Volume 25, Number 7 December 2017

Archive for the ‘Featured’ category

50 law enforcement products that should command the attention of any retailer
Law enforcement related products remain a strong segment of the firearms and accessories industry. With just a shade over one million sworn officers, this would seem to be a niche market, but civilians also crave cop-capable equipment. It would take an encyclopedic volume to highlight all that is new, but here are 50 police-perfect products—including guns, optics, ammunition, and accessories—that are sure to turn the heads of cops and civilians, and put cash in your registers. (Note: Three trends that any retailer should be aware of in this arena are thermal optics, refined MSRs, and rifles in 6.5 Creedmoor.)

Law Enforcement  Firearms

Bergara B14 BMP BMP stands for Bergara Match Precision, and this rifle’s chassis is machined from 7075 T6 aluminum. It incorporates QD swivel attachments and Magpul M-LOK slots. The incredibly smooth action and barrel nut allow the barrel to be changed or replaced, and the magazine well can be used as a support brace. Available in .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor, with a threaded #5 contour barrel, this should be an ideal designated marksman rifle. SRP: $1,699. (bergarausa.com)

 Law EnforcementCover and Spread Photo by John Hafner.

BNTI Arms Battle Rifle This Florida-based manufacturer is the U.S. headquarters for small arms exported to vetted African armed forces and police units. Its new .308 Winchester Battle Rifle features a mil-spec forged lower and upper receiver, with a hard-coat anodized or Cerakote finish, a 16.5-inch match-grade barrel with a 1:10 twist, and a Magpul ACS stock. (bntiarms.com)

CMMG MkW Anvil XBE A new carbine from CMMG, the MkW Anvil XBE is chambered in .458 SOCOM. With CMMG’s unique Powerbolt design, the rifle uses a modified AR10-size bolt for increased durability. The rifle is also built on an AR10-size frame with a custom receiver to minimize weight and increase ergonomics. It has a 16-inch barrel, billet upper and lower receivers, and a single-stage mil-spec trigger. It weighs 7.5 pounds. SRP: $1,849.95. (cmmginc.com)

law enforcement, bergara

Bergara The B14 BMP (Bergara Match Precision) utilizes a smooth action. It should be an ideal designated marksman rifle. available in .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor.

CZ Bren 2 The ever-evolving needs of military forces led to further development of the Bren platform. The Bren 2 has a shorter gas system that allows for barrel lengths down to 8 inches, with settings for normal use, suppressed use, and adverse conditions. It is available for military and law enforcement only via special-order. (cz-usa.com)

CZ 805 Bren S1 Pistol With its 11-inch barrel, the S1 has proven to be a popular SBR candidate for customers wanting to convert it into an NFA firearm. Those who don’t wish to register with the ATF can equip it with CZ’s adapter kit, allowing easy installation of aftermarket arm braces. Chambered in .223 Remington/5.56 NATO, and 300 Blackout, the 805 Bren S1 Pistol retails for between $1,799 and $1,899.

 law enforcement, cmmg

CMMG Built on an AR10-Size frame, the MKW Anvil is chambered in .458 SOCOM. it has a 16-inch barrel and a single-stage mil-spec trigger.

CZ P-10 C This is CZ’s newest pistol, and the CZ grip angle avoids that brick-in-the-hand feeling that plagues many striker-fired handguns. Interchangeable backstraps allow it to fit a wide variety of hands, and the P-10’s trigger breaks at a clean 4 to 4.5 pounds, with a short, positive reset. It has a fiber-reinforced polymer frame, a nitride finish, and metal three-dot sights. With a 15 or 17+1 capacity, the CZ P10-C is available in 9mm Luger or .40 S&W. There is also a suppressor-ready variant in 9mm. SRP: $499 to $541. (cz-usa.com)

Dan Wesson Specialist Commander When police departments approached Dan Wesson to build a more reliable and durable 1911, the manufacturer said, “Can do!” The Specialist is available in 9mm or .45 Auto and has a forged stainless–steel slide with a serrated rib and a single tritium dot in the rear and front sights. It also has an integral rail, front strap checkering, an undercut trigger guard, a recessed slide stop, an ambidextrous thumb safety, and an extended magazine release. Available in Commander and full-size. SRP: $1,597. (cz-usa.com)

DPMS GII AP4-OR A new optics-ready carbine built on the revolutionary GII platform, the AP4-OR has a forged monolithic bolt carrier, dual ejectors, an Aermet extractor, a steel feed ramp, and reduced bolt geometry. The upper receiver has been improved for left-handed shooters, and it is available in .308 Winchester. SRP: $1,349. (dpmsinc.com)

FN 15 DMR II A re—engineered version of the DMR, the DMR II uses the all-new FN Proprietary M-LOK Rail System to provide extreme rigidity and less deflection to ensure that mounted accessories do not shift. It has an 18-inch match-grade, cold–hammer-forged barrel with a 1:7 twist, a Surefire Pro Comp muzzle device, a Timney trigger, and a Magpul MOE grip and buttstock. SRP: $1,999. (fnhusa.com)

law enforcement law enforcement law enforcement
Dan Wesson
Specialist Commander
FNS Compact
Striker-Fred American Compact

10 The FN 15 Tactical Carbine Chambered for the 300 Blackout, this carbine is duty-ready out of the box. Equipped with FN’s proprietary rail system, it offers a stronger, more rigid platform for accessories and optics. It features a 16-inch barrel, a carbine-length gas system, a low-profile gas block, a Surefire ProComp muzzle brake, and Magpul MOE furniture. SRP: $1,599. (fnhusa.com)

11 FNS Compact The Compact FNS offers the same features as standard FNS pistols, but comes in a shorter, 3.6-inch barrel. The snag-free design should help better conceal the firearm and deliver a faster draw time. The front sight also has a larger dot for faster target acquisition. The FNS Compact has a 12- or 17-round capacity, depending on the magazine used. It weighs 23.4 ounces and is 6.7 inches long, and should be ideal for plain-clothes officers or detectives. SRP: $599. (fnhusa.com)

12 Nighthawk Sky Hawk Korth The Sky Hawk is a compact six-shot revolver chambered for 9mm Luger, but half- or full-moon clips are not required. Every part is machined from billet steel or aluminum, and it’s available with a 2- or 3-inch barrel. A gold bead front sight, Houge grips, hard-coated frame, TSA-approved travel case, cleaning rod, grip-removal tool, lubricating oil, lanyard, and proprietary speed loader are standard. SRP: $1,699. (nighthawkcustom.com)

 law enforcement, remington

Remington The Model 700 Magpul features an adjustable comb and length of pull to allow for a perfect fit for improved accuracy.

13 Remington Model 700 Magpul The new 700 Magpul features adjustability in the comb and length of pull to allow for a perfect fit. The 22-inch heavy barrel is threaded for a suppressor or other muzzle devices, and the detachable magazine is perfect for tactical applications. It’s available in .308 Winchester and .260 Remington. SRP: $1,175. (remington.com)

14 Remington RP9/RP45 This new polymer handgun is a high-capacity striker-fired pistol with a very slim and adjustable grip profile. It’s available in 9mm or .45, with a respective capacity of 18+1 or 15+1. It weighs only 26.4 ounces, and with a suggested retail price of $489, it should be popular with officers who must purchase their own firearms.(remington.com)

15 Ruger American Compact Ruger’s striker-fired American Compact features a trigger with a short take-up and positive reset. It is performance-tested for sustained +P ammunition use and is equipped with Novak LoMount Carry three-dot sights. The pistol has a modular grip system, can be field-stripped easily, and has an ambidextrous slide stop and magazine release. With its 3.35-inch barrel, it measures 6.65 inches and weighs 28.7 ounces. SRP: $579. (ruger.com)

16 Savage MSR 15 The new 15 Patrol and Recon carbines from Savage mark the company’s initial entry into the MSR market. Both rifles have 5R button-rifled, 16-inch barrels with a long-lasting Melonite QPQ finish, and Savage’s trademark zero–tolerance headspace control. These rifles also feature the proven .223 Wylde target chambering and a standard gas system. SRP: $849, Patrol; $999.99, Recon. (savagearms.com)

 law enforcement, savage

Savage MSR 15.

17 Savage MSR 10 Savage has also introduced two AR10 MSR variants. The MSR 10 Hunter and Long Range models address some longstanding shortcomings of MSRs designed for larger cartridges. Both are compact units that feel and handle more like an AR15, and both utilize custom-forged uppers and lowers. Available in .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor, the Hunter has a 16- or 18-inch barrel, and the Long Range has a 20- or 22-inch barrel. SRP: $1,399, Hunter; $2,199, Long Range. (savagearms.com)

18 Stoeger P3000 This is a tactical, pump-action 12-gauge shotgun available with a field or pistol-grip stock and an 18.5-inch barrel. It will accept 2¾ or 3-inch shells and has a fixed Cylinder bore. SRP: $299 to $349. (stoegerindustries.com)

19 Stoeger M3000 The new M3000 Tactical semi-auto is available with either a field or pistol grip and comes with an 18.5-inch barrel. The inertia-driven gun will also accept 2¾- or 3-inch shells, and like the P3000, it has a fixed Cylinder bore. Police department purchasers will undoubtedly love the price. SRP: $599 to $649. (stoegerindustries.com)

20 Weatherby VAC The new Vanguard Adaptive Composite (VAC) rifle from Weatherby is intended for precision work and has a threaded barrel. VAC rifles are guaranteed to deliver sub-MOA three-shot groups at 100 yards, and come with an adjustable two-stage trigger, a three-position safety, and a fully adjustable stock. Vac rifles are available in .223 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Winchester. SRP: $1,269. (weatherby.com)

Law Enforcement  Optics

 law enforcement, GPO

GPO Passion HD Binoculars.

21 GPO Passion HD Binoculars Many forget the importance of binoculars for law enforcement. Whether used for surveillance or evaluating a disaster scene from a distance, GPO has five premium models to choose from. Available in 8×42, 10×42, 8.5×50, 10×50, and 12.5×50, these binoculars feature a custom–molded carry case, HD Glass, hydrophobic coatings, and tripod adapters. SRP: starts at $1,000. (gpo-usa.com)

22 Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25x56mm This new riflescope seems almost purpose-built for the police marksman, as it offers all the optical qualities that precision and long-range shooters expect. Weighing just 32.5 ounces, the Mark 8 3.5–25x56mm has a powerful 8:1 magnification ratio, which is ideal for target engagement and observation—the two primary roles of a police sniper. Simplified ZeroLock dials are a welcome addition, as is 90 MOA of elevation travel and a generous field of view. The scope is also available with a variety of high–performance reticles. SRP: $3,899.99. (leupold.com)

23 Trijicon REAP IR Small, light, and lethal, the Trijicon Electro Optics REAP IR is a mini-thermal riflescope. The REAP IR features a 12-degree field of view, 2.5X magnification, a stadiametric rangefinder, five reticle patterns, and an 8X digital zoom. For tactical units operating in total darkness, it earns its badge and name, and weighs only 21 ounces. SRP: $7,999. (trijicon.com)

24 Nikon Blackforce 1-4×24 Blackforce is a new category of optics from Nikon, and it offers models engineered for precision long-range and active shooting. Those looking for rapid-action targeting capability with AR/MSR platforms should find the 1–4×24 riflescope ideal. When dialed down to 1X, the reticle’s illuminated double horseshoe center portion serves as a quick reference for fast engagement, as well as to establish moving target leads. SRP: $399.95. (nikonsportoptics.com)

25 Nikon Blackforce 4-16X50 For law enforcement’s precision shooting tasks, this riflescope comes with X-MRAD or X-MOA tactical-style reticles synchronized to elevated windage and elevation turrets. Accurate and repeatable, the adjustments enable precise dialing of elevation come-ups and wind compensation. It is affordably priced at $599.95. (nikonsportoptics.com)

law enforcement, Leupold law enforcement, Nikon law enforcement, Trijicon
Mark 8 3.5–25x56mm.
Blackforce 1–4X24.

Electro Optics REAP IR

26 Trijicon IR Hunter This compact thermal-imaging rifle sight combines a full 640×480, 12-micron thermal image sensor and fully digital, 60 Hz image processing with digital focus and contrast controls. Four models offer various features and magnification, including 8X Digital Zoom, multiple reticle options, and turret-style adjustment knobs. SRP: $5,999.99. (trijicon.com)

27 Trijicon IR Patrol A versatile, multipurpose, high-performance monocular that provides a clear, sharp image in total darkness, the IR Patrol is available in five models that offer various features and magnification. The LE100 is a handheld model with a 19mm objective lens. The LE100C has the same features as the LE100, plus an image-capture feature. The M250 can be helmet-mounted, and the M250XR features a 4.5X optical zoom, 8X digital zoom, and a stadiametric range finder. The M300W can be mounted to a rifle. SRP: $4,995 to $5,595. (trijicon.com)

28 Trijicon MRO Patrol Trijicon’s MRO has become a favorite carbine sight with tactical operatives. The new MRO Patrol adds the most-requested accessories to a combat-ready, red-dot optic. These include lens covers, an ARD Kill Flash, and a new lightweight, quick-release mount. It weighs 5 ounces and retails for $919. (trijicon.com)

29 Trijicon SNiPE IR This thermal-imaging weapons sight has a full 640×480, 12-micron thermal image sensor and fully digital, 60 Hz image processing. Its advanced VisRelay collimating optic eliminates parallax with partnered day optics. The SNiPE IR mounts in front of an existing day optic and is optimized for use with the 4×32 ACOG. It features No-Shot Zero sight-in, is 7.4 inches long, and weighs 24.6 ounces. SRP: $9,999. (trijicon.com)

Law Enforcement  Ammunition

30 Federal Premium Gold Medal Rifle with Berger Bullets Federal Premium Gold Medal rifle ammunition has always been a top choice for law enforcement designated marksmen. Now, those shooters have even more accurate options, with new Gold Medal Berger loads featuring Berger bullets with high ballistic coefficients. New offerings are available for the .223 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 Grendel, and .308 Winchester. SRP: $32.95 $34.95. (federalpremium.com)

law enforcement, Federal Premium law enforcement, Federal Premium
Federal Premium
Gold Medal Rifle
Federal Premium
.38 Special 135-grain HST

31 GBW Legend Pro A manufacturer based in Venice, Florida, GBW Legend offers a full line of defensive handgun ammunition, which it calls Legend Pro. Loaded with all-copper projectiles, each is designed to provide barrier-defeating performance. GBW also offers centerfire rifle cartridges for common law enforcement chamberings such as the .223 Remington, 300 Blackout, and .308 Winchester. (gbwcartridge.com)

32 Federal Premium .38 Special 135-grain HST The .38 Special has always been a favorite back-up gun for law enforcement officers, and Federal has just made it better with the new 135-grain HST load. The load was engineered to be ideally adapted to the snub-nose revolver and utilizes a 135-grain version of the popular HST bullet. (federalpremium.com)

33 Polycase .357 Magnum ARX Once the darling of police agencies, the .357 Magnum has faded from view. But Polycase’s new .357 Magnum load, which utilizes its copper-polymer injection-molded projectile, should restore some luster by offering .357 Magnum power, but with less recoil. The 86-grain ARX bullet leaves the muzzle at 1,650 fps. SRP: $19.99. (polycaseammo.com)

34 Remington Freedom Buckets For officers in small departments who have to purchase their own training ammunition, Remington has expanded its Range Bucket line to include the .380 Auto, .40 S&W, and .45 Auto. The .380 Range Bucket will contain 500 rounds, the .40 S&W 300 rounds, and the .45 Auto 200 rounds. SRP: $90 to $200. There’s also a new Freedom Bucket containing 180 rounds of 300 Blackout for $33.73. (remington.com)

Law Enforcement Law Enforcement Law Enforcement
Legend Pro
Sig Sauer
77-grain Sierra OTM

35 Sig Sauer .223 Remington 77-grain Match Elite With a muzzle velocity of 2,750 fps, this 77-grain Sierra OTM (open-tipped match) bullet is ideal for designated marksmen or other officers assigned perimeter protection with patrol rifles, carbines in the AR platform, or even precision bolt-action rifles. SRP: $24.25, per box of 20. (sigsauer.com)

36 Sig Sauer Expanding Sonic 300 Blackout Intended as a hunting load for the 300 Blackout, this ammunition is ideally suited to law enforcement because it offers a high degree of terminal performance without an audible signature. With wide expansion and deep penetration, the subsonic Blackout load should be perfect for police snipers and other tactical team applications. SRP: $28.50, per box of 20. (sigsauer.com)

37 Hornady Black Hornady’s newest ammo line, Black, is specifically tailored to firearms generally considered to be within the tactical arena, many of which are commonly used by law enforcement. The packaging is easily identifiable, and the loads are intended to provide high performance for high-volume shooting. Offerings include .223 Remington, 5.56 NATO, 6.8 SPC, 300 Blackout, .308 Winchester, 7.62×39, and 12-gauge. SRP: $15 to $35, per box of 20; 12-gauge, $16.33, per box of 10. (hornady.com)

Law Enforcement Accessories

38 CRKT Homefront Tactical The in-field, no-tool-needed, take-apart capability of the Home-front lets you disassemble it and clean it—anywhere, anytime. It has a tanto blade and is surrounded by ergonomically designed glass-reinforced nylon handles to provide a secure grip in the face of mud, blood, rain, or sand. Open length, 8.125 inches; weight, 4.3 ounces. SRP: $99.99. (crkt.com)

Law Enforcement

CRKT The Tanto-Blade Homefront Tactical disassembles for complete cleaning in the field. The glass-reinforced nylon handle provides a secure all-weather grip.

