Tuesday, February 13, 2018

SHOT Show 2018 - Industry Day at the Range Highlights

SHOT Show 2018 is over, but the chatter is still very much alive! There weren't a slew of new calibers being shown (with exception to the .224 Valkyrie). There were some new products that shined for many and others that didn't impress. Overall, we had a great time meeting with companies, talking with marketing managers, and hearing pitches. Most companies were much more receptive that last year and I think that's one of the things we anticipated. Instead of simply walking the floor, I made sure to book interviews and meetings with many companies. That paid off and I would recommend that to any newcomers. Here is what I was impressed with at Industry Day at the Range:

Springfield Armory 10mm TRP Operator- I had the pleasure of shooting this handgun and wasn't sure what to expect. Let me tell you, this delivers and then some. It looks sharp and cycles super smooth. It has a very light trigger and that surprised me in a handgun. I was impressed with the way it felt when shooting and how little recoil there was. If it were California compliant I would already have an order in for one.

Ruger 10mm Revolver - This six-shot revolver is powerful and accurate, but what else would you expect from Ruger? The wooden grip had been replaced with a more ergonomic rubber grip and that was a huge improvement. I don't care for the wooden grips on pistols. This one felt great and held true when firing.

Glock 19x - New grip, compact, and incredibly fun to shoot, the Glock 19x was a nice surprise. I haven't had the pleasure of shooting many Glocks, but the ones I did shoot have been great. This new handgun was no exception. Five out of five shots on steel and it cycled beautifully. Another one that is not California compliant, but that is the fault of Cali, not Glock.

Howa bolt action rifles - Always great things to say about the Howa rifles at Industry Day. Smooth action, bolt cycling was smooth, and the staff is always knowledgeable about not only the new products, but they remember last years as well. We had a great chat about all the rifles and I was not only impressed with the rifles, but also the people.

Excalibur Assassin Crossbow - The team at Excalibur was fun to shoot with and talk with. They were upbeat, having a great time, and went through the features of new Assassin Crossbow without missing a beat. They guided me and then had me cock and decock it. Great system and with 290# of draw weight it is a beast! We set up at 90 yards with a 5-10 mph crosswind. With a slight adjustment for the breeze, I pegged two-out-of-two balloons with ease. I had never shot an Excalibur before, but I am a believer now!

Mauser M18 RifleAs you can see, I was very happy after shooting the M18. Accurate, lightweight, and very affordable at $699.00. I bench shot and stood and shot, and I have to say that it was dead on and incredibly fun to shoot. Look for this one making more headlines this year.

Industry Day at the Range was great and I was able to make some great connections. I am already looking forward to 2019! Next up will be some of the exciting finds on the SHOT Show floor. It gets better!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Gear Review: SneekTec SneekBoots

Images provided by SneekTec.

A successful stalk must be near silent. Have you ever tried sneaking up on an animal only to hear the sand crunching or branches crackling under your feet? Sure you can learn to walk quieter, but it is never as quiet as you need it to be. Some guys like to take their boots off and stalk in their socks and while it is effective, it can be very uncomfortable. What if I told you the best of both worlds are available? SneekTec SneekBoots are here and give you an edge on that silent stalk!

Hunting in California means mountains, dry brush, and sand. Lots of gravel and sand. Walking on any of these is noisy. I'm not a small guy, so I tend to make some noise when I walk. I've tried to put a stalk on a sandwich before and that failed. It heard me coming! No longer! For six months I have been testing the SneekBoots out and I am very impressed. SneekTec Boots are Berber fleece-lined pads that attach to your boots.

  • Thick Berber Fleece for optimal sound elimination and durability.
  • Non-slip bottom ensures safer, more secure ground connection.
  • 1" Industrial grade open cell foam with additional 1/4" closed cell foam in heel area.
  • Anti-bacterial treated fabrics eliminate scent created by ground bacteria or foot sweat.
  • Soft mesh carry bag with carabiner to attach boots to a pack.
  • Weighs 0.6 lbs! 

My first test was challenging and a learning experience. When I was first considered a review, I emailed SneekTec owner Jim Durfee. I wasn't sure which size to go with. He mentioned that with a 10.5 boot size, I may want to go up to the XL boot. The large size goes up to a 10.5, but he felt it might be tough to fit my boot in, so he recommended I also try the XL version to see which worked better. When they arrived I felt he was right, as I had a tough time getting my boot in the large. I tried out the XL and had no issues, but they were slightly loose on me. I tried the large again and figured out I needed to take my time and loosen up the cords properly. I recommend taking time at home to get them situated just right. Once that was done, I simply needed to find the best way to slip them on. After that each boot went on easily and fit snug.

Here comes the best part; SneekBoots are awesome! They are ultra quiet and easy to use. I first tested them on gravel and sand. I am a big-bodied individual and while I have great boots, being stealthy in them can be tough. Once I strapped on the SneekBoots I turned into a ninja. I was able to walk around ultra-quiet and not lose any mobility. A couple weeks later I tried walking on pine needles. Pine needles that have been baking in the sun for months! I was better off shuffling my feet that walking on top of the needles. I sat on a rock, slipped on the SneekTecs and tried again. I was truly amazed at how they muffled the sound and allowed near-silence as I walked. They did pick up some pine tar in the process, but that comes with the territory. They were still very quiet.

