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Massad Ayoob on Guns

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Massad Ayoob


Friday, January 22nd, 2010

It’s the third day of the SHOT Show for the dealers attending, the fourth day for the professionals who got there early for set-up and networking and advanced product testing.

AR15 rifle variants are everywhere. One theme this year of our host, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), is that “AR” stands for “America’s Rifle.” It’s good to see new companies coming in and being innovative. American Spirit Arms introduces an AR15 with a bolt operating lever located on the left side above the magazine, like an FN FAL. This eliminates the one non-ergonomic feature of Gene Stoner’s Armalite design in this writer’s opinion: the awkward T-handle at the rear of the action. The price is competitive, the action is smooth, and the handling IS faster. Heckler & Koch’s take on the American AR, shown as a non-functional prototype last year at SHOT, is shown this time as a functional prototype, and seems to draw much from the company’s 416 rifle.

Chiappa of Italy introduces a reasonably priced .22 Long Rifle version of the AR15, and also their intriguing Rhino revolver, reminiscent of an earlier Italian design, the Mateba. The barrel is parallel to the lower portion of the frame instead of the top, bringing bore axis down and thus reducing muzzle rise. The action of this “upside-down” .357 Magnum feels surprisingly smooth. There are already holsters being made for it, and it will accept a 6-shot speedloader for an L-frame Smith & Wesson. Instead of a round cylinder, this revolver’s is hexagonal: you don’t see hexagonal cylinders every day, at a revolver match OR a geometry class.

Savage Arms announces the production of yet another millionth Model 110-series rifle, introduced circa 1958. This plain-looking, beautifully shooting bolt action is proof of American values: you can look a little different, but if you can make those with you look good, they’ll love you and you’ll be popular. These Savage bolt guns shoot so well they do make their users look good. The company has a new Stevens brand pump shotgun (Stevens being a long-standing economy line under the Savage umbrella), that looks remarkably like the cheap Chinese copy of an Ithaca Model 37 that has been around for a while, and whaddaya know, it is stamped as made in China. Price is low, and with Savage Arms standing behind it on warranty, value should be high.

On the ammo front, Winchester is now selling a “buck and ball” load for self defense, a big solid slug with a sprinkling of smaller buckshot pellets in the shell. From the American Civil War to Brits in the Malaysian conflict, this combination historically worked well in close combat. Federal has a reduced velocity #4 buckshot load it has determined to be suitable for home defense. Both of the above are 12 gauge rounds. Are you one of the countless Americans who keeps a sweet-handling M-1 .30 carbine handy for home defense, but worries about the anemic reputation that gun’s full metal jacket round earned in WWII and Korea? Speer introduces a .30 Carbine 110 grain Gold Dot bonded hollow point load that should be much more dynamic.

More tomorrow.

American innovation exemplified by the American owner of American Spirit Arms.

Mas feels left-side operating handle above magazine on American Spirit rifle definitely improves the ergonomics of the AR15.

Forthcoming HK AR clones in .223, above, and .308, below.

Here’s a cutaway showing the unique mechanism of the new Chiappa Rhino revolver. The barrel is on the bottom, below the sight rib.

Lady champion Julie Goloski-Golub, a true ambassador for the shooting sports, does her daily demo at the Smith & Wesson booth.

S&W’s incomparable Jerry Miculek shows the crowd how to run a revolver at speed.

12 Responses to “SHOT SHOW, DAY FOUR”

  1. TomcatsHanger Says:

    I’ve had one of those American Spirit Arms uppers for a couple of years now.

    I like it a lot, it’s great for a scoped rifle.

  2. Sian Says:

    Interesting to see the ‘buck and ball’ concept back. I suppose some testing will be needed to gauge real performance.

    Happy to see another good .30 carbine bullet, IMO an underrated cartridge and perfect for many home-defense applications, provided you aren’t using ball. I’d love to see some more modern stock treatments for the M1 Carbine, the thing needs rails!

  3. Long Island Mike Says:

    Mas, any follow up on the FBI sting arrests? Who got hit? Was it done publicly?

  4. Mas Says:

    Google search on FBI sting, Las Vegas should turn it up. It was on the front page of the Vegas paper. From the story, it sounds as if they were simply doing business as it is customarily done in some other countries.

  5. Matt Says:

    “I’d love to see some more modern stock treatments for the M1 Carbine, the thing needs rails!”

    Choate has a sidefolder.

  6. Matt Says:

    Obviously I’m not party to the events, but the entire thing sounds a bit off. I hope this is winnowing of the chaff and not an attempt by the fed to get their hands into yet another industry. Thanks for the show updates Mas.

  7. John Robinson Says:

    Mr. Ayoob,

    Love your daily reports on the Shot Show, wish I could be there. Thank you! Please keep us updated on the Smith and Wesson fiasco!

    Again, thanks,

    John Robinson

  8. Fruitbat44 Says:

    Thanks for the reports Mas.

    Hmmm . . . I’d be willing to bet a couple of copper coins on the Rhino turning up on Sci-fi show as a futuristic handgun.

  9. Fred Bartlett Says:

    In a way, it is a shame that H&K dropped their semi-auto 91 and 93 and now will make another of the infinite AR15 clones. There are so many now that it is very confusing. I wonder what it will offer that the competitors don’t? I looked at a number of competitive models in recent weeks and I don’t see much room for many more versions. We have US, German and countless other copies. How about a real Swiss one for a change? No copies from Finland yet, either.

  10. Suburban Says:

    Just FYI, American Spirit Arms (ASA) used to have a really bad reputation. I don’t know if they are still under the same management though.

  11. Matt Says:

    “In a way, it is a shame that H&K dropped their semi-auto 91 and 93 and now will make another of the infinite AR15 clones.”

    And it is a shame they quit making their P9S, P4, and P7 pistols.
    As for HK going into the AR-15 business, they will have a real hard time competing with the many lower-priced brands – even top ones like Bushmaster – in this economy. HK is German for “overpriced” – so selling essentially the same AR-15 for much more than Bushmaster’s will be near-impossible.

  12. Michael Says:

    @ Suburban… American Spirit Arms is under new ownership / managment and their customer service and reputation has changed dramatically. The previous owner was awful. The new owner and current employees are wonderful and customer service is awesome. Their warranty on their products is among the best in the business. A friend of mind (who owns an ASA AR) and I stopped into their Scottsdale factory a couple weeks ago, just to see what was new and we received an impromptu tour of the factory (they make their own uppers and lowers and other accoutrements in house) and we also got a detailed low down on the left-side charging upper as well.

    B/c of their hospitality and hard efforts to put the customer first, I’m going to be building my first AR from their products. Besides, although I don’t live there anymore, it’s a good way to support the economy of the town I was born in. 🙂

    Good write up Mas, I’ve always enjoyed your work.

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