39 CRKT Rune This is a compact—and remarkably lightweight—tactical axe. Infused with the practicality of a modern SWAT tactical tool, but wrapped in ancient Nordic design, it has a practically indestructible 6.7-inch carbon-steel head with a black powder-coat finish. The Rune would make a great addition to any patrol car, because, as every street cop knows, you never really know what you will be faced with. SRP: $150. (crkt.com)

40 Galco Wraith 2 Holster An evolution of Galco’s popular Wraith belt holster, the Wraith 2 combines features from the existing Paddle Lite and BlackGuard models, along with four patent-pending innovations, to create a highly versatile and concealable multipurpose holster. For plainclothes officers or others who do not desire Level 3 security, the Wraith is an easy-on, easy-off, versatile holster. SRP: $49.95. (galcogunleather.com)

41 Hi-Vis Fiber Optic Sight Hi-Viz is now offering a front- and rear-sight set with interchangeable LitePipes and easy-to-adjust rear sight elevation for Smith & Wesson M&P pistols. The new Adjustable Sight Set fits all M&P full-size and Pro pistols in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 Auto. SRP: $95.95. (hivizsights.com)

42 Monadnock AutoLock X3 Baton Monadnock (a Safariland brand) has a new baton with a larger-diameter shaft. The AutoLock X3 HG baton meets the demand for smaller-size batons that can still provide a large surface–contact area. The baton also features an updated cam and stainless-steel ball-bearing design in order to provide reliably consistent locking action and a more solid feel when performing control techniques. Closed length: 8.75 inches. Open length: 19.75 inches. SRP: $196. (safariland.com)

Law Enforcement Law Enforcement
Wraith 2 Holster
7TS Holster
LTO Tracker 

43 Protech Hard Armor Protech Tactical, another brand in the Safariland Group, has introduced several new hard-armor products, including a Boltless Helmet Suspension System (SRP: $675), a Boltless Shield with Ballistic Lens Cap ($5,280), and a Tactical Weapon Trunk Box ($2,592 to $2,670). These are forward-thinking, life-saving, law-enforcement tools. (safariland.com)

44 Safariland 7TS Holster Officers with the Taser X26P and those with a Surefire XC1 light attached to their firearm can now enjoy the benefit of comfortable carry with the highly sought-after 7TS holster. This includes holsters that will fit Surefire XC1–equipped Glock 17, 19, 22, and 23 pistols, as well as 4.25-inch barrel S&M M&P pistols in 9mm and .40 S&W. The 7TS holster is injection-molded and constructed of Safariland’s proprietary SafariSeven material. It is available in plain black, basketweave, and high gloss. SRP: $95. (safariland.com)

45 Safariland Vievu With all the recent focus on body cameras for police officers, Safariland and Vievu have partnered and developed a proprietary camera auto–activation system to automatically activate a Vievu LE4 body camera any time a firearm is drawn from a connected Safariland 7TS holster. An officer in a stressful or potentially life-threatening situation no longer has to make the conscious decision about whether first to turn on the camera or to draw a weapon. (safariland.com)

46 Safariland RDS Holsters Safariland has a new line of holsters designed for handguns with red-dot optics. The majority of these models feature Safariland’s patented Automatic Locking System. The red-dot handgun sight is quickly evolving to become the future of the defensive handgun, and Safariland is evolving to meet that trend. SRP: varies according to model. (safariland.com)

47 Spyderco Stretch II Lightweight With a full-flat grind VG-10 stainless steel blade and an injection-molded fiberglass-reinforced-nylon handle, the Stretch II Lightweight is a great everyday-carry knife suitable for the general utility chores faced by today’s patrol officer. Closed length: 4.71 inches. Weight: 3.7 ounces. SRP $134.95. (spyderco.com)

law enforcement law enforcement
Stretch II

48 Spyderco Opus The Opus is a versatile, all-purpose folding knife with a broad blade crafted from CPM S30V. It features a full-flat grind and a four-position hourglass clip supporting left and right side, as well as tip-up and tip-down carry. SRP: $334.95.(spyderco.com)

49 Surefire PR1 Peacekeeper Surefire Peacekeeper flashlights were developed for law enforcement and are powerful, rechargeable illumination tools. The PR1 features high-performance LED and a 600-lumen beam. It can also provide a useful 15-lumen beam, activated via its tail-cap switch. The PR1 is powered by a rechargeable 18650 lithium-ion battery, but it will also run on two disposable 123A lithium batteries. Length, 5.37 inches; weight, 6.2 ounces. SRP: $250. (surefire.com)

50 Leupold LTO Tracker The best new law enforcement product for 2017 has to be the Leupold LTO Tracker. This unbelievably compact thermal-imaging unit weighs only 7.4 ounces and is less than 6 inches long. It provides exceptional image quality, fast 30hz frame rates, and detection of heat sources out to 600 yards. Primarily intended for hunters, this cool device can change the way street cops or law enforcement surveillance teams do their job. It has more than 10 hours of continuous use from a single CR123 lithium battery. It is the pick of this 50-product litter. SRP: $909.99. (leupold.com)

—Richard Mann


The LessLethal Option

By Jock Elliott

Protecting lives and property doesnt always have to rely on deadly force 

Earlier this year, in Berkeley, California, some protesters at a conservative speaking event went into full-blown felony riot mode, injuring citizens and causing nearly a half-million dollars in damage to the University of California and local businesses. and In February, a conservative blogger who had his arm broken in three places by an anti-gun activist at an anti–Second Amendment event in 2015 was recently convicted in Portland, Oregon, of unlawful use of a weapon for pointing his semi-auto handgun at a group of protesters who he believed were menacing him.

Events such as these highlight the need for less-lethal options for protecting lives and property by both law enforcement agencies and ordinary citizens. To deal with the need to match the force of the response to the situation, the National Institute of Justice advocates a Use of Force Continuum that includes less lethal options. Many law enforcement agencies follow such protocols, which basically lay out appropriate responses for escalating situations. 

Less-lethal options present an opportunity for gun dealers who want to help citizens protect themselves and law enforcement agencies better do their jobs. Ordinary citizens and law enforcement officers (LEOs), however, have different agendas in using less-lethal options—­citizens want to deter and escape from those who would do them harm, while LEOs generally want options that will assist them in controlling and/or arresting people. Not all options available to law enforcement are available to ordinary citizens, and the options available to citizens, and the training requirements to use them, may vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

law enforcement, less lethal

Sudden Impact Projectile launchers come in smoothbore and rifled configurations.

As attractive as they may be for application in the appropriate situation, less-lethal options have their limitations:

Nothing works 100 percent of the time. The less-lethal option that may be effective on one person may not be effective on another.

• All less-lethal options can be lethal or cause injury under the right circumstances. Dave DuBay, vice president of Less Lethal for Safariland, says, “Every use of force has the potential to cause injury, and products can be misused.”

• All less-lethal options should be accompanied by training. Ty Weaver, director of advanced weapons and munitions for Sage Ordnance Systems Group, says, “People need to know what they have and how to use it properly, whichever less-lethal option they choose to deploy.”

• Legality depends on location and policy. Legal use of less-lethal options for personal and home defense is highly dependent on whatever laws apply in the jurisdiction in question. This requires a knowledge of federal, state, and local laws. In addition, the use of less-lethal options for law enforcement depends not only on applicable laws, but also on department policy.

law enforcement, less lethal law enforcement, less lethal

Riot Control
Pyrotechnic Grenades designed for outdoor use feature a large coverage area.

Soft Touch
This high-speed projectile uses a plastic body and a foam nose. it is fired from 40mm launchers.

The range of less-lethal options is extraordinary:
Batons/canes: These are effective at arm’s length, can be used by civilians (again, where legal) and law enforcement, and offer the potential to hold someone at a distance or to deliver a variety of blows that can cause pain or injury.

Pepper (OC) spray: These offer a maximum range of about 15 feet and are frequently carried by law enforcement. Availability to civilians varies by jurisdiction. Pepper foam and gel are also available to law enforcement.

Tear gas (CN, CS) spray: These dispensers offer a maximum range of about 15 feet and are available to law enforcement. Availability to civilians varies by jurisdiction.

Taser: This tool offers a maximum range of about 15 feet and is frequently carried by law enforcement. Availability to civilians varies by jurisdiction.

Malodorants: These can provide area control across a variety of ranges depending upon how they are deployed. They are available only to law enforcement.

Hand-thrown munitions: These may contain pepper gas, tear gas, smoke, or other options. They are available only to law enforcement.

Pepperball projectile launchers: These are effective out to about 60 feet. They are available to law enforcement and may be available to civilians in some jurisdictions.

Less-lethal ammo for conventional firearms: Such munitions offer an effective range up to 30 feet, depending upon the type. Readily available to law enforcement, their availability to civilians depends on the jurisdiction and the type of projectile.

Specialized projectile launchers (such as 37mm and 40mm launchers): These tools are available to law enforcement only. They can be had in both smoothbore and rifled configurations, and may have a range up to 150 yards, depending on the ammunition. A wide array of munitions are available for these launchers, including impact rounds, soft-impact rounds, ball rounds, multi-ball rounds, powder (OC, CS, and inert) rounds, smoke rounds, and more.

The way in which manufacturers of less-lethal options work with gun dealers varies. For example, Sage Ordnance Systems Group has a distributor and dealer network that stocks products for non-NFA-controlled items. If a dealer sells a controlled item, such as a 37mm launcher and ammo, to an agency, Sage will drop-ship direct. Both the ammo and launchers are regulated. By contrast, Safariland does not stock dealers and will only drop-ship directly to agencies. Both Sage and Safariland offer dealer sales support and training to end users.

The key to selling less-lethal options to law enforcement is finding a match between what the agency needs and what the dealer has to offer. Retailers need to know and understand the applicable laws in their jurisdictions; the need for additional or specialized insurance, if any; the products and how they should be applied; and the strategic needs of the law enforcement agency with which the retailers are working.

Safariland (safariland.com) offers impact munitions (40mm, 37mm, and 12-gauge); launchers; accessories; chemical-agent devices, including chemical grenades and devices; and tactical devices, training aids, batons, and training for agency personnel.

Sage Ordnance Systems Group (sageinternationalltd.com) offers: launchers; ammunition, including multiple variants of less-lethal ammunition in 37mm smooth bore, 37 SAGE Rifled, 40x46mm NATO, and 12 gauge; and hand-thrown munitions, aerosols, and malodorants. Sage also provides training for agency personnel, including instruction in applicable case law.


In-Depth Look at an Extraordinary Four Days
in Las Vegas at 2017 SHOT Show

Without question, one of the major attractions of the 2017 SHOT Show is the vast amount of new product lining the miles of aisles. But it’s really much more than that, as this sampler, taken from the pages of SHOT Daily, amply demonstrates.

Nikon’s Top Sales Reps

Nikon Sport Optics recently announced the winners of this year’s sales rep awards. Recipients were selected based on a number of criteria, including superior customer service.

Nikon Sales Reps Awards, 2017 SHOT Show

“This year’s sales rep award winners deserve a lot of credit for standing out among our excellent sales team. We firmly believe that we have the best salesforce of any optics company in our industry,” said Randy Garrison, associate general manager of Nikon Sport Optics sales and operations.

Nikon’s Salesman of the Year award was presented to David Deveny of Owens Outdoor Sales. Deveny’s professionalism, reliability, and significant sales percentage increase over 2016 made him a clear choice for the award.

“My focus this year was to spend significant time with my customers and provide the best customer service possible. I also tried to identify the right Nikon products that will sell the best for each dealer to help them grow. I credit Waylon Owens for setting the mantra, ‘Attitude determines altitude,’ ” said Deveny.

The Staff Choice award went to Mike Freiberg of Elevated Outdoor Sales. Nikon also announced six Elite Salesmen: Tom Wiley, Professional Marketing, Inc.; Aaron Doolin, The Dolph Co.; Brent Vogler, Owens Outdoor Sales; Jake Porter, Odle Sales; Nick Gamel, Odle Sales; and Bret Dolph, The Dolph Co. (nikonsportoptics.com)

Otis Technology
Sales Awards

Outstanding performance merits recognition, and Otis Technology honored two of its best at 2017 SHOT Show

OTIS Sales Awards, 2017 SHOT Show

J.B. McCarty (center), of Ken Jefferies & Associates, is the Otis Technology Sales Representative of the Year.

Otis Technology announced its 2016 Sales Representative of the Year award Tuesday morning at the 2017 SHOT Show. The manufacturer presents this award annually to the sales representative who has shown initiative, sales growth, and outstanding effort and customer service. The recipient was J.B. McCarty of Ken Jefferies & Associates. McCarty covers North Carolina and South Carolina, and he is an avid outdoorsman. In addition to being an accomplished sales professional, McCarty is also a pit master who has won the North and South Carolina State Championship as well as earning consecutive top-five finishes at the World Champion-ship Barbecue Cooking Contest in Memphis, Tennessee.

Jeff Scarlett, Otis Technology’s Eastern region sales manager, said, “J.B. has been integral in expanding business in the Carolina market. His concentration in farm and home accounts has been instrumental in the growth of that channel and the brand as a whole.”

Frank Devlin, director of commercial sales at Otis Technology, said, “The synergy between J.B. and Jeff is one of the main drivers behind the growth of the territory. Their collaboration has really had a positive impact on sales results this year.”

Otis Technology also presented Sokol Associates with the 2016 Sales Agency of the Year award. Sokol, based out of Oakdale, Minnesota, took top honors in 2013 and 2014, and has more than 50 years of experience in the outdoor sports industry. It represents Otis Technology in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes -territories.

The award was presented to Jon Sokol by Devlin, who said, “We are extremely fortunate to have aligned ourselves with outstanding sales agencies. The Sokol team as a whole has really embraced the Otis brand and is an excellent extension of our salesforce.”  Otis Technology is known for manufacturing advanced gun-cleaning systems. Its Breech-to-Muzzle design has positioned it as the gun-care system of choice with the U.S. military. (otistec.com)

Sign of the Times

2017 SHOT Show, Avenger Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)

Call it a sign of the times. Med-Eng, a division of Safariland, used the 2017 SHOT Show to launch the Avenger Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). The bomb disposal and tactical robot has been engineered to provide police and military response teams with enhanced capabilities to manage ongoing and emerging threats posed by terrorists, particularly in urban environments where car bombs are of concern. The Avenger’s dexterous arm and claw can easily reach inside, above, and below cars, pickup trucks, and delivery vans to remotely investigate suspicious devices. The system includes an on-board computer that fuses data from multiple Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear & Explosive (CBRNE) sensors and cameras and relays it to a command post. This integrated sensor suite provides a mission-critical tool for managing CBRNE and Hazmat threats, such as a terrorist’s dirty bomb, mitigating risks to the surrounding public. The numerous sensor ports are compatible with many specialized sensors that bomb squads already have, so they can make use of their existing equipment and attach new tools in the future. (med-eng.com)

TNW Tweaks the ASR

TNW Firearms, a designer and manufacturer of modern and historical firearms, located in Vernonia, Oregon, is now offering the innovative and popular Aero Survival Rifle in versions that comply with California and New York firearms regulations. Previously prohibited in these states due to restrictions on long guns with a pistol grip and a detachable magazine, this new variant of the Aero Survival Rifle (ASR) comes with an ergonomic fixed stock that meets the criteria allowing the use of a detachable magazine with a rifle. Like all ASRs, the California-compliant model is a takedown firearm, “making it the perfect pistol-caliber carbine for outdoor enthusiasts, ranchers, pilots, or anyone else who needs a portable, rugged, and reliable semi-automatic rifle,” says company spokesman Matt Foster.

Aero Survival Rifle, 2017 SHOT Show

The popular Aero Survival Rifle is now offered in a California-compliant version that features an ergonomic fixed stock. The rifle, which uses a Thorsden stock, ships with one 10-round magazine.

Though similar in appearance and manual-of-arms to an AR-platform rifle, the ASR is an original design that uses Glock magazines. It is available in 9mm Luger, .357 Sig, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and 10mm. The design allows a user to switch between similar cartridges with nothing more than a change of barrel and bolt assembly.

Blowback-operated for simplicity and reliability, the ASR has both an upper and lower receiver machined from 6061-T6 aluminum, and is available finished in hard-coat anodized black, dark earth, and OD green, as well as two variegated finishes—Tiger Pink and Tiger Green. Like an AR, the ASR has a buffer tube and a right-side push-button magazine release. The California-compliant ASR uses a Thorsden stock. It also comes with one 10-round magazine. SRP: $829.99. (tnwfirearms.com)


When a pair of pros team up, the result is a superior line of tactical knives

When Browning introduced its Black Label line of knives at the SHOT Show a few years ago, nobody knew exactly where the venture would lead. To some, it seemed like yet another attempt by a company to extend its name into a different product category by shamelessly slapping its logo on products it really knew nothing about. But what Browning did was different. The knives it produces are of superior quality and honor the brand’s storied heritage.

2017 SHOT Show

Black Label Tactical knives are designed primarily as a joint effort between world-renowned veteran SWAT officer and martial arts instructor Jared Wihongi and master bladesmith Russ Kommer. The line has since expanded to include a variety of tools and implements of self-defense for various situations and needs. They also happen to be quality blades that are well-made, always with an eye toward style.

“For me, there are three basic elements to a good knife: functionality, quality, and good looks,” says Rafe Nielsen, Browning’s product manager. “The Wihongi Signature Series knocks all three of these out of the park. Especially the good looks part. It’s hard to beat a knife that just flat out looks cool.”

It’s Wihongi and his unique background that bring the extra flair to many of the Black Label knives. Their shape, construction, materials, and even attitude are all on full display in his new Signature Series.

“Jared Wihongi is one of the most respected knife experts in the country. To have his influence on his own Signature Series really brings the authenticity to a new level,” says Nielsen. “And then to have it based on his Maori background, it almost feels like a custom knife from him.”

And it appears Wihongi and Kommer have been busy. There are seven new entries coming to the Black Label line this year, five of which bear the knife designer’s name.

“Our Black Label knife line continues to grow and develop into a comprehensive line for our tactical customer. For 2017, we have something for just about everyone,” Nielsen says. “These are fully functional, high-quality, and authentically designed knives that live up to the Browning name.”

First up is a distinctive new tool, the Wihongi Signature Series Tomahawk. The blade, which is ¼-inch thick throughout, is etched with a Maori warrior tribal motif as a tribute to Wihongi’s heritage. The hawk features a semi-sharpened blade edge on the spike end and holes machined into the steel for balance and weight control. The head is attached to a forked tang with three flush-mount screws atop a cord-wrapped handle. The hawk also comes with a rugged Kydex belt sheath. SRP: $69.99.

A bit small but just as stylized, the Wihongi Signature Dagger has a fixed double-edge full-tang blade of hollow-ground 7Cr17MoV steel with a brushed finish and etched Maori designs similar to the Tomahawk. It also includes flush-fit mosaic scale pins, a stainless-steel bolster, and a butt cap with silver accents. The dagger comes with a black Kydex sheath with slots and eyelets for easy attachment to belts, packs, or other gear.

Another etched blade, this one a bit bigger, is the Wihongi Signature Kukri (pictured above). The knife has a vicious-looking recurved full-tang kukri blade, again with a brushed finish Cr17MoV steel and a deep-draft reverse tanto blade profile. Again, the blade is etched with a Maori tribal design. The folder features an ambidextrous thumb stud and a steel pocket clip. (browning.com)

David Maccar

The Power of Passion

Passion, not price, is the key to continued success

Elk, 2017 SHOT Show

Ken Schmidt, former director of communications at Harley-Davidson, began his tenure with the company just months before its near collapse. But he was on board during a storied brand recovery. Schmidt’s passion for the outdoors parallels his love for motorcycles. As the keynote speaker at the NSSF’s Executive Management Seminar, he opened with the question, “Who in this room created a hunter this year?”

He then explained the need for every member of the shooting sports to take responsibility to bring one more hunter into the fold annually. “It’s about changing the conversation to how much fun we have as hunters, instead of engaging in the arguments that are against our industry. Let’s talk about how cool it is to shoot a deer, drag it back to camp, and put it on the dinner table. It’s simple: If we don’t bring new hunters into the sport, we will die.”

Schmidt pointed to numerous parallels that motorcycles have with the shooting sports industry and warned about the race to the basement. His example included the flat-screen television market, which has seen prices plummet from $1,200 to under $500. “You can buy a Honda for $16,000 less than a similar Harley, but enthusiasts still pick a Harley. That’s the power of passion.”

And it’s that passion that can help ensure the future of the shooting sports. “Everyone must be on board with a brand that’s committed to passion for the American dream,” he said. “That’s the key.”

