SHOT Show 2018: Military/Police Range Day Report
23 January 2018
7 min read
TheGunBlog.ca — It’s hard to imagine a more gratifying day of shooting than trying out the newest guns and gear under a blue sky with a mountain as your backstop. That’s what it was like at yesterday’s Military/Law Enforcement Range Day for SHOT Show, the world’s biggest trade expo for the firearm industry.
Following are some of my highlights, alphabetically by company.
- The range went hot at 10 a.m. and this was my first station of the day.
- The Swedish company had mounted its red-dot sights on AR-15 rifles chambered in 5.56 NATO.
- I got to try the new CompM5, with 2 MOA dot. Then a CompM5 with a 3X magnifier. Then a CompM5 with a Concealed Engagement Unit for shooting around corners and under cars.
- I’ve fired less than 100 rounds using Aimpoints over the years. I like them more and more each time. I’m getting more comfortable shooting with both eyes open and transitioning more smoothly between targets.
B&T (Brügger & Thomet)
- Universal Service Weapon: 9 mm pistol with folding stock, and only the front half of the slide slides. Neat.
- APC-9 submachine gun in 9 mm. Easy and pleasant to shoot.
- APC-223 in .223 Remington, suppressed. The absence of recoil is astonishing. Even less than an AR-15. Perhaps because of the damper spring on the bolt assembly?
- This gunmaker based outside Montreal was the only Canadian manufacturer I saw at the range day. They were assisted by Rob Furlong Marksmanship Academy of Alberta.
- The world’s longest recorded kill shot, fired last May by a member of Canada’s elite Joint Task Force 2 military unit, was sent from a rifle using a Cadex chassis, according to Internet chatter (1, 2, 3).
- The company’s clients are now evenly split between military/law enforcement and retail consumers, said Serge Dextraze, the founder and CEO. He declined to say which military units use his rifles, other than that they are all friends of Canada.
- Cadex started by manufacturing testing equipment. That helped them measure how accuracy in shooting relates not only to platform rigidity, but also to factors such as harmonics after a shot is fired, Dextraze said. They used that data and feedback from shooters in the field to improve design and win new customers.
- I shot the gun in the photo at the top: Cadex 30 Guardian Lite in 6.5 Creedmoor, unsuppressed and equipped with their folding stock, Falcon bipod, a Bartlein barrel and a Leupold Mark 5 5-25×56 scope. Shooting from prone at a 12-inch steel plate about 517 metres (565 yards) away. It was hard to miss.
- The setup without the scope retails for about $6,000.
- The staff told me the trigger was dirty from all the day’s shooting, but I still found it had smooth take up, crisp break and tactile, audible reset.
- I fired through a fully auto Noveske AR-15 with a 10.5-inch barrel and the Sandman-K suppressor from Dead Air Armament. Steel plates, 25-100 yards, from standing.
Heckler & Koch
- It was my first time firing the German manufacturer’s iconic MP5 submachine gun.
- I had to rummage through H&K’s ammo box to find their five last 9 mm rounds of the day, which I was happy to do. The MP5A3 model they handed me had four modes: safe, single fire, three-round bursts, continuous auto.
- I shot two singles and a three-round burst. Short and sweet. Another tick on the bucket list.
- It was so natural and easy to hit the target that I forgot to pay attention to the scope.
- They were showing the Mark 5 5-25×56, with a 35 mm tube, weighing 30 ounces. I couldn’t find a link on the company website.
- I shot from prone using an Accuracy International AXMC rifle in .338 Lapua Magnum, with a Thunder Beast Arms suppressor. I expected a bruised shoulder. Wrong. Unbelievably soft.
- After hitting a torso-sized steel E target at about 550 metres (600 yards) a few times, I moved to a similar silhouette at 1,143 metres (1,250 yards). More hits, and my new personal record for distance.
- You can read about Leupold’s exclusive distributor in Canada here.
- Their Maxflo 3D suppressor was developed to eliminate the backblast caused by most suppressor designs, said Ernie Bray, the founder and CEO.
- They also sell the MZLMAX, which Bray describes as a muzzle break and flash hider, a combination some engineers believe is impossible. “They said it couldn’t be done, so I went out and did it,” he said.
- SWAT teams appreciate the device, Bray said, because they sometimes have to fire their guns with the muzzle inches from the face of the team member in front.
- I tried the Maxflo 3D with a CZ BREN 805 rifle in 5.56 NATO, from standing, with targets at 25-100 yards. Sweet.
- I tried a prototype of their new polymer trigger, the DAT, through a customized Glock 34 pistol in 9 mm. Then a production model of their aluminum competition trigger, the TAC, at twice the price, in a Glock 17.
- The TAC was a pleasure to shoot. Smooth take up, clean break.
- I shot a Remington 700 chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, mounted on Magpul’s Hunter 700 stock, which was mounted on a tripod, which was too low for me even after we raised it.
