatic hunting guns.  It’s personal taste, primarily, as the old complaints about reliability and maintenance have been (more or less) addressed in the modern variations.  But I don’t much trust them, and there’s just something about the enhanced ability to spray-and-pray that leaves me unenthusiastic about their use for hunting.

But it’s not about me, and autoloaders have become pretty much a staple in the world of waterfowling, as well as amongst turkey hunters.  You’ll even see them in the hands of the occasional upland hunter, although such heretical disregard for tradition and appearances will certainly earn the scowling disapproval of the purist.  The guys who love these guns have made some reasonably solid justifications for the choice.  Of course there’s the fast follow-up shot, but there’s also the fact that the operation of the semi-auto action tends to soften the thumping of those heavy, magnum rounds so popular with the duck, goose, turkey, and pterodactyl hunter.  I mean, seriously, a three and a half inch magnum to kill ducks?  You guys do realize that it’s not self-defense, right?  Maybe if you weren’t touching off artillery rounds you wouldn’t need something to soften the recoil.

But I digress.

In the interest of my reader(s), I am willing to shoot pretty much anything (especially if someone else is buying the ammo), so I found myself at Range Day, standing at the Benelli tent.  With me was my friend, Holly Heyser, the blogger formerly known as NorCal Cazadora.  Holly’s gone and gotten all professional and such, and is now Editor of the California Waterfowl magazine.  She also does some freelance work, and a fairly regular column in Shotgun Life.  And there’s other stuff, but I really didn’t intend to write a whole post about Holly.  The point is, Holly has been deeply bitten by the waterfowling bug (I used to have that disease, but I’m mostly over it now), and she is not a bit put off by shotguns that shoot as fast as you can pull the trigger.  The other point is, with Holly around, we could take pictures of one another shooting… which is much easier than taking selfies while trying to break flying targets.

So the Benelli…

The Ethos is a beautiful gun.  This is something Benelli has always done well, so it’s no surprise there.  Semi-autos have evolved a bit since the humpback Browning or the old Remington 1100, and the Ethos is a sleek, streamlined beauty compared to those old-timers.  It’s also very light, weighing in around six and a half pounds.  Compare that to around eight pounds for the 1100, or over nine pounds in the Browning A-5.  (Browning/Winchester have introduced newer semi-autos to compete in this weight class… but this post isn’t about them right now.)

Holly shooting the Benelli Ethos.As soon as a gun was freed up, I handed it off to Holly and fired up the camera.  Watching her handle the gun, it was easy enough to see she was pretty pleased… despite her professed dedication to her Beretta.  In fact, I think that if the Beretta had been watching her with the Ethos, it would almost certainly have jammed on her next hunt out of pure spite and jealousy.

When Holly finally surrendered the gun, I figured I’d have a go as well.  I hefted the thing in my hands, getting a feel for the weight and balance.  It had just the right amount of both.  Then the guy started giving me shells.

The Benelli Ethos shot distressingly well.  I’m no great shakes as a shotgunner, by any stretch of the imagination, but I broke some clays.  The gun just went where I thought it should go, and it didn’t seem to take much effort at all.  Worst of all, the guy kept feeding me ammo so I had no choice but to keep shooting the damned thing.  I swear, I almost came to like it.

So we were only shooting target loads, but it is worthwhile to mention the gentleness of this 12 gauge shotgun’s recoil.  Compared to my old 311, or even my M37 Featherweight, this was like leaning my shoulder into a feather pillow.  I could imagine a day of dove hunting with this thing, and coming home without so much as a purpling of my shooting arm.  Is such a thing possible?

OK, before I get completely carried away, there are a few more notes of note.  First of all, at this point, the Ethos is only available in a wood stock (AA grade, satin walnut).  I expect the market will drive them to something synthetic and camo-cool, but right now this is what you get.  Personally, of course, I like wood stocks and in my experience under some pretty nasty conditions, they serve just fine.

You can have your gun with a pretty, engraved nickel action, or you can get it simple and anodized.  Both seem almost too pretty for the average duck marsh, but I guess a lot of guns start out that way.  Neither is so flashy that I wouldn’t take them hunting, but the anodized looks a little more utilitarian.  A little TLC will go a long ways toward keeping this thing both beautiful and deadly… and I believe we could all give our guns a little more TLC.

