Media Day at the Range — SHOT Show 2018: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Media Day upper
The upper range at Media Day has about 50 ranges and vendors. Because of crossbows, the ranges go in both directions.

Media Day
On the lower range there are more ranges, also going both directions, with shotguns on the right.

This report covers:

  • SHOT Show
  • A great find!
  • My interest
  • My collection
  • This BB gun
  • Cocking
  • Takedown
  • Number 25?
  • Sights
  • Summary

Media Day at the Range is an event for gun writers and video makers, only. About 2,000 of us are taken to the Boulder City range where we are allowed to shoot and use some of the newest guns and accessories.

Umarex Hammer

We waited all last year for the Umarex Hammer to come out. From what I saw and sampled this year, I think we will see production guns by mid-2018.

The Hammer is a repeating .50-caliber big bore that gets 4 powerful shots on a fill ton 4,500 psi. The regulator drops the firing pressure to 3,000 psi, and the first 3 shots are all at the same pressure. Shot 4 drops below 3,000 slightly, but at 40 yards all the bullets should stay in a tight group.

Hammer on bench
The Umarex Hammer looks smaller than last year. It’s a 2-shot .50 caliber big bore repeater.

Hammer bullets
Some 330-grain Hammer bullets with a quarter for scale. That’s the 2-shot magazine.

The biggest news this year is the magazine went from 3 shots to 2. I like this one much better. Two shots are all a good hunter needs, and the rifle comes with 2 mags. Swapping is now very rapid. Coincidentally, there are 4 powerful shots on a fill.

I shot it several times and hit the 40-yard gong every time. Cocking is surprisingly easy, and the 2-stage trigger is extremely light for a big bore. The recoil is sharp but not that heavy — maybe like a .223 Remington in a light bolt action rifle. Can’t wait to test a Hammer!

Gauntlet

Next to the Hammer was the new Gauntlet. This one has already been released, but I haven’t shot it since last year, when it was still a prototype. They say there are 60 good shots in .22 caliber on one fill of this regulated rifle and Steve Criner told me it is so quiet you wonder if it is working. Media Day is a sustained firefight, so I couldn’t hear the discharge of either rifle that well.

Gauntlet
BB shoots the Gauntlet.

I found the trigger light and delightful and I never missed anything I shot at. Of course I need to conduct a thorough test, but this Gauntlet looks exciting!

A cheaper alternative to buying a compressor

I will be showing you several new air compressors this year, but at the Umarex range I saw something completely different. It’s a regulator and hose that connects to a 6000 psi bulk tank, and will fill an airgun many more times than even the largest carbon fiber tank. Look at it and them I will tell you about it.

big tank
Ray Trimbel stands next to his cascade system of huge air tanks that kept the Umarex range running all day. With this configuration he can keep one of the tanks topped off all day at above 4,500 psi. An airgunner only needs a single tank and hose/regulator setup.

Ray Trimble of Pressure Specialist, Inc. in Crystal Lake, IL, offers the regulated hose that outputs either 3,000 psi or 4,500 psi from a 6,000 psi nitrogen tank (it holds air, too). And here is the beauty. You buy the regulated hose that’s ready to attach to a large nitrogen tank for $400. Then you rent the tank for $100 a pop and fill your guns hundreds or even thousands of times (depending on the guns) before the tank needs refilling. Five hundred dollars is less than you will pay for a reliable air compressor. This is for those guys who don’t yet have a compressor and may not want to invest.

Frank also showed me a quick fill setup he provided Umarex so they could top off the Hammer tank in seconds. Just press down on a button and the gun’s tank is filled!

quick fill
Kyle from Umarex fills the Hammer tank quickly. He kept the Hammer and Gauntlet running all day wit this setup!

No other airgun companies!

Umarex was the only airgun company that attended Media Day this year. So I went looking at other products, because I never have enough time to do that at the SHOT Show. And — boy, did I find them!

Mission Crossbows Sub-1

When I saw this crossbow I was captivated. It has a 200 lb. draw, yet with a cocking assist I cocked it easily. Starts out at 100 lbs. but tapers to just 20 pounds at the end.

crossbow cocking
At the end of the cocking stroke the Sub-1 takes just 20 lbs.!

But that isn’t the big story. The Sub-one is the only crossbow on the market that can be uncocked! A button on the side allows for this, and it’s just as easy as cocking.

decocking button
That button allows you to safely uncock the crossbow.

