Review: S.H.O.T. Show in Las Vegas

The fantastic new Air Arms Ultimate Spoter XS with its soft-touch stock...

The fantastic new Air Arms Ultimate Spoter XS with its soft-touch stock... - Credit: Archant

What happen is Vegas…can be seriously thought-provoking, or just a little bit bonkers – as Mick Garvey discovers

The hi-performance, tactical Gamo TC range.

The hi-performance, tactical Gamo TC range. - Credit: Archant

I have been promising myself a trip to the SHOT Show in Las Vegas for a while now, and this year everything fell into place. Our dear editor was incapacitated with a rather poorly knee, so I was given the task of completing a review through the eyes of a first-timer to the show. My travelling companions were the guys from Scott Country International, which made the whole trip an ‘interesting’ experience – I’ve known these fellas for some time and they’re very good company. We had separate agendas whilst at the show; I gave my opinion on various items that they looked at, and believe me, we saw some exciting things for the night-shooting fraternity, some of which I will be seriously looking at for myself. I am always impressed by the way today’s shooters interests are considered, and if all goes to plan you should be seeing some of the new lines very soon. One thing I can spill the beans on is the Pulsar Accolade thermal binoculars. I gave these a good going over and they performed extremely well. They’re very light and will be a great addition to your night shooting kit.

Five floors

I warned about the size of this show, but I’m a seasoned show-goer so I thought it would be maybe slightly bigger – how wrong I was! The show is spread over five floors and everything associated with our sport that you can possibly imagine is here, together with some even stranger non-associated items. My first day was spent familiarising myself with the place– well, that was the plan. I checked out the top floor where the smaller suppliers had their booths, and slowly made my way down. I purposely missed the second-floor level because this was where I’d be spending most of my time, with the airguns.

Travel pump from Gunpower - perfect for the vehicle.

Travel pump from Gunpower - perfect for the vehicle. - Credit: Archant

Air Arms

On the following day, the first stop was Air Arms to check out their display, which turned out to be a non-starter because their container had been delayed by customs, but in true Claire West fashion, they battled on without their guns and display. That’s another demonstration of customer care, in my opinion. It would have been so easy to spend the day in a hotel and wait for the delivery. Anyway, the gear turned up and the next day everything was in place and looking good.

The new Ultimate Sporters were on show and caused quite a bit of interest. I was actually involved in a conversation before going out to Vegas about the possibility of having a full walnut cheekpiece instead of the black synthetic one, and after mentioning this to Claire, they are considering making this an option for the Ultimate Sporter. Even luckier, the display model actually had a walnut cheekpiece fitted. The synthetic and laminate stocks looked very impressive too.

The BSA R10 range. Everything's bigger over here!

The BSA R10 range. Everything's bigger over here! - Credit: Archant

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Next stop was Daystate, and the much talked about new Rosso and Wolverine models; both sported beautiful laminate stocks and carbon air bottles. I was wary of handling them because they looked like proper works of art and would look great in a display cabinet, but for me, because of the number of times I bump and knock my guns in the field, they would no longer look that good. Once I’d built up the courage to handle them the first thing I noticed was how very well balanced they are, and so light. Once people get their head round the price tag, it’ll win people round –this sort of technology doesn’t come cheap. Day one had seen me put almost 10 miles on my Fitbit and the calories were being burned off at a staggering rate, which was handy because the calories went straight back on again during the evening meals; this was Vegas after all.

Everything airgun

Wednesday had me trotting round and meeting up with the people from BSA and Gamo. There are some pretty impressive big-bore airguns from these guys, including the Gamo TC-35 and TC-45 which are .35 and .45 calibre respectively, as the names suggest, and the Model 70-35 and 70-45 again in .35 and .45 calibre. My particular favourite was the TC range because I have developed quite a taste for the tactical look. The .35 actually has a shot count of between 10 and 40, depending on your settings and pellet size, and pushes out around 170 ft.lbs with a 190 grain pellet. The .45 calibre has the same shot count, but sends the pellets downrange at 408 ft.lbs with 350 grain ammo. Both have twin-stage adjustable triggers, Weaver rails and carbon bottles. The 70-35 and 70-45 have 135 and 197 respectively, with beech stocks, dovetail rails and adjustable, two-stage triggers.These big bores run alongside the flagship R10 BSA range, always a winner with their great looks and superb accuracy. There is also the quite handsome Gold Star range and a comprehensive selection of scopes to complement the guns.

I was cruising now and beginning to take in everything around me, not just the airguns, but some of the more ‘out of the norm’, like the second amendment Corvette, and a camo motorcycle with a pistol machine gun fitted up front!

My attention was caught by the AirForce/Gunpower stand and the RAW Theoben airguns on display, and as you’ll see in this month’s news, these companies have now combined. This took me back a few years to my Theoben Rapid days, and reminded me of how much I loved these guns. Demand for these are high in the States, and very few make their way over to us in the UK, which is a shame, but maybe that might change now. There was a plethora of fascinating things here, and the Gunpower Hellcat really took my fancy, again with the tactical look. Power was said to be from 400-900fps and it’s available in .177, .22 and .25. It is also offered with either quick-detach or spin-loc air bottles. The only downside for me is that it is single-shot, but many will not be concerned about that. The ever-present Stealth was also on display, boasting 500 shots in .22 at 12 ft.lbs, which is some serious shots right there.

Definite theme

Now, here comes something completely different – a mobile pump to fill your air bottles and tubes. It runs off 110v, 230v and 12v, so it can be used and stored in your vehicle. It’s not a storage tank, just an electric pump and will be badged up again as ‘Gunpower’. Tests have seen it running for 300 hours constantly, and I believe there is more to come from Gunpower products, so watch this space. I wonder if we could get our hands on the Texan –‘The world’s most powerful production airgun’, apparently. Now, that would be interesting! BKL mounts etc are also available from Gunpower and are generally known for their quality and robustness, and the range available is quite impressive.

There is a definite theme occurring, and this continues on the Crosman stand. The Benjamin Bulldog in .357 calibre is an awesome, if strange-looking airgun, and not something for me, but I do know that they have a huge following, because of their slab-sided look and full-length rail on top, but with a 10-shot capacity, you might be needing a spare air supply when having a good day.

Another one that caught my eye was the Marauder Woodstalker, which looks very cool in camo, and with 30 effective shots it would make a great ratting tool. There are also a good range of break-barrel airguns and one in particular with the name, ‘Vaporiser’ had me smirking – ‘Ironhide’ was another with a great name. The Crosman catalogue is packed with a wide and varied range, from airguns to airsoft, and from archery to optics – well worth checking out.


My final drop-off point was to Sig, ‘the complete systems provider’, according to the brochure, but with only one break-barrel on display, the ASP2 with two stock options, the provider seems a little low, but the pistols were more impressive with four models on show. There is a range of fast-fire air rifles – CO2 providing the power for the .177 projectiles. The MCX and MPX are also part of the ASP range and utilise the trusty CO2 cartridges for power. The brochure is full of various pieces of merchandise, and is well worth checking out.

Well, as Elvis almost said, ‘The Bright Light City certainly set my soul on fire’. The SHOT show is an absolute eye opener, and be assured that I will be back and my plans will be better made to take in more of the mind-boggling display. It’s so hard to impress upon anyone the immense size of this place; the NEC would fit in here many, many times over and I really do feel like I have only scratched the surface in the four and a half days I’ve spent walking around. I’ve checked my Fitbit and I’ve almost covered 40 miles, and I have still some to go – maybe it’s best to leave something unfinished. It gives me a good reason to return!