The big news this month is the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades show (the SHOT Show) in Las Vegas. We can expect a lot of new product announcements, but they almost always start leaking out before show time. Such is life in this ever more interconnected world!
Ruger, for instance, has announced a new version of their “Match Champion” GP100. This is a gun I panned just a bit when it was introduced, largely due to its fixed Novak sights. As it happens that turned out to be a real issue, with people like Massad Ayoob revealing to me that they wouldn’t shoot to point of aim with any known ammunition (verified by the example I shot.) Worse, the guns aren’t consistent; some will shoot left, some right and high.
Ruger apparently got the message and has release this adjustable-sight version using the standard Ruger adjustable rear sight. The also chamfered the chambers (I don’t believe the first guns had that), tuned the action, and gave it a custom finish with stippled Hogue wood grips. This should be a lot closer to a match gun than the original!
The only changes I’d make would be to replace the rear sight with the superb Bowen Rough Country unit — easily the best rear sight on the market. Well, that — and get rid of the Hogue grips, which are so oversized I can’t reach the trigger!
They’re not the only ones jumping the SHOT Show gun; Glock has already introduced new long-slide pistols in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45ACP. Now you’re probably thinking “wait a minute! Glock already has long-slide pistols in those calibers! What gives?”
The new models G34, G35, G40, and G41 are optics-ready: their slides are already cut to take a mini red dot such as the RMR. These sights are becoming extremely popular in certain circles, and I suspect that this factory modification is a sign that they’re becoming mainstream.
There is one new gun in that series, however: the new G40, which is a long-slide 10mm with the aforementioned optics cut. This will probably be a big hit with wild hog hunters, who I’m told are big fans of the Glock 10mm for its long range ballistic performance.
(To be fair, these models haven’t been officially announced by Glock but they have acknowledged they’re coming. The news came from one of their police distributors who let the information slip in their new catalog, and the folks at The Firearm Blog caught it. As I alluded earlier, it’s hard to keep secrets these days!)
Of course there are the usual announcements of “revolutionary” AR-15 rifles from all kinds of companies, many of whom are completely unfamiliar to me. Frankly, I got bored with the AR-15 market a couple of years ago; there’s really nothing terribly new out there, just variations on a theme (how many different ways to mount stuff on the fore-end can we invent?) Whoever called the AR-pattern rifle market “Barbie For Men” was spot-on!
Know what I’d like to see? Some new rifle designs to correct the AR-15’s problems. No, I’m not talking about piston-operated rifles, which are a solution in search of a problem. What I’d like to see is some attention paid to the gun’s ergonomics, and specifically to things like the bolt hold-open catch and the charging handle.
If you’re right handed, like I am, operating the bolt and the catch simultaneously to lock the action open is something of a gyration. There have been all sorts of levers and doohickies made to make that easier, but what we need is a different way of doing the deed in the first place.
I’m also not a fan of the charging handle, which is in an awkward position and frankly more than a little vulnerable to damage. There are lots of charging handles out there, but the part which goes into the receiver and connects to the bolt carrier is the same: thin and wobbly. Personally I always preferred the side handle on the HK rifles, but not the rest of the mechanism. There are side-charging AR-15 uppers, but they’re unproven (and some of them are more than a little flaky!)
The bottom line: if you’re expecting me to breathlessly report on news of the newest aluminum billet AR part, you’re in for a let-down. Not because I don’t like the AR (I do), but because there are only so many ways to cook the same chicken again and again!
-=[ Grant Cunningham ]=-