Peter B. Mathiesen

Science and Colors

2017 SHOT Show

First Lite Performance Hunting is launching an addition to the technical apparel brand’s arsenal of camouflage and solid-color options. Using the scientific backbone of the popular Fusion pattern, Cipher offers a lighter color palette for hunters who understand Fusion’s effectiveness but want an option with lighter colors and tones.

Launched in 2015, Fusion was warmly received by hunters because of its ability to provide a sense of depth almost anywhere in the field. The DNA of First Lite’s family of patterns is derived from the Golden Ratio, which is the recurrence of particular shapes and colors throughout nature. By adhering to this algorithm and incorporating the perfect ratio of light and dark colors, First Lite believes Fusion and Cipher promote the negative space created by large and small-scale breakup instead of creating the “blob effect” found in most patterns.

“We see Cipher as the best possible complement to Fusion, one of the most effective patterns currently on the market,” says First Lite founder and co-CEO Kenton Carruth. “The key is the ability of the patterns to work at any distance. What we call ‘color blobbing’ has always been the biggest hurdle in traditional camouflage patterns. Most of these appear as a dark blob of color outside of 10 yards. But Cipher and Fusion incorporate enough visually disruptive qualities to give both bowhunters and rifle hunters an advantage both in close and at long range. We wanted to give the hunter a choice of proven, highly effective patterns, and we feel we’ve achieved that by offering Fusion, ASAT, and now Cipher.”

Cipher will be available throughout the First Lite product line as a sister pattern to Fusion, beginning with existing product late next month. New 2017 styles will be available in Cipher and other options later in the spring. (firstlite.com

Subtle Changes

S&W’s M&P M2.0 is right on target

S & W Pistol, 2017 SHOT Show

Input from experienced M&P users resulted in an improved pistol­—the M2.0.

When a pistol is already a remarkable machine, people get nervous when that pistol undergoes changes, new versions, or updates. But if they’re done well, those changes amount to refinements that make that remarkable machine a truly fine pistol.

Such is the case with the new Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0, an update of the incredibly popular M&P line of handguns. The fact that it took 11 years for an update to be necessary is a testament to the original M&P’s design. The M2.0 is still a short recoil–operated, locked-breech semi-auto that uses a Browning-type locking system. It features a unique takedown method that doesn’t require a dry-fire pull of the trigger, for added safety.

While the original M&P’s target demographic was law enforcement, it quickly got into the hands and holsters of shooters in all walks of life and for all purposes for which a pistol is suited. The M2.0 is just different enough to make M&P fans giddy. The changes are subtle, but they were made with input from law-enforcement officers, professional competitors, and everyday concealed carriers who rely on the M&P.

New Grip
The M2.0 retains the proven 18-degree grip angle of the original, which allows for natural pointing. But S&W engineers also looked at and made changes to the part of the pistol that contacts the hand the most, adding a more aggressive stippling. They also added a fourth interchangeable palm-swell insert that falls between medium and large on the size scale and is dubbed medium-large. While it may seem trivial, when you shoot the M&P in rapid succession with the different-sized inserts, you can really feel the difference in stability and comfort.

New Trigger
The factory trigger was always the big gripe about the M&P. Shooters found it to be mushy and quickly replaced it. S&W listened, and the M2.0’s redesigned trigger is crisp, with a lighter pull and a positive, audible reset.

And the Rest
The controls on the M2.0 are nearly identical to that of the original, with an ambidextrous slide stop, a reversible steel magazine release button, and an optional thumb safety lever. The M&P M2.0 is chambered in either 9mm or .40 S&W, and it comes with a 4.25-inch barrel. Best of all, it is available in gun shops now. (smith-wesson.com)

David Maccar

What Is All the
Rage in Social Media?

Social Media, 2017 SHOT Show

Social media is increasingly important to retailers, and Instagram is a vital part of the equation.

Is Twitter dead? Should businesses pay more attention to Instagram and Facebook? And how can YouTube help increase exposure in a crowded marketplace? The latest in social media strategies for the firearms retailer was laid out at a 2017 SHOT Show University seminar with Michelle Scheuermann of BulletProof Communications, LLC, during her presentation, “Advanced Social Media Strategies.”

In the seminar, Scheuer-mann focused on three platforms she says deserve the most attention: Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. “Ignore the popular line of thinking that Twitter is the place to be. There are too many trolls, making the experience unpleasant and providing little to no value,” said Scheuermann.

She also stressed that retailers should only take on what they can comfortably handle and do well. “You aren’t giving your business any further service by halfway focusing on something,” she said. And if, as an owner, you find you can’t do it all, you can hire a specialist or find a trusted employee to manage the task.

Scheuermann said she’s having the most success with Instagram at the moment, even though it is owned by Facebook and they are starting to tweak the algorithms. Her tips for the photo-driven platform are to post often, use 5 to 10 hashtags per post mixed between unique and popular tags, and switch your personal account to a business account.

Finally, Scheuermann discussed YouTube strategies for increasing views on branded channels. Of all the platforms, YouTube is the easiest for making simple changes resulting in big gains.

“YouTube is very specific in its method of tracking videos and making them available to users. It needs to see you post often and use very specific keywords in your title, description, and tags,” she said.

No matter which platform retailers focus on, Scheuermann stressed that they have fun with it. “Above all, you need to show the personality of your store, and create a tribe of your own online. User-generated content is probably your best friend, so find those people who are zealots for your brand and cater to them, comment on their posts, and create a relationship.”

Blaser Steps Up

Womans Shotgun, 2017 SHOT Show

When Blaser USA executives went looking for an authority to guide them in their entry into the women’s market, they found Anne Mauro, who was instrumental in designing a line of shotguns for an Italian shotgun company. Blaser’s new line of shotguns and rifles is called Intuition.

Mauro, who is also the coach of the University of Maryland shotgun team, has applied her international competition–-winning knowledge of shotguns not only to the Blaser F16, but also to a woman-centric version of the R8. Everything in the R8 is modular, and one gun can be configured in 47 different calibers. The stock length, grip, cast, and pitch have been reduced and redesigned to fit a woman. SRP: starts at $3,787.

The F16 features assisted-opening, and Mauro says, “The crisp closer is very keen for a sporting clays shooter.”

A shorter length of pull, a slight Monte Carlo comb, a smaller grip radius, and a low-profile receiver make this 12-gauge well–suited to women.

“I can’t wait for the ladies to start shooting this gun,” said Mauro. SRP: Sporting, $4,195; Game, $3,795. (blaser-usa.com)

—Barbara Baird

Hybrid Pack for Women

Hybrid Packs for Women, 2017 SHOT Show

Looking to bring its signature designs and features to the first woman-specific, Western-oriented daypack in the Extreme line, Alps OutdoorZ has created the Monarch X. “After successfully introducing the Extreme line of hunting packs, we knew we couldn’t stop there,” says product manager Zach Scheidegger.

That was the impetus for the new Monarch X daypack–meat hauler hybrid. It can be used as a standard daypack, but it can also be used to haul out meat. The shoulder straps and waist belt are designed to fit a woman’s physique more comfortably than a standard hunting pack. Dual aluminum stays help distribute the weight evenly, while Lycra shoulder straps with built-in load lifters and a molded foam waist belt ensure a comfortable fit. (alpsoutdoorz.com)

Built to Last

After a century, Browning’s BAR is still going strong  

Browning's BAR, 2017 SHOT Show

The BAR providing covering fire during World War II’s Okinawa campaign in 1945. The rifle’s ability to work effectively in challenging conditions is one reason for its storied reputation.

In 1917, the Great War in Europe was in its third year. Here in the United States, John Moses Browning was working on an idea for a light, gas-operated machine gun that might help break the stalemated trench warfare being waged across the Atlantic Ocean. What was needed, he felt, was a relatively lightweight rifle that could be carried by an individual soldier, but that would still be able to fire fully automatic. 

Existing machine guns already had proved themselves deadly on the battlefields. But they were large and heavy, needed to be mounted on tripods or wheeled carriages, and required two- and even three-man teams to operate. 

It took him all of three months, but John Browning came up with a rifle the U.S. Army quickly accepted: the BAR M1918, aka the Browning Automatic Rifle. Or, as we know it, the BAR. The .30-caliber BAR was considered one of the most effective light machine guns ever made, and it saw significant action in World Wars I and II and the Korean War, and was even used during the Vietnam War. 

Approximately 50 years after the BAR’s inception, the Browning BAR sporting version was introduced. While mechanically different from the original BAR, the sporting BAR featured a similar look and was as tough and accurate as the original. It soon became the go-to rifle for many American hunters.

All of which makes 2017 a doubly significant year for Browning: the 100-Year Anniversary of the iconic BAR and the fifth decade of the sporting BAR. 

“The longevity of the BAR is a testament to Browning’s commitment to high quality as well as the strength of the basic BAR design,” says Aaron Cummins, Browning’s product manager. “Of course, the sporting BARs are much different internally than the full-auto military BARs. But both are Brownings, and that means they are built to last.” 

To celebrate these milestones, Browning introduced new and upgraded BARs at the 2017 SHOT Show. The commemorative model is the BAR Safari 100th Anniversary rifle, and only 100 will be made. All are chambered in .30/06 SPRG. The stocks are made of oil-finished Grade V Turkish walnut, and there are special anniversary gold engravings on both sides of the receiver. With a 22-inch stainless-steel barrel and an overall length of 43 inches, the BAR Safari weighs in at just an ounce over 8 pounds.

Browning is also making the BAR MK3 and BAR MK3 Stalker, BAR MK3 in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country, and the BAR MK3 DBM. The MK3 models feature aircraft-grade alloy receivers and multi-lug rotary bolts as well as hammer-forged barrels.

Detachable magazines with the unique Browning hinged floorplate allow a shooter to drop the floorplate, detach the empty magazine, and pop in a new magazine in seconds. These BARs are drilled and tapped for optics, too.   

“All of these 2017 BAR MK3s will also come with special 100th Anniversary serial numbers,” Cummins says. “It should add some collector value to these rifles as well as give people a chance to own a piece of Browning’s history. Not that we are going anywhere. We expect the BAR to be around for another 100 years.”  (browning.com)

Brian McCombie

Clearing the Air

The redesigned Black Cloud ups its performance 

Federal Premium, 2017 SHOT Show

Flitecontrol Flex, an improved version of Black Cloud, will burn cleaner and perform better in ported choke tubes.

Federal Premium’s popular Black Cloud waterfowl ammunition now comes in an improved version: Flitecontrol Flex. The new load will perform better and it will simplify a retailer’s life, too. Original Black Cloud was deadly stuff, but it patterned badly in ported choke tubes, leading to dissatisfaction and confusion among waterfowl hunters. Now you’ll be able to sell Black Cloud to all your waterfowling customers regardless of which choke they use, and you’ll be able to sell them ported tubes without having to explain that they shouldn’t shoot Black Cloud.

The Flitecontrol wad is designed to produce tight patterns by staying with the shot 15 feet past the muzzle, then separating cleanly. Rear braking fins pop open to slow the wad while window-shaped cuts in the side allow air inside the wad to equalize internal and external pressure. That’s all fine until you run a Flitecontrol wad through a ported tube, where the ports first chew the side windows like graters, then bleed off the pressure from expanding gases that are supposed to open the rear fins. The results are poor, erratic patterns instead of the deadly downrange performance for which Black Cloud is known.

The new wad is redesigned with new materials and thinner brake fins that will deploy regardless of drops in pressure. The side windows are gone, replaced by slits that are compatible with ported tubes. The results, as I saw on an early September goose hunt and on the patterning board, are excellent. Flitecontrol Flex patterned very well through the ported Patternmaster tubes I used on the hunt.

The new Black Cloud Flex contains the same mix of ridged Flitestopper pellets and round shot for better on-game performance and patterns. The new, lead-free Catalyst primer promises more consistent ignition and much cleaner burning performance, alleviating the complaint that Black Cloud dirtied gun barrels. Available in 10, 12, and 20 gauge. (federalpremium.com)

Phil Bourjaily


CRKT’s Homefront just might change the face of field knives forever 

CRKT, 2017 SHOT Show

CRKT’s Homefront is an innovative folder that quickly can be completely field-stripped for cleaning in the field.

Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most complicated concepts to carry out. Renowned knife designer Ken Onion and the team at Columbia River Knife and Tool weren’t necessarily looking to create a new knife category when they set out to design the CRKT Homefront, which they launched late last year. They were simply looking for a way to develop a versatile workhorse of a knife that was easy for people to field-strip. What they delivered, however, was a knife that might very well change everything.

“With most folders, if I’ve just gutted a moose, I’m probably not going to want use the same knife to spread peanut butter on my crackers at lunch,” Onion says. “But you should be able to, right? I mean, if you look at most of the things a soldier carries into the field, he can take them apart, clean them thoroughly, and put them back together without any tools. Why not a knife?”

It was that motivation that drove Onion and the team at CRKT to want to create a knife that could be taken apart, cleaned, and put back together in the field without any tools. It might seem like a simple idea, but the practical application proved to be anything but.

“We worked with Ken and came up with several ways to make it work, but we could never figure out how to create something for mass production,” says Doug Flagg, vice president of sales and marketing for CRKT. “We truly believed in the concept, though. So about three years ago, we made it a priority, and Ken dedicated himself to figuring out how to make it work.”

Onion and CRKT went through the arduous process of trying to materialize an idea from concept to reality. There were the usual ups and downs, successes and failures. Each solution led to new problems, but the biggest challenge the team faced was one of simplicity.

“Folding knives seem so simple, but the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts working together that the average consumer will never see,” Flagg says. “We had to figure out how to incorporate all those moving parts in a way that they were completely contained within the knife. You can’t have screws and other small parts falling out in the field when people are trying to clean it.”

The design also had to be intuitive. If it required a user’s manual in the field, there wouldn’t be too many people who would be eager to attempt the disassembly.

“When you are introducing an entirely new concept into the market, the first generation needs to be so obvious that everyone can understand what it is and how to use it just by looking at it,” Onion says.

The challenge wasn’t coming up with a solution; it was coming up with a solution that could be manufactured with consistent results. This proved especially difficult with the knife’s pivot point.

“You can’t have any blade play at all. But it also can’t be so tight that it doesn’t open smoothly every time. It’s a big challenge,” Onion says. “I probably had 20 different ways to do it, but the manufacturability was the problem. You had to be able to replicate it and have it work the same way every time.”

The solution was a small switch on the outside of the Homefront’s pivot point. By sliding the locking lever to one side and rotating the wheel at the base of the knife, the handle separates, leaving you with three easy-to-clean pieces. Simple? Yes. Game-changing? Yes, again. (crkt.com)

Christopher Cogley

Voice, Activated

2017 SHOT Show

Henry Ford once remarked, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” It’s a good example of how customers are much more in touch with their needs (in this case, more speed) than they are with practical solutions for their problems.

Gerry Katz, vice chairman of Applied Marketing Science, explored this dichotomy during Monday’s inaugural NSSF Executive Management Seminar session “Voice of the Customer: The Most Misunderstood Term in All of Marketing.”

In a nutshell, the voice of the customer is not about listening to customers’ demands for features or technical specs, and it’s not about following industry thought leaders or reacting to anecdotes from your sales staff or tech support. Instead, Katz described a methodical process in which one-on-one interviews are conducted with current and potential customers, which are then transcribed and culled for key phrases about things the customers need. Next, those needs are grouped into categories and prioritized by those customers.

It’s important to have customers involved in each step. Our industry is full of enthusiasts, and Katz warns against mistaking our own voices for the voice of the customer. We may share values and need many of the same things as our customers, but we often prioritize those needs differently, and use the wrong words to describe them. Those words matter—they carry the emotional freight of the needs, and help ensure that the solutions you arrive at are the ones your customers are asking for.

—Robert F. Staeger


Think suppressors are a fringe product? Think again 

Suppressors, 2017 SHOT Show

Top: The Ti-RANT 45M is a modular centerfire pistol can that gives the end-user added flexibility regarding length, weight, and sound reduction. Below: Other new accessories include flash hiders and subsonic pistons.

In February 2016, the BATFE reported the number of registered silencers in the U.S. had exceeded the 900,000 mark. This statistic does not surprise Matt Ohlson, Remington’s director of consumer accessories. “Obviously, with our military contracts as well as growing civilian interest, it was a natural move for Remington to augment our firearms and ammunition lines with a silencer portfolio. That’s why we acquired Advanced Armament Corporation,” he said in an interview last September at Remington’s annual new-product seminar. “Silencers are not becoming mainstream; they are mainstream now, and once users realize the myriad benefits, they want to shoot everything suppressed.”

Ohlson also says that by SHOT Show 2017 he expects that well over one million silencers will be in consumer hands, boosted by hundreds of thousands of applications waiting to be approved for tax stamps in an effort to beat the ATF 41F July 13, 2016, enactment date. During previous years, tax stamp wait times stretched out to longer than one year. Last fall, though, approval time estimates fell to between six months to a year. Ohlson noted that the majority of the silencers added to the record had been sold in the past five years, with double-digit increases year over year. Presently, 42 out of 50 states allow for silencer ownership, and 40 states allow for some form of hunting with them. Prospective owners have to fill out federal paperwork, undergo a background check, pay a $200 tax per item, conduct the transfer through an FFL/SOT in their state, and wait for approval until they can take possession. This is in stark contrast to certain countries in Europe in which silencers, where legal, can be purchased relatively easily.

“Wherever there’s a firearm, there’s a silencer benefit,” says Ohlson. “Target shooting, plinking, home defense, hunting, military, law enforcement—even patrol officers. It really is an across-the-board benefit for any shooting discipline that you’re doing.”

According to Ohlson, three trends are currently driving the suppressor market.

Trend #1:
Choices, Choices, Choices
Ohlson sees more companies coming into the market, new designs pushing the technical envelope, and prices dropping with increased competition. “Five to 10 years ago, suppressors were the realm of the specialist gun owner, someone who navigates all the legalese behind it and how to own it. What’s happened now is that suppressors are more mainstream. As a result, more everyday gun owners are jumping on the silencer bandwagon. As the market matures, there will be more product choices, and logically more price-point plays.”

Trend #2:
Do-It-All Silencers
There is increasing interest in the one-can-to-do-it-all, aka the do-everything-can for pistol, centerfire, and rimfire firearms. For one tax stamp, you can own one silencer that can be used on multiple hosts and multiple calibers.

“AAC offers suppressors that will cover multiple rifle calibers—such as .308 Win., 300 AAC Blackout, and 5.56 from a .30-caliber silencer—and pistol cans that shoot both centerfire pistol and rimfire cartridges. However, we don’t offer a do-it-all right now,” he says.

Trend #3:
Modular Silencers
The modular silencer allows the user to switch the configuration from a full-size to a compact version by removing a module from the main tube. Again, for one tax stamp you can own one silencer that allows for some level of adjustment for different applications or scenarios.

“Our Ti-RANT 45M and our new Ti-RANT 9M are modular centerfire pistol cans that give our end-user the added flexibility to configure length, weight, and sound reduction to their specific needs,” Ohlson says.

