To say that turning our editorial staff loose at SHOT Show Media Day at the Range is kinda like loosing kids in a candy store would be a pretty fair assessment. After all, where else can you not only see many of the latest and greatest new guns and gear, but also get a chance for a little taste of each!?
Our staff spent yesterday shooting all kinds, sizes and shapes of new guns at the Boulder City Rifle and Pistol Club to bring you this late-breaking report.
Look for more daily SHOT Show coverage news every morning this week.
Call it nostalgia if you like, but we couldn’t pass by the Colt’s berm without a stop. Our time was well rewarded, however, with several magazines through two superb 1911s. The first was a stainless steel “Colt Competition Pistol” in 9 mm (but available in .45 ACP and .38 Super, too), and we’d take this one right out of the box, thank you, much as one could with Gold Cups of yesteryear. From the Novak sights to the G10 grips, magwell and trigger tune, we could find no fault. Colt range hands were generous to a fault, but we think we wore our welcome more than a little thin. A hint was the slowing pace of refilled magazines.
Colt Delta Elite
Whereupon, we moved over to a similarly glorious, accessory-railed stainless Delta Elite. This 10 mm version of the 1911 is a long time favorite as much because of the Browning pattern as the caliber, and in a thoroughly rational world, we’d argue the 10 makes virtually all other handgun calibers superfluous. Versatile 10 mm loadings are once again widely available, and handloaders, of course, have kept the Cooper scion alive through almost 30 years of ebbing and flowing fortunes. For target, defensive or handgun hunting, the Delta deserves a serious look.
Walther PPQ Creed
If you couldn’t find a Walther you could hit with, we have no suggestions. We went there specifically to get our mitts on a PPQ Q5 Match, and were seriously annoyed to discover just how unoriginal those aspirations were. That’s the bad news. The good news was a chance at both the 9 mm Creed and the PPS M2. Both were fairly dazzling. The Creed comes to a market awash in excellent quality striker guns (including Walther’s own PPQ M2), but with a sub-$400 MSRP. Lots of folks will wisely pick this as a “starter” centerfire handgun, and discover little need to “move on.” It was good-natured and accurate in our hands, with a pre-cocked, double-action, bobbed-hammer ignition that Walther told us accounts for the very reasonable cost. The upside is that it’s less expensive to manufacture than competing systems, and the cost savings gets passed on to the customer. As we didn’t find any obvious flaws (though we’re promised a “full” review sample in short order), we can’t say that there is a downside. Mighty nifty.
Walther PPS M2
The subcompact PPS M2 drops into a busy niche, too, but comes out swinging: Don’t shoot it unless you want serious second thoughts about what you may already own in the single-stack pack. We’ll have to vet them side-by-side for you, but we’re suspicious it’ll prove the most docile gun in the class by a noticeable margin.
Walther Q5 Match
We did get to the Q5 Match, eventually (grumble, grumble, grumble!), but it was worth the wait. The rig we shot was set up with a red-dot optic that left no challenge to 12-inch steel at the back of the berm, and hostage “flags” half that size were just plain easy. For the active shoppers out there, there are two particular positives to keep in mind: The Walther trigger really is exceptional just as it comes from the factory, with a short overall press and outstanding .1-inch reset. It’s also a pistol that you can get into several extra states with standard magazine capacities of 15 rounds. No messing with that “high-cap” malarkey.
Bullpup fans that we are, a stop by IWI was obligatory. It wasn’t hard to find a way to chew into time we had allocated elsewhere with the new X95, a follow-on of sorts to the well-known TAVOR. We shot it in both 9 mm and 5.56 (suppressed), and found plenty of reasons why more of these great rifles will be showing up on ranges and in rifle cases near you. The action of the X95 is unchanged as far as we could tell—it remains a soft-shooting and very controllable rifle with the traditional bullpup benefits—weight close to the shooter’s body and short overall length. The X95 offers some “Americanized” changes (like an ambi, index-finger mag release) and slick removable rail covers, while keeping all the other either/or capacities (up to and including a swappable bolt handle). A gripe we always thought a bit overstated has been very capably addressed, too: Trigger press weight has been dropped by a third. If you’re after a non-folding rifle of superb quality, the X95 has a lot to offer. (Don’t overlook that 9 mm variant, either, if a PPC is on your radar. The maneuverability of the X95 will play very well in the burgeoning division.)
SIG P320 VTAC
When you make as many fantastic firearms as SIG Sauer does, you can have your own Range Day at the SHOT Show. And that’s just what SIG did yesterday at the Clark County Shooting Complex. One of the big hits of the day was the new P320 VTAC, developed with Kyle Lamb of Viking Tactical. The gun features a full-length FDE colored slide with lightening cuts on the side and a carry length dust cover. It uses VTAC fiber optic sights and the same flat trigger as the new P320X5 competition model.
Walker’s Razor Series
Walker’s Game Ear was on hand at the SIG event to give everyone in attendance the opportunity to use a set of its new Razor Series Slim Shooter folding muffs. The muffs feature two omnidirectional microphones, full dynamic range HD speakers and independent volume control. They operate on two AAA batteries. They worked just as they should, and we look forward to trying them out more back home.