There are a lot more details for the technically minded, but if you really want that sort of thing there are myriad reviews available all over the web, or you can just go to the Benelli website to learn for yourself.  The last detail that I found pertinent, however, was the price tag.  If you have to ask…

So the fact is, the price of quality firearms is going steadily skyward.  I haven’t really been in the market of late, but just from conversations with folks who have, a thousand bucks isn’t going to get you into a new semi-auto these days.  The Benelli Ethos MSRP is right at $2K… a little more for the nickel, and a shade less for the anodized.  I’m guessing you’d do pretty well to pick one up off the store shelf for $1750 or so… depending on your dealer’s connections and profit margins.  That’s a lot of ducats, in my mind, but it seems to be the way of the future present.  I found Beretta, arguably the closest contender in the field, around the same price point.  Remington’s higher-end alternative to the 1100, the Versa-Max, is coming in close as well, with an MSRP around $1730 (depending on features).  On the other hand, Browning’s new A5 and Winchester X3 are coming in a shade under $1500.

 

 

 

 

 

SHOT Show 2014 – Meeting Folks and Other Stuff

January 17, 2014

SHOT Show Crowds

With crowds like this, it’s easy to understand how PR folks can have a hard time remembering names and faces.

It’s funny, or maybe not so much, how thoroughly people in the industry can forget who you are in a short year or so. Of course, I realize I’m not Pig Man or Jim Shockey, and my little ol’ blog doesn’t pull down zillions of hits and heavy shares on social media sites. Still, it sort of bummed me out to greet a few former industry contacts at SHOT this week, only to get that total look of, “who the hell is this and why is he bugging me?”Actually, in most cases the look is more like, “oh crap, did I promise this guy something and fail to deliver?”

But I get it. These industry people shake a lot of hands and do an awful lot of smiling… and promising… over the course of SHOT. On top of that, most of them start hitting the show circuit in January and don’t really slow down again until late spring. SHOT is only one of many, including ATA (Archery Trade Association), Safari Club Annual Convention, NRA Convention, and the big daddy of them all, the IWA Outdoor Classics show in Germany. And at every one of these shows, there are hundreds of guys like me.

So I try not to take it too personally, even from folks with whom I thought I’d established a personal relationship. I have to remember, part of these folks’ job is to make you feel special… even when you’re not.

With this in mind, though, I was very happy that some of my old contacts did recognize me. Mike Stock, from Winchester Ammunition took a few minutes from a very busy day to come say, “hello,” and to introduce me to the new media representative. There’s not a ton of time for small talk on the floor, but we caught up a little and then got down to business of making sure I had what I needed for testing. In the coming months, I hope to be trying out the RazorBack XT in 30-06 and possibly some of Winchester’s brand new Long Beard XR turkey loads.

A couple of notes about these Long Beard loads… first of all, it’s pretty cool technology. They’ve managed to encase the pellets in a resin which eliminates all air space between the pellets. As a result, the pellets don’t really have room to move around until they exit the muzzle. This means there’s less deformation of the pellets, resulting in tighter patterns and better terminal performance at longer ranges. While I’m not crazy about shooting turkeys out to 60 yards, this load is optimized for that eventuality, and based on the pattern I got at 40 yards, I have little doubt it’s realistic. This stuff is pretty impressive. My only concern, as it is with all of the super-tight turkey loads and chokes, is those really close shots where there’s barely any spread of pellets. You’ll need to be dead on with your shot. But patience and picking your shots are always the keys to successful hunting.

I thought the picture would be better with a person holding the rifle instead of a rack, so I enlisted the help of Gary Landsborough, from the Triggers and Bows retail shop.  Thanks, Gary!

The Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 – I thought the picture would be better with a person holding the rifle instead of a rack, so I enlisted the help of Gary Landsborough, from the Triggers and Bows retail shop. Thanks, Gary!

Someone else who remembered me was Laura Evans, the media rep from Crosman. Laura worked with me a couple of years back when I wanted to try out the Marauder. We’ve had a bit of correspondence over the last two years, and she greeted me immediately when I walked up to their table at the range. Later, on the show floor, she introduced me to Crosman’s social media guy, Chip Hunnicut, with whom I look forward to working on several projects… including some field time with the new Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2. The new rifle offers a few improvements over the original Trail series, one of which is the new “Clean Break” trigger, a two-stage trigger which is similar to the one I like so much on the Marauder. The new rifle is also pretty easy to cock, especially compared to my experience with the much older break-barrels I’d used before.

