SHOT 2013 Media Range Day





RJP_centolaI attended the SHOT Show Media Day at the range with Winchester Ammunition today. Last year, I was slammed open-to-close at their PDX1 booth doing demos and talking with media reps. This year, with only one new product in the PDX1 line (7.62×39), there wasn’t as much work for me to do. Winchester decided to focus on their two biggest new things. First, the rimfire 17WIN Super Mag, which I desperately want to shoot out of a modified ASHOT13_17WIN but can only spend so much time with when the the demo guns are single shot varmint rifles. Still, cool round! Second is their new Tracker shotgun shell. This cool new tool for those learning shotgun sports, bird hunting or simply trying to figure out how they are missing that one damn target during a round of sporting clays uses a weighted wad to show the shooter right where their pattern is. It comes in both black (for blue sky shooting) and orange (for darker backgrounds) and REALY WORKS! I had a lot more fun with the Tracker, and even shot a little competition against Mike Centola (AllStar Tactical!)…. I won, he says I cheated. He didn’t specifically say how. I think using a gun with wood on it slowed him down a bit. But, Winchester also had Kim Rhode on hand to talk to people about shotgun shooting and her years of Olympic Medal Winning made me feel like I could leave her unsupervised for awhile and see what else was being displayed. Here’s some of the coolest stuff I found:

Look Closely... you an see the Tracker weight wad just below the target as the pattern is about to hit the clay.
Look Closely… you an see the Tracker weight wad just below the target as the pattern is about to hit the clay.



By now, everyone knows that I consider a manually operated external safety a deficit on a defensive handgun. I think a defensive gun should go bang every time you pull the trigger and the gun is loaded. I think people should be taught that they shouldn’t touch the trigger until they are ready to shoot. I think that people should be taught to store guns responsibly. When you put all those things together, safeties aren’t necessary be any means and I’ve seen too many people, even experienced shooters, ‘accidentally’ leave the safety on or bump it on. We simply don’t need another fine motor skill to worry about when we need to defend ourselves with a gun. Today’s range day had a couple of great things for those who agree with my line of thought:






The FNS-9


When the FNS was introduced, I was immediately turned off by the manual safety. I don’t think I even bothered to

No Safety =  WIN!
No Safety = WIN!

shoot one, in fact. Why should I?  No matter how good the trigger was or how great it felt in my hand, I wasn’t going to recommend it to anyone until they got rid of it. I had a meeting with the leadership of FNH last year and they said that a safety-less version would probably be available eventually. Eventually has arrived!  I shot two versions of the now-appropriate-for-carry FNS-9, a shiny top long barrel and a standard finish standard size. Both had really outstanding triggers and felt good in my hand. I am really looking forward to getting one or two into the inventory and letting students shoot the crap out of them throughout the spring training tour. If the gun lives up to the standard I expect from FNH, the FNS-9 w/o safety will probably be the next gun that I add to the “recommended option” list for those looking for a defensive pistol.






The XDS 9mm


Last year, everyone got all excited about this new subcompact pistol in .45 ACP…. I’ve written/spoken extensively about the 9mm being the best choice for personal defense, so I didn’t really care much about the mini-capacity mini-pistol, even though we do recommend XD’s as viable defensive pistols. Today, I got to shoot a few mags through the XDS… and I liked it. A Lot. I expect to see a lot of these in classes. While I can’t take it for granted that it actually works as well as other XD Models (I still have scars from the Glock Gen 4 launch-before-

ready… I’m damaged goods thanks to that betrayal!),  I am expecting good things and will make it an officially recommended gun as soon as it is run through its paces. Unfortunately, that may not be until late this year, according to the delivery timeline I was given today…


Ruger Mid-sized .380 Pistol

Ruger has taken their popular LC9 and chambered it in .380.  While this may seem like a silly thing to do, the fact

