IWA 2016 FIRST PART
IWA was a great show of the industry. 10 halls where 1455 exhibitors put on show products and information. More than 45,000 exhibitors (10% more than last year) poured in from more than 120 countries over four days (plus two days of Enforce Tac).
We did our best but it was not possible to capture every novelty.
In order not to get swamped by the volume of information, we have proceeded twofold: (1) we have visited the booths of the big players and participated at their press conferences and (2) we have used the IWA platform to check the novelties the other exhibitors have posted there.
In doing so we tried to also give you a chance to also find out about smaller producers who, while not being backed by a strong marketing machinery, are offering products you may find interesting.
Below you will find a selection of the information. We have grouped it under pistols, tactical rifles and plinking, hunting rifles [whereas the boundaries between the tactical rifles and the hunting rifles are quite fluid] and semi- auto sports rifles. In part two of this article we shall report about tactical shotguns, hunting shotguns, optics, clothes and accessories.
Sig Sauer has brought a new coating to their long time flagship 226. It is called Legion and gives the gun a nice look. It appears to be resistant as well.
Glock has extended its MOS option [the slide has allow the mounting of all sorts of mini reflex sights (eg Docter Sight, Trijicon, etc)] from 34 and 35 to other series: 19 and 17. Certainly a good way to acquire the target faster. We hope the MOS will be available in Romania as well soon.
Walther has brought the PPQ Q 5 Match. The trigger is good and the pistols makes a good impression. It will certainly be an alternative to full size sports pistols (or sport versions of duty pistols) with polymer grip already on the market. It also comes with the option to mount a reflex sight. Both Glock and Walther seem to have reacted to a aging shooter population in due time as well. Smith and Wesson has been offering the M&P 9 worth this option for a while.
A smaller but vigorous player, Grand Power brought a new Stryker fired pistol. The first impression was solid: trigger is good for a SFP. We are looking forward to see how the pistol will behave in live fire.
The sports model Excalibur is being offered in a new PVD coating in various colors. We have reported in the past about Excalibur and its qualities.
Ruger has presented its new American Pistol. We hope the gun will be marketed in Europe so we get to test it.
Tanfoglio has presented its Stock 1, a specked down version of their Stock 2.
The new Shadow 2 from CZ we have presented separately. Here we only note that it will be interesting to see whether CZ will apply for and IPSC will approve registering in the Production list the version of the Shadow 2 that has a barrel bushing. We have seen this option first time applied by Angus Hobdell on a Shadow 1 at the CZ booth at the World Shoot 2014 in Florida. The barrel bushing was improving the already good basic accuracy of the Shadow on a match pistol level. It would be good if the IPSC Production shooters would have the option to go for this version of the new pistol as well.
Smith & Wesson has brought an improved version of their 1911.
Speaking about revolvers: aside of the big names like Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Colt, we have also paid a visit to the smaller manufacturers and tuners.
Korth has brought their Super Sport revolver to IWA. The length and weight as well as the characteristic of the trigger pull are fully adjustable. The revolver has picatinny rails all over. The rails make it very versatile and allows mounting of all sorts of accessories. Adapting the point of impact to the various distances with the same ammunition is done by adjusting the front sight. This is a quite well thought through piece of weaponry. On the other hand they have a great name to live up to. Bravo Korth!
The revolvers built by Janz also made a very good impression. Quality is very high and you can change everything: cylinder (and caliber), barrel grip, etc. All in all a very versatile revolver. Expensive too, but quality has its price.
As noted before, it goes without saying that these rifles can be used for hunting as well.
However, given our focus on tactical carbines earlier this year, we have analysed them separately.
Sig Sauer has presented its long time champion SSG 3000 with various improvements. Rifle is very popular in Germany and Scandinavia among civilian shooters. It is quite a seller among law enforcement as well.
Blaser has presented another R8 with GRS stock that can easily qualify as a tactical / sports rifle.
Triggers on both Sig and Blaser are very good. But then one kind of expects this feature on rifles that, depending on the specs, cost as much as a Dacia Logan.
As a matter of fact we have noted an increasing number of rifle producers that see no reason to re-invent the wheel and develop their own laminated wood or polymer adjustable stocks. They simply mount the very good stock from Grodas. Aside of Blaser that is also valid for Voere, Savage, Anschuetz and Browning (see the respective positions below) and others.
Steyr has presented its SSG 08 A 1 with a tactical chassis that has won the tender organized by the Norvegian Armed Forces. Quite impressive peace of craft. While SSG 08 has been an already impressive rifle, A 1 in dual-tone look is at least one notch higher. The fully adjustable and foldable stock (including a spike) looks good and feels good. It will certainly add to the already very high precision capability of the SSG 08.
Bruegger & Thomet has improved its already reliable APR 308.
We have writen before about Ruger Precision Rifle. It was good to finally hold the rifle in our hands. It made a solid impression. Only the adjustable stock must have been adjusted a few times to many before us (it was late in the day so it could have been a hundred guys that tried to adjust it that day), because the length adjustment screw fell of as we lifted the rifle. The matter was solved in minutes and he could carry on. It is fair to say that one can simply only ask a reasonable amount of adjustment „capability” from a reasonably priced rifle. That incident has not dented our good impression about the rifle.
The Savage rifles also made a good impression on us. After having consulted with the Savage distributor for Romania, Radu Bichis, we have focused on the tactical versions 10 BA and 110 BA Stealth (with Drake stock) PICTURE plus the „regular” BA with foldable stock.
Rifles make a very good impression: solid action with smooth run, good trigger and affordable prices. For the ones that want a even more affordable price, Savage offers the same action in the 10 PCP.
One has to decide whether one is ready to pay the double price for the tactical chassis (=stock). Probably both options will find their fans. 10 PCP will also be offered with GRS stock, both in laminated wood and polymer.
The stock made a very good impression. These Norvegians from Grodas really now their trade. Barrel is free floating and the stock is fully adjustable.
Speaking about producers accross the Big Pond (as the English speaking people call the Atlantic ocean), the Italian importer of Kelby’s has brought to IWA a very fine rifle: Atlas Hunter Professional. While (as its name indicates) the rifle can be used for hunting it will surely be able to produce quite tight groups on any chosen distance (depending on the calibre). A pity it does not get to Romania.
There is an increasing number of smaller producers that are becoming visible at shows like IWA: we are sure it was not possible to note all. Here just a few examples: BCM, Ritter & Stark, Ultimatum Defense.
A producer we have written about in the past, Orsis (Prom Technologia) has improved its 5000 rifle. The action runs very smooth and the trigger brakes like glass. The rifle is surprisingly light. While we had no scale with us, with a long action (.338 Lapua Magnum), 26 inches barrel with medium contour, the rifle feels pleasantly light.
Aside of the very innovative X 3 with laser firing system we have written in the past, Voere has brought K 15, a rimfire rifle. While it may be argued that this rifle would also fall under the „pinkling” rifles (see the section below), we feel the barrel lenght and particularly low weight (less than 2 kg) due to the carbon used to the barrel put the rifle in a different category. While the trigger on the rifle at display might have been a little lighter, the rifle has a big precision potential.
We had the opportunity to tack a look to a rather unconventional but qualitative sniper Rifle: the bull-pup produced by the Americans from Desert Tech. It made a good impression. Particularly the HTI in .50 BMG is quite a looker.
In times of raising ammunition costs every producer seems to offer an increasing number of rifles and pistols in .22LR.
The young shooters (where shooting under the age of 18 is allowed) have to learn to handle the „bang” and rimfire is a good way to do this.
There are two main trends about rimfire: the traditional ISSF disciplines (plus biathlon) and the one that also involves rather less rules. In America they call it plinking.
We will talk about ISSF in the second part of the IWA report. Here we will focus on plinking.
ISSC and Steyr Mannlicher seem to have a very fruitful cooperation: ISSC has developed for Steyr Mannlicher a very handy and very reliable rifle, the Streyr Scout RFR. ISSC sells the rifle under its own brand as well. It has in both cases the same technical features: a straight pull action and a very fine trigger. This rifle is certainly a joy to shoot. It is very handy as well, with an overall length of 980 mm. The weight of 3.1 kg probably tames the light recoil of the .22 LR even more.
ISSC is a producer that specializes on high quality rimfire weapons. The Steyr Scout is called SPA 22 at ISSC. ISSC offers it in four versions, including a tactical one. The rifle lacks nothing a big bore sniper rifles has – just that everything is adapted to rimfire.
ISSC has also developed a Rim Fire Pistol for Steyr. The gun makes a good impression. Trigger is quite sensitive and the tolerances are quite tight. We are looking forward to test the pistol in Romania.
Smith & Wesson has brought the 22 Victory. The pistol makes a good impression.
There were quite a few novelties in this category as well.
Winchester is celebrating 150 years and Remington 200 years of fine weaponry craft. Both industry champions took the opportunity to present improvements of their products. Winchester with their XPR and SXR semi auto and Browning with their X bolt and BAR.
The BAR celebrates 50 years (!) of production. Similarly, Remington 700 is being produced since the early sixties and still sells strong! These numbers speak for themselves: in Europe there are very few products as long living as these rifles.
Merkel extended the caliber range it offers on the Merkel with a real „kicker”: .338 Win Mag. The poor boars…
Blaser’s R8 with GRS stock made a good impression (as all the other Blasers as well). Trigger is crisp and the stock is a good blend between precision rifle and hunting rifle. A pleasure!
We took a closer picture to Blaser’s new competitor Sauer 404. The rifle makes a good impression: bolt runs very smooth in the receiver, rifle is quite balanced and the trigger is crisp. Barrel exchange should occur in a matter of a minute, according to postings on the web. We are looking forward as to this competition between the two rifles is going to develop.
404’s smaller brother 101 is also worth a look. We found the rifle balanced and providing good value for the money.
Verney Carron presented their new Speedline rifle. It is an interesting combination between a semi-auto and a regular rifle. It basically works like a semi-auto that locks its bolt carrier back after every shot. In order for the carrier to rush in the front, take on the way a cartridge lock and be ready for the next shot the shooter has to manually work a lever with the thumb of the right hand.
Steyr Mannlicher has also brought some novelties: a true left-handed version of the SM 12 and CL II. This is quite a statement because the so called „south-paws” have it sometimes quite difficult to find a left-handed stock for their rifles. Or they have to wait long to get one. Steyr has also thought about precision shooters and a laminated wood thumbhole stock for the same SM 12 and CL II.
SEMI-AUTO SPORTS RIFLES
This is probably the rifle sector with the highest growth rate in terms of offerings and offeror.
It looks like there are an increasing number of shooters participating in all sorts of dynamic shooting disciplines (IPSC being probably the best-known) and producers want to take a share of the growing pie.
We took a look at the Sig Sauer products, 516 and M 400 that are well known meanwhile. We noted the quality of the products during our last IWA participation already. Sig offers them in various configurations that suit all sorts of shooter’s needs. We had the chance to test a M 400 Predator in life fire during one of our trainings with a top shooter. The rifle is quite impressive out of the box. With a good muzzle break you can shoot it almost as fast as a hand gun on a stage! Good job, Sig!
Another big player, Smith & Wesson has various M&P 15 configurations to offer. We took a closer look to the Performance Center version. The rifle makes a good impression. The finish is good and the trigger pull also quite good.
Bruegger & Thommet have brought their AP 223 out to the market for a while already. But it still feels good to hold it the hands and break a „dry” shot. Quality products – Swiss job.
Dynamic Arms Research (DAR) is a German company that offers very qualitative products.
While quite empiric and subjective, we like to employ following „method”: lock the bolt carrier back, raise the rifle into shooting position and unlock the carrier. Depending on how hard the carrier hits the barrel and the barrel nut and how many vibrations and torsion your body perceives that is being transmitted into the upper or lower receiver you can make yourself an opinion on how well the system is tuned. The lesser the „hit” (and lower the vibrations) the better is the tuning of the components to each other. There are many variables here: how strong the recoil spring is, how heavy the bolt plus bolt carrier is (and what is the balance between this weight and the weight of the upper and lower receiver) what sort of buffer system the rifle employs, etc. The practical importance of this analysis is: the way the rifle behaves at this test is a good sample of how the rifle will behave between shots. Sport shooters want the rifle to „jump” as little as possible, to allow a quick follow-up shot.
DAR rifles behaved very civilized at this „dry” test. So did the Sig and the Brugger & Thomet AP 223.
Tangfolio has also presented its first AR 15 platform, an interesting rifle.
In these times of high costs of ammo, shooters are looking to control cost. One way is to employ AR platforms in .22 LR or pistol calibers: entire rifles or only uppers. These cartridges also offer the advantage of being able to train rifle in pistol shooting ranges, where allowed.
Chiappa is offering an 22 upper, including a standard AR magazine that is being adapted to feed 22 LR cartridges. This is quite smart as it does not need a special mag well adapter. The upper makes a good impression.
Hera Arms is offering entire AR recoil operated rifles in 9 x 19.
According to press releases CZ also produces a version of its Scorpion with 16 inch barrel that would be suitable for dynamic shooting. Let’s see if this version will be marketed in Europe as well.
Grand Power brought a new carbine in 9×19, the Stribog. The rifle makes a good impression. We are looking forward to test it in life fire.
All the above are interesting alternatives to train rifle with lower cost and being able to access more shooting ranges.
TO BE CONTINUED