This year we tried, besides the usual strolling, to also have a focus: long arms, namely rifles.

But first the stroll: starting from the eastern entrance (where it is often less crowded than at the main entrance) we first visited the halls with large numbers – 7, 7A and so on.

The first interesting stop was at Swarovski. It is no secret that we are fans of the Austrian producer (as well as of his younger brother – Kahles). We have always liked the fact that their products had, at an equivalent technical performance, a certain elegance that German products hardly put up.

Given that using rifles at long distances require significant magnification, we analyzed in detail the products with maximum magnification of at least x25. Austrians have a range of relevant products in this respect. Besides Z 6 Series (which represents the top range), Austrians introduced the series X 5.

We considered interesting the feature according to which zero is not necessary at minimum distance, after which the clicks rather go upwards. Swarovski offers the possibility of a zero at any distance, then, with a simple maneuver at the “vertical” tower, you can “reduce” the height for many MOA/MIL (depending on preference). It is clear that this is not a re-inventing of the wheel, but it offers, to those who shoot a lot at varying distances, the ability to adapt quickly, both upwards and especially downwards from the ballistic tower rather than from the “hold-over” (in the hypothesis that the telescope has markings that provide clues for this “hold-over” – like for instance the “Christmas tree” in the MIL system or any other types of reticle markings, even MOA). This aspect will have practical relevance especially in the case of a caliber with a very large “drop” = very pronounced ballistic curve, such as heavy projectiles: 9.3×62 or x74, not to mention the “African” ones. We look forward to its appearance on the market and to the possibility of testing it.

Another novelty is the D-Evo combo from Leupold between a scope and a red-dot placed in the same plane. The main change to combos existing on the market is that the rifle shooter will not need to cant the rifle (to 30 or 45 degrees) or to raise the head with a view to transition from scope to red-dot but will only have to very little change the focus of its sight.

We continued with the Italians and their smooth-bore weapons. It seems that these men are working on their muskets for hundreds of years in “the valley of arms”. Whether it is called Beretta (or daughter Benelli), Franchi, Perazzi and so on, these people know how to build the musketry. The golden rule continues to be: if you want a smooth-bore, buy it from an Italian. if you want a rifle, buy it from the Germans (or a Czech, as we will see below). Perhaps this type of weapon has peaked technically and there is not much to develop on them.

The only practical question is whether and when the Turks will evolve so much to reach the level of the Italians. It is no secret that many large manufacturers, especially Americans, meanwhile produce their “smooth-bores” in Turkey. And not just the “budget” lines (ie basic) but also the top lines. Moreover, a simple analysis indicates that Turkey is probably the country with the largest number of manufacturers of “smooth-bores”. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to emulate the success of the Japanese auto industry.

A visible concern (even if rather for the Americans) appears to be the increasing of the capacity of the magazine/magazines of smooth-bores. Whether for very long or drum magazines (for Russians smooth-bores from Molot or Saiga) or by juxtaposing several tube magazines (Kel-Tech and others) smooth-bores with 12, 14 or even 20 rounds in the load have become possible. A remarkable development considering that the first muskets had one, at most two shots. It is true that such capacities involve a proper physical condition: 20 cartridges 12-gauge can weigh, depending on load, anywhere between 600 and 800 grams or more, which require to be held in the hand(s) after all. Not to mention the extra weight of the entire hardware: more metal sheet and plastic on magazines, related switches etc.

What is not so well known is that IWA is at the same time a Mecca of outdoor and hunting features and equipment. If you want to “touch” the newest hunting but also generally outdoor apparel and footwear, IWA offers no less than two halls where this type of products dominate (plus specialized sections in the weapons manufacturers stands).

From Haerkilla having a very applied marketing, presenting you the last type of boot submerged in water for a few days (for the period of IWA) to Salomon competing with 5.11 and many others on the “tactical” footwear market. Not to mention the dozens of companies offering specialized modern clothing (of all kinds of efficient materials) or the classic design, e.g. for traditionalist hunters.

Plus a whole warehouse of blank weapons. Many nice things for those interested.