The Ti-RANT 9M was launched at SHOT 2017. “That silencer is an extension of our legacy Ti-RANT 9 pistol silencer, which was, and still is, one of the quietest and softest shooting 9mm pistol cans in the market,” says Ohlson. “It was discontinued about 18 months ago when we introduced the Illusion 9 [an eccentric silencer]. The Ti-RANT 9M is a concentric can with all the features of the Ti-RANT 9, but now with the added modularity. We also include a standard ½-28 and a metric 13.5-1LH piston in the box.”

AAC has also been busy with the launch of a variety of new accessories, including SquareDrop Handguards, a new take on KeyMod-compatible MSR handguards; Glock 34 threaded barrels, with ½-28 and M13.5-1LH options available; new flash hiders for AR9 pistols/carbines with ½-28 and ½-36 thread pitch, M14-1LH AKs, and MP5-style 9mm three-lug mounts; a new adapter that enables AAC’s Ti-RANT 45-series cans to shoot subsonic 300 AAC Blackout with a direct thread attachment to an MSR; and new fixed–barrel, improved-design spacers for Evo-9/Eco-9/Ti-RANT 9/Illusion 9, and Ti-RANT 45 series silencers.

“If people want to support expanding our freedom to use silencers, they need to get behind the HPA (Hearing Protection Act) and support organizations like the American Suppressor Association and the NFA Freedom Alliance,” says Ohlson. “The HPA would take silencers off the NFA list.” (remington.com)

—Barbara Baird

Honoring Leaders

Lew Danielson, Crimson Trace, 2017 SHOT Show

Lew Danielson (left) and Slaton L. White.

At the Bonnier Outdoor Group 2017 SHOT Show breakfast, SHOT Business honored seven industry leaders through the presentation of the SHOT Business Awards. The honorees were Centennial Gun Club, Independent Retailer of the Year; Cabela’s, Chain Retailer of the Year; Granite State Indoor Range and Gun Shop, Range of the Year; Rick Insley of the RSR Group, Sales Rep of the Year; Lipsey’s, Distributor of the Year; Smith & Wesson, Company of the Year; and Lew Danielson, Person of the Year.

“I take such pride in our team, and it’s magical to watch them accomplish their personal goals as well as our company goals each day. They know how to make things happen. This award means everything to us, and we appreciate the recognition very much,” said Laurie Lipsey Aronson, president and CEO of Lipsey’s.

Danielson, who recently announced his retirement, founded Crimson Trace Corporation in his garage in 1994 and built it into a global company with more than 250 laser-sighting and lighting products. He said, “It is with great pleasure that I accept this recognition on behalf of the Crimson Trace employees and the many customers who have purchased Crimson Trace laser sights.”

Southern Pride

Zac Brown brings passion and precision to the knife business  

Southern Grind, 2017 SHOT Show

Few things go together like firearms and knives, unless you want to add country music into that equation as well. Zac Brown’s Southern Grind, which was founded by the three-time Grammy-award-winning artist, had a booth at 2017 SHOT Show for the first time in its young history. It’s a mash-up encapsulating a knife company owned by a country music star on display at the largest shooting sports trade show in the world.

Brown’s passion for high-quality blades drives his focus to create some of best knives on the market, without taking away from the blue collar roots of the company. For example, all the Southern Grind fixed-blade knives start their lives as reclaimed sawmill blades, work-hardened from creating thousands of board-feet of lumber. Their first life slicing through tree after tree is made stronger by a constant cycle of heating and cooling numerous times a day.

Taking strength and durability even further, the GranDaddy knives are differentially heat-treated for maximum edge hardness, but they still retain enough flexibility to bend 90 degrees without fracturing the blade. Cerakote and Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) coatings are added to finish the process with a corrosion-resistant and non-reflective surface.

The folding knives also exhibit numerous features that don’t necessarily need to be on a standard production knife, but Brown has made sure that his products are held to a higher standard. For example, they all use solid 6AL4V titanium locks and liners, for strength and to save weight.

The Southern Grind metal workshop in Peachtree City, Georgia, is part of the Southern Ground family of brands. Located on 8 acres and totaling 150,000 square feet, this facility houses a collective of talented artists and craftsmen. Each person is a master in his respective craft—wood, leather, metals. Everyone who puts their hands on a product is passionate about quality, and there is definitely a sense of pride that they are being made in the U.S.A. However, the primary goal of Southern Grind isn’t just to manufacture high-quality knives—it supports Brown’s non-profit passion project, Camp Southern Ground.

Located on more than 400 acres in Fayetteville, Georgia, Camp Southern Ground provides extraordinary experiences for children from all backgrounds, races, and religions. The camp puts a special emphasis on those with Autism Spectrum Disorders such as autism and Asperger’s, as well as learning disabilities such as ADD/ADHD and dyslexia, social or emotional challenges, and those with family members serving in the military. A portion of the sales from Southern Grind helps support the camp. (southerngrind.com)

Justin Moore

Quiet, Please!

Ear Protection, 2017 SHOT Show

Most shooters know that hearing loss can occur from a one-time incident or happen gradually over a lifetime of pulling the trigger. In many cases it’s a combination of the two—which is why it’s so important to wear hearing protection every time you use a firearm, whether in the field or on the range. There are several brands of quality hearing protection on the market today for shooters to choose from, but one manufacturer has steadily been building its reputation for quality over the past 30 years: Howard Leight by Honeywell.

“We’ve always been dedicated to keeping our core customers—professional and recreational shooters and hunters—safe through superior hearing protection,” says Sean O’Brien, president, Honeywell, SPS Global Retail.

Expected to hit the market in spring 2017, the new Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolt electronic earmuff will have the same Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 22 dB and slim profile of the already popular Impact Sport, but with new and improved -features. The Impact Sport Bolt will offer improved circuitry, increased amplification of ambient sound, and an industry–leading attack time of .5ms, which is 250 times faster than the current model.

O’Brien says “attack time” is the interval between when the external sound level goes above safe hearing levels—such as when a shot is fired—and when the circuitry reacts to lower the amplification of external sound to a safe level. (howardleightshootingsports.com)

—W.H. Gross

Equal to the Task

SOG’s new pack line is cleverly conceived and built right 

SOG, 2017 SHOT Show

Though best known for knives and multi-tools, SOG has branched out with a new line of tough packs that can handle the elements.

good pack is hard to find. Over the years, I’ve used a broad assortment of backpacks, gear, duffel bags, and other configurations of pouches and straps to haul things around in urban and rural environments. Not all were equal to the task. It usually comes down to the little things: the quality of the zippers and waterproofing, the stitching and the seams, how the fabric edges are finished, and the overall arrangement and design of the components. You can’t really get a feel for how a pack will function until you use it.

So when a company known for great edged items—such as tactical knives, hunting knives, folders, field tools, and tomahawks—says they’re going to start making backpacks, it’s natural to be a little skeptical. You think maybe they’ve strayed from their skill set. But in the case of the new line of heavy-duty packs from SOG Knife and Tool, I can state unequivocally that these are not novelty items with a company logo (though the green-beret skull does make a prominent appearance). They are solid gear-haulers with a ton of thought and engineering poured into their design.

The packs have been introduced as a full line, ranging from the compact 18L EVAC sling bag all the way up to the spacious 35L Seraphim backpack, with four other models in between. All have killer features in addition to 500-denier nylon construction (with a water-resistant polyurethane coating). The shoulder straps on all the bags are padded, have a rigid suspension system, and come with quick-release buckles, so you can cinch down the straps and still get the pack off in a hurry if you have to. The straps on all packs accept the sling bag and have an elasticized sternum strap that’s adjustable for length and height, something missing from many smaller packs. Plus, the small plastic buckle has an emergency whistle built in, just in case. Every SOG pack also has the ability to carry a hydration bladder, with pass-throughs for drinking tubes, plus guides on the straps.

The Scout 24 pack and the two larger models have stowable, padded hip belts, giving users the ability to carry heavier loads for longer periods. The Ranger also has a hip belt, but it’s unpadded. The two largest packs—the 33L Prophet and the Seraphim—feature stowable shoulder straps, so they can function as duffel bags, with the appropriate grab handles right where you need them.

That’s the great thing about the entire line—they have zippers, pouches, grab handles, and straps all over the place, but you never feel like the features are cumbersome or that they get in each other’s way at all.

Even the smallest pack has a pass-through laptop compartment, as computers are so often a component of our lives these days, even in the field. The larger packs have sleeves built into them meant for laptops or tablets, and every pack sports a semi-rigid impact-resistant top pocket (that’s the shell-looking thing with the hook-and-loop panel and SOG logo), with plenty of pouches and sleeves inside to organize fragile electronic devices. It’s crush-resistant, not crush-proof, but way better than just having things hanging out in a nylon pouch. Plus, it even has a walled-off place to stash a pair of sunglasses. These packs also have pass-throughs for earphones.

In addition, all the packs feature a laser-cut Hypalon MOLLE panel on the exterior for attaching additional gear. It works just like traditional MOLLE webbing, but it has a much lower profile and is stronger for extended use.

As a final touch, ring-shaped zipper pulls make it easy to get at them, even with gloves on. Speaking of the zippers, it’s truly amazing what adding a couple can do for a big pack.

The Prophet and Seraphim packs have four zippers on their main compartments, allowing users to open them from the top or bottom to access gear. (sogknives.com)

David Maccar

The Value of a Name

With licensed products, the key is quality and performance 

Browning, 2017 SHOT Show

The lightweight Browning Buck Shadow will be available in three versions with four camo options.

Branded ancillary products are big business. It’s a cost-effective way for a company to extend the reach of its brand without having to add expensive factory floor space. The issue is finding the right licensing company so that the products it develops reflect the values of the company that granted the license. It’s harder than it seems, but one company that has mastered the process is Utah-based Signature Products Group (SPG). “We do a lot of things with a lot of companies,” says Steve McGrath, SPG’s director of marketing and public relations. “In the shooting sports arena, we partner with Mossy Oak, Ducks Unlimited, and Realtree, among others. But our biggest relationship is with Browning. It’s a trusted name in the outdoors, a name synonymous with innovation and commitment to excellence. So, the products we create for them have to reflect that. And they do.”

For 2017, SPG is rolling out three new Browning-branded product categories: footwear, socks, and pet accessories.

“The reintroduction of the Browning footwear line is a big deal,” McGrath says. “Back in the day, Browning was the first to come out with a lightweight upland boot—the legendary Kangaroo Featherweight.”

The new hunting line will consist of three categories—big game, upland, and rubber. The big dog in the big-game category is the Buck Shadow.

“This will be the signature boot, a lightweight 8-incher built for the spot-and-stalk hunter in demanding backcountry terrain, where light weight, stealth, and complete waterproof protection are essential,” he says.

McGrath notes that the trend toward lighter-weight boots continues to evolve. “Anyone can go lighter; that’s not the issue. Maintaining quality and performance, that’s the fine line. I think we’ve struck a great balance with the Buck Shadow. We’ve got a lightweight boot that’s structured so it can handle the heavy loads when big-game hunters pack out. As for durability, we’re using topnotch materials, and we expect it to last.”

The Buck Shadow will be available in three versions with four camo options. The boots utilize modern technology such as Ortholite open-cell foam for long-lasting cushioning and  OutDry, a lamination process that bonds the waterproof membrane to the boot. (spgoutdoors.com)

Slaton L. White

The Right Tools

Something sporting arms customers won’t see at retail is a special build Remington Defense calls the MSR/PSR/Mk 21. This modular sniper rifle features a Remington MSR titanium action, with a 60-degree bolt and a lightweight skeletonized chassis. Other features include a right-folding fully adjustable buttstock, a modular handguard with removable accessory rails, a Cerakote Gen II IR reducing finish, a two-position trigger, and two detachable magazines. It’s also available in three calibers—​.308 Win., .300 Win. Mag., and .338 Lapua Mag.

Remington Military, 2017 SHOT Show

“The key concept behind the MSR/PSR was adaptability and operator-serviceability,” says Joshua Cutlip, of Remington Defense. “Traditionally, bolt-action sniper rifles have had set configurations and required depot-level service for barrel replacements when the installed barrel was worn out. But with the MSR/PSR, the operator can change his own barrel in just a few minutes—all without losing the capability the weapon offers on the battlefield. This adaptability is valuable for many reasons—for example, to support more cost-effective training or to suit the ammunition that is available in the theatre. Sniper rifles are highly specialized weapon systems, and offering an added layer of adaptability can be a huge benefit.” The system was created to meet specific requirements of the U.S. military’s elite war fighters. (remingtonmilitary.com)

—Photographs By J
ustin Appenzeller

Read More Online
To see all four issues of SHOT Daily in full, go to shotbusiness.com/shot-daily.


By Robert Sadowski

Blackstone Shooting Sports offers shooters new and old a first-rate experience

Would you like a cappuccino after renting the H&K USP9-V1? Perhaps you want to kick back in the VIP Lounge and watch the big game after using the private, nine-lane range? The new trend in shooting ranges is something of a cross between a country club and a retail experience that rivals Barney’s, Neiman-Marcus, Bergdorf-Goodman, or Bloomingdale’s. Call them “guntry clubs.” Whatever the name, these shooting ranges are leading the charge to provide customers with a new experience, one that includes not only shooting, but shopping and other amenities as well.

Guests at Blackstone can shoot and buy gear in a relaxed, upscale atmosphere.

Not the Sand Pit
Blackstone Shooting Sports, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, is an excellent example of this new culture. This is not the sand pit where your granddad brought you to shoot. Blackstone, like other forward-thinking gun ranges, has seen gun sales double over the past decade. Now, people from all walks of life want to shoot, and these guntry clubs offer a safe, clean place in which to do so.

Taylor Hayden, founder and owner of Blackstone, saw a need for an indoor shooting range and firearms store that did business differently. “I visited about 40 different facilities around the country and saw a need that wasn’t being met,” he says. “The shooting industry as a whole was sort of a good-old-boys’ network that wasn’t welcoming enough to new shooters—people who were interested in the shooting sports but were too intimidated at some ranges to ask questions.”

And though popular speak has seemed to settle on calling these shooting facilities “guntry clubs,” Hayden does not like the term because of its elitist connotation. He wants people from all walks of life to be able to have access to firearms and shooting.

Part country club, part shooting range, Blackstone is a trendsetter.

Blackstone’s facility was specially designed to provide new shooters with a safe, comfortable, welcoming atmosphere, while still offering experienced shooting enthusiasts the challenges and amenities they expect. Blackstone, which opened two years ago, certainly caters to those who want the VIP treatment and are willing to pay for private lanes and a private lounge. But it also caters to those who just want to shoot in a safe, state-of-the-art facility with high-tech training classrooms and a modern retail space housing an extensive stock of firearms, ammunition, apparel, and accessories.

Ladies Welcome
Personal membership fees run from $24 per month up to $149 per month (VIP membership), which includes the entire family. An initiation fee is required with all memberships. Membership has its privileges, as Blackstone provides complimentary eye and ear protection, as well as discounts on ammunition, accessories, and gun rentals. Corporate memberships are available, too, so you can network or cut a deal on the private pistol range instead of on the 18th hole. The VIP Lounge is a separate part of the facility, with comfortable sofas and chairs and big-screen TVs. The space can also be rented and catered. Events are a big part of the business model at Blackstone, and the club uses a preferred list of caterers that range from casual BBQ to fancier events with chafing dishes. Hayden says the space is very popular for bachelorette parties. Once the ladies are done shooting, they can continue the celebration with a full catering staff. A gas fire pit on an outside patio is inviting, and the area makes for a comfortable setting for small talk or business dealings.

Alcohol is allowed in the lounge, but only after all firearms have been secured and access to the range is closed. All shooters must also fill out a waiver, which is conveniently available on store iPads. The iPad form not only captures waiver information, it also allows Blackstone to send emails and market to customers after they leave.

Removing the Barriers
Concealed carry is the strongest segment of the market, so Blackstone offers classes for shooters where they can obtain their concealed-carry permit. It also offers other classes, one of the most popular being a followup to the concealed-carry permit class that really dives into the particular situations North Carolina permit holders may encounter. Since many new concealed-carry permit holders are also new shooters, Hayden feels it is important to be able to provide full service, from shooting and training to retail.

The latter is another unique aspect of Blackstone’s, compared to the typical firearms store. There are no barriers separating the retail staff from the customer. Blackstone’s retail buying experience is more like what you would find at an Apple store.

“We eliminated firearms counters completely and display our retail firearms in custom-built, upright cases,” Hayden says. “This allows our guests to browse much more freely and empowers our sales team to develop a more natural relationship with our guests. This is especially important to our visitors who are new to the industry, because entering a firearms store for the first time can be an extremely intimidating and daunting experience.” Hayden notes that the staff has been specially trained to assist customers in an environment that is easier to navigate and far less stressful.

The entire experience is designed to get customers to linger and socialize. And though a guntry club may be a new wrinkle in the shooting sports business, the idea of keeping customers around is an old idea. But in this case, it’s wearing brand-new threads.


By Wayne Van Zwoll

Iron sights and fixed low-power scopes have gone the way of carbon paper and telephone cords. I doubt younger hunters would lament the passing of these no-frills “dinosaurs,” but they did the job. And there is something to be said for rugged simplicity.

As scopes have improved, they’ve grown bigger, heavier, more complex—and more expensive. While sporting rifles cost five or six times what they did when I bought my first Scope-Chief, the ascent of scope prices has been even steeper. Some now list for more than $2,000; those under $200 are widely considered “entry level.” To pay more for a scope than for the rifle it serves, most shooters want to know how the optic will help them kill game, drill X-rings, or hit steel plates out yonder. That means retailers who sell scopes must speak an evolving language.

Modern riflescopes are complicated packages. If you can’t explain the many features of each, you won’t be able to close the sale.

Reflection and Refraction
Every scope worth clamping to a rifle has coated lenses. In the 1930s, a Zeiss engineer found that a lens wash of magnesium fluoride (a colorless crystalline compound with a low refractive index) limited reflection and refraction (the bending of light beams passing from one medium to another of a different refractive index). You can lose up to 4 percent of incident light on every uncoated glass-air surface in a scope. Other rare earths affecting specific wave lengths further trim light loss. Fully .multi-coated optics (every lens, several coatings) yield the brightest images. Another treatment protects end lenses from scratches. For distortion-free aim in rain, hydrophobic coating beads water; hydrophilic coating “slips” it.

Fog-proofing matters as much as lens coatings. In 1947, soon after the debut of its 4X Plainsman, Leupold & Stevens tapped a process used on Merchant Marine vessels to prevent fogging in optics. Two years later, Leupold became the first American firm to replace the air in its scope tubes with nitrogen, and market fog-proof scopes. Argon is now used as well.

High resolution helps you distinguish detail. A healthy human eye can resolve about 1 minute of angle in good light; magnification multiplies that level of resolution. ED (extra-low dispersion) lenses have resolution-enhancing compounds. Fluoride glass contains zirconium fluoride. Fluorite, an optical form of the crystal fluorspar (calcium fluoride), has a low refractive index, ranks low in optical dispersion (separation of wave-lengths or colors), and also boosts resolution.

For clear aim, target and reticle images must be crisp. Rotating a scope’s eyepiece focuses the reticle so it appears sharp in the same apparent plane as the target. The European (aka helical or fast-focus) eyepiece is upstaging ocular housings with lock rings.