SHOT13_ruger380is that there are people who are recoil sensitive or lack the arm strength to manipulate a 9mm recoil spring. And, some of those people don’t have hobbit-hands. For those people, I have often recommend the old Beretta mid-sized tip-up .380 model. It gives them a defensive pistol option that accommodates their needs in a package big enough to actually get a grip on for better recoil management and  gun handling (unlike the LCPs, KelTecs, etc….). I fired a two mags through the gun and it did feel smooth. The wind had take their targets (and forced them to give up) before I got there, so all I had to fire at were the 1″ sticks at about 15-20′. I hit it many times.. the trigger was nice. I have recently reviewed the rough edit of an “extended distance defensive shooting” DVD that I taped with Chris Collins for Personal Defense Network and there is a scene in there where I am shooting an LCP at a steel plate at 50 yards… a similar geometry problem… and the little gun was hard to control. It’s big brother would do much better in that scenario. Not for everybody, but perfect for somebody.


Caracal 9mm Carbine

The last pistol I added to the recommend list was the Caracal 9mm Pistol. Unfortunately, there has been a safety recall and we are waiting to see if the “fixed” gun will be as smooth and reliable. I expect it to be so… but we’re still waiting. Meanwhile, we get this nifty pistol caliber carbine to check out. PCCs are something that are often talked about passionately. Some people love them, some people hate them. My guess is that with ammunition prices going the way they are and the whole “prepper” movement pushing consistent ammunition concepts, more people are SHOT13_caracalrifleswaying at least toward the “I may not love them, but I see why they are an option and it is probably worth having one“side. So, how is this one?  It’s really nice. Like the pistol, it has a great trigger and a great feel. I was nailing a 3” hostage taker swinging circle quickly from the first shot at 30 yards or so with the integral ghost ring and unique “bead post” front sight. I liked the rifle, which uses the same magazines as the pistol. They will also be bringing in 30 round mags, which presumably will also work in the pistol. The carbine has a grip safety which takes some getting used to, but my only real complaint was the magazine release. Although it is ambidextrous, it is SMALL and somewhat awkward. Turns out that it is the same piece from the pistol…. high points for manufacturing efficiency, low points for fast bolt-lock reloads.




RJP_511_competition5.11 Breaching Demo and Shooting Competition

Well, I accidentally entered a competition. Last time I checked, I was even winning… beating out that Top Shot Kid and Benny Cooly, according to the white board with sloppily written scores. I was actually trying to check out a new breaching hammer and the specific technique that they were teaching people to use in order to set a breaching tool efficiently using core strength instead of upper body motion alone. The hammer, and the technique, were cool. As for the competition that started right after the door

SHOT13_511scoreswas breached, it required pistol loading and shooting and rifle loading and shooting. My guess is that I was only leading because of manipulation speed, not shooting ability. Honestly, I’m not even sure they were counting hits!





Other Items:

I  got to spend some time with Daniel Defense’s new integrally suppressed 300 Blackout Rifle, which was cool. I even got drafted onto the line to teach a couple of representatives from Women’s Outdoor Network how to operate it and got them their first experience with full auto fire. Smiles… as expected.
SHOT13_FiskI also got flagged down by Dave Biggers (formerly of XS Sights) to check out a new aluminum adjustable stock for precision shooting. The Fisk stock is pretty impressive. Incredibly high quality design and a ridiculous amount ofpossible adjustments to angles, lengths & heights of just about every aspect of the stock. It is also a breakdown model and the lock-up allows the front of the rifle to be secured at various angles relative to the rear… for especially tricky shooting positions. The comb is adjustable not just  up & down, but front to rear as well. One of the coolest things I learned while shooting it was when dave recommended that I set the butt of the stock for proper length, but that I leave it “just a little loose” instead of locking it down. When I did that, the butt found a perfect angle to fit into  the pocket of my shoulder all on its own. Pretty Cool Trick. The stock isn’t cheap… approaching $1k, but that includes a new trigger group for detachable magazine for your bolt gun and is going to be well worth the money for those who take their extreme precision shooting seriously.


Overall, Media Day this year was MUCH smaller and more organized than last year. The cold, the wind and the NSSF‘s new scheduling. It was a great day for all who attended. I got to shoot some guns, see some friends and speak with quite a few members of our industry media. An excellent Kick Off to the week of SHOT Show 2013!