We have visited the booths of the producers about which we have written in the past.
Sig Sauer has expanded its? range of pistols: the (meanwhile not so) new X-Five and X-Six series (and related pistols) are still an eye-catcher and high quality products.

Visiting CZ, we have found some new products: there is a new Orange line for Tactical Sport (TS). Besides the visual effects and slimmer grips, we have liked the thumb rest.

We have made no secret in the past of us being fans of CZ pistols. We have found them very ergonomic and approved of the fact that (as opposed to many other pistols) the mass and weight of the slide is fairly low (compared with the total mass and weight of the gun). This means less impuls and recoil (because of less weight moving during the shooting).

This applies also to the TS. On top of that, the thumb rest helps to control the gun even more during rapid-fire series. This particularly as regards the.40 S&W. Having fired ourselves and having had to manage the recoil of quite a few rounds out of a “forty call”? (in IPSC language) TS, we can only approve of this feature, particularly for countries where reloading is not permitted and shooters are confined to the powerfull factory ammo.

Returning to the main focus, the rifles, I started with the manufacturers of semi-automatic weapons – also from a lot of applied interest, because this year we participate in the European championship of IPSC riflea, open division.

Besides American manufacturers – countless – appeared more and more European companies producing AR 15 clones made of US or own parts. Italians from Dallera are some of the most famous in the southern part of the continent.

But the highest concentration of this type of manufacturers is found in Germany. Whether it is about the important manufacturers as Sig Sauer, Heckler & Koch, Haenel and others or some more specialized as Schmeisser, Oberland Arms, Dynamic Arms Research, Hera Arms or others, the majority of them produce most of their components in-house or purchase them from other German manufacturers (specialized, for example in the production of barrels, chassis, etc. – see below). And it is not just about national pride: the import of components from America is an adventure that most of them no longer want.

The good news is that the finished products are at least comparable to those from overseas. Not to mention the practical aspects: if you need a component just wait a few weeks not months.

The weapons but also the accessories are perfectly comparable with the American products. Germans also produce very good stocks: rear (fixed or adjustable in length) or front (made of aluminum, with Picatinny rails or simply “tubes” of Key Mod type – that allow the placement of Picatinny or Weaver rails or any other type wanted, only in desired positions). The same can be said about compensators  (without which a quick shooting is impossible), the triggers etc. – even if they are made by specialized manufacturers. Not to mention the scope mounts, where the Germans are making the premium products market (as well as the premium scopes, which are to be mounted with these supports).

Many of them offer many alternatives so that you can almost configure your gun like a car. Based on the multitude of options, assistance from a dealer is needed or else you risk getting lost in the jungle of accessories.

And the best part for the user comes at the end: weapons may also be found in our country, in the weapon shops. Keep your eyes open.

A welcome exception to the numerous AR-type of rifles is the 805 Bren S1 produced by CZ. The civilian sister of the A1 and A2 rifles in service with the Czech armed forces is a modularly built rifle. The most recent design in terms of military rifles on the old continent (it came into service 2009) promises in terms of sports shooting as well. The piston-driven system is extremely reliable. We have satisfied ourselves of its reliability firing around two thousand rounds under competition conditions in less than four days, without any cleaning. The 16-inch barrel makes the rifle compact, a feature you learn to appreciate when manipulating it through the twists of the barricades and windows of an IPSC stage – we will follow up on this topic.

It remains only to expect a change in the law allowing the use of these weapons also in shooting sports category, not just for hunting.


Another category of weapons that we watched carefully was the one of the bolt rifles.
I have already written in previous issues of various high precision tactical weapons mounted on ultra-modern aluminum or wood chassis.

Among those the tactical weapons of Haenel. RS-8 and RS-9 seem to us as some very successful weapons. And it seems that we are not alone: RS-9 in caliber .338 Lapua Magnum has passed the pre-selection stage and reached the final (along with the weapon of another large European manufacturer) selection of the German Army (Bundeswehr) for its new long-range rifles. We wish you success!