As I have said, I do recommend practicing putting them on and taking them off. The SneekTec Boots come in a black, mesh bag that cinches up. You can attach the bag to the outside of your pack or stuff the boots inside. I recommend finding a good spot where you can get to them easily, get them out and put them on your feet. It'll take a bit of practice. I would like to see the bag come in a camo pattern so the dark shape doesn't stick out so much (see image above).

SneekTec Boots retail for $64.99 and that may seem high, but consider the investment you make into scouting and hunting a particular animal. Consider the price of tags, gas, and incidentals. $64.99 could make or break a hunt. I highly recommend these to anyone who hunts in an area where a stalk is necessary. I loved how they performed and how incredibly quiet they made me. No matter where you hunt, if you put a stalk on an animal and get busted by the crunching under your feet, you'll wish you had these.

Follow SneekTec on social media!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

2018 Mylar Balloon Challenge!

I despise Mylar balloons. It seems like every time I go scouting I find at least one. When I hunt I also find at least one. Many times I find two or three. I deflate them and pack them to toss in the trash bin at home. It's awful for the environment, animals, and makes the landscape look like a sparkling turd.

Time for the 2018 Mylar Balloon Challenge! Each time you go out hunting, scouting, hiking, or fishing and find a Mylar balloon I want you to take a pic with it. To keep it fair, I want to see only pics from 2018, so I want to see you mimic my pose in the picture above. Be creative if you want, but a simple finger pointing and a scowl will do (have to do that to be entered). You also have to take the balloon with you and dispose of it properly. 

Post the pics on my SoCal Bowhunter Facebook page or on Instagram with the hashtag #MylarChallenge2018 and then tag me in the photo (al_quackenbush). You have to follow me wherever you decide to post. Each month, I will go through the submissions and send out a small prize. Enter as many times as you like, but this is on the honor system. Keep it honest. I'll see how it goes each month and if we don't get any submissions for a particular month, I'll just add to the prize pack for the following month.

I am looking forward to some great photos of you conservationists getting out there and cleaning up our public lands! As a bonus, at the end of the year, I'll go through the submissions and send each a nice gift to each of the top three contributors for doing their part. Get out there and have fun!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Anteris Alliance Try & Buy 2018 Recap

If you haven't been to the Anteris Alliance Try & Buy you are missing out! Here is a recap of some of the products my team and I tested or saw at the show. If you want to know more about a particular company or product, let me know!

Triggersafe - My favorite product of the show. It is simple, effective, and each and every AR-15 rifle should have one of these. The Triggersafe protects the weapon from an accidental discharge, but also allows you to take it off quickly for a shot. They have a great pitch and the product demonstration was excellent. Really looking forward to seeing these on all AR-15 rifles and shotguns! The Remington 870 version is coming soon.

Frontier Tactical War Lock  - The team at Frontier Tactical developed a very cool system for the AR platform that allows you to swap out uppers very quickly and efficiently. The War Lock replaces the barrel nut and allows you to swap uppers (sometimes the bolt needs to change, too) and shoot over 90 calibers. You could say I was loving this system. The image above shows the "North American Hunting Package" which was impressive to see disassembled and all fitting in a backpack.

SinterFire - Frangibles are new to me, but after this demonstration I am a believer. We saw what they do from a handgun up close, in a box, but the big surprise was with the AR. Another gent and I were able to stand on either side of certified instructor and LEO Keith Porco as he fired rounds at three feet. It was unnerving, but a powerful message as to how well these perform.

Modern Spartan Systems - While I have not used this system on my weapon, I will be. This is NOT a gun lube. It actually changes the chemistry of the barrel to allow less friction, makes the rifle more accurate, and is supposed to reduce cleaning time drastically. If Charlie Melton uses it on his rifles where he shoots out to two miles then I can get behind it. I'll follow up on this one in the near future.

Hiperfire - The upgraded HIPERTOUCH triggers proved to be one of the most talked about in our group. We loved the back tension after the shot put on the trigger. The tension is distributed to your finger and you know the system is working. I opted for the semi-auto rifle vs. the auto, but I loved how the trigger performed.

MagBlock - If you ever go to the range with your AR-15 or shoot your AR around friends, you need a MagBlock. I mentioned them last year, and after again talking with Mike I believe everyone who owns am AR-15 needs one of these. I was able to see the bright orange from a way off, knowing that the rifle was safe on the table.

Charlie Mike Precision (CMP) - I spoke with Charlie Melton, the man who trained Chris Kyle, about his 2 mile shot with the .408 Tejas, which he had custom built. He briefly described the set up and the shot, plus the optics used. It was great to see him smile when talking about the amazing shot! They also offer some great long range courses around the country. If you want to learn from the best, check them out.

