SHOT Show 2023 has come and gone, here’s a look at what stood out the most to the Gun Digest team during our time walking the show floor.
Pistol: Beretta 80X Cheetah
Many concealed carriers turn their noses up at .380 ACP, but this little pistol just may be sweet enough to change some minds. Developed from Beretta’s classic Model 84, the new Beretta 80X Cheetah brings the concept into the 21st century. While it retains the same demure size as its predecessor, the 80X now features an optics-ready slide, an accessory rail, a frame-mounted safety/decocker and an updated grip angle.
For those in the market for a new carry gun, see if you can give one of these a try before committing yourself to a larger caliber. It may just win you over.
Rifle: Bond Arms Lever-Action AR-15
Bond Arms had a surprise at its booth this year, and it may just be the pinnacle of the tactical lever-action concept. While lever-action AR hybrids have been experimented with before, they typically had issues with feeding rounds from full magazines with capacities higher than 5 or 10 rounds. Bond Arms’ new model addresses that with a revolutionary new lever system that doesn’t require herculean strength to feed rounds from higher capacity mags.
Even better, the new rifle is about as modular as a standard AR-15. It uses standard AR uppers and takes Remington 870 pattern stocks. The ability to use standard uppers also enables the system to fire a lot more than just 5.56 NATO. Bond Arms hopes to have the new gun available by this time next year for an MSRP of about $1,500.
Bolt-Action Rifle: Aero Solus
First teased at SHOT 2022, the Aero Solus is finally available for purchase. A lot of companies are introducing chassis rifles based on the Remington 700 action this year, but in our eyes, Aero’s appears to be the best.
Complete Solus rifles are initially available in a couple of configurations with more on the way, and the company will also be selling standalone actions, barreled actions and the Aero Precision chassis separately. This will enable users to easily configure a build exactly how they want it even if factory options don’t satisfy their needs.
Shotgun: Beretta A3 Ultima Patrol
Beretta’s new A3 Ultima Patrol has a lot going for it. Not only is it an American-made semi-auto 12-gauge with enough tactical flair to compete with established defensive shotguns like the Benelli M4, but it does so for a lot less money.
With an MSRP of only $1,099, the Beretta A3 Ultima Patrol sports a 7+1 capacity, enlarged controls, an enlarged loading port and plenty of M-Lok and QD sling mounting points. Better yet, the shotgun is available with different finish options ranging from gray to tiger stripe.
Optic: Holosun DRS-NV/Holosun DRS-TH
One of the most impressive products at SHOT Show 2023 came from Holosun in the form of new night vision and thermal reflex sights. They appear to be smaller, lighter and more affordable than any other low-light optics of their kind, making the Holosun DRS-NV and DRS-TH poised to make this technology far more available to average shooters.
The optics can function as standard reflex sights similar to the Holosun AEMS, but when their opaque front lens covers are closed, they also provide a thermal or night vision overlay through the viewing window. Holosun also promises a “Pro” model that will be capable of both night vision and thermal via a modular sensor unit. MSRPs aren’t set in stone, but the DRS-NV will supposedly only cost around $1,000 and should be released by the end of this year.
Suppressor: JK Armament 12-Gauge Suppressors
There were a lot of very impressive suppressors at SHOT Show 2023, but these two new 12-gauge models from JK Armament definitely stood out the most. 12-gauge suppressors are often prohibitively expensive and riddled with issues inherent to suppressing shotguns, but the JK 195 VersaX and JK 195 SGX appear to solve both problems. With MSRPs of only $599 and $899, respectively, the suppressors’ new rounded baffles prevent shot cup plastic from shaving off. This little trick ensures normal flight paths, inhibits internal plastic buildup and majorly reduces wear.
The cherry on top is that JK Armament is offering very affordable barrel threading services as well. This means that even grandpa’s old pump-action could easily be outfitted with one of these new 12-gauge cans. Both models are modular, but the VersaX ships with 8 configurable baffles while the SGX comes with a whopping 14.
Ammo: PSA Steel Case
Ever since the Russian ammo ban was announced, many shooters have wondered where they’ll find the next steady supply of cheap ammunition. Hopefully, if all goes well, that source will be Palmetto State Armory. It’s been known for some time that PSA’s parent company, JJE, had procured machining from an unnamed European country for producing steel-cased ammo in common Soviet calibers. It seems that the project is moving forward as some sample ammo was on display at SHOT Show 2023.
7.62x39mm, 7.62x54r and 5.45x39mm were present, all packaged in boxes bearing the Soviet Arms brand responsible for some of PSA’s other Combloc products. If this new factory manages to come online and provide ammo at a comparable price and quality to what Tula once did, AK enthusiasts will be able to keep on shooting as if nothing ever changed.
Oddball: Magpul FDC/FDP
While this little cyberpunk-looking firearm probably won’t have any real impact on the concealed carry market, it’s very cool nonetheless. There aren’t many clear scenarios where the FDC or FDP would be better to have than a standard handgun with a light, but the ability to fold itself into a compact rectangle with a carry handle is too unique to go unmentioned. The pistol parts are going to be made by ZEV Technologies and the plastic components will be made by Magpul, and the companies hope for it to be available by this time next year.
Historical: PSA Sturmgewehr Clone
Nearly ten years in the making, the American Sturmgewehr clone by Hill & Mac Gunworks is finally on the way to becoming a reality. Development was slow and messy, as is often the case with small-scale boutique reproductions such as this, but thankfully the project was acquired by Palmetto State Armory.
If anyone has the production capabilities and capital to bring this gun to market, it’s PSA. As a testament to that, there appeared to be a complete and functioning model on display at the company’s booth at SHOT Show 2023. Just as the original promised by HMG, the PSA version will be available in 7.62x39mm, 5.56 NATO, .300 BLK and the original 8mm Kurz.
Accessory: Midwest Industries Alpha Series AK Furniture
With access to Russian-made Zenitco furniture having been cut off, American AK enthusiasts were seriously lacking in good tactical furniture options. Many were willing to pay out the nose for used Zenitco stuff, but thankfully Midwest Industries has just released the Alpha Series.
Alpha Series AK furniture appears to be of equal quality and functionality to the original Russian-made models that helped inspire it, but it accomplishes that for much more reasonable prices. The various handguards and optics mounts are pretty specific to AK-pattern rifles, but because the new stock attaches via Picatinny rail, it’s also compatible with any firearm that features the appropriate hardware on the rear of its receiver.
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