A smaller producer, which we liked very much, is Voere. The Austrians know what they do and they produce good hunting and shooting rifles. More recently, they came up with two lines of tactical weapons: X 3 and M 2.

X3’s been around the market and represents a real competition to Accuracy International, Unique Alpine, PGM and the rest of the established brands.

The chassis with the folding gunstock (and adjustable in all respects) is made of aluminum. Trigger strength is adjustable. Weight of about 7 kg of the weapon is of help in larger calibers (Voere offers calibers from .308 Win to .408 Chey tac) – the golden rule that the best way to master the recoil is weapon’s mass finds application here also. Of course, also the compensator assists here. Demonstrations of the effectiveness of the system can be found on YouTube.

The gun is modularly built and it supports a range of accessories.

We witnessed a demonstration of exchanging calibers to X3. To switch from a caliber to another it takes lessthan two minutes (with a bit of practice): undo four socket head screws, change the barrel, tighten the same screws in place, change bolt head (easy to change) and magazines (if applicable, for some magazines are multi-caliber) and you are good to go – or rather good to shoot.

And not only they were able to move from hunting weapons to tactical precision weapons. The people at Voere also know what a gun needs to shoot accurately, especially at long distance.
The result of using a scope-weapon system also takes into account a number of mechanical factors.
One of them consists in the vibrations that the firing system transmits to the weapon. The bolt is “rushing” and “hits” the cap, and transmits vibrations both to the ammunition and to the whole system, which may have influence on accuracy, practically leading to another point of impact than the spotted/aimed one. The higher vibrations are, the higher deviation will be.

Another factor is the ignition time. The longer it is, the higher the risk that the aiming point will be different. In two words: the shooter pulls the trigger when he is sure that the cross hair or another item used foraiming is exactly on the place on the target to be reached by the projectile. Between the actuation of the trigger and the moment in which the projectile leaves the barrel (which is the moment that gives the final trajectory) the body of the shooter transmits to the weapon a series of movements – naturally. This is quite easy to see by following through the telescope the moves of the reticule on the target. Although these movements are very small, there is a possibility that they impart a (slightly) different projectile trajectory than the one desired by the shooter.

It is clear that on a hundred meters shooting we are not necessarily talking about large deviations due to either of the two factors. However, for those who want to have all the conditions to achieve the ultimate precision at greater distances (where a shift of impact has greater influences) Voere came up with an interesting innovation: a system of laser firing.

This implies that the only mechanical element moving when firing is the trigger. When pulled, a powerful battery feeds a powerful laser focusing the rays (and therefore, temperatures of several hundred degrees Celsius) exactly in the gun powder in the cartridge. To allow this, the primer is replaced by a special transparent sheet that allows the described operation to take place. Replacing the primer is the only ammunition change.

In order to understand the development effort made by Voere: “laser” bolt is fully compatible with any X3 already on the market. Voere “squeezed” the batteries and the laser in the existing bolt, eliminating the firing pin, spring and safety.

The absence of any mechanical movement reduces vibrations when firing. Moreover, the ignition time of less than 3.5 ms limits the impact point deviation risk.

All this leads to improved accuracy. It remains to be seen whether this option will prevail on the market.
And the best part at the end: Austrians also brought on the market a smaller system: M2, in calibers from .223 Remington to .338 Lapua Magnum. The range of calibers is probably wide enough for our shores. The weapon is lighter – transport advantage. And more affordable – with the money difference you can take one or two exchange barrels of other calibers.

It is known that Blaser makes high precision weapons. For those who want to transform the R 93 or R 8 they already have in a real high precision rifle – that is to add a gunstock that can be adapted to the body conformation or specific firing position or different types of scopes, scope positioning or mount, there is the possibility of buying some aftermarket chassis. One of these is the product of Northerners from Grodas: GRM.

With this new dress, Blaser does not only raise expectations as tactical weapon, but also looks different. The compatibility of the two systems is demonstrated by the fact that even Blaser offers R8 from the factory with a GRM gunstock – what better proof can there be?

For the record, Voere also offers some of his guns with GRM gunstock.

We will continue in the next issue with weapons that can be used for ISSF competitions.

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