Oddly, few hunters adjust either type. Here’s a great tip to help your customer do it properly: Loosen the lock ring, if present, and spin the eyepiece out until the reticle appears soft. Point the rifle at the northern sky. Don’t aim at a target because your eye will try to bring it into focus. You want the eye relaxed, so it registers only the reticle. Now turn the eyepiece in until the reticle is crisp. Shut your eyes, then open them to check. Snug the lock ring. You needn’t re-focus the reticle until your eyes change.

DAIL IT IN Scope controls are there for a reason—Help your customer learn how to use them properly.

Perplexing Dilemma
In my youth the only scopes adjustable for target focus were varmint and competition models. An AO (adjustable objective) sleeve up front brought the target into focus and eliminated parallax error—the apparent shift of the reticle as your eye moved off the sight’s optical axis. At the target distance for which parallax is corrected, the crosswire stays put even when your eye moves off-axis. You avoid error at other ranges only when your eye is centered behind the scope. Most AO sleeves and, now, the more convenient parallax/focus dial on the left turret face, appear on high-power scopes.

Ironically, parallax can be most problematic at low power, where your eye has a wide exit pupil in which to move off-axis. Scopes without an AO feature are typically parallax-corrected at 100 or 150 yards.

A scope’s erector assembly, so called because its lenses reverse the upside-down image formed by the front glass, is a tube inside a tube. A cam slot in the erector tube of variable scopes moves lenses closer together or farther apart as you rotate the power ring. Windage and elevation adjustments tilt the erector tube. A 30mm scope may have a larger erector assembly than does a 1-inch (25.4mm) scope–or not. Big lenses yield superior resolution. But an erector tube that’s slender relative to the main tube has a greater adjustment range.

Early reticles, made of hair and spiderweb, broke. Windage and elevation adjustments moved them off-center in the field of view. Now glass-etched reticles (engraved or cut by acid on the lens) are replacing suspended reticles. They’re always centered. The front-mounted, first-plane reticle, standard in Europe, is becoming popular stateside in long-range scopes. Its dimensions remain constant relative to the target throughout a variable’s power range, so it serves as a ranging device at every setting. But in hunting scopes at low power, the reticle is hard to see in cover, and when you crank up magnification for a long poke, it’s thicker, hiding small targets. Rear- or second-plane reticles do not “grow and shrink” with the target.

Some reticles have brand-specific names. “Lee Dot” was an early one. Another, often misused to describe a type, is Duplex. That’s a Leupold label. The generic term for this popular design is “plex”—on which you’ll see various alternative prefixes. Range-finding reticles include ladders that bracket targets on the vertical wire. Range-compensating scopes let you hold center far away. The Leatherwood sniper scope was a pioneer in this field. The mount had a cam calibrated for bullet drop. Moving this cam to the proper position for the range, you aimed in the middle.

Surging interest in long-range shooting has birthed specialty scopes for that purpose. The Burris Eliminator has a laser-ranging device you can program with load data to get a lighted aiming point for a center hold at any reasonable range. In tests, I set this scope for a 150-grain load in my SIG 3000—a .308—then read the range from the laser: 395 yards. An orange dot glowed in the reticle’s bottom wire. Dot on the bull’s-eye, I drilled the target just half a minute from center.

Range Adjustment
High magnification can cost you low-end utility in “three-times” hunting scopes. That’s not “3-power” but the range of power. Think 4–12x or 6–18x. Now there are five-, six-, even eight-times scopes. For scopes you plan to adjust frequently for range, repeatable adjustments are a must. To check a scope’s adjustments after zeroing, I shoot around the square, 20 clicks at a time: first right, then down, then left, then up to my original setting.

Quarter-minute clicks should yield groups 5 inches apart, the last atop the first. Resettable dials let you index dial “shells” to “0” without an internal change after zeroing. A zero stop sets a travel limit on the dial, for a no-look return to “0.”

Physics & Math Made Easy

Magnification, or power, helps us see detail. I re-call when Weaver sold its K4 4X scope as perfect “for most long-range shooting.” Now hunters carry variables with top ends to 20X. The animals haven’t changed; nor has the optical triangle, which shows how magnification limits eye relief and field of view. Eye relief is the distance from the ocular lens to your eye that delivers a full, shadow-free field. Boosting power can reduce ER (as it does field) and make it more critical–and cause earlier “black-out” as your eye moves toward and away from the lens. Intermediate- and long-eye-relief scopes for carbines and pistols have smaller fields than do riflescopes of standard 3 ½-inch ER.

High power also re-duces the diameter of the light beam reaching your eye, or the exit pupil. You get EP by dividing magnification into objective lens diameter. A variable scope with a 40mm objective has a 5mm EP at 8X, a 4mm EP at 10X. Your eye’s pupil dilates to about 6mm in dusky conditions. In such light, a 4mm EP won’t yield as bright a picture as a 6mm EP would. But an EP bigger than your eye’s pupil doesn’t improve the picture.


By Robert Sadowski

The trend is easy to see. Glass for MSRs and long-range shooting continues to gain ground


Barska The Level 20–60x85mm spotting scope works for hunters as well as bench shooters.

Optics for the MSR platform continue to cover the range from red-dots for close-up work to magnified optics for precision long-range shooting. If you sell MSRs, then having a range of optic choices is a must-have. The trend in long-range shooting optics is toward FFP (first-focal-plane) reticles, which have the ability to increase in size as the magnification is increased. This means the ranging capability of the reticle is easier to use. These scopes also are getting a bit smaller and more compact, so they have less of a footprint. This year you can expect some new spotters and some economical binocular models as well. Here’s the field to view.

Designed for hunting or target shooting, the new Level Series of riflescopes debuts with a 3–12x50mm (SRP: $535.75) model equipped with a red-and-green illuminated reticle that allows the user to select the optimal reticle and brightness for the current environment lighting. The new 20–60x85mm Level spotting scope (SRP: $2,500) is great for both hunting and bench shooting, and offers good image quality with an apochromatic extra-low-dispersion objective lens and a BaK-4 prism. Other features include a tabletop tripod, a hard travel case, and an all-weather protective soft case. The Level ED 8x42mm binocular (SRP: $714.40) is an all-purpose binocular featuring extra-low-dispersion (ED) lenses that reduce chromatic aberration. Shock-absorbing rubber armor provides protection to the optics and creates a non-slip ergonomic design.(barska.com)


Bushnell The compact Elite Tactical DMR II-i 3.5–21x50mm features the new G3 illuminated reticle.

The compact Elite Tactical DMR II-i 3.5–21x50mm (SRP: $1,932 to $1,999, depending on reticle) is designed for long-range, precision shooting and features the new G3 illuminated reticle, which provides precision holdovers at any range. It also allows shooters to more quickly engage moving targets in any light. The Elite Tactical LRTSi in 3–12x44mm (SRP: $1,616 to $1,680) and 4.5–18x44mm (SRP: $1,813 to $1,867) are designed for precision shooting on MSR platforms. The Elite Tactical SMRS (SRP: $1,822) is designed for short- and mid-range shooting with an illuminated BTR-2 reticle and should appeal to 3-Gun participants.

The AR Optics line has five new models. The Enrage Red Dot (SRP: $240) is equipped with a 2-MOA dot with eight brightness settings and a high-rise mount. The Incinerate Red Dot (SRP: $240) features a tube design and a circle-dot reticle. The Engulf Micro Reflex Red Dot (SRP: $255) is super compact and compatible with MSRs and pistols. The 3X Magnifier (SRP: $259) mounts behind nearly any red-dot and flips into place when magnification is needed. The Digital Sentry Night Vision (SRP: $353) is a 2X monocular that can be helmet- or firearm-mounted.(bushnell.com)

The HookUpz 2.0 (SRP: $89) connects nearly any smartphone to an optic—binocular, monocular, spotting scope, riflescopes—to digitally record and capture everything seen through the optical device. (carson.com)

Crimson Trace

Crimson Trace A Crimson Trace laser sight is now available for a Walther PPS Gen2 pistol.

The new value-priced Spectrum series riflescopes feature a first-focal-plane reticle. Models include a 1–4x24mm (SRP: $199) and two side-parallax-adjustment models—a 3–9x40mm (SRP: $219) and a 4–12x44mm (SRP: $249). (crosman.com)

Crimson Trace
The LinQ system (SRP: $649) is now available for AK-type rifles. The laser/light unit design uses Bluetooth-like technology to control a tactical light/laser module without cables or touch pads. The Master Series for 1911-style pistols goes green (SRP: $449) with new green-diode laser grips made of wood or G10 for full- and compact-size 1911s. The laser/holster packages now include a Blade-Tech Klipt Ambi IWB concealed-carry holster with a Crimson Trace laser sight for a Walther PPS Gen2 pistol (SRP: $229, red; $309, green). The latest Lasergrip in red is now available for the Kimber K6 revolver SRP: $399. (crimsontrace.com)

Hi-Lux Optics

Hi-Lux The PentaLux TAC-V 4–20x50mm FFP scope.

Hi-Lux Optics
The Phenom 5–30x56mm (SRP: $950) features a 34mm tube and first-focal-plane reticle. The massive 56mm objective lens delivers enhanced clarity, and the CW-3 reticle offers a Christmas tree grid for precise shot placement. The PentaLux TAC-V 4–20x50mm FFP (SRP: $770) is also a first-focal-plane scope with a 30mm tube, and it’s well suited for long-range shooting on the MSR platform. The CW-1 reticle is an intuitive and fast MilRadian ranging reticle.(hi-luxoptics.com)

The new LZ30 series of riflescopes includes two models—a 2.5–10x50mm (SRP: $400) and a 3–12x56mm (SRP: $430). Both feature an illuminated and engraved Duplex reticle, a 30mm tube, and a dual-locking system designed to maintain zero. (konuspro.com)

Long-range shooters will like the Accushot 4–16x56mm (SRP: $280), as it comes equipped with a 30mm tube, a bubble leveler located at the 6 o’clock position to eliminate cant, and an etched-glass illuminated mil-dot reticle with dual red/green color. The BugBuster series of compact scopes now has a no-frills 3–12x32mm scope featuring a 1-inch tube, adjustable parallax, and a mil-dot reticle. Other features include premium zero lockable and resettable target turrets with ¼ – MOA per click adjustments, plus a pair of medium-profile quick-detach MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rings. For MSR shooters, the 6.4-inch ITA red/green CQB T-Dot Sight (SRP: $63) offers economy along with a rugged 1X power red-dot sight. Other features include a red/green illuminated T-Dot reticle, flip-up lens caps, and a QD mount base. UTG Steel Picatinny Ring sets are available in 1-inch, 30mm, and 34mm sizes, in various height profiles and snap-free contours. Need some height? The Super Slim 20 MOA Elevated Picatinny Mount (SRP: $28) offers 20 MOA of height and a 13-slot Picatinny rail, so long-range shooters can get the most elevation out of their scope. (leapers.com)

Leica The Geovid HD-B Edition 2200 laser rangefinding binocular.

The new open-bridge-design Noctivid binocular line offers superior performance with a rugged, compact body that provides comfortable ergonomics. Two models include an 8x42mm (SRP: $2,599) and 10x42mm (SRP: $2,699). The Geovid CRF-2000-B (SRP: $799) is a compact laser rangefinder capable of measurements out to 2,000 yards. It has 7X magnification, weighs only 6.5 ounces, and fits in a shirt pocket. The Rangemaster CRF 1600-R (SRP: $599) laser rangefinder features accurate line-of-sight ranging to 1,600 yards, 7X magnification, and auto-adjust brightness display. The Geovid HD-B Edition 2200 laser range-finding binocular comes in two models—an 8x42mm (SRP: $2,549) and 10x42mm (SRP: $2,599)—both of which can range out to 2,200 yards. They also feature more precise ¼-MOA adjustment and a Micro-SD card slot that allows the shooter to upload custom ballistics data. (us.leica-camera.com)

Leupold & Stevens
The LTO (Leupold Thermal Optic) Tracker (SRP: $879) is a hand-held thermal observation and game-recovery tool that provides exceptional image quality, fast 30hz frame rates, and detection of heat sources out to 600 yards. It features 6X magnification and a sensor that is effective from -4 degrees F to 140 degrees F. The new VX-3i LRP (Long Range Precision) scopes (SRP: $1,065 to $1,250, depending on model) offer high-end features in an affordable riflescope. Built off the VX-3i line, the LRP is equipped with the Twilight Max light-management system and either first- or second-focal-plane reticles. Reticle options include the MOA-based TS-32X1 and T-MOA, the mil-based TMR, and the new CCH (Combat Competition Hunter) reticle. Models include a 4.5–14x50mm, a 6.5–20x50mm, and a 8.5–25x50mm. The flagship VX-6 line has been improved and renamed the VX-6HD series (SRP: starts at $1,300), with models available in magnification ranges of 1–6x24mm, 2–12x42mm, 3–18x44mm, 3–18x50mm, and 4–24x52mm. All feature the Twilight Max Light Management System, a new automatic reticle-leveling feature, and a new Custom Dial System elevation adjustment. (leupold.com)


Leupold The Flagship VX-6 Line has been improved and renamed the VX-6HD series, with models available in magnification ranges of 1–6x24mm, 2–12x42mm, 3–18x44mm, 3–18x50mm, and 4–24x52mm. All feature the Twilight Max Light Management System.

The MeoTac 3–12x50mm (SRP: $2,530) is designed for tactical use and features a 34mm tube and windage and elevation ranges of 100 MOA and 55 MOA with click adjustments of ¹₃ MOA. In addition, the illuminated MilDot 3 RD reticle is located in the first focal plane. New BDC reticles (the illuminated red-dot BDC-2 and BDC-3) are available for the MeoStar R2 and MeoStar R1r scopes. (meoptasportsoptics.com)

The FT Bullseye sight (SRP: $199 to $209, depending on model) is a low-profile micro red-dot-style optic for pistols that combines fiber optics and tritium to provide the illumination needed under all lighting conditions. Available in red- or green-dot/circle for all Glock models, as well as Springfield XD and XDM.(themakogroup.com)

The VISM ADO (Advanced Dual Optic) incorporates a primary 3–9x42mm compact scope and integrates a reflex sight into the top of the scope to create a streamlined optic system. The reflex sight is spring loaded and deploys with a push of a button. The next generation of the SRT Scope series features an all-new SRT V3 3–9x42mm compact scope. Designed for MSR platforms, the laser system has been upgraded to a green laser integrated into the top of the objective lens bell housing. The Mark III Tactical V3 sight has been updated with a red-and-blue illuminated reticle powered by a AA battery. The top of the scope body is machined to accept an NcSTAR Micro Dot for a low-profile backup-sight option. (ncstar.com)

Meopta The MeoTac 3–12x50mm is designed for tactical use and has an illuminated MilDot 3 RD reticle located in the first focal plane. Meprolight The FT Bullseye sight is a low-profile micro red-dot-style optic for pistols.


NCSTAR The VISM ADO is a compact scope with an integrated reflex sight.

Nightforce Optics
The top-of-the-line ATACR series now includes the ATACR 7–35x56mm (SRP: $3,600), which comes in a first-focal-plane configuration and features a 34mm tube that allows 100 MOA/27 Mil-Radian of elevation adjustment and 60 MOA/17 Mil-Radian of windage adjustment. The ATACR 4–16x50mm (SRP: $2,400) scope is configured with a second-focal-plane reticle and designed specifically for hunters. The new fixed-power Competition SR Fixed 4.5x24mm riflescope (SRP: $1,950) is purpose-built to comply with 2016 Civilian Marksmanship Program and NRA service rifle match rules, which now allow use of riflescopes. (nightforceoptics.com)

The Monarch 7i VR Laser Rangefinder (SRP: $400) features Nikon’s optical VR (Vibration Reduction) technology, which reduces the effect of external vibrations and makes it easier to steady the rangefinder to range objects at long distances. The 6X magnification allows users to range out to 1,000 yards.(nikonsportoptics.com)

The new premium Pinnacle 3–18x44mm TMD riflescope (SRP: $1560) features a rugged 34mm tube, a first-focal-plane reticle, and an oversize turret design with distinct .1-MRAD windage and elevation adjustments. The Tactical Mil-Dash (TMD) reticle is specifically designed for on-the-fly range finding and quick target acquisition even at extreme distances. (sightmark.com)

Nightforce The ATACR series now includes the ATACR 7–35x56mm. Nikon The Monarch 7i VR Laser Rangefinder features technology that reduces the effect of external vibrations. Sightmark The Pinnacle 3–18x44mm TMD has a rugged 34mm tube, a first-focal-plane reticle, and an oversize turret.

Sig Sauer
The TANGO6 riflescope line is now equipped with LevelPlex, an anti-cant system, and new T120 turrets. A Dev-L holdover-style reticle is also now being offered. Most models have a shortened 34mm tube so they are more compact. Models include 1–6x24mm (SRP: $1,680), 3–18x44mm (SRP: $2,400), 4–24x50mm (SRP: $2,520), and a 5–30x56mm (SRP: $3,120). The WHISKEY5 Gen2 line of scopes includes a 30mm tube and locking turrets. The Dev-L reticle will be available in TANGO4 4–16x44mm and 6–24x50mm models. The full-size ROMEO6 red-dot sights now feature a ballistic circle dot or plex reticle and a solar-power option. The KILO2400ABS laser rangefinder offers longer ranging and features a built-in applied ballistics system that is app-based. The KILO2200MR laser rangefinder is the big brother to the KILO2000, offering longer ranging, a milling reticle, and reduced laser-beam divergence. (sigsauer.com)

Trijicon Machine gun reflex sight.

The new Z8i riflescope series offers 8X zoom magnification with a large field of view. Available models include a Z8i 1–8x24mm, Z8i 1.7–13.3x42mm P, Z8i 2–16x50mm P, and Z8i 2.3–18x56mm P. Z8i 1–8×24 and Z8i 1.7–13.3×42 P riflescopes also feature the Flexchange 4A-IF, which allows the user to switch the illuminated ring around the illuminated center dot on and off with the press of a button. Another option on the Z8i line is the ballistic turret flex (BTF), which can be configured separately using several different types of ballistic compensation correction. It can also be attached and removed at any time without tools. (swarovskioptik.com)

The new Essentials line of value-priced binocular models offers multiple compact, roof-prism designs, some small enough to fit into a pocket. Models include an 8x21mm, 10x25mm, 12x25mm, and 16x32mm (SRP: $14 to $37). A 10x25mm monocular (SRP: $12) is also being offered. Mid-size porro-prism binoculars include an 8–24x25mm, 10x25mm, 4x30mm, 7x35mm, 10x50mm, 10–30x50mm, 10x32mm, and 12x50mm (SRP: $12 to $132). The new Focus Free series of mid- and full-size binoculars offer an instantly clear view with no focus necessary. Models include an 8x25mm, 7x35mm, and 8x32mm (SRP: $58 to $59). (tasco.com)

The MGRS (Machine Gun Reflex Sight) was created to withstand the constant, violent battering of machine guns and features a large objective lens with a 3X2-inch viewing area and a 35 MOA segmented circle reticle. SRP: $4,999.Centered within the reticle is a 3 MOA dot for precise aiming at close combat, as well as extended ranges. The unit is powered by a single CR123A battery that lasts about 1,000 hours of continuous operation.(trijicon.com)

U.S. Optics

U.S. Optics The Bravo Series is now lighter, shorter, and more streamlined.

