IWA PART TWO
The reporting in this second part will regard tactical and hunting shotguns, sport rifles (for ISSF disciplines), optics, clothing and accessories.
We have visited some of the big names: Benelli and Fabarm. Novelties at Benelli are rather about hunting shotguns (see below). There are some improvements of the world-known M3 and M4, but these are rather detail improvements.
We were impressed with the importance Fabarm gives to its tactical lines of shotguns. No wonder that STF 12 is a big sales succes. Fabarm offers it in various configurations, barrel lengths, (folding) stocks and with several accesories. The shotgun makes a very good impression: materials are of high quality.
It probably has very little competition: among European producers there are not too many that offer such a vast array of options for a tactical shotgun: various barrel lengths, stocks (foldable, adjustable and fixed) as well as all sort of accessories. Trigger pull is very decent. Good job Fabarm! That is not to say that Fabarm has no competition. To the contrary: many shotgun producers put a polymer stock on their products, some even picatinny rails. The difference lies in the details. One cannot fail to observe that the turkish shotgun producers are in the offensive. Not only that the numbers of exhibitors under this category is increasing, their marketing is also increasingly good. It would be interesting to test their products. The true developments in this segment seem to come from over the Atlantic: aside of the high magazine capacity shotguns from Kell Tech (of which we have reporte in the past) and the likes there were exotic apearances like double barelled pump-guns and others.
HUNTING AND SPORTS SHOTGUNS
Benelli has brought 828 Over and Under as well as the Colombo Semi-auto.
Beretta has brought the 486 side-by-side in two new calibres: 20 and 28. The shotgun makes a very good impression: very slim line, very neat passages from the good quality wood to steel, etc. Check it under http://www.beretta.com/en/486-by-marc-newson/.
Digital age found its place into weapon craft a well: Beretta offers it’s A 400 line with the Gun-Pod option. It counts number of shots, locations where it has been brought to and other Big Brother stuff. A nice to have gadget. Blaser has brought the F 16. The impression the very efective marketing machinery at Blaser leaves is monumental.These guys must be investing huge amounts in marketing. The stand was very well organized. Movies were presented very efficiently: they caught the attention from 50 meters away. We are looking forward to test the rifle in Bucharest. Hunting and sports shotguns are probably the most present weapons on the IWA. There are dozens and dozens of producers present. The mediteraneans dominate: Italians, Spaniards, French, Turks. Germans are also present. Americans and English also offer interesting alternatives. The numbers are endless. Classical side-by-side or over and under or even shotgun-only drillings are to be seen. Semi-auto or pump guns take their share of the show. Every price category is present: from very reasonable priced side-by-side Made in Turkey (which is does not mean anything bad) to a set of four side-by-sides in calibres 12, 20, 28 and 410 offered by Perazzi at the memorable aggregate price of almost EUR 360’000! Fabarm has showed a few very innovative features of sports shotguns in the RS 12 series. RS 12 Trap has an adjustable rib. With a simple turn of the small wheel the rib raises – very smart.
RS 12 Sporting has a replaceable rib that allows the shooter to adapt to various needs. An increasing category is the shotguns (and generally long guns) specially designed for female shooters. Almost every producers offers such weapons – quite encouranging because it means that there is a good chance that the number of female shooters and hunters in increasing. The shotguns are shorter, lighter and the stock is adapted to the anatomy of the female body. Fabarm calls its „She”-shotgun Syren.
Fabarm also brought an innovation to its semi-autos: its L4S has two rings in its forward stock. One holds the stock in place, the other the repeating system. Smart solution: there is no tension in the forward stock and the gun can shoot even with the stock off.
SPORT RIFLES AND PISTOLS (for ISSF disciplines)
While in Romania this market is a very narrow niche, in western European countries there are quite a few shooters that use these weapons.
Thus, the market is quite present at IWA.
Walther brought its new flagship rimfire rifle KK 500. The rifle is exquisite: everything is very well thought through and multi-funtional. So is the price, though, placing it rather as a product for „high-end” shooters (both in terms of performance and budget). The air rifle „queen”, LG 400 was also presented in a new version.
Luft Pistole 400 was also presented din a limited edition. We hope to be able to run a test with a Walther air pistol soon.
Anschuetz was also present. Apart of the very nice gadget in form of a computer simulation showing the „firing” of diabolo by an Anschuetz air rifle from the perspective of the diabolo, Anschuetz also had some novelties to present: a new stock called „Precise”, a revival of a stock of 20 years ago.
Differently than most of the other German sports rifles producers, Anschuetz is interested of a share in the large caliber sports rifles. So it offers several options, including one with a very good GRS stock.
Aside of Anschuetz, the competition on the market for large caliber rifle for ISSF disciplines is quite thin though. As we have written in Shooters Magazine No.3 in Volume 3, it mostly consists of Keppeler on one hand and Gruenig and Elmiger on the other hand.
Keppeler has brought some interesting novelties.
The silencer-equipped rifles you may have noted in several pictures in our article are due to some legislative changes in Germany. At least two Bundeslaender allow the use of silencers for hunters under certain conditions. You notice it all over the place at IWA: whereas before silencers were rather products to be presented on the Enforce Tac to representatives of special forces, now they are to be found everywhere. Considering the fact that in Germany (if all Bundeslaender were to allow silencers for hunters) there were hundreds of thousands of potential buyers, producers compete fiercely to get a share of the growing market.