Speaking of the Marauder, this year Crosman has updated this great rifle and made it even better. The new version is streamlined a bit and set in a synthetic stock. As a result, the rifle is much lighter than the old version and will be a bit handier in the field. As much as I like my original, wood-stocked version, I do think it’s a little bulky for packing around on foot.

Another note about Crosman… While I was talking to folks at the Crosman tent at Range Day, I heard that there is interest at the company in developing something in the big bore lineup. While the Rogue, Benjamin’s .357 rifle was an interesting proof of concept, it wasn’t quite what the company wanted it to be and you won’t be seeing it in the catalogues any more. However, the “folks in the office” recognize the opportunities that big bore airguns offer, and there will probably be some news along those lines in the future. I’m pretty stoked at the idea of something that I can realistically use on hogs and axis deer (air rifles are still not legal for game animals here in Texas, although some other states like Missouri and Alabama do allow them).

My SHOT trip was short and bittersweet this year, as I had to pull out and head back to Hillside Manor on Wednesday afternoon. I left a lot of sights unseen, but it was good to get out there and renew some of those industry contacts, as well as some friendships. I’ve got a lot of cards and notes to follow-up, and this trip should result in some good stuff for the blog over the coming months.

 

 

SHOT Show 2014 – (Real) News From The Floor

January 15, 2014

First of all, apologies.  It looks like, for some reason the comments are closed on that last post.  And yes, it was a joke… but not much of one.  The zombie craze itself has sort of tapered off, but the tacticool mania is still running full bore.  I’ve probably spent as much effort sidestepping booths of uppers and lowers and custom barrels and lights and rail systems and…  well, read that sentence and you might get the sense of it.

I have had an opportunity to make a few rounds on the floor, mostly getting back in touch with old contacts or establishing new ones.

On the lead-free ammo front, just to get that out here, there’s not really a whole lot to report.  The major manufacturers are pretty much holding stable.  Winchester has expanded their Power-Core offering to 12 calibers, and their RazorBack XT is now available in five.  They still offer the lead-free .22 LR ammo, but haven’t really made any changes or upgrades to that line.  Federal/CCI is, similarly, holding pretty steady with their current line.  The Federal Trophy Copper seems to be fitting the demand, although like everyone else, shipping and supplies have been a little slight.  And Remington seems pretty happy with the Copper Solids.

I did have a chance to stop by and visit with the guys from DDupleks, a company out of Latvia that makes steel shotgun slugs.  They’re one of the few offerings available for smoothbore slug gun hunters.  Sterling ammunition also offers a similar steel slug.  I hope to get some of these and give them a go.  My friend, Dan used the DDupleks a year or so ago and did his own, first-hand review, but I still want to do my own research.

There is a new guy in the game (who’s card I will have to relocate) who is making bullets out of a zinc alloy.  According to the manufacturer, this alloy offers characteristics that are very close to lead.  Even more important, he says, is the fact that this material is about half the cost of copper, which means lead-free ammunition could become much more economical.  As always, I have to take a wait-and see attitude.  Zinc isn’t new in the ammunition world, which makes me wonder why it hasn’t been done before.

Two years ago, when I attended my last SHOT Show, I was introduced to Cutting Edge bullets.  At the time they were still in development, but the line has matured a bit and now offers a wide range of CA-certified lead-free bullets.  Unlike most of the other lead-free bullets, these are designed to explosively shed their petal on impact.  From photos I saw, they do this with a lot of force in a pretty spectacular way… maybe even too spectacular.  But I’m going to give some of them a go, and I’ll find out for myself.

And, just for a little gun lust… I saw this beauty from Cooper Rifles!

I'm a sucker for a nice rifle with a mannlicher stock, even if the sad truth is that I don't have a single one in my safe.  This Cooper would make me happy, though.

I’m a sucker for a nice rifle with a mannlicher stock, even if the sad truth is that I don’t have a single one in my safe. This sweet thing (the rifle, guys, the rifle) from Cooper Rifles was fairly drool inducing.

More to come later… I promise.