U.S. Optics
The design of the new Bravo Series was developed based upon requests from military, law enforcement, and competitive shooters. The MR10 Bravo (SRP: $2,450) and LR17 Bravo (SRP: $2,900) are lighter, shorter, and more streamlined. Features include a shorter scope to accommodate night vision, a compact turret section for better compatibility with commonly used mounts, locking elevation and windage knobs, an elevation revolution counter, an elevation zero stop, and integrated parallax and illumination control. (usoptics.com)

Vortex Razor AMG UH-1.

The Razor AMG UH-1 (SRP: $700) is the first holographic sight to combine the durability, reliability, and energy efficiency of a red-dot, but with the sight picture, zero-distortion, and comprehensive reticle pattern of a holographic sight. Runs on a Micro USB rechargeable LFP 123A battery or CR123A battery. (vortexoptics.com)

The Victory SF binocular series now has new features available in 8x42mm (SRP: $2,850) and 10x42mm (SRP: $2,900) models, including a more precise focusing system and smoother handling. In addition, an extra click stop has been built into the rotating eyecup. The new Victory SF is also available with new black armoring. The Conquest Gavia 30–60x85mm angled spotting scope (SRP: $1,999) was specially developed for hunters and wildlife/nature observers. Powerful 60X magnification offers great detail. The spotter also is lightweight and compact for easy transport. The Victory V8 riflescope line now includes three rail-mount scopes in 1–8x32mm (SRP: $2,999), 1.8–14x50mm (SRP: $3,666), and 2.8–20x56mm (SRP: $3,999). The 50mm and 56mm objective models include the ASV bullet-drop-compensator system. Terra ED binocular models are now available in black, gray, green, and brown. Model include 8x32mm (SRP: $370), 10x32mm (SRP: $400), 8x42mm (SRP: $400), and 10x42mm (SRP: $450). (zeiss.com)


Zeiss The TERRA ED line is designed to be compact, light, and sturdy, and its fiberglass-reinforced, waterproof casing helps protect it from the elements. For 2017, models will be available in black, gray, green, and brown.


By Richard Mann

Shotguns remain the most versatile firearms in the world, and versatility best explains the new offerings for 2017. Manufacturers are building new pursuit-driven shotguns and continuing to tweak current offerings to provide even more niche specialization of their products. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a get-in-the-duck-blind-mud over/under or a behind-the-truck-seat compact scattergun, this year no one can argue there’s a lack of diversity in the category.



The 12-gauge Super Black Eagle 3 is available in black synthetic, Realtree Max-5, Mossy Oak Bottom Lands, and Gore Optifade Timber. This inertia-driven shotgun, which features an oversize bolt handle, bolt release, and safety, is chambered for 2 ¾-, 3-, and 3 ½-inch shells. It ships with a carbon-fiber rib and five chokes, and either a 26- or 28-inch barrel. SRP: $1,899, black; $1,999, camo. (benelli.com)



As Browning enters the fifth year of the High Grade Program, it’s now offering a Citori 725 12-gauge Trap model in Grade V and Grade VII models. The Grade V will have either 30- or 32-inch barrels. SRP: $5,339.99. The Grade VII will also be available with 30- or 32-inch barrels. SRP: $6,399.99. Another addition to the smoothbore lineup includes a Citori 725 Sporting Golden Clays 12-gauge with either 30- or 32-inch barrels. It will have Sporting Golden Clays engraving on the right, left, and bottom of the receiver. SRP: $5,349.99.

Browning will also be offering a B15 over/under shotgun that has been exquisitely enhanced by the gunsmiths of Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal. These B15s will be offered in four grades, with a choice of exceptional engravings and wood quality. Along those same lines is an A5 High Grade Hunter with special engraving that depicts pheasants on the left side and mallards on the right, surrounded by intricate scrollwork. The 12-gauge has 3-inch chambers and 26- or 28-inch barrels, and will be offered in a gloss finish with grade 2.5 walnut. SRP: $1,859.99.

The A5 and Maxus Wicked Wing shotguns are semi-auto waterfowlers that feature receivers and barrels coated in a duck blind mud– and water–resistant, Cerakote burnt bronze camo finish. Banded extended choke tubes, Briley extended bolt handles, and oversize bolt releases are standard, as are composite stocks in Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades camo. Both
3- and 3½-inch models are available. SRP: $1,979.99, A5 Wicked Wing; $1,739.99, Maxus Wicked Wing.

For those eaten up with clay-busting craziness, the BT-99 Trap and Micro Trap come with adjustable buttplates and combs. Both feature a Graco Pro Fit adjustable comb and buttpad plate. The Micro version has a 13¾-inch LOP; the full-size version has a 14 ⅜-inch LOP. The Micro is offered with 30- or 32-inch barrels, and the full-size can be had with 32- or 34-inch barrels. SRP: $1,799.99.

The Cynergy Composite Ultimate Turkey over/under shotgun is available in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo. This is a 12-gauge with a 3½-inch chamber, and it comes with either 24- or 26-inch barrels. It has a Marble Arms Bullseye rear sight, a fiber-optic front sight, and a short Picatinny rail to mount red-dot optics. Five Invector-Plus choke tubes, including the Extended Ultimate Turkey and Spreader, come with the shotgun. SRP: $2,339.99. (browning.com)



The All-American—featuring drop-in replacement parts, including locking blocks—is the sporting clays half of the company’s Trap Combo. It has a four-way comb, combined with adjustable buttplate hardware, that will allow you to tune-cast, toe, and LOP for a perfect fit to your shooting style. All-Americans fire the bottom barrel first, the purpose of which is to reduce recoil going into the second shot. Blacked-out extended chokes in a mid-thread pattern, a blacked-out action, and select wood round out the package. SRP: $2,499.

For competitors who want a nicer version of CZ’s affordable 612 Trap, the Target model has select-grade wood with a glossy oil finish. The metal gets a deep polished blue. With a tuned trigger system, raised rib, and comfortable Monte Carlo stock, this is a clay-killing machine. A set of extended chokes and a pair of Bradley-style white beads are standard. SRP: $549.

For those wanting a light, classy pump gun to carry in the field, CZ has put together an ideal candidate. Built on a gauge-specific 7075 aluminum action, this 28-gauge has a deep glossy blue finish and select-grade Turkish walnut. A set of interchangeable chokes lets you tune constriction, and the full forend and pistol grip make this lithe shotgun feel like the shotgun gods have blessed you. With 28-inch barrels, the shotgun weighs a scant 5.4 pounds. SRP: $429.

For those wanting to whack waterfowl with a vengeance, CZ’s Swamp Magnum is the shotgun with which to do so. The Swamp Magnum is the only over/under in the line that has an automatic safety that engages every time the action is opened, making it more duck-blind-friendly. With polymer stocks in either black or Realtree Max5 camo, and with all metalwork blacked out, these over/unders are ready for the mud, rain, blood, and tears for which duck blinds are famous. SRP: $929 to $1,029. (cz-usa.com)


The Missione semi-auto is available in 20- or 12-gauge, with 3-inch chambers. The 28-inch barrels are chrome-plated, with a ventilated rib, a Hi-Viz Spark front sight, a stainless receiver, and a Turkish walnut stock sporting rubber grip panel inlays. Sling swivels, five extended chokes, and a hard case come standard. SRP: $715. (hatsan.com.tr)

Iver Johnson

Iver Johnso

Two new and interesting .410 shotguns from Iver Johnson should appeal to those looking for a behind-the-seat truck gun or a shotgun sized for youths. The IJ700-18 has an 18-inch barrel and is only 34 inches overall. It weighs just 4 pounds 8 ounces. It comes with a blued barrel, a silver receiver, a walnut stock and forend, a rubber buttpad, and sling swivels. Its most unusual feature is that it folds in half for storage and transport. The IJ700-26 is the same gun but with a 26-inch barrel and an overall length of 41.5 inches. SRP: $175. (iverjohnsonarms.com)


The Shockwave is an ATF-approved shotgun with a 14-inch barrel and an overall length of only 26 inches. This 12-gauge is built on the 590 action and features a Raptor grip and corncob forend with a strap. With a matte-blue finish and cylinder bore, the 590 Shockwave is a whole lot of wickedness in a defensive-style shotgun. SRP: $455. The 510 Mini Muddy Girl 410 might be the ideal shotgun for the young shooter who is looking for a bit of feminine flair in her first scattergun. It has an 18.5-inch barrel, a ventilated rib, and a fixed Modified choke. It is also adjustable for length of pull and is covered in the vibrant Muddy Girl camo. SRP: $469. The Mossberg Compact Cruiser AOW is available with an 8- or 10-inch barrel, an ATI T3 pistol grip and folding vertical handgrip with a strap, a parkerized finish, and a Cylinder choke. SRP: $910 to $980. (mossberg.com)


Stevens has made its 555 over/under line even more versatile with the new 555 Compact. The stylish shotgun has a mid-length forend and a compact, 13.25-inch LOP, making it perfect for smaller-framed shooters. Like the original 555, it features a light aluminum receiver that’s scaled to gauge. In addition, it sports a Turkish walnut stock and forend, shell extractors, a manual safety, and a single, selective mechanical trigger. It ships with five interchangeable choke tubes. Available in .410, 28-, and 20-gauge. SRP: $692. Stevens is also offering an enhanced version of the original 555. It has an Imperial walnut stock and laser-engraved filigree ornamentation. It is available in .410, 28-, 20-, and 12-gauge. SRP: $863. (savagearms.com)



three new 12-gauge shotguns make up Stoeger’s new entries for 2017. The M3000 Tactical can be had with either a field or pistol grip with an 18.5-inch barrel. This inertia–driven gun will accept 2¾- or 3-inch shells and has a fixed Cylinder bore. SRP: $599, field stock; $649, pistol-grip stock.

The P3000 Tactical is a pump-action 12-gauge available with a field or pistol-grip stock and an 18.5-inch barrel. It, too, will accept 2 ¾- or 3-inch shells, and it has a fixed Cylinder bore. SRP: $299, field stock; $349, pistol-grip stock. The P3500 12-gauge is offered in either black synthetic or Realtree Max-5, with a 28-inch barrel. It will accept 2¾- or 3-inch shells, and has a red-bar front sight and a ventilated rib. Accessory chokes are available. (stoegerindustries.com)



The Viper Max is designed to shoot 2¾-inch light target loads as well as 3.5-inch turkey loads. It features a two-piston system, and a light- and heavy-load piston are included with the gun. The spare piston stores in the top of the forearm so it is always with the gun. It is available in Realtree Max-5 with a 26-, 28-, or 30-inch barrel. A black synthetic version with a 28-inch barrel is an option. A fiber-optic sight and three choke tubes are included. SRP: $640 to $730.

The Double Trap Adjustable (DTA) comes with 30-inch barrels, an adjustable high-post target rib, ported barrels, and color-coded extended chokes. It also features a fully adjustable buttpad system that allows the shooter to change LOP. The buttpad can be adjusted for cast, moved up or down, and tilts for a perfect fit. The Monte Carlo stock has an adjustable comb in Turkish walnut and is drilled for a recoil reducer. Weight is 8.8 pounds. SRP: $1,450.

The Mono-Trap has a 34-inch barrel with porting and extended chokes. It features a Monte Carlo stock in Turkish walnut with an oil finish. A target rib with a fiber-optic sight is standard. The TT-15 MT is an ideal entry-level trap gun and ships with Modified, Improved Modified, and Full chokes. SRP: $1,035. (tristararms.com)


Winchester Repeating Arms

the Super X4 12-gauge autoloader is based on the proven Active Valve gas system and offers enhanced ergonomics, with easier to access operating controls. It’s lighter and faster cycling than its predecessor. The shotgun is offered in four models—the SX4 Composite, SX4 Waterfowl, SX4 Field, and SX4 Field Compact—all with 3- or 3 ½-inch chambers. SRP: $799.99 to $939.99.

The new SXP Shadow Defender and Shadow Marine Defender pump shotguns feature synthetic pistol-grip stocks with textured gripping surfaces and are supplied with two interchangeable comb pieces. Offered in 20- and 12-gauge, with 3-inch chambers, the alloy receivers are drilled and tapped for bases and rings, and a tactical ribbed forearm offers better control. The Marine Defender features matte hard-chrome plating on the barrel, magazine tube, and slide arms for added resistance to wear and the elements. Barrel length is 18 inches. A Cylinder choke tube is supplied. The 12-gauge Defender retails for $449.99, the 20-gauge for $469.99. The Marine Defender retails for $499.99 in 12-gauge, and $519.99 in 20-gauge.

The new SXP Turkey pump shotgun is available in either 12- or 20-gauge and features a composite stock and forearm in a matte black finish. The black alloy receiver is drilled and tapped for scope bases, and Truglo fiber-optic adjustable sights are standard. The 12-gauge version has a 3½-inch chamber with a 24-inch barrel. SRP: $439.99. The 20-gauge has a 3-inch chamber and 24-inch barrels. SRP: $439.99. (winchesterguns.com)


By Richard Mann

Just as in 2015, handguns remained the top-selling firearms in America last year. We are continuing to see suppressor-ready variants, and these are not limited to centerfire handguns. The demand for new and varied 1911s remains strong, and one manufacturer has upped the ante with a high-grade line of custom revolvers. Although most of the innovation is occurring with polymer-framed handguns, the real news for 2017 is the niche specialization of various models.



The Black Label 1911-380 Medallion Pro model, in full-size and compact versions, features a matte-black frame and a blackened stainless-steel slide with silver brush-polished flats. The grips are made of intricately checkered rosewood with a gold Buckmark. Barrel length on the full-size model is 4¼ inches; on the compact model, it’s 3 ⅝ inches. SRP: $799.99; $879.99 with night sights. A Black Label 1911-22LR Medallion full size and compact will also be offered with similar features for $669.99.

The New Black Label 1911-22LR Gray full-size and compact models are available with or without a rail. The slides on both are machined aluminum, and the barrel has a gray anodized finish. The frames are composite, with a machined 7075 aluminum subframe and slide rails. Sights are fiber-optic. SRP: $699.99; $719.99 with the rail. Black Label 1911-22LR Medallion full-size and compact versions will also be offered with similar features for $669.99.

To keep up with the demand for suppressor-ready firearms, the new Buck Mark Field Target Suppressor Ready 22LR model will feature a heavy, round, 5 ½-inch suppressor-ready barrel in matte blued finish. It also will offer an integral scope base with a Pro-Target rear sight and front blade sight. Grips are Cocobolo-laminated target. SRP: $599.99.

The new Buck Mark Lite Flute UFX model will feature a 5½-inch steel barrel with an alloy sleeve and fluting in a matte blued finish. Pro-Target rear sights and a Truglo/Marble Arms fiber-optic front sight are standard. Grips are Ultragrip FX ambidextrous. SRP: $559.99. (browning.com)


For 2017, Cimarron is offering five new single-action revolvers. The George S. Patton Engraved Model P has a 5.5-inch barrel and is chambered for .45 Colt. It is nickel-plated and laser-engraved, and has poly-ivory grips with Patton’s GSP insignia and a lanyard ring. SRP: $747.50. The Texas Ranger Engraved Model P has a 4.75-inch barrel and is chambered for .45 Colt. It has a nickel-plated finish and is also laser-engraved. The poly-ivory grips have the Texas Ranger insignia on both sides. SRP: $772.20.

Cimarron’s Bad Boy is a single-action revolver chambered for the .44 Magnum. It comes with a 6- or 8-inch octagonal barrel, a flat-top pre-war frame, adjustable sights, blue finish, and two-piece walnut grips. SRP: $570.70. The new Pistolero—a sleek, classically designed single-action for Old West firearms collectors or re-enactors—is chambered for the .45 Colt. It has a 4.75-inch barrel, with a blue finish and case-hardened frame. It is also available in nickel. SRP: $484.65, blue; $552.15, nickel.

The El Malo is a single-action Colt replica designed to be used by hunters, historic re-enactors, or Old West collectors. It’s chambered for the .45 Colt and is available with a 4.75-, 5.5-, or 7.5-inch octagonal barrel. It has the standard blue and case-hardened finish. SRP: $544.74. (cimarron-firearms.com)



The 805 Bren S1 Pistol with its 11-inch barrel has proven a popular SBR candidate for customers wanting to convert it into an NFA firearm. Those who don’t wish to register with the ATF can equip it with CZ’s adapter kit, which allows easy installation of aftermarket arm braces. Chambered in .223 Remington/5.56 NATO, and now 300 Blackout, the pistol uses the STANAG magazine from the AR15/M16. Picatinny rails top and bottom mean it easily accepts optics and lights, and an effective two-port muzzle brake helps keep the pistol solidly on target and reduces recoil and muzzle flip. SRP: $1,799. to $1,899.

Falling somewhere between the Scorpion Pistols and Carbine, the EVO  3 S1 Pistol is perfectly set up for those who desire a two-stamp gun. The extended forearm will hide most suppressors and offers M-LOK attachment points. With a 7.7-inch barrel and a 5-inch flash can, the barrel is extended to just past the forend. A factory folding stock is an aftermarket option for this unique 9mm. SRP: $949.

The latest addition to the CZ line of handguns is the P-10 C. This pistol is decidedly CZ, from the way it feels to the way it shoots. With the CZ grip angle, the P-10 avoids that brick-in-the-hand feeling that has plagued many in the striker-fired genre, allowing it to point naturally. Interchangeable backstraps allow it to fit a wide variety of hands. Designed to minimize creep and stacking, the P-10’s trigger breaks at a clean 4 to 4.5 pounds and rebounds with a short, positive reset. It has a fiber-reinforced polymer frame, a nitride finish, a generous trigger guard, and metal three-dot sights. Capacity is either 15+1 or 17+1, depending on the mag used. The CZ P10-C is available in 9mm Luger or .40 S&W, and a suppressor-ready variant is available in 9mm. SRP: $499 to $541.

Loaded with features, but without all the flash of the Urban Grey series, the 9mm standard black P-09 Suppressor-Ready now comes with high night sights and extended magazine bases, in addition to the obligatory extended, threaded barrel. SRP: $629. A new addition to the P-09 is the Kadet Kit. It is a scaled-up version of the P-07 kit to fit on the longer P-09 frame. Topped with the new Shadow 2 serrated target sight and a rear height-adjustable-only sight, the P-09 Kadet Kit ships with two magazines. SRP: $249.

Due to demand, CZ has brought back the SP-01 Phantom. This is essentially a polymer-framed SP-01 Tactical, with interchangeable backstraps and mag compatibility with the standard 75 platform. The SP-01 Phantom has long been a favorite in the CZ community, and has the distinction of being the current sidearm of the Czech Army.