Even that isn’t the whole story. The reason this is called the Sub-1 is because it put 5 arrows into less than one inch at 100 yards! Yes, I didn’t believe it, either. So they let me shoot at a target 90 yards away. I nailed it both times. The 425-grain arrow goes out at over 300 f.p.s., and a 400-grainer does 350!

Tom shoots crossbow
I nailed the 90-yard target on both shots!

Not only is the Sub-1 accurate — it has what they call a match trigger. It isn’t as good as a 10-meter rifle match trigger, but it is about as nice as the Marauder trigger. The sad news is the Sub-1 retails for $1,795, but if you want the best you have to pay for it.

Safety glasses

I looked at safety glasses in the sales pavilion next. Edge glasses withstood a direct hit from a 12-gauge shotgun blast! They meet military specs for ruggedness, which is a projectile traveling 660 f.p.s.

Edge safety glasses
These Edge safety glass lenses stood up to 12-gauge shotgun shot at 12 yards!

But I think the biggest story will be the new Gatorz Magnum Z glasses that meet ANCI Z87 specs. These have aluminum frames and are the first American-made safety glasses with metal frames to meet the spec. They can be bent and shaped to fit your face. They are used by law enforcement, U.S. elite forces, and now, by the Godfather of Airguns. Expect a report on these glasses sometime soon.

DOA Shooting Bench

I will end this report with the DOA Shooting bench that I not only saw in their booth, but also on several of the other ranges. It is a collapsable bench that is so sturdy old BB could tap dance on the tabletop — not that he’s going to!

How nice is it? Nice enough that I am buying one! I cannot let a good piece of shooting equipment like this go. Expect a report soon!

That was Media Day. There were a thousand things I didn’t report on, but I had to rush back to my hotel to write and publish this report before attending a hosted dinner party at 6:30. Tomorrow the show opens and BB will be the red and blue flash seen ripping through the aisles — trying to remember all that I was asked to cover!

63 thoughts on “Media Day at the Range — SHOT Show 2018: Part 1



  1. B.B.,

    Have fun and take lots of pictures. I used a tape recorder one time when I had a lot to look at and didn’t have a good way to take notes on the run. I don’t think it saved time but I could cover more ground during the day.

    Sounds like a great show. Wish I was there.

    Don


  2. B.B.,

    Very nice. Glad to hear that you are picking up some new personal “goodies”. 🙂 That always makes shooting more enjoyable.

    Continue to have fun and take care of yourself. ****(you did not mention if you flew out, or drove out)

    Chris


  3. B.B.,

    Crystal Lake, IL (Ray Trimbel) is only 40 miles from me, so I’ll look into that.

    Also, for about 15 seconds I studied the photo of you shooting the Gauntlet and couldn’t figure out why it had two bolts. :^)

    Finally, any chance you will review the Beeman OB Chief soon? I’ve been curious about it for some time.

    Michael


    • Michael
      I looked into that some time back. I weld. So do have some friends at weld shops. I was going to get a 6000 psi hpa tank. They would even come to my house and exchange the bottle so I didn’t have to lug it to the weld shops to get it refilled.

      But problem at that time they didn’t have the fill fittings made up in a kit. So I was going to have to research it and put the kit together myself. And was going to cost as much as what it does with guy by your house that BB is talking about.

      And what you got to watch for. Is if you tell some welding supply stores it’s air gun related then they don’t want anything to do with renting you the bottles. And some won’t come to your house for a exchange. You have to load it up and bring it in then back home.

      But figured I would through that out at you since we spent the last few days talking about the China compressor’s.




        • Michael
          I thought you said you have 2 Marauders already. Or was that had 2?

          And the Chief would probably be alright. I haven’t had one so don’t know. Redrafter got one. Was hoping to hear how he likes it. But haven’t heard anything yet.

          But me having a QB79 on a regulated hpa bottle. And having my Maximus and different Discovery’s in the past. I would probably choose the Maximus over any of the guns I just mentioned. Including the QB79 I have. Too many options out there for the Maximus. Plus factory interchangable parts. And the availability of them.

          And what happened to the idea of getting a Talon SS?