 

Short SHOT Show 2014 Update -A Stunning New Product

January 15, 2014

Every year, there are unexpected products revealed at SHOT. I’m sitting here in this press conference, surrounded by luminaries from throughout the hook-n-bullet media waiting as the Black Steel company is speechifying about their latest product, the tactical anvil!

Why tactical?

Well, any red-blooded gun owner who’s ever had to pound the dents out of an action or straighten a crooked barrel knows you need a good anvil on hand. Just beating it on the table will never do, and using the driveway only turns your concrete to gravel.

But what happens when you’re down to your last bullet and the zombies are still coming? Sure, you could beat them with your gunstock… until it snaps over an undead head. And then what?

The new, tactical anvil comes complete with a heavy lanyard for swinging the tool over your head. With the proper arc, you can take out zombies from up to 15 feet away… or keep the swing short and just mow them down as they come at you in moaning waves.

The anvil also has rails (of course it has rails) for mounting various accessories, such as the new muzzle-straightener rod, green laser light systems, or Black Steel’s patented, razor-sharp anvil-bayonet.

It’s good stuff, and easy to see why there’s so much excitement here at the SHOT Show this year.

(Oh, and the anvil is just the thing for pesky road runners!  Stay tuned, for updates on REAL products from 2014 SHOT.)

SHOT Show 2014 – Range Day (a day late)

January 14, 2014

Merkel RX HelixWhat did I learn at the SHOT Show Media Day at the Range this year?

Well, I saw some interesting stuff.  I found out that Cabelas is running out a line of nice guns (shotguns and rifles), including a pretty sweet Turkish side-by-side that has all the things I love best in a SxS… splinter fore-end and double triggers.  I shot some clays with the 20ga version and it just sang to me that wicked siren song.  If I remember correctly, MSRP will be well under $1500, which isn’t too bad at all for a SxS these days.

I learned a little about a potential new, lead-free bullet and shotgun slug material which, if it pans out, could be huge in reducing the cost of lead-free ammunition.  More on this later, as I learn more about the stuff.

But as important as anything else, I learned that I don’t handle the big, hard-kicking guns so well anymore.  I woke up today with a Crowded boothssplitting headache, a painfully stiff neck, and a right shoulder that is only now loosening up.  I guess I should know better, but maybe a little whiplash will make the lesson stick this time.

Overall, the Range Day wasn’t all I’d hoped it would be… but it was pretty much everything that I expected.  ARs dominated the day, along with variations on the personal defense/combat/competition handguns.  Conversations were punctuated by the rattle of full-auto gunfire, which, depending on where you were standing would either add a period or an exclamation point to whatever you might have been saying.

Between the “bullpups”, carbines, and “precision, long-range rifles”, I simply didn’t see a whole lot to get excited about.  I made a pass along the one firing line that had the majority of traditional rifles, and didn’t see a whole lot that made me want to wade into the crowded shooting benches for a closer look.  Maybe I’ll see something on the floor today.

There were a couple of outstanding moments, though.  First was the Merkel RX Helix (pictured at the top).  It’s a straight-pull rifle, similar to the Blaser R-8 in both function and quality.  Pricewise (about $3700), this isn’t something that every hunter can afford, but it will sure make you drool with gunlust.  The fact that you can interchange barrels without the use of a tool, makes it almost seem like a bargain, though, as you can add a couple of additional calibers without buying additional rifles.  I shot the .308 version at the range, and I am really starting to like that straight-pull for quick follow-up shots.  The rifle is balanced nicely, and I didn’t feel much recoil at all while shooting off-hand or from a sandbag.

While most people at the Kimber booth were playing with some new variations on Kimber’s already sweet 1911, I noticed a relatively tiny bolt-action over on the rifle bench.  The Kimber Adirondack is their latest, ultra-light offering.  At a shade over four pounds, this thing feels like a BB gun.  Unfortunately, the sample rifle wasn’t operable due to a mix-up (the shooter was sent to the show floor, and the show demo with the cut off firing pin was sent to the range), so I didn’t get to see what recoil would be like.  The Kimber rep swore it wasn’t bad at all.

