First, a note on coverage. A number of you ask, after reading these roundups, “Where’s the Model so-and-so?”, and “What happened to…?” The answers are these.
I can’t begin to cover everything new at the SHOT Show. In 1979, when you could walk the whole thing in a few hours, it could be done, but now, nope.
What I do report on is based on two factors: Previous experience with a brand, and the kind of job that the company’s PR people do. If a manufacturer has sent me nothing but exemplary stuff over time, I put whatever’s new on my must-see list. But if a company has sent me a rotten rifle, or several rotten rifles, I have no interest in their new rifles, because they are likely to be rotten, too.
Sometimes I find products through other people. This year, Dave Hurteau steered me to the Legendary Arms Works Closer rifle, which looks like a good one.
Here are some items other than rifles that merit your very serious consideration and fiscal indiscretion.
**ZEISS VICTORY SF BINOCULAR **
Because there are excellent medium- and low-priced glasses available, you tend to forget how terrific the really expensive stuff is. Zeiss SFs are a reminder of that. They are extremely light—27.5 ounces—but when you put them up to your eyes, it’s like getting slapped right in the old trigeminal nerve. “Gott in Himmel,” you exclaim, “I didn’t know you could make them this good.” Zeiss says that SFs are the best binocular they have ever produced, and far be it from me to argue.
The MSRP for the 8×42 version is $2,888; the 10×42 is $2,944. They’re worth it. If you doubt me, look through one. Zeiss.com/sports-optics.
NIGHTFORCE SHV 3X-10X-42
I’ve written this rifle scope up earlier. It combines first-rate optics, ergonomics, controls, compact size, toughness, and high-medium price in a package that is damned near unbeatable. I think that all scope designers should be seized by their pencil necks and dragged to the Nightforce booth to see how to create a scope you can use in the real world.
Nightforce is now making some of its target/tactical models with the crosshair in the first optical plane, which means that you can range/aim with them at any power. It has also introduced a line of truly excellent, lightweight, Picatinny rails and rings. Nightforceoptics.com
MEOPTA MEOSTAR R2 1.7X-10X-42
Here’s another in the best-all-around category. The R2 gives you 6X zoom magnification, which means that you can take shots all the way from Way Out There to very, very close, and I think you’ll find you do a lot more of the latter than the former. The new R2 contains every feature and refinement known to rifle scopery, and comes with the company’s illuminated reticle, which I like immensely. It’s a German 4A with a red cross in the middle, and the cross has both whole- and half-steps of illumination. It’s very fast to use, and visible under the most appalling conditions.
The price is roughly $1,500. You get what you pay for, and in this case you get a lot. [Meoptasportsoptics.com/us](http://www/. Meoptasportsoptics.com/us)
Much news this year. The Elite 1 Mile ConX, which I shall call ConX for short, is a rangefinder/ballistic calculator of such breathtaking capability that I am probably unqualified to write about it. It provides accuracy to within one yard from 5 to I,760 yards; connects with a Kestrel device to show what the wind’s doing; provides 7X magnification and shows holdover and –under for whatever bullet trajectory you program into it; is completely waterproof and Rainguarded, wirelessly connects with iOS and Android platforms…the list goes on and on. And the real world price is $699.
The LRHS 4.5X-18X-44mm (Long Range Hunting Scope) is Bushnell’s top of the line instrument for putting the power to distant life forms, and incorporates every worthwhile feature you can think of. It’s a 30mm-tube, mil-based instrument with an excellent reticle that is placed in the first optical plane so you can range at any magnification. Bushnell pulled out all the stops with this sight, and it’s a very high-grade piece of equipment. Too new to have a real-world price, the MSRP is $1,499.
Bushnell Elites are the only scopes that I have given extensive use and never had break. I don’t know how many of their 4200 Models I’ve put through the wringer, but it must be ten or a dozen, and never had one quit. The Elite line is now threefold—the 6500, 4500, and 3500, all with different features and in different price ranges. Nothing mechanical and optical is infallible, but in my experience, these come the closest. www.bushnell.com
There were plenty of throat-slitting, skull-splitting, and kidney-puncturing knives around, but for us hunters, here are three that stood out.
WHITE RIVER SCOUT
White River Knife and Tool is a new company that offers practical, handmade knives at very reasonable prices for what you get. The one that caught my eye was the Scout, a 2 ½-inch drop point that’s very light and handy but which, thanks to its adult-size handle and extreme sharpness, can do work all out of proportion to its size. The blade is CPM S30V, the handles are G10, and the sheath is Kydex.
All White River Knives are final-honed on a leather belt (machine driven, not off someone’s pants) and are scalpel sharp. In fact, I cut myself when I handled the Scout and didn’t feel it. When I pointed this out to John Cammenga, who runs the company, he took considerable pride in the fact. The Scout handle comes in three colors, of which you want Hunter Orange. If you’d like to run the risk of losing a $160 knife, you’re free to choose some other color. Whiteriverknives.com
HAVALON KNIVES PIRANTA-BOLT
Havalon replaceable-blade folding knives have been around for a few years, but the Piranta-Bolt is a new model that’s bigger, heavier, and stronger than its predecessors. Its ABS handle is blaze orange, the blade locks open, and its replacement blades are, literally, 2 ¾-inch scalpels. The Piranta-Bolt comes with a dozen blades, a nylon sheath, and costs $49.99. Your weary days of sharpening are at an end. Havalon.com
Made by Outdoor Edge, the EDC is a larger, heavier knife than the Piranta-Bolt, has a 3 ½-inch blade and also comes with an orange handle. It’s a lockback, and for $49.94 you get a nylon sheath, six replacement blades, and yes, the knife, too. The impression I get from handling both the Piranta-Bolt and the EDC is that the latter is a heavier-duty knife, and if you intend to include butchering among its chores you may like it better, although both are excellent for just about any use. Outdooredge.com
And, in case you’re wondering, despite the fact that I’m constantly handling knives, I hardly ever cut myself. That Scout was really sharp.