LaRue Cases - Chuck LaRue wanted to make a better case for firearms and archery equipment. His tenacity and background have allowed him to create a solid, resin/carbon case. While the prices right now are high, I think Chuck will be able to develop some new strategies to allow him to keep the quality up and lower the cost.

We did a fair share of walking and talking at the 2018 Anteris Alliance Try & Buy. After meeting some great people with some great companies,  we are looking forward to some gear reviews and also creating some solid partnerships for years to come.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Thanks California! - Weatherby Relocates to Wyoming

In case you haven't heard, Weatherby, currently located in Paso Robles, CA, is moving to a more firearm friendly state. Good for Weatherby in making the call to get out of here and prosper. Thanks again to our California government for pushing out another business. This state is going downhill fast. 

Read the press release below for full details.

Press Release from Weatherby (Jan. 23, 2018): Firearms manufacturer Weatherby, Inc., is relocating its manufacturing operations and corporate headquarters from California to Sheridan, Wyoming, company officials announced today from SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the world’s largest annual shooting, hunting and firearms industry trade show.

The move is expected to create 70 to 90 jobs and more than $5 million annually in payroll in the next five years.

Outdoor recreation is an economic driver in Wyoming, and manufacturing plays a vital role in any economy, according to Shawn Reese, chief executive officer of the Wyoming Business Council.

“So, to bring those two things together – an internationally-known manufacturer of outdoor equipment headquartered in Wyoming – it will pay dividends, not only to Sheridan and northeast Wyoming, but this is a project of which the entire state should be proud,” Reese said.

Wyoming wooed the renowned gunmaker with its expansive access to unrivaled big game hunting, low taxes, industry-friendly environment, Sheridan College’s workforce training program and a comprehensive incentives package.

“We wanted a place where we could retain a great workforce, and where our employees could live an outdoor lifestyle,” said Adam Weatherby, chief executive officer. “We wanted to move to a state where we can grow into our brand. Wyoming means new opportunities. We are not interested in maintaining; we are growing.”

Governor Matt Mead and the Wyoming Business Council, the state’s economic development agency, began recruiting Weatherby a year ago.

“Wyoming is a great place to do business and is excited to welcome Weatherby to Sheridan,” Mead said. “For over 70 years, Weatherby has been an innovator in firearms design and manufacturing. The company will add to our manufacturing base and fit well with our diversification objectives.

“I thank the Wyoming Business Council, the Sheridan Economic and Education Development Authority, and all who helped bring Weatherby, Inc. to Wyoming.”

Weatherby called Mead’s enthusiastic support and accessibility a major asset for a company operating in a highly-regulated industry.

“From the get go, when we met the governor, he said, ‘Here’s my number, shoot me a text any time,’” Weatherby said. “He responds to our needs quickly, and it shows a business like ours is important to Wyoming and that it’s a big deal here.”

Business Council staff took Weatherby officials on tours of potential sites for their facility around the state following the initial conversations.

Sheridan stood out to Weatherby executives because of its access to both the outdoors and a skilled workforce.

“There are a lot of great places in Wyoming, but Sheridan stood out as a New West community that’s progressive and growing, with a vibrant downtown in the shadow of the Bighorns and a mild climate,” Weatherby said. “Sheridan College, which is growing its manufacturing and machine tool program, was also a deciding factor.”

Sheridan College President Dr. Paul Young called Weatherby’s recruitment an example of the work it will take to diversify Wyoming’s economy.

“This is the direct result of years and years of visioning, planning and strategically investing in the things that matter for the future of our region,” Young said. “With the help of Whitney Benefits and others, we have been strengthening and growing our technical programs for this very reason, and we will continue to provide opportunities for students to learn valuable skills to secure a solid future.”

The Business Council worked with the Sheridan Economic and Education Development Authority (SEEDA) Joint Powers board to develop a $12.6 million grant package. SEEDA committed $2,283,074 in local match funds, of which $322,874 is cash. The other $1,960,200 is in-kind match for Lot 1 in the Sheridan High-Tech Business Park. The joint powers board will use the money to build a 100,000 square-foot building in the Sheridan High-Tech Business Park. SEEDA will own the facility and lease it to Weatherby.

Weatherby will invest an estimated $2 million in relocation expenses and cover all capital investment in the building and lot over the life of the 20-year lease, which is expected to be well over $4 million.

“We’re extremely excited to have this internationally recognized company choose Sheridan as their new corporate headquarters,” Sheridan Mayor Roger Miller said. “This relocation will translate to more skilled manufacturing jobs, an increased tax base and important economic diversification for our community and the region.”

Founded in 1945 by Adam Weatherby’s grandfather, Roy Weatherby, the family-owned and operated business has built a brand synonymous with quality craftmanship, a superior fit and finish and ballistic superiority.

The importance of family underlies much of Weatherby’s ethos.

“Our product is the main tool hunters use out in field. They may spend a lifetime trying to draw a tag or save for the hunt of their dreams, and we keep that foremost in our minds when we are building our guns,” Weatherby said. “This is an aspiration product; these are guns that are passed down from generation to generation.”