- The gear worked. Because Magpul.
- I guess it could be a good setup, but it was an awkward shooting position for me. I was wobbling around. I’d be surprised if I hit the steel plate at 100 yards even once.
- The company makes ammunition that can be shot safely at steel targets 30 cm (12 inches) from the muzzle. See their video.
- Regular ammo could ricochet and rip up the shooter.
- Knowing that, it messed up my head to aim at a steel target less than 1.8 meters (6 feet) in front of me with a Patriot Ordnance Factory AR-10 in .308 Winchester. When I leaned in to shoot, the target was about 3 feet from the suppressed muzzle. No ricochet or backsplash whatsoever. Freaky.
- A direct hit from the ammo can be lethal, one of the owners said. Hostage-rescue teams like the 5.56 NATO version because it enters the hostage taker, creates a melon-sized mess inside and doesn’t exit. Standard 5.56 ammo goes right through and can potentially hit the hostage.
- I was about to leave their stand when they offered me some therapy. (See below.)
Ritter & Stark
- Anyone who wanted to shoot the Austrian company’s modular precision rifles had to start by watching an informative and humourous demo by Nathan Grove, the sales director for the U.S.
- He ran the micro-seminar every five minutes using the SX-1 rifle, switching the bolt assembly and barrel combo to turn it into either a .338 Lapua Magnum version or a .308 Winchester model.
- One of the most remarkable features was the trigger, currently made by Bix’n Andy of Austria. It was the lightest trigger I felt all day, perhaps ever. (Men over 40 may feel triggered by that sentence.)
- I shot the gun with a Vortex Razor HD scope from prone at a torso-sized steel target at 905 metres (990 yards). I made one hit out of three shots. The spotter said the wind had picked up, and I believed him. I didn’t notice any wind, so hadn’t adjusted for it, which may be why I was missing.
Schmidt & Bender
- The German company is bringing the 1-8×24 PM II ShortDot Dual CC scope to North America this year. The optic, used by the German army on their HK 417 rifles, had a tiny red dot in the second focal plane and a black etched reticle in the first focal plane. (Not sure, but I think the centre point can be a red dot or cross.)
- It was mounted on an Accuracy International AT rifle in .308 Winchester. I shot slowly from prone at steel plates out to 200 yards. Impossible to miss.
- The ranges were five minutes from closing, and one of the presenting companies, PolyFrang (see above), offered me some therapy.
- They handed me a fully automatic AR-15 and a loaded standard magazine. With 30 rounds. Remember those? I had forgotten they existed.
- Canadian law says we have to sabotage our mags to limit their capacity to 5 rounds.
- Not this one. “Look, Mom: no rivet!”
- Full auto + standard mag = Joy
- I don’t have the data, but it felt like fewer people attended this year than last year.
- One person told me that the U.S. government’s so-called shutdown prevented federal employees from attending. That could include the ATF, FBI, DEA, ICE, Marshals. Maybe military?
- Daniel Defense Inc., the main sponsor of SHOT Show, didn't have a shooting station. Last year it was one of the biggest.
- Celebrities present: Chris Costa, Todd Hodnett and Rob Furlong. They were the only three I recognized.
How Range Day Works
- SHOT Show, organized by the U.S. National Shooting Sports Foundation, is for approved visitors, mainly firearm manufacturers, distributors, retailers, media and advocacy groups. Getting accredited for the trade show doesn’t guarantee approval for the range event, which is for military, law enforcement and private contractors from around the world.
- I bought a ticket for the range day and was also accredited as media.
- The event is organized by ATAC Global for professionals who use guns and ammo for work. It’s small compared with the main Industry Day at the Range, which is at another location and displays products aimed at retail consumers. John Farnam shared his observations of Industry Day here.
- A few attendees wear patches or uniforms showing their affiliation, everything from municipal police to elite special units. Most people go incognito.
- The outdoor range complex is near Nellis Air Force Base, about 25 km (15 miles) northeast of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Fighter jets fly overhead. I took video here and here.
- For precision shooting, the gear is set up by pros. They dial in the scopes for the rifle, ammo, distance and wind. All I had to do was marksmanship.
- Leupold had mounted its optics on Accuracy International rifles, and AI had sent a coach/supervisor and spotter. Cadex Defence had a team from Rob Furlong Marksmanship Academy. Other companies also had military snipers.
- I barely know the difference between turrets and Tourrette’s, so it’s F#%^$KING*!!! incredible to be able to use this level of gear, with this level of expert guidance.
- To shoot, you wait in line for your turn, and ask for permission to use the gear. They hand you a magazine generally loaded with 4 to 10 rounds. On rare occasions with smaller, cheaper calibres like 9 mm and 5.56 x 45 mm, you might get as many as 30.
- Last year’s range report is here.
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