Speaking of BB guns…  I stopped by the Crosman booth to see what they might have going on this year.  I guess the biggest news is the new Benjamin Marauder, with synthetic stock.  Compared to my wood-stocked Marauder, the new guns are much lighter and far more ergonomic.  I sent a few .22caliber pellets downrange and was impressed to see that accuracy was just as good as the older version.  I’ve also been getting more interested in a break-barrel air rifle, since the biggest drawback for my Marauder is keeping my air tanks filled (not many SCUBA shops around Camp Wood).  I had a chance to try out the new Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2, and while I’m no expert on air guns, I was reasonably impressed.  I know there are fancier air guns out there, but I see no reason that this wouldn’t be perfect for whacking squirrels or small varmints and pests.

There was a bit more, but I’ve got work to do and almost 12 and a half miles of displays to visit… and not much time to do it.

So please, stay  tuned…

 

AR Mania At 2014 SHOT Show?

January 10, 2014

As I’m gearing up for SHOT, I can’t help but be a little concerned.  I sure hope there will be some “traditional” hunting rifles and shotguns to play with on Monday.  If I based my assumptions on the inundation of SHOT Show press releases I’ve received, the only thing in Las Vegas will be ARs… parts for ARs… and ARs.

Look, I’ve got very little against the AR platform (more recently dubbed “Modern Sporting Rifles”), except that I don’t care for them.  Aesthetically, I find them sorely lacking.  I guess I’m getting old, but I think they’re ugly as sin.  Give me the artistry of a nice Sako or Blaser… technology and beauty in one, sweet, functional package.  Or even if I had to go to a synthetic stock (it’s no sin), I still find a bolt gun or lever-action much more to my tastes than some modular, space weapon.

Performance-wise, if you want a quality AR you’re going to spend the equivalent of a higher-end bolt-action (some of the better ones cost as much as a custom rifle).  Sure, there are “less expensive” ARs, but good luck finding one that shoots or handles half as well as a basic Savage 110 or Remington 700.  It’s just not likely to happen.

And forget about the big-bore, “sniper” guns.  They are a kick in the ass to shoot, of course, but only if you’re shooting someone else’s ammo.  And while I won’t rush to judgement on other folks’ happiness, I don’t see much joy in shooting a deer or elk from two zip-codes away.  I’ve got no use for them.

I have yet to see anything from Browning/Winchester, Ruger, or even Remington touting the latest bolt-action or lever-action… much less anything in the form of a double-barrel shotgun.  The handgun manufacturers are representing, but if you look at what they’re offering, it’s almost all semi-autos, designed for fighting off the zombie hordes, serial killers, and third-world militia.

Even the ammunition makers are rolling with the trend.  A big chunk of the Winchester press release is about ammo designed for self-defense firearms with stuff like “Train and Defend”, “Defender”, and Win1911.

Am I slouching toward obscurity… clinging to the past? Did I miss the memo?

Seriously, I recognize that the AR platform, or MSR, is a huge part of the industry right now.  I’ll definitely be interested in learning a little more about some of the new stuff, although I doubt I’ll be relaying a lot of it back to you guys… unless you ask.  The Hog Blog is, after all, about hunting.  Hunting guns are what I’ll look at, regardless of configuration.  But I’m human, and I’ll be paying the most attention to the guns I love best.

That’s just how it is.

This Is Why I Go To The SHOT Show

February 5, 2013

This is the kind of thing I go for, and one of the reasons I hate that I missed it this year… new ammunition, targeted for hog hunters and for the lead-free market. 

I had to hear about it on YouTube…

What the hell am I talking about?  The Remington Hog Hammer ammo was announced at SHOT 2013.  It features the Barnes triple-shock (TSX) bullet, and will be available in seven calibers, from .223 Rem to .450 Bushmaster.
 

The new round appears to follow on the concepts introduced the year before last with Winchester’s Razorback XT, including a special propellant to reduce muzzle flash (for night time or low-light shooting) and nickle-plated cases to ensure clean feeding through the popular semi-automatic rifles (black rifles, modern sporting rifles, ARs, or whatever you want to call them). 

Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to establish a relationship with Remington in order to get samples of their ammo.  As a result, it’s not likely that I’ll be testing any of these personally to let you guys know what I think of them.  If any of you readers gets a chance to put these things through their paces, though, I’d love to hear what you thought.

In the meantime, I do have a pretty good relationship at Winchester, so I will be trying out their latest Razorback XT offerings in my .44mag.  I’ll let ya’ll know more about that one fairly soon!

