I always like when our Convention precedes the SHOT Show as it did this year because it affords guys like me the opportunity to get a jump on what’s new for the coming year. Most new products in the firearms industry debut at SHOT, but when our Convention convenes before theirs, many of our exhibitors consider SCI to be their primary market, and as such important enough to make sure their new goodies and promotional materials are ready in time, even if it’s earlier in the year than usual.
I’m not sure how many SCI Conventions I’ve attended, but I think this year’s was my 43rd. Anyway, a number of firearm, optics and ammo makers did indeed roll out their new products in Reno, so let me tell you about a few of those I found to be the most interesting. As has been the case over the past couple of years, much of the truly new stuff is in optics.
SWAROVSKI – This highly regarded Austrian firm has introduced what is surely the most technically-advanced riflescope to date. Designated as the dS 5-25x52, this mind-boggling laser optic measures distance to target, then instantly in a heads-up display, shows the correct aiming point after having also factored-in the magnification setting, air pressure, temperature and shooting angle. Wind deflection is also calculated based on input, and the correct hold-into is displayed. Obviously, to do this the scope’s computer also factors-in the ballistics for the exact load being used. The system requires networking with a smartphone, exchanging data via the Bluetooth interface. The personal data are input directly into the app and transmitted immediately. And as an added bonus, all this wizardry is packed into a scope that looks perfectly conventional rather than like a German U-Boat. Price? $4,499.
Price notwithstanding, to a guy like me who still prefers a 6x fixed-power scope and guesses at hold-over and hold-into on shots beyond my normal sight-in range of 250 yards, I find this scope downright intimidating! But I’m not as much of a Neanderthal as that might sound. I do use a laser rangefinder and, limiting my shooting at game to 400 yards, I know where to hold at 300, 350 and 400 yards. It’s no big thing. As for wind deflection, I guess at it, just like everyone else!
MEOPTA – From this Czech optical manufacturer comes two new riflescopes featuring dichroic reticles that illuminate without battery power. Meopta calls it DichroTech and it enables reticles in multiple color configurations to automatically adjust color tone and intensity based on varying light conditions to deliver a highly visible aiming point. Appearing as a 4 MOA dot in the center of the reticle, both crosshairs and dot are illuminated in either red or green depending on ambient light conditions. Pretty cool!
Initially, DichroTech is being offered in two models, both of which are essentially housed in the same body in size and specs -- 3-12x56, but differ in that one model features a first focal plane reticle, with the other being a second focal plane version. Either model will carry an MSRP of $1,199.95. Meopta says other DichroTech models will be phased in throughout the 2019 calendar year.
KRIEGHOFF – This storied gunmaker based in Ulm, Germany rolled out its first- ever “Lady-dedicated” shotgun. Christened the K-20 Victoria and offered in 20 and 28 gauge, its final design was the result of input from women of varying shooting experience, as well as from the distaff members of Krieghoff’s office and production staff. The purpose-built stock is shorter and less “meaty” throughout to better accommodate smaller frames. An adjustable comb fits neatly within its recess in the buttstock, and if not elevated blends perfectly with its otherwise classic geometry. The grip curve is tighter and a bit more vertical to better accommodate smaller hands. The example I examined at the convention was of beautifully-figured French walnut done in a traditional oil finish adorned with a special checkering pattern designed expressly for the Victoria. The receiver also carries a special scroll-type engraving as standard.
Based on one of the lowest profile receivers you’ll find on a 20 or 28 gauge over/under, this gun is a delight to handle, even for a guy. What I don’t understand is why the Victoria is offered only with 32 or 34-inch barrels, and at that it weighs a mere seven pounds. Seems to me that 26 and 28-inch barrels would better achieve the weight and handling characteristics one is looking for in a ladies’ gun. The faster handling and pointing qualities of the shorter gun would outweigh the loss of a quarter pound or so and a tad more recoil. The fixed-choke Parcours barrels are bored Modified/Improved Modified. MSRP with standard engraving is $11,999.
LEUPOLD – That the long-range mania continues unabated is evidenced by the fact that for 2019 the folks at Leupold thought it important enough to produce a separate 40-page catalog devoted to it. Debuting in that catalog is Leupold’s re-entry into the laser binocular market with its RBX-3000. A rangefinding binocular is a whole different animal from the dedicated laser units that are built into a monocular and typify what most such products look like. To incorporate all that laser RF technology into what looks like a conventional binocular is no mean feat, nor is it inexpensive. Consider: this new Leupold RBX-3000 has a retail price tag of $2,999. That’s approaching Leica/ Swarovski/Zeiss territory. But then it offers much the same high tech features the Euro units do except for that Bluetooth stuff, including accurate range readings out to 3,000 yards off reflective targets, and 2,600 yards off soft targets like bushes and trees; aiming points based on trajectory input with uphill/downhill compensation, and Leupold’s Twilight Max HD light management system.
MAUSER – This iconic company stunned the firearms world last year with the introduction of its M18 bolt action rifle at a retail price of $699. For this year, in addition to just trying to keep up with demand, they’re among the first to add the hot new Hornady 6.5 PRC to its list of chambering. Because we examined the M18 in depth on these pages back in the July/August `18 issue, we’ll not go into detail here other than to say the M18 is quite a rifle for the money, and that the 6.5 PRC betters the 6.5 Creedmoor in both trajectory and velocity, and therefore in effective range as well.
HORNADY – It’s gotten to where hardly a year goes by that we don’t see a cool new cartridge from this dynamic Nebraska-based company known for its bullets, loaded ammunition and reloading equipment, but most of all for its innovation. No concept or product stands still at Hornady.
This year it’s the .300 PRC, a new .30 caliber magnum-class cartridge designed around the concept of the shallow seating of heavy-for-the-caliber bullets. Based on the .375 Ruger case, the 300 PRC is non-belted and uses a standard .532” magnum bolt face and headspaces off a 30-degree shoulder. This results in better chamber alignment and more positive headspacing than standard belted magnum cartridges and allows for improved stacking and feeding from fixed magazines. The 300 PRC is designed to use common, temperature stable magnum-speed rifle powders producing extremely consistent velocity and increased barrel life compared to currently available magnum cartridges. Two loads are being offered initially: a 212-grain ELD-X Hunter, and a 225-grain ELD-Match. Hopefully we’ll take a closer look at this new .30 in a future installment.
By the time this deathless prose reaches print, these companies will already be chambering for the .300 PRC: Bergara, FIERCE Firearms, GA Precision, Remington Custom Shop, HS Precision, Seekins Precision, Gunwerks, Proof Research, Barrett and Stuteville