Apr 29, 2011

Day 1, wrap up

Good grief, what a day. I ended up bailing on the Happy Hour at Tilted Kilt sponsored by Crimson Trace far earlier than I might have - I was exhausted, the restaurant was loud, and I'd had my fill of people. Sometimes being a bit introverted can be unpleasant, but I've generally learned to heed the little voice on my shoulder that says, "Hey, enough. Time to bail."

So, the day, in rough order of events:
MrsZ and I caught up with Newbius and his wife for breakfast in the hotel. MrsZ stayed at the hotel for the day, I carpooled in to the show with Newbius and his wife. 13 miles - 1:40 from hotel door to parked. Pittsburgh has NO idea how to handle this kind of event. Traffic was a mess, parking was a disaster, and I heard lots of mutters around the show about commute times etc. It was bad enough that I'm debating whether or not I really want to go back to the show tomorrow. (I will go again Sunday, but we may just be lazy tourists tomorrow.)

We walked the four blocks from our parking lot to the convention center, found the media room, got our credentials, and headed for the show floor. I wandered on my own for the better part of the day, with occasional stops back in the media room to see who had accumulated, or just to sit down and have a cup of coffee for a moment.

In no particular order, the things that caught my attention, for good or bad:
The Smith & Wesson M&P 22. If you carry an M&P as a duty or personal weapon, this should be a no-brainer. Size and weight are similar to a standard center-fire M&P, manual of arms is identical. With an MSRP of $419, expect to see these on the street for $350-375ish. Reliability, of course, remains to be seen, but given S&W's reputation for standing behind their products, I have high hopes for this one.


The Remington Centennial 1911R1. I like Remington products, generally speaking. I swear by their 870 series of shotguns, and clay- and wing-shooters alike will sing the praises of the 11xx series autoloaders. This just seems ... misguided. It's a government-size 1911A1, with three-dot sights, a lowered/flared ejection port, stainless barrel, flat MSH, GI beavertail, etc. The grips are coarse-checkered wood of some kind, and the checkering is aggressive enough that simply holding the gun was unpleasant. Shooting it with anything resembling a full-house load would be painful. There's a touch of engraved scrollwork on the slide that strikes me as an afterthought more than anything else. With an MSRP of $1250, I expected more from Big Green.


On the flip side of that coin, however, Remington may have cracked one out of the park with the new VersaMax autoloader. A series of gas ports self-adjusts the amount of gas vented or cycled to the action, meaning it (at least in theory) can go from light 2-3/4" trap loads to high-brass field loads or 3-1/2" waterfowl loads with no adjustments to the gas system. Major-plus features in my book are the large button to disengage the safety (a treat for waterfowlers wearing gloves in the blind - no need to fumble that tiny button!), a vent-rib with checkered top to reduce glare, and twin beads to help alignment. Shouldering feels much like the 870; I had to make one tiny adjustment the first time I brought the gun up and then it was like it was made for me.



Kimber has just released their new "Solo Carry" compact 9mm. Initial impression: if you're used to the 1911 manual of arms, or don't like the idea of a gun with no manual safety, this may be an ideal alternative to the Kahr PM9/Ruger LC9, etc. Fit and finish is, as expected, excellent, and the gun points well. If anything, I think the grip is a bit too narrow, but that's easy enough to beef up with some new panels. Some stippling or checkering on the fore- and back-straps would go a long way towards grip as well.


Chiappa Firearms has a few real beauties out this year. The Rhino remains an ugly duckling, but I won't denigrate it for ugly. They have a lever-action pistol out, a la the Rossi "Ranch Hand" series; their show model was chambered in .44-40. Perhaps of more interest to many, however, are the new "Plinkerton" series of single-action revolvers. All chambered in .22LR, they are available in several finishes and barrel lengths, and, depending on price, could be wonderful "fun" guns - potentially giving the Single Six a good run for its money.



Tactical Solutions had a nice setup, with their products mounted on several Browning Buckmark lowers and Ruger MkIII lowers. Thanks to Ruger serializing the barrel on the MkIII series, a TS upper means going through an FFL; the Browning barrels were available at the show. I asked one of their booth guys for advice on how best to disassemble and reassemble a MkIII; he provided me with a few tips that I'll explore when I get home.



Springfield Armory had an extensive display of XD, XDm, M1A, and 1911 pistols. I poked at their recently-released "Range Officer" model and was not wildly impressed. For the price - they're running $7-800 on GunBroker right now - you should be able to get into a Ruger SR1911, which I think will be a far better value.


Ithaca Gun had a display of their shotguns and 1911s. The shotguns look halfway decent but are, of course, not as buttery-smooth as a gun that's been used for fifty years. The 1911 I tried had a trigger pull in excess of 10 pounds (by my rough guestimation), which is FAR too heavy for ANY single-action sear. Also, I'm biased, and seeing "Ithaca Gun Co, Upper Sandusky OH" just rubs me wrong.

Other things of interest... Silver Stag knives are pretty, but their managing partner is rude. I'm not a knife guy, I'm a gun guy, and I don't know all the gun makers out there. No way I'm going to know all the knife folks out there! Don't be insulted if someone doesn't know your name, treat them as a potential new customer!

I *did* buy a set of ceramic kitchen knives from the folks at Stone River; show pricing ($75) and some fondling convinced me to take a chance on them.

I also picked up an ESEE Izula (in pink!) and Fire Kit from the folks at EMGear. Yes, pink. The other options were black, tan, and olive green. If I dropped one of those in the yard, I'd find it when the lawnmower did. At least I have a small chance of finding a pink knife!

My own mistake ate several of the pictures I took today - so there are some things missing I wanted to show y'all. I'll try to re-take the important stuff before I come home!

Gunnie prom tomorrow, looking forward to seeing y'all some more!

1 comment:

doubletrouble said...

Good info- I'm watching you mauraders there at the show, & waiting for the info.
I *am* a knife guy, & Silver Stag is fairly new on the scene. From the start, they have made very well constructed blades & handles, with much use of stag & other natural materials. Hell, I bought a SWORD for my (adult) son a few years ago, when I had first seen their products, for very cheap $$ (they were new then).
Anyhoo, it's not like not recognizing Buck or SOG, or something.
Remind me next time you're here to show you my steel collection.
Have fun!