2013 SHOT Show Vicarious Round-Up

January 21, 2013

On Friday, my return trip from Spokane carried me through the Las Vegas airport.  As I moved to my connecting gate, all around me I saw them… camo-clad, vendor hats sporting logos like Smith and Wesson, SureFire, Beretta, and much more.  As I ate breakfast, I overheard conversations about the new .17 Winchester Super Mag, some hot new AR-styled rifles, the hot girls at a certain vendor booth, and the party at the Outdoor Channel’s Golden Moose Awards dinner.  I felt like I’d just missed the biggest party in town, and honestly, when it comes to the hunting and shooting trades, SHOT Show is exactly that.

This is the sort of thing I always look forward to seeing at SHOT.

This is the sort of thing I always look forward to seeing at SHOT.

I’ve attended a bunch of SHOT Shows, and you might wonder if the attraction doesn’t wear thin after a while.  In some ways, it certainly does.  You get jaded, cynical, and hard to please.  I used to think it was because I’m virtually a Nobody in the industry… just a small-time blogger in a sea of small-time bloggers.  But I’ve got friends who are much higher placed than I am, and they feel it too.  SHOT can be a grind.  It’s interviews and presentations, picture-taking, talking to reps and engineers, and a LOT of walking.  You see some awesome innovation, but to find it you pick through booth after booth of the same old thing, salted with the occasional idiotic idea and things that are just plain silly.  Trying to see all there is to see at SHOT in three or four days is like trying to do the Smithsonian or the Louvre in an afternoon.

But it’s still a big event, and most years I find myself counting down the days of January like a kid waiting for Christmas.  And Christmas didn’t come this year.  So sad.

Then again, on the upside I’ve got friends who did make it this year, like Eric from Varminter.Com magazine,  and Jesse, from Jesse’s Hunting and Outdoors.  And, of course, I’ve got the Internet, the source of all knowledge.  According to reports, there were approximately 1200 registered media at SHOT this year, and most of them have posted their reports on blogs,  YouTube, and Facebook.

So, I guess at this point I could just point you to a bunch of other websites and call it good.  Which is sort of what I’m gonna do, but it’s not because I don’t care… I do… I want you all to have a wonderful experience here on my blog, even if I only lived the SHOT Show vicariously.  Razorback .44 mag ammo

First, my friends at Winchester have put up a handful of cool new ammo this year.  At the forefront of my personal interests is the new Razorback XT in .44 magnum.  You may recall that I had the opportunity to try out the initial release of the Razorback ammo a couple of years back. 

I had no idea they were coming out with a handgun load this year, and I look forward to getting the chance to put some of it to the test on some Hill Country hogs or exotics… or at the very least, I’d like to try it on paper.

Speaking of Winchester, my friend Eric does a lot of writing (and shooting) about small calibers and varmint/predator hunting.  Winchester really pushed the envelope this year with the release of a whole, new rimfire round… the .17 Winchester Super Magnum.  Unlike the .17HMR or Mach2, the WSM is a whole new cartridge, from the ground up.  Pushing 3000 fps with a 30gr bullet, it gets past a lot of the challenges that faced the previous .17s.  It bucks wind, and carries way downrange.

To really make the most of it, Savage has created a new rifle to go with this round, the B-Mag.  Eric was at Media Day and had the chance to shoot this thing (color me jealous), and his write-up is excellent.  Check it out at the Varminter.com site.

On the big media side, Field and Stream sent their Gun Nuts guys to the show and came away with some pretty good info.  Unfortunately, they host their own videos now, so I can’t send you to a YouTube site.  But the blog is excellent, and well worth the effort to check out.  I was particularly interested in Weatherby’s new rifle, which came off pretty good in Dave Petzal’s review.

YouTube has a ton of excellent video reviews, even without Field and Stream.  My friend, Jesse, has a good collection of video on his YouTube TV station.  One of my other favorite gun-related YouTube channels is Fate of Destinee.  Yeah, she’s cute and that doesn’t hurt her appeal, but her videos really are informative and well-produced.

Anyway, that ought to keep you busy for a while.  If you need more, let me know and I’ll see what I can dig up.

By the way, if you’d like a little more info about that Chiappa, triple-barrel shotgun in the first photo, check it out here.