Starting from scratch, CZ engineers took the best features of the original Shadow and improved upon them. The higher beavertail and an undercut trigger guard bring the shooter’s hand closer to the axis of the bore. Increased weight at the dust cover/rail helps keep the muzzle down during recoil. The Shadow 2’s swappable mag release has an adjustable, extended button with three settings to allow shooters to set it in the most comfortable position. The new trigger components provide a smooth DA and crisp and clean SA pull while drastically reducing trigger reset. Available only in 9mm. SRP: $1,299 to $1,399. (cz-usa.com)

Dan Wesson

Dan Wesson

The A2 stands as a testament to the most-copied pistol design in history. Drawing its lineage from the 1911 A1, the A2 and A2 Commander in .45 Auto are Dan Wesson’s vision of what the third generation of the military 1911 could have looked like. A lowered and flared ejection port, modern combat sights, a tactical beavertail, and an extended thumb safety, as well as a hint of undercutting to the trigger guard, make this one combat-ready pistol. The A2 will be produced in limited numbers. SRP: $1,363.

Customers have been asking for a blued-steel version of the Dan Wesson Valor. The new gun has the same features and attention to detail as its other stainless pistols, but it comes in a more traditional material and finish. Wearing a set of red-and-black double-diamond G10 grips with polished flats and bead-blasted rounds, the Valor Blue, in either 9mm or .45, is a classic beauty. SRP: $1,766.

When police departments approached Dan Wesson to build a more reliable, durable 1911 to replace what they’d been carrying, the company developed a model just for them. The frame sports a Picatinny rail, 25-LPI checkering, an undercut trigger guard, and a recessed slide stop. This pistol is equipped with an ambidextrous thumb safety, an extended magazine release, and a detachable two-piece mag well. It’s finished off with a set of G10 grips and either a matte stainless or black Duty finish. Available in either 9mm or .45 Auto. SRP: $1,701 to $2,012.

A fully stainless take on the Commander-length slide with an Officer-sized frame, the Pointman Carry is easily concealed and also incredibly comfortable to shoot. With features closely mirroring the full-size Pointman Nine, its reduced grip length makes it disappear under even thin cover garments, and its 9mm chambering makes recoil nearly non-existent. SRP: $1,597.

Equipped with a Trijicon RMR and with an extended, threaded barrel, the Fury is a double-stack beast begging to be unleashed on paper and steel. Chambered in 9mm or 10mm, capacities are 18+1 and 14+1, respectively. It also has a crisp, super-short-reset Elite Series trigger job. SRP: $4,899. (cz-usa.com)



The FNS Compact offers the same features as the standard FNS models, but it has a 3.6-inch barrel and is designed to be snag-free for better concealment and a faster draw. The front sight also has a larger dot for faster target acquisition. The FNS Compact has a 12- or 17-round capacity, depending on the magazine used, weighs 23.4 ounces, and is 6.7 inches long. SRP: $599. (fnamerica.com)

Iver Johnson

The Pocket Ace is a new derringer from Iver Johnson. It is chambered for .22LR and is a four-barrel single-action pistol. Made in the U.S., it is built from stainless steel and has a rotating firing pin, an integrated ambidextrous safety, and a 2-inch barrel. Overall length is 4 inches, and it has an unloaded weight of 7 ounces. (iverjohnsonarms.com)

Nighthawk Custom

Nighthawk Custom

Nighthawk has teamed with a German revolver manufacturer to offer a line of wheel guns that deliver the impeccable quality and precision that customers have come to expect from Nighthawk. Since the 1950s, Korth has been the premier revolver manufacturer in Europe. These marvelously machined wheel guns are built just north of Frankfurt. Their triggers are so smooth and stack-free, they’ll make your knees weak. Initially, Nighthawk will be offering three of these revolvers, which have been configured to Nighthawk specifications. The Sky Hawk is a compact six-shot revolver chambered for 9mm Luger, but neither half- nor full-moon clips are required. Every part is machined from billet steel or aluminum, and it’s available with a 2- or 3-inch barrel. A gold bead front sight, Hogue grips, hard-coated frame, a TSA-approved travel case, a cleaning rod, a grip-removal tool, lubricating oil, a lanyard, and a proprietary speed loader are standard. SRP: $1,699.

The Mongoose is a six-shot duty-size fighting revolver, available with either a 3-, 4-, 5 ¼-, or 6-inch barrel. Like the Sky Hawk, all parts are fully machined, and the handgun is available with either a black or silver finish. With its ergonomically designed and easy-to-access cylinder release, and its skeletonized, high-speed hammer, this .38 Special/.357 Magnum revolver will amaze you with the precision you can deliver on target. A pre-fitted additional cylinder for the 9mm Luger can be ordered. SRP: $3,499.

Had old-time police PPC shooters seen a .38 Special/.357 Magnum revolver like this, they’d have thought they’d died and gone to doughnut heaven. But the Super Sport is not just a pistol for old cops; this thing is ready to compete head-to-head with any handgun made. It comes with Picatinny rails and a four-way adjustable front sight that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. A pre-fitted additional cylinder for the 9mm Luger can be ordered. SRP: $4,799.



The R1 10mm Hunter Long Slide is a handgun built with the hunter in mind. From the accurate, 6-inch, match-grade barrel to the match-quality, fully adjustable sights, Picatinny rail, and VZ Operator II G10 grips, this pistol will get the job done at distance. SRP: $1,310.

The Remington 1911 R1 Limited is a handcrafted version of the most trusted pistol platform in history, with all the features today’s top competitors demand. Accuracy and speed are key in competition, and with the Limited’s match-grade trigger and barrel, wide serrations, and ambidextrous thumb safety levers, it is race-ready right out of the box. Available in 9mm or .40 S&W, the Limited has fully adjustable match sights, G10 grips, and a PVD finish. SRP: $1,250.

As the name implies, the Remington R1 Tactical is a fighting pistol. It comes with a Trijicon rear sight, a beveled oversize ejection port, a PVD finish, a Trijicon front sight, an ambidextrous safety, checkered mainspring housing, a stainless match barrel, a Picatinny rail, VZ G10 grips, and two 8-round magazines. SRP: $1,250.

Re-engineered and reintroduced, the Remington R51 has the same appeal for personal protection and concealed carry as it did two years ago. Its low-bore axis helps tame +P 9mm recoil, and its snag-free profile makes it ideal for covert carry. The single–action design allows for one of the best triggers in its class, and at $448, it will not break the bank. A version of the R51 with a Crimson Trace Laser Guard is available for $648.

The big pistol news from Big Green is the new RP high-capacity, striker-fired polymer pistol. Available in 9mm or .45 Auto, with a respective capacity of 18+1 or 15+1, this is a seriously sized duty pistol with a very slim grip profile. At 26.4 ounces total weight, the balanced slide helps control muzzle rise and makes the 9mm version possibly the smoothest-shooting duty-size pistol on the market. The RP is also affordable. SRP: $489. (remington.com)


Ruger’s LCP II features a short, crisp, single-action trigger with an inner trigger safety, improved sights, a larger grip surface, and an easy-to-rack slide with an improved slide-stop mechanism with last-round hold-open. The LCP II comes with a pocket holster, weighs just 10.6 ounces, and holds 6+1 rounds of .380 ammunition. SRP: $349.

The striker-fired American Compact features a trigger with a short take-up and positive reset. It is performance-tested for sustained +P ammunition use, and is equipped with genuine Novak LoMount Carry three-dot sights. It has a modular grip system, can be fieldstripped easily, and has an ambidextrous slide stop and magazine release. Barrel length is 3.35 inches, and it weighs 28.7 ounces. SRP: $579.

The new Mark IV is a revised version of the ever-popular Mark III. The Mark IV is available in Target and Hunter versions, and its most notable feature is how easy it is to take apart. It has a simple, one-button takedown for quick and easy fieldstripping. A recessed button in the back of the frame allows the upper receiver to tilt up and off the grip frame without the use of tools. (ruger.com)

Texas Armament & Technology

Texas Armament & Technology

The Schmeisser SLP-9 9mm is a striker-fired pistol imported from Germany. Its special DARE System (Double Action Rapid Engagement) resets the firing pin after a 3mm release of the trigger. This allows fast precision taps after the first round has been fired in DA. The SLP-9 also allows for multiple trigger pulls in the event of a misfire, and the bore axis is extremely low to help with recoil reduction and fast follow-up shots. The 17-round magazines, with capacity-check indicators, are made of anti-corrosive steel with a special anti-friction coating and a high-impact polymer floor-plate. The ambidextrous magazine release catch can be pushed from either side, allowing use for both left- and right-handed shooters. This is a well-thought-out 9mm pistol, with lots of features that should endear it to duty or personal protection service. (tx-at.com)


This 1858 New Army Buffalo Bill Commemorative .44-caliber limited-edition Black Powder has an 8-inch barrel, blue finish, and simulated ivory grips. It is a replica of the 1858 Remington carried by Buffalo Bill. It also has ornate hand-chased floral engraving on all external components, and a gold inlay on either side of the barrel carries the Western hero’s name and significant dates. SRP: $1,049. (uberti.com)


By Richard Mann

Retailers are anticipating an interesting and challenging year ahead in 2017. But they won’t lack for new firearms, as well as old favorites with a bevy of updated and sure-to-be popular features, to keep their customers coming back to the counter.

The tale of the tape with regard to rifles in 2017 has more to do with a single cartridge. The 6.5 Creedmoor seems to have taken the rifle world by storm, and more and more rifles are now available for that cartridge. However, that’s not the only news. Although new MSR rifles do not dominate this year, a major manufacturer has entered that playing field. You should find plenty new to like in the rifle world for 2017, with new rimfire offerings and new youth offerings, as well as plenty of threaded muzzles.



The Barrett Lightweight rifle is a bolt-action designed to be carried far on long days in the field and perform like a Barrett at critical moments. The stock is crafted from carbon fiber to provide an ultralight yet stiff platform. The actions are scaled for their specific caliber, and precision barrels are contoured for their application. There’s nothing one-size-fits-all about this rifle. SRP: $1,799. (barrett.net)



The B14 Series BMP (Bergara Match Precision) Chassis Rifle is new from the ground up. The main chassis is machined from 7075 T6 aluminum and incorporates QD-swivel attachments and Magpul M-LOK slots. The incredibly smooth B14 action and barrel incorporate a barrel nut that allows shooters to replace or change barrels, and the magazine well is contoured so it can be used as a support brace. With a near-vertical AR-style grip, the BMP is very comfortable and allows for ambidextrous use. It’s available in .308 Win. and 6.5 Creedmoor, with threaded #5 contour barrels. This rifle has a sub-MOA guarantee and weighs 9.5 pounds. SRP: $1,699. (bergarausa.com)



John M. Browning designed the original Browning Automatic Rifle, which was commissioned by the U.S. Army, in three months, and variants of the classic design served with distinction from World War I until the Vietnam War. For 2017, Browning will commemorate 100 years of the BAR by offering a special semi-auto sporting version—the BAR Safari 100th Anniversary model. It will feature a steel receiver with special engravings of military and hunting scenes highlighted in gold finish. The stock is Grade V Turkish walnut in oil finish, and production is limited to 100 rifles in .30/06 with a 22-inch barrel. SRP: $2,699.99.

A new BAR MK 3 DBM semi-auto featuring a matte-black finish, an 18-inch barrel, a black composite stock and forearm, a 10-round detachable box magazine, integrated Picatinny scope mounts, a front sling swivel stud, and two QD-sling-swivel cups is also available for 2017. Available in .308 Win. SRP: $1,469.99.

Browning’s new X-Bolt Medallion Safari Grade bolt-action rifle features a deep-polished blued and fluted heavy sporter barrel, with gold-accented engraving and receiver engraving in a polished blued finish. The stock is a gloss-finished, checkered, grade IV/V walnut, with a rosewood forend and pistol grip caps. It’s available in short-action calibers, including the 6.5 Creedmoor, and other chamberings up to .375 H&H. SRP: $1,869 to $1,899.99.

Also new in the X-Bolt lineup is the Hell’s Canyon Long Range model, which features a Cerakote burnt-bronze finish on all exposed metal surfaces. The heavy sporter contour barrel is fluted. The composite stock has textured gripping surfaces and a palm swell, and is finished in A-TACS AU Camo, with Dura-Touch Armor Coating. Available in seven popular calibers. SRP: $1,229.99 to $1,299.99.

Browning’s AB3 bolt-action rifle will now be offered in a Micro Stalker del that features a black composite stock with a 13-inch length of pull for smaller-stature shooters. The new AB3 Micro Stalker has features found on Browning’s latest value-priced bolt-action design, including a 60-degree bolt lift, a detachable magazine, an Inflex recoil pad, a bolt-lock override button, and a free-floating barrel. SRP: $599.99. (browning.com)


The new Minimalist SD Carbine from Bushmaster has an AAC Square Drop Handguard that’s compatible with Key Mod accessories, a lightweight FNC 1:8 twist barrel, and a mil-spec Mission First Tactical Minimalist stock and pistol grip. An ALG Defense trigger and an AAC 51 T flash hider/silencer mount are standard. It is available in 5.56 NATO or 300 Blackout. SRP: $1,169.

The ACR Designated Marksman has a midweight FNC 1:8 twist barrel, allows for tool-less barrel change, and comes with a high-reliability piston system. It also has a PRS-style buttstock, a Geissele two-stage trigger, and an AAC 51 T flash hider/silencer mount. Extra barrels in 18.5, 16, 14.5, or 10.5 inches are available for $585 (per barrel). SRP: $2,569. (bushmaster.com)



The MkW ANVIL XBE, an all-new mid-sized AR-rifle platform from CMMG, is chambered in .458 SOCOM. The most defining feature of the new MkW ANVIL is that the rifle utilizes CMMG’s unique Powerbolt design, which allows the rifle to use a modified AR10-sized bolt for increased durability. The rifle is also built on an AR10-sized frame, with the upper receiver shortened by ¾ inch to minimize weight and increase ergonomics. It comes with a 1:14 twist 16-inch barrel, a billet upper and lower receiver, and a single-stage mil-spec trigger, and weighs 7.5 pounds. SRP: $1,849.95. The MkW ANVIL XBE2 is similar to the XBE, but it comes with a Geissele SSA two-stage trigger, a Magpul MOE pistol grip, and a CTR carbine stock, with a six-position receiver extension. SRP: $2,149.95. (cmmginc.com)



The ever-evolving needs of military forces led to the further development of the Bren platform. Whereas the 805 was built to a specific set of predetermined requirements, the Bren 2 took years of input and data from use in the worldwide war on terror and put it all together in a smaller, lighter package. A shorter gas system allows for barrel lengths down to 8 inches, with settings for normal use, suppressed use, and adverse conditions. The aluminum receiver is shorter and thinner, shaving weight from the rifle. The Bren 2 is currently available only for military/LE special order.

CZ’s first stainless rimfire, the 455 American Stainless Synthetic, is meant to be a hardy, long-lived rifle that can be passed down through the generations. With the same swappable barrel system as all of CZ’s 455 rifles, both barrel and action are finished in a matte bead blast. Barrel length is 20.5 inches, and the bolt and bolt handle are finished in black nitride. Available in .22 LR, .17 HMR, and .22 Magnum. SRP: $434 to $451.

Famous for its use in rimfire competition, the 455 Training Rifle Rustic shares all the same popular features of its 452 predecessor—a 24.8-inch barrel, a tangent rear sight, and a beechwood stock with a Schnabel forend. The biggest difference is the ability to swap the barrel and/or stock—a trait of all CZ 455s. An ideal rifle for introducing youth to the shooting sports, the Training Rifle is shipped with a 5-round magazine, but single-shot adapters and 10-round magazines are available. In .22 LR only. SRP: $399.

Built to be an ideal first gun for young shooters, the .22LR Scout has a 12-inch length of pull. With its simple leaf rear and blade front sights, learning the basics of sight picture has never been easier. The 11mm dovetails on the receiver make adding a scope a breeze. The muzzle is threaded 1/2×28, allowing for suppressor-hearing-safe shooting without the need for muffs or plugs. Shipped with a single-shot adapter to teach ammo conservation, any of the 455’s magazines will fit. SRP: $339.

The suppressor-ready CZ 527 is handy and equally happy shooting steel or taking down hogs. Chambered in 300 Blackout or 7.62×39, it’s got enough knockdown power for most medium game at shorter ranges. Using flush-bottom metal, it ships with extended 5-round magazines, but it can work with factory flush mags as well. SRP: $748.

Built on the incredibly precise 557 short-action, the new Varmint model adds a stout 25.6-inch barrel in a heavy profile that tapers to a 0.863-inch muzzle. Anchored in a newly designed walnut stock, it has a healthy palm swell, laser-cut stippling, and a flat forend. With ergonomics as the guiding principle, the result is an incredibly comfortable rifle to get behind, whether you’re punching paper, ringing steel, or knocking off prairie dogs. New for 2017 is the addition of .243 Win. to the available chamberings. SRP: $865. (cz-usa.com)



The FN M249S is a semi-auto version of the M249 SAW light machine gun, which was originally developed by FN Herstal as the FN MINIMI and adopted by the U.S. military in 1988. The rifle features the signature 18.5-inch FN cold-hammer-forged, chrome-lined barrel, and operates from a closed-bolt position. Chambered in 5.56 NATO, the rifle will accept a magazine or a linked ammunition belt and offers a 4- to 6.5-pound trigger. The rifle weighs 16 pounds, is 40.7 inches long, and has an 18.5-inch barrel. SRP: $8,799 to $9,499.

The FN 15 DMR II has been reengineered for enhanced performance and features the all-new FN proprietary rail system with M-LOK, which provides extreme rigidity and less deflection, ensuring that all mounted accessories remain affixed without shift. Like its predecessor, the rifle offers an 18-inch match-grade cold-hammer-forged barrel with a 1:7 twist, a Surefire Pro Comp muzzle device, and an upgraded mil-spec lower with a Timney trigger and Magpul MOE grip and buttstock. SRP: $1,999.

The FN 15 Tactical Carbine chambered for the popular 300 AAC Blackout is duty-ready straight out of the box. Equipped with the new FN proprietary rail system, the carbine provides exceptional strength and durability, and offers a stronger, more rigid platform for accessories and optics. In addition, the FN 15 Tactical Carbine 300 BLK II, like its rifle and carbine siblings, features a 16-inch alloy-steel cold-hammer-forged and chrome-lined barrel, a carbine-length gas system, a low-profile gas block, a Surefire ProComp muzzle brake, and Magpul MOE furniture. SRP: $1,599. (fnamerica.com)



The Kuiu Vias and Verde rifles from Howa are built on the legendary 1500 action and are available in the most popular chamberings, with a 20-inch lightweight, 22-inch standard, or 24-inch magnum contour barrel. All metalwork is finished in a gunmetal-gray Cerakote finish, and the barreled action is pillar-bedded in a Hogue Overmold stock. Other features include a two-stage HACT trigger, a three-position safety, and sling swivel studs. SRP: $782 to $811.

The Lithgow Arms LA101 Crossover rimfire rifle comes in .22 LR, .17 HRM, and .22 Magnum, and features a Cerakote titanium-colored finish, a cold-forged barrel, a threaded barrel, and an adjustable length of pull. SRP: $1,079. (legacysports.com)



For 2017, Marlin has announced the return of one of its most popular rifles, the 1894 Cowboy. Available in .357, .44 Magnum, and .45 Colt, these 100 percent American-made rifles feature a straight grip American black walnut stock, a receiver and bolt machined from solid steel, a polished 20-inch octagonal barrel, and Marble sights. SRP: $1,041. The standard 1894 with a round barrel is also available for $789.