          • Hey Gunfun1
            The Beeman 1322 (AKA QB Chief) is coming along fine. About 100 shots through it so far on my indoor range. Groups started out at 1¼ inch and now down to ½ inch. With the iron sights I think that’s the best I can do. (Insert Chorus from the Quartermasters Song here)
            I had to order new scope mounts for the 6x24x50AOE Mill Dot scope.It will be mounted by weeks end.
            Only 2 complaints so far – first it’s loud – more so indoors – and second is the hand pump kills my back. So much so that yesterday I ordered a Chinese Yong Heng 4500psi Auto Shut Off compressor. I haven’t ordered a tank yet and wonder if you or anyone else knows approximately how many 2000psi fills the Benjamin 90ci 4500psi tank is capable of. I think the QB and Maximus have near the same capacity air reservoirs.
            The hand pump w/sling (it’s nice and light to carry) will still be usefull to top off the gun when varminting but not so much when doing 200 shot afternoons on the target range.
            The vendor yesterday shipped the replacement pump gauge. It will be nice to have both gauges reading the same. The rifle has a bipod now to keep it stable and out of the mud and having to stop pumping and turn the gun over to read the gauge every few strokes is a pain.
            Next on the list of things to do is setup the trigger pre – travel. I’m getting used to the way it is now but still find it a little touchy being as short as it is.
            Cheers
            Dave



            • Dave
              Hit post too soon.

              Glad you got a compressor. And it’s been along time since I used a Benjamin buddy bottle. But I believe I could get 15 or so fills from 4500 down to 2000 psi. The Marauder’s use to get about 7-10 fills depending on the tune a d how high I needed to fill them.

              And I don’t even use buddy bottle anymore. I just fill the gun directly. The Maximus is about 1-1/2 minutes to fill from 800-3000 psi.

              Just something to think about if you don’t really need a bottle.


              • Hey Gunfun1
                Thanks for replying so soon. Being off in the afternoon are you on shifts now?
                I will have to use a buddy bottle when on my outdoor range as no power down there. With 15 or so 2000psi fills out of the Beeman 90ci tank I think I will be in good shape I very seldom go more than 200 to 250 shots at a sitting and mostly average about 150 shots.
                The compressor should be here by the end of February and I will order the Beeman tank soon from PA. They’re actually $10 cheaper than Amazon now.
                The Air Venturi 88ci tanks are nice as well but being regulated to 2900psi and having the ‘all or nothing’ valve will not make for a suitable refill experience not to mention possible dangerous overfills.
                Cheers
                Dave


                • Dave
                  That’s why I went with the Bengamin buddy bottle too.

                  But I’m thinking with the Air Venturi bottle you could take the regulator off the line and screw the line right into the fitting the regulator attached to. Don’t know for sure though with out having one in front of me.

                  And you will have to give us a update once you get that compressor. Anxious to see what kind you got.



          • Gunfun1,

            I still have the Marauders. I just don’t like them that much. I have the bold on the synthetic one on the left side, so that’s nice. But they are hard-to-load single shots, which is fine, but they’re supposed to be repeaters. I can’t get past the Mattel magazines, which don’t work consistently for me or stay working for more than a few uses.

            I now think the Talon SS is just too much $$ for the little that I use and need an airgun to plink and target shoot with. Your post about getting a $300 compressor (a good idea, and I might get one yet) and also rereading B.B.’s “What I Kept and Why” and “What I Didn’t Keep and Why” essays have me thinking about thinning out a lot of the herd. I have too many good and excellent shooters when I have more than enough awesome shooters. No under-$1500 PCP is smoother or more accurate than my FWB 601 or even 300s at 20 yards.

            I need to remind myself that I can shoot only one at a time. :^)

            Michael



              • Gunfun1,

                The caliber — .177 — will probably cause you to be not interested. One is a Generation 1 and the other a Generation 2 with plastic stock. As the Gen. 2 is left-side bolt configured, I think I’ll hold on to that a bit longer, but I’ll probably look to sell the Gen. I at some point. If .177 is O.K., you’re first in line if you are interested. (Both still have the factory air in them! :^)

                Michael


                • Michael
                  I do want a .177 caliber. Very interested in the Gen1.

                  Would you be interested in any of these things. Yes my .177 HW30s. It’s like brand new still got the box and papers. The sight inserts envelope has not even been opened yet. And has not had a screw removed on it yet. Also the QB79 and regulated Air Venturi bottle with the drop down adapter so the bottle