 

2013 SHOT Show – No Live Coverage This Year

January 8, 2013

It’s that time of year again!  The SHOT (Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trades) Show is about to kick off for the 35 year next week in Las Vegas, NV.  For those who don’t know, this is one of the largest trade shows in the world, and is the opportunity for people in the hunting and shooting industries to get their hands on the newest products of the year.  It’s huge.

I’ve attended SHOT every year since 2001, and it’s provided me with a ton of great content for the Hog Blog, as well as some great exposure to gear and gadgets that I’d never see otherwise.  In addition to seeing and handling new gear, I’ve made contacts that provided me with test gear to try out in the field, and others who’ve kept me up to speed on various developments in the industry.  Overall, it’s been a great resource.

Up until a month ago, I was set to attend the 2013 event.  I’ve got my media passes, contact lists, and a pile of email from vendors, representatives, and manufacturers to come see their newest offerings.  Even after 11 shows, the lead-up to SHOT is a lot like the build up for Christmas… anticipation and excitement build until, the night before the show I can barely sleep.  The first day, as you walk through the doors festooned by four-story banners, the excitement is tangible. 

So it was with a real sadness that I realized that, due to work obligations, I wouldn’t be able to make it this year. Frickin’ day job. 

I’ll do what I can to touch base with my contacts, and hopefully I’ll still be able to get my hands on some of the newer products.  I’ll also check in virtually as much as possible.  But the reality is that I won’t be able to offer the same coverage that I’ve brought every year, and for that I apologize.

SHOT Show Isn’t All Shooting And Killing Stuff

January 31, 2012

You can hardly turn on one of the hunting channels these days without someone taking disabled kids, wounded vets, or some other special case into the field.  It’s a great thing, and an excellent use of the resources the hunting shows and their sponsors have available.

The SHOT Show reflects that philanthropic aspect of the industry as well as all of the shooting and hunting.  Several organizations that support the military were represented, as were the more traditional organizations such as 4-H and Kids and Clays.  If I tried to write about all of them, I’d be at it for days.  However, I attended press conferences for a couple that serve as good examples of what’s going on.

First of all, Bushnell Sport Optics threw a breakfast for the media.  After a run-down of their new products, they came back to the Folds of Honor program.

Folds of Honor was created by USAF Major Dan Rooney after his second tour in Iraq.  The mission of the organization is described on the Folds of Honor website as follows:

The Folds of Honor Foundation is rallying a nation to ensure no family is left behind in the fight to preserve American freedom. Through scholarships and other assistance, we give back to the spouses and children of soldiers killed or disabled in service to our country. We provide healing, hope and an opportunity for dreams to be realized…with the support of people like you. We feel this is our duty as citizens of the greatest country in the world.

This is Bushnell’s second year as a partner in the program.  Among other things the optics giant is doing, they’re offering a rebate on certain rangefinders.  The customer can then opt to donate part or all of the rebate to the Folds of Honor Foundation.  At this year’s presentation, Bushnell presented a check for $200,000 as a result of the generosity of the corporation and its customers.

Another cool aspect of the presentation this year was the appearance of Craig Morgan.  Morgan is a country musician as well as an outdoor television host (All Access Outdoors on The Sportsman Channel).  He performed a pair of songs he’d just written, and made an announcement about some work he might be doing soon to support the Folds of Honor Foundation.  I’ll let ya’ll know as soon as the news is official.

Later in the week, as I was sitting in the press room, a couple of NSSF people came through the room announcing a press conference.  I looked up and saw outdoor media luminaries like Jim Shockey and Jim Zumbo heading into the conference room, so I figured this might be worth checking out.

And it was…

The conference was to announce the kickoff of the Outdoor Legends Tour, a goodwill tour of outdoors “personalities” who would be heading over to “somewhere in the southeast asia area” to visit the troops.  Included in the group were Shockey, Zumbo, Michael Waddell, Brenda Valentine, Cuz Strickland, and many others.

From what I understood (where the heck did I leave my notes?), the tour would be similar to USO tours, only the celebrities would mingle directly with the troops, shaking hands, distributing swag, and generally doing what they could to provide a positive impact on morale.

As I mentioned, these are only a couple of the numerous programs and organizations driven by American outdoorsmen and the industry.  There’s an opportunity for all of us to take the hunt to a different level, share our heritage, and help out some folks who could really use a little extra good in their lives.

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