To further celebrate the reintroduction of the 1894, Marlin is offering a limited-edition version in .45 Colt with B-grade American black walnut stock, highly polished metalwork, and an engraved gold-inlaid receiver. SRP: $1,349. Another lever-action that has been missing from the Marlin line for some time is the 444. Chambered for the .444 Marlin and built on the 1895 action, this rifle has an American black walnut pistol grip stock,  22-inch round barrel, and Marble sights. SRP: $789. (marlinfirearms.com)



Mossberg has added two new MMRs to its line. The Tactical Optics Ready MMR is offered with or without a Vortex StrikeFire II red/green-dot sight. This is an optics-ready AR15 that is shipped without open sights. It has a six-position stock, a forward-assist M-Lok handguard, a 1:8 twist barrel, and the new Mossberg JM Pro drop-in 4-pound trigger. SRP: $1,253 to $1,399. The other new MMR from Mossberg is the MMR PRO. This rifle is similar to the optics-ready MMR but comes with an 18-inch, 1:8 twist 416 stainless barrel with a Silencerco ASR muzzle brake. SRP: $1,393.

Mossberg has several additions to the Patriot line. First is the Patriot Predator, which comes in a synthetic, flat dark earth stock with a 22-inch barrel and threaded muzzle. It is available in .223, .243, .308, and 6.5 Creedmoor. SRP: $441. Two additional Patriots are available in .223: the Patriot Synthetic and Super Bantam. Both retail for $396. For those who love the value and performance of the Mossberg Patriot, but would like a higher-end, dressed-up version, Mossberg is offering a Patriot Revere with high-grade walnut stock, rosewood grip, and forend caps, and an upgraded blue finish.  (mossberg.com)



Four new bolt-action rifles of note are available from Remington for 2017. The new 700 Magpul is a perfect cross between a hunting platform and a tactical platform, as its adjustability in the comb and length of pull allow for a perfect fit. In addition, the 22-inch heavy barrel is threaded for the addition of a silencer or other muzzle device. Another welcome feature is the detachable magazine. It’s available in .308 Win. and .260 Rem. SRP: $1,175. Continuing a 12-year-long run of CDL SF Limited rifles chambered in classic cartridges, this year you will see the rifle in .300 Weatherby Magnum. SRP: $1,225.

Remington’s 700 AWR (American Wilderness Rifle) is a big-game rifle built for durability and accuracy. From the stainless-steel-barreled action and a durable Cerakote coating to the 5R rifling and a durable and rigid stock, this rifle is one that can weather the elements. It replaces the XCRII line of 700s and is available in .270, .30/06, 7mm Magnum, and .300 Magnum. SRP: $1,150. An addition to Remington’s popular and affordable 783 line is a new rifle with a walnut stock. It will be available in .308, .270, .30/06, and 7mm Magnum. SRP: $499. (remington.com)



The new 10-22 Takedown Lite from Ruger features a cold-hammer-forged barrel tensioned in an aluminum-alloy barrel sleeve. It has a threaded muzzle and is fitted with a thread cap. Easy takedown enables quick separation of the barrel from the action for ease of transportation and storage. It also has the Ruger Modular Stock System with a low comb and standard length of pull, but it ships with an additional high-comb standard length-of-pull stock module. SRP: $659. (ruger.com)



Savage has big news for 2017 with the introduction of several MSR rifles. The new MSR 15 Patrol and MSR 15 Recon redefine the category, with the kind of tack-driving accuracy and seamless performance you’d expect from a Savage. Both have button-rifled 16-inch barrels with 5R rifling, a long-lasting Melonite QPQ finish, and Savage’s trademark zero-tolerance headspace control. These rifles also feature the proven .223 Wylde target chambering and a standard gas system. SRP: $849, MSR 15 Patrol; $999, MSR 15 Recon.

But Savage did not stop with the AR15 platform. The new MSR 10 Hunter and MSR 10 Long Range address some longstanding shortcomings of MSRs designed for larger cartridges. Both feature a compact AR10 design that feels and handles more like an AR15, and both utilize custom-forged uppers and lowers for a look unlike anything afield or on the range. Available chamberings include the .308 Win. and 6.5 Creedmoor. The Hunter has a 16- to 18-inch barrel, and the Long Range has a 20- or 22-inch barrel. SRP: $1,399, MSR 10 Hunter; $2,199, MSR 10 Long Range.

Savage line extensions include a purple version of the popular, youth-oriented Rascal rifle. SRP: $191. Also, stealing the modern and attractive looks of the Savage A17, Savage has added a .22 LR to the A series. SRP: $281. The B Series of rimfires is also getting a boost with the introduction of the B17, B22, and B22 Magnum bolt-action rimfire rifles. They feature a new ergonomically designed stock with a higher comb, a top-tang safety, and target-style and vertical pistol grips. All in all, the B Series includes a dozen new models in configurations that include heavy and suppressor-ready barrels. All B Series rifles feature a 10-round rotary magazine and the AccuTrigger. SRP: $281 to $413. (savagearms.com)


The 1886 Lever action Sporting comes in .45/70 with a 26-inch barrel, a color-case receiver, an octagonal match barrel, a walnut stock, and fully adjustable sights. SRP: $1,879. The other is the 1886 Lever Action Hunter Lite. It is also available in .45/70, but with a 22-inch, round, match-grade barrel and half-length magazine. SRP: $1,829. (uberti.com)


The heart of the Vanguard Adaptive Composite (VAC) is the renowned Vanguard action. It is affixed to a composite target stock that features the Speedlock system, a quick-and-easy locking system for adjusting both length of pull and comb height. The full and lowered forend offers an improved grip for shooting while standing, as well as a stud to which a bipod or a sling can be attached. Available with a threaded 20-inch #3 contour barrel, the VAC is chambered for the .223 Rem., 6.5 Creedmoor, or the .308 Win. SRP: $1,269. (weatherby.com)

Winchester Repeating Arms

The legendary Model 1866 lever-action is now available in a Grade I Short Rifle. The receiver, crescent buttplate, and forearm cap are brass with a bright finish. Stock and forearm are Grade I American black walnut. A folding ladder rear sight and Marble Arms gold bead front sight are standard. Available in
.44—40 Win. and .38 Special. SRP: $1,299.99.

The XPR Hunter Mountain Country Range bolt-action features a polymer stock in Mossy Oak Mountain Country Range camo. Other features include an MOA trigger system, Perma-Cote matte-blued metal surfaces, a detachable box magazine, a steel recoil lug, a two-position thumb safety, and an Inflex Technology Recoil Pad. Available in all popular cartridges, from .243 to .338 Win. Mag. SRP: $599.99.

Two new XPR Hunter Compact models are also being offered. The XPR Hunter Compact features a 13-inch length of pull. It will be offered for all popular short-action cartridges from .243 Win to .325 WSM. SRP: $549.99. The XPR Hunter Compact Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo version has a suggested retail of $599.99.


By Jock Elliott

Big-bore airguns are just the ticket for nuisance wildlife control

Coming soon to a residential area near you: whitetails, coyotes, and hogs. Whether it is the woodchuck in the garden, the raccoon in the garbage can, the bear under the bird feeder, the deer and the coyotes almost everywhere, or the feral hogs exploding across the landscape, people are coming into collision with wildlife.

Jim Sterba, author of Nature Wars, says, “The return of deer, geese, beavers, coyotes, turkeys, bears, and other wild creatures amounts to a huge 20th-century conservation success story worth celebrating. And yet, in the 21st century, instead of celebrating, we’re often fighting about whether we now have too much of a good thing, and, if so, what to do—or not to do—about it.”

Hatsan Carnivore

Fitted with an elevation-adjustable comb, integrated Picatinny rail, and a heavy-duty, secure 11mm/22mm Weaver-style scope mount, the Hatsan Carnivore is a good choice for predator control.

He points out that it is very likely that more people live in closer proximity to more wild animals and birds and trees today in the eastern third of the United States than anywhere on the planet at any time in history. “Some people say our conflicts with wildlife are our fault because we encroached on their habitat. That’s true. But that’s only half the story. As their populations multiply and spread, many wild creatures encroach right back.”

AirForce Texan PCP Big-Bore rifle

The AirForce Texan PCP Big-Bore rifle is powerful enough to take deer.

The kicker, according to Sterba, is improved habitat. “Our habitat is better than theirs. We offer up plenty of food, water, shelter, edges, and protection. We plant grass, trees, shrubs, and gardens, put out birdseed, mulch, and garbage, and fill up Dumpsters. All this amounts to a giant buffet for all sorts of critters. It’s the reason that suburban sprawl’s biological carrying capacity—that is, the population limit the food and habitat can sustain—is far greater than an unpeopled forest.”

When the interests of people and wildlife come into conflict, typically the next thing that happens is a phone call to state wildlife authorities or to a private contractor. Sometimes trapping/tranquilizing and moving the animals is the answer. Depending upon the jurisdiction and the species, however, it can be flatly illegal to relocate an animal. Sometimes there is a substantial breeding population in the area, so that relocating one individual animal becomes a symbolic, but ultimately useless, act. And sometimes lethal removal of the wildlife is the only sensible answer.

Limited Range, but Enough Power

That’s where big-bore airguns—air rifles of .30 to .50 caliber—come in. Chip Hunnicutt, marketing manager for Crosman Corporation, says, “When it comes to lethal wildlife control in an urban or suburban environment, you want limited range, not a lot of noise, and—above all—sufficient accuracy and power to provide a humane kill. Big-bore airguns deliver all that in a package that is easy to shoot well.”

Big-bore airguns also present an opportunity for new sales for firearms dealers because they provide a solution for wildlife control in many venues where discharging a firearm is forbidden. A number of states have approved, or are in the process of approving, the use of large-caliber airguns for harvesting deer. In addition, airguns often offer greater profit margins than do firearms.

Chuck Sykes, Alabama’s director of wildlife, says, “Large-bore airguns serve the purpose very well. You need to be proficient and know what range you are effective at, but you can kill a 180- to 250-pound deer at 100 yards with one. For nuisance wildlife control, anyone can afford them, anyone can use them, and it’s a lot cheaper to use an airgun than a firearm with all the hassle and expense of a suppressor.”

Big-bore airguns

Suburban habitat offers plenty of food and shelter for a wide variety of species, not all of which are welcome in a backyard. Big-bore airguns can help control such populations.

Benjamin Bulldog bolt-action .357 PCP airgun

This coyote was taken with a Benjamin Bulldog bolt-action .357 PCP airgun. A baffle-less SoundTrap shroud acts as a suppressor to lower noise levels. The rifle also has an easy-to-load five-shot magazine.

Big Opportunity for Retailers

Barry Stewart, a rancher with in-depth experience in wildlife control, says, “I use airguns for reduction of noise. If you are looking at a whole group of feral hogs, with a .223 you won’t get a second shot, but with an airgun you could. I get 1- to 1.25-inch accuracy at 100 yards with a Benjamin Bulldog, and it makes just as humane a kill as a firearm.”

Hunnicutt attended the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies annual meeting in Tucson last fall and found wildlife managers advocating the use of large-bore airguns for a number of applications. “There is a lot of potential in this market,” he says. The market has not gotten a lot of attention, and Crosman is supporting both wildlife managers and wildlife control professionals with performance data and information kits.

Eric Arnold, editor of Wildlife Control Technology magazine, says, “In terms of legalities, the number-one issue with state laws is whether or not air rifles are authorized for taking the conflict animal.” His view is that when an air rifle is legal and alternative methods for control are ineffective or too costly, then choosing a big bore (.30 caliber or larger) would be appropriate for wildlife that typically weighs from 15 to 80 pounds. This includes foxes, raccoons, coyotes, porcupines, and feral hogs. Larger big bores (.45 and .50 caliber) are more suited for larger wildlife weighing from 80 to 250 pounds, such as whitetail deer, large feral hogs, and small black bears.

He adds that a .30-caliber has more than enough energy for taking problem wildlife such as prairie dogs, rock chucks, ground hogs, skunks, raccoons, beavers, and foxes out to 100 yards, and coyotes out to 75 yards. But it can cause other problems if a miss occurs or the animal is too close and the projectile passes through. In short, shooters need to match the air rifle and pellet selection not only to the targeted wildlife, but also to the shooting conditions at hand.

Three things are clear: The incidence of conflict between wildlife and people is likely to grow; big-bore airguns can play an important role in helping to deal with the problem; and large-caliber airguns present an opportunity for dealers to sell air rifles, ammunition, charging systems, scopes, mounts, rangefinders, and other accessories.

Big-Bore Airguns sidebar

By Mark E. Battersby

Illustrations by Pixel Pushers

An employee benefit that also benefits ownership

Employee ownership in a shooting-sports business can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Employees can buy stock directly, be given it as a bonus, can receive stock options, or obtain stock through a profit-sharing plan. Some employees become owners through worker cooperatives where everyone has an equal vote. But by far the most common form of employee ownership in the U.S. is the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In addition to being an excellent exit strategy with significant tax savings for gun shop owners and shareholders, ESOPs are also great for motivating and rewarding employees and for taking advantage of incentives to borrow money for acquiring new assets in pretax dollars.

Almost unknown until 1974, ESOPs today are used by many businesses for a variety of purposes other than the succession planning with which they are most closely associated. But launching an ESOP isn’t just about benefiting the business owner. Business owners willing to go to the trouble of implementing such a plan frequently have the interests of their employees and the business in mind.

The Basics

An ESOP is a qualified retirement program in which employees receive shares of the business rather than stock. ESOPs are said to be “qualified” because they qualify for federal income tax deferral until the stock is turned into cash at retirement.

An ESOP offers employers two advantages. First, the business gets significant tax breaks. It can, for instance, borrow funds through the ESOP for expansion or for other purposes, deducting both the repayment and interest when the loan is repaid. (With ordinary loans, only interest payments are tax-deductible.) Second, the owner of a firearms business who sells his or her stock to the ESOP can defer or often even avoid capital-gains taxes associated with the sale of the business. With these essentials, ESOPs have become an important tool in succession planning for business owners preparing for retirement.

In addition to an important succession planning tool for shooting-sports business owners thinking about retirement, employees also benefit from an ESOP. When it comes to the employees, ESOPs are in most respects similar to 401(k) plans, except that, instead of cash, the business providing the ESOP “pays” in its own stock. Under both an ESOP and a 401(k) program, employees receive monetary benefits on retirement or in the event of death or disability. The chief difference is that with a 401(k), the funds paid in are usually invested in a diversified portfolio; in the ESOP, they hold only the company’s own stock. The advantages and risks of ESOPs derive from this difference.

Useful Tool

An ESOP can also be a useful tool when it comes to buying and selling the shooting-sports business. In fact, an ESOP is often an excellent tool for selling a minority interest in the business. By selling a portion of the business, an owner can invest in other assets, providing much-needed wealth diversification.

For example, a business owner nearing retirement age can sell his or her stake in the business to the ESOP in order to gain tax advantages and provide for the continuation of the business. According to many experts, transferring ownership to the operation’s employees in this manner is preferable to a third-party sale.

After all, with a sale to a third party, buyers may be difficult to find, and after the transaction, collecting installment payments may turn out to be difficult or costly. With an ESOP, more certain results are possible.

The ESOP can borrow money to buy out the owner’s stake in the business. If, after the stock purchase, the ESOP holds more than 30 percent of the business’ shares, the owner can defer capital-gains taxes by investing the proceeds in a Qualified Replacement Property (QRP). QRPs can include stocks, bonds, and certain retirement accounts. The income stream generated by the QRP can help provide the business owner with income during retirement.

ESOPs can also prove helpful to those interested in buying a small business. Many individuals and businesses have raised the capital for financing a purchase by selling nonvoting stock in the business to its employees. This strategy allows the purchaser to retain the voting shares in order to maintain control of the business.

The Catch

As attractive as these tax benefits are, there are limits and drawbacks. The tax laws do not allow ESOPs to be used in partnerships or most professional corporations. ESOPs can be used in S corporations (a form of corporation that meets specific Internal Revenue Code requirements, giving a corporation with 100 shareholders or less the benefit of incorporation while being taxed as a partnership), but do not qualify for the unique rollover treatment accorded those ESOPs using regular corporation entities. They also have lower contribution limits.

Privately held firearms businesses are, for instance, required to repurchase the shares of departing employees, and this can become a major expense. The cost of setting up an ESOP is also substantial; it can be as much as $40,000 for a simple, basic plan for a small business, far more for a larger enterprise with more employees.

And remember, anytime new shares in the business are issued, the value of the stock owned by existing owners is diluted. That dilution must be weighed against the tax and employee motivation benefits an ESOP can provide. Finally, ESOPs will improve corporate performance only if combined with opportunities for employees to participate in decisions affecting their work.

Reportedly, only about two-thirds of ESOPs are used to provide a market for the shares of a departing owner of a profitable, closely held business. Most of the remainder are used either as a supplemental employee benefit plan or as a means to borrow money in a tax-favored manner. Less than three percent of ESOP plans are in public companies.

Is an ESOP right for you? Weigh the pros and cons presented here and then consult with your tax professional.

Employee Ownership

At A Glance

ESOPs have a number of significant tax benefits, the most important of which are:

Contributions of stock are tax-deductible. That means a firearms business can get a current cash flow advantage by issuing new shares or treasury shares to the ESOP. Doing so, however, means the shares of existing owners will be diluted.

Cash contributions are deductible. The business can contribute cash on a discretionary basis year to year and take a tax deduction for it, whether the contribution is used to buy shares from current owners or to build up a cash reserve in the ESOP for future use.

Contributions used to repay a loan the ESOP takes out to buy shares in the business are tax-deductible. The ESOP can borrow money to buy existing shares, new shares, or treasury shares. Regardless of the use, the contributions are deductible, meaning ESOP financing is done in pretax dollars.

Sellers in a regular C corporation (the most common type of corporation) get a tax deferral. With an incorporated business, once the ESOP owns 30 percent of all the shares in the business, the seller can reinvest the proceeds of the sale in other securities, deferring any tax on the gain.

In S corporations, the percentage of ownership held by the ESOP is not subject to income tax at the federal level (and usually the state level as well). That means there is usually no income tax on 30 percent of the profits of an S corporation with an ESOP holding 30 percent of the stock, and no income tax at all on the profits of an S corporation wholly owned by its ESOP. However, the ESOP still must get a pro-rata share of any distributions the firearms business makes to owners or shareholders.

Dividends are tax-deductible. Reasonable dividends used to repay an ESOP loan, passed through to employees, or reinvested by employees in the business’ stock are tax-deductible.

Employees pay no tax on the contributions to the ESOP, only the distribution of their accounts, and then at potentially favorable rates. The employees can roll over their distributions in an IRA or other retirement plan or pay current tax on the distribution, with any gains accumulated over time taxed as capital gains. The income tax portion of the distributions is, however, subject to a 10 percent penalty if made before normal retirement age.

Not too surprisingly, all contributions are subject to certain limitations, though these rarely pose a problem for a well-advised firearms business.