SHOT Show 2020: Range Day Impressions

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Impressions of new firearms from the 2020 SHOT Show Industry Range Day.

The wind at a minimum and the ambient air at a comfortable 60 degrees, all in all, it was perfect conditions for Industry Range Day. And there was plenty to see at the Boulder City Gun Club and, more importantly, to shoot. And, boy howdy, did I shoot. Not everything, which would have left me little to no time to report to you. But enough to come up with a few highlights and impressions of what will alight upon the gun word in 2020.

Bergara B-14R .22 LR

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By far, this was the most pleasant gun shot during the event. As for being the most practical, that's a completely different topic. It's a trainer, through and through. So, if you are looking for some to work on your precision shooting on the cheap, the B-14R is tailor-made for your needs.

As rimfires run, it's also a boat anchor, even the carbon-fiber barrel model I ran. In turn, it might not be the first choice for a squirrel hunt–unless one of the critters wonders on to your local range. The heft (around 9 pounds) comes from the Hunting and Match Rifle stock, which boasts an internal chassis system. The rifle isn't just heavy, but it's stiff as well.

This adds up to a highly accurate system, one which I was able to pile one shot on top the previous at 100 yards. Even better, virtually no recoil means I could watch each shot splash off the steel plate.

Colt Python

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This was an obligatory stop, given the Python's return is the big buzz (as far) of the show. It's a beautiful revolver, aesthetically equal to its predecessor. As to its performance, there are some questions.

Colt has run into issues early in the project, with some Pythons' cylinders failing to advance, a function of the hand failing to rebound.

It happened when I was at the booth waiting to shoot. A gentleman ahead of me stormed away, with the comment “It's broken!” after his time with the revolver. Colt is fully aware of the issue and has asked anyone who experiences the malfunction to send the revolver back to the company for appraisal and repair.

I am happy to say that the Python I shot–a 4.5-inch barrel model–did not suffer from the issues and functioned flawlessly through 12 rounds. Like the original, the new Python's spur is enlarged and makes cocking the gun for single-action easy. But the impressive part is the new simplified trigger, which makes its double-action much smoother and consistent.

Walther CCP M2 .380 ACP

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The big rub on the CCP M2 line is it's easier to manipulate, given a lighter recoil spring, and easier to take apart since now it doesn't require tools. An important feature gets somewhat lost–it's also extremely pleasurable to shoot. Not often the case with 3.5-inch barreled pistols.

Not to go too far in the weeds, but much of it's due to the pistol's gas piston system decaying much of the recoil. With a fixed barrel, this makes it quite an accurate shooter, especially shot to shot. At the behest of the Walther rep, I ran the pistol as fast as I could at a steel plate about 10 yards out. It rang it like a bell, with little effort.

Given .380 can prove a bit bucky, since it is usually found in smaller pistols, this gives the CCP M2 a real advantage. Those looking to move into this class of guns should give the Walther a serious look.

Winchester Wildcat 22

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Honestly, I didn't enter Range Day expecting .22 LR guns to turn my head. But they did, and the Wildcat was one of them. Winchester's semi-automatic rifle is about as much fun as is legal and very practical to boot.

The more functional end of things, the rifle's lower receiver is removable–with a push of a button–making maintenance a breeze. Not only can you access the trigger assembly and bolt quickly and easily, but cleaning the bore is also simple since you can push your cleaning rod directly through a port in the rear of the receiver. Anything that ensures folks clean their .22 more regularly is worthwhile.

As to how it shoots, like a dream. A ghost rear sight made target acquisition quick and once on the only limit was how quickly you could pull the trigger. Also nice, an ambidextrous magazine release on the sides of the stock that, when actuated properly, dropped the rotary magazine directly in my hand. Fun rifle.

Glock 44

I won't disagree that Glock should have released its .22 LR pistol years ago. Still, it was worth the wait. The pistol is a shooter, one I was able to find an extra gear on, accurately so. If you have a G19–what the .22 mimics in dimensions–the G44 has been a worthwhile addition, just to save a few pennies per trigger pull training. Very Glock, unsurprisingly consistent and laid out how you'd expect.

Brownells Optics

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Brownells went beyond being just a gun parts provider to a full-spectrum gun company. Their latest venture is optics. The two I fiddled with at Range Day were its Retro 4x Carry Handel scope based on the Colt AR optic of the 1970s, and the company's new Match Precision Optic (MPO) 5-25x56mm.

Riding on the back of a BRN-16A1 the 4x proved a versatile aiming solution and the perfect finish for a Retro build or buy. I couldn't miss at 200 yards with the intuitive and pretty dang clear optic, leaving me satisfied it's more than a looker. It's a doer.

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The MPO, on the other hand, left me wowed. It performed exactly the way a top-end optic should. Japanese made, the first-focal plane optic had crystal-clear glass and ingenious reticle. The Non-obscuring Milling Reticle (N-OMR) System is your fairly run-of-the-mill Christmas tree set up. The twist where the crosshairs meet is hollow, with a tiny dot, so that even at full power you won't blot out what you're shooting.

The selling point of the scope, however, is its price. At $999, a pittance in precision optics, I have a feeling Brownells will move a lot of these scopes.

Ruger 57

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What got me handling Ruger's new 5.7x28mm is how light it was in the hand. It made the 57 a little snappy to handle, but it's large enough that it was still manageable. And slim. It's a little over a 1-inch in width, in turn, even my medium-sized mitts had plenty to work with.

Springfield XD-M Elite

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The XD-M needed little improvement to begin with. That said, Springfield competently pulls off an upgrade of the striker-fired and gets it to live up to the Elite moniker. Three points stood out. The trigger is really good–fast, crisp, consistent, everything you want. The flared magwell, as expected, makes reloads quick. And the new U-notch rear sight is very intuitive. Just put the fiber-optic dot in the basket and you're on target.

Mossberg MC2c

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The biggest compliment you can pay the MC2c is you can barely tell the difference between it and the MC1. A big deal because not only does the pistol live up to the solid performance standard established by the original, but with twice the capacity. On paper, the 9mm is slightly larger than the MC1. In the hand, it's difficult to tell any difference.

Ruger LCP II .22 LR

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If only every micro pistol was as manageable as the new LCP II. But that seems to be the idea behind the .22 pistol. Work with it and you'll learn to manage a full-strength LCP II up to par. Nice training tool, particularly for those un-anointed in this class of firearm.

Rock Island Armory Revolvers

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A competent revolver maker, Rock Island has a couple of new additions on tap for 2020–the .357 AL3.0 and 9mm AL9.0. Both shot well out of double and single and have nice lines that come out in the stainless finish. The 9mm was a quick reload, a function of it utilizing moon clips, and the caliber manners are exceptional out of a steel-frame revolver.


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