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SHOT Show 2018: Day 3’s Top Guns

SHOT Show 2018: Day 3’s Top Guns

If there’s a trend emerging from this year’s new carry/personal protection guns, is that we’re finding a happy medium between portability (size) and shootability (grip and comfort). It appears shooter feedback is telling gun designers that there’s a limit to how small is really practical. That is what has evidenced itself on the handgun side of the business during the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, held this week in Las Vegas.

On the rifle side, the trend toward long-range shooting continues to spike, with many makers upgrading their precision bolt and semi-automatic platforms.

But all that aside, what’s really astonishing is the diversity and sheer momentum of the firearm industry and its product offerings. High-tech products rule the day, but classic designs sure aren’t going away. 

Colt Cobra

The snake gun is back! Colt returns to the double-action revolver realm with it’s new 2 in.-barreled Cobra. Pairing that with the gun’s compact overall dimensions (7.2 in. long/25 ozs.) and a rearward, rubber-wrapped Hogue grip makes this is a serious choice for a CCW revolver. Chambered in .38 Spl., the little six-shooter is compatible with +P loads thanks to its all-stainless steel construction. The fiber-optic front sight and Colt’s respected LL2 Trigger System contribute to gun’s ability to shoot accurately, and it is equipped with a transfer-bar safety.

Bearing an MSRP of $699, buyers are not only getting a handy carry gun, they also are furthering a tradition of responsible personal protection that goes back more than 150 years.

LWRCI 224 Valkyrie

If it’s your ambition to own the flattest-shooting yet softest-kicking AR-style rifle at your gun club, look no further than the LWRCI DI 224 Valkyrie. This new edition marries a finely crafted firearm with the most exciting cartridge introduction of the decade. The impressive .224 Valkyrie, developed by Federal, is just a bit bigger than the 5.56x45 mm NATO/.223 Rem. in terms of case and bullet dimensions, but so much more when it comes to performance. Shooting a 90-gr. Sierra MatchKing, the Valkyrie reportedly “provides less wind drift and drop than all other loads in its class and stays supersonic past 1,300 yards.” Out to 800-plus yards, its trajectory is on par with the popular 6.5 mm Creedmoor at less than half the recoil.

Components here that helped rocket LWRCI to the top rank of AR makers include its proprietary direct-impingement (DI) operation and DI bolt carrier group. On top of that are first-rate touches like an MLOK free-float rail, ambidextrous lower controls and charging handle, as well as a Magpul MOE+ Grip. Literally, this is the latest word in long-range semi-automatics. MSRPs range from $2,000 to $2,150, depending on the model. 

Bergara HMR Pro

U.S.-assembled Bergara bolt-actions are a genuine value in today’s precision-rifle category, and that is clearly the case with the new HMR Pro. It features the company’s proprietary Premier twin-lug action whose “floating” (pinned) bolt head ensures perfect contact with the lug abutments. It boasts a cone-shaped bolt nose for smoother feeding and is fitted with a TriggerTech Frictionless Release trigger. The safety is also part of the trigger assembly, and thus it allows the gun to be unloaded while on safe. The 416 stainless barrel, made and honed at Bergara’s state-of-the-art barrelworks in Spain, receives a Cerakote finish when paired with the action at the company’s Georgia assembly plant. The unique HMR stock contains a mini-chassis for bedding integrity that will not budge, no matter the conditions. For an MSRP of $1,715, this is everything you need and more for durability and long-range sharpshooting.

Walther PPQ SC

Yes, the Walther PPQ SC is smaller than the much-loved PPQ Classic--.5 in. shorter and 3.3 ozs. lighter—but might not quite be what many would consider a sub compact (hence “SC”). And that’s a good thing in this case, because this trim, polymer-frame, striker-fired 9 mm plants so naturally in one’s hand you feel like you’re shooting something bigger. The downsized model sports distinctive Walther looks and, like others in the PPQ line, provides smooth shooting thanks to what the maker claims is the “best trigger on the market.” We found it to be very consistent both in resistance (5.6-lb. pull) and travel (.4 in.), which made our range session very enjoyable. Extra quality comes from multiple safeties; prominent, well-placed magazine release and slide lock controls; and low, no-snag 3-dot sights, including a windage-adjustable rear unit. Even better was the extended surface afforded by the Grip Sleeve that comes with the optional 15-round magazine (standard magazine is 10 rounds), which made this fine everyday-carry candidate fit even that much better. The MSRP is $649.