Getting back to sports rifles, the other big name in the game, Gruenig and Elmiger is in a totally different league. We made no secret of the fact that we are big fans of the G&E rifles. In fairness it is hard not to become a fan at first sight. Just check this picture: you have the impression you see a spaceship.
And the impression is not generated only by the high quality marketing the Swiss bring up (for instance the stand looks state of the art). It is more the quality of the products that makes the jaw drop: every screw and every surface is perfect. The Swiss do not hesitate to employ state of the art materials: wood is nicely combined with wood and aluminum.
Gruenig & Elmiger have also brought some novelties. The first is the e-trigger on their rimfire rifles.
While e-triggers are nothing new on the market (Morini, the partner with whom G&E have developed the e-trigger, has more than 20 years of experience with such electronic firing systems), there are probably very few e-triggers as sophisticated as the one in the picture. It also has very good characteristics: trigger weight between 50 and 200 grams, 15.000 shots with one battery. The hardware is impressive.
G&E have also thought of a very efficient way to adjust the front sight of the rifle without changing the aiming or shooting position, so they brought the Eye-Xtender (developed together with Gehman). A smart system allows the adjustment of the iris foresight and spirit level without lowering the rifle. And everything weights 170 grams. Bravo Gruenig and Elmiger!
This is also a quite voluminous market. Alongside the big players from Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and the US it was interesting to see that large weapon producers also entered this market.
Sig Sauer presented not one but several lines of rifle scopes with interesting names like Whiskey or Tango.
Walther also wants a share of the pie, particularly on the market for air rifles.
In terms of novelties, as we participate at driven hunts and we also shoot IPSC rifle, our focus was on low magnification scopes.
Swarovski has brought its new series Z8 (i) 1-8×24 L. The new scope brings the extremely high quality of Swarovski. Whether we speak of the very clear and bight picture or of the quality of the feel when you turn the magnification knob, Swarovski is a class of its own. And the „cherry on the pie” is the Flexchange, the new illuminated switchable 4A-IF reticle. Hold the button and the reticle turns from a dot into a circled dot. While we already were big fans of the Austrian scope producers, the new scope made us very keen. We hope to be able to test it soon.
While 1-8×24 could well be an universal solution (not requiring a second optic), if one is used to two optics (scope plus red dot) when shooting IPSC rifle, one could also consider Swarovski’s „next in line”, Z8i 1.7-13.3×42. While it is debatable whether one needs 13 times magnification to shoot steel at 300 meters, the shooter will certainly be grateful for the brightness the 42 mm front lens brings, particularly when shooting the last stages of the day. And for the winter one also has an universal hunting scope.
Leica brought no less than three scopes of the Magnus line that could be interesting for the same purpose: 1-6.3×24 i, 1.5-10×42 i and 1.8-12×50 i. With 44 meters at magnification one, the 1-6.3×24 i has one of the broadest vision fields on the market. We liked the quality of the sight through the scope. The 1.8-12×50 has a very bright picture. 50 mm lens send its greetings! All in all Leica scopes made a good impression: sight and materials are of a high quality. They justify the premium price.
Speaking of practical rifle shooting: Aimpoint, the world-known Swedish optics producer brought several novelties to IWA. Three times magnifiers (for both the civilian and the professional user) as well as a very impressive six times magnifiers. They are to be placed between the eye and the Aimpoint red dot of choice. And in order to preserve flexibility, Aimpoint also offers a mount for the magnifier. The mount can either be flipped to the side or simply removed from the rifle when no magnification is needed. Aiming is done via the red dot of the Aimpoint aiming device, so there is no need to re-zero the rifle when using the magnifier. Pretty cool.
The largest scopes producer in the world, Leupold was also present at IWA with a very large portfolio. We checked particularly the VX-6 flagship line. The 1-6×24 scope made a very good impression. The ones who do not have too much time to practice mounting the rifle on the shoulder will love it, as it has a large eye box / relief: it allows you some tolerance in placing the eye behind the scope. Some scopes require placing it at an exact distance; otherwise you get a deformed picture. Not so the VX-6: one can move the eye quite a distance while getting the same image. The scope is backed by a 30 years guarantee period! Bravo Leupold!
We have visited a producer that is already present on the Romanian market: Pulsar. The range of products is impressive: from thermal hunting scopes (to be used in countries where allowed) to infra-red technology with laser rangefinder.
We have looked at their latest product: Quantum.
Quantum is thermal imaging and spotting scope. Operating at the image frequency of 50 Hz, it allows a perceiving animals during their movement and a detection range of up to 1.8 km. Magnification is, depending on the model, of up to 16 times. It uses a very interesting range finding system: based on known heights of animals (deer = approx. 1.7 meters, boar = 0.7 meters, etc) it estimates the range with sufficient accuracy. A nice gadget. We hope to be able to test it soon in the field.
The same company also markets good quality scopes at competitive prices under the brand Jaeger.
We checked 1-4×24 and 1.5-6×42. Both scopes made a good impression: good eye relief, good picture and decent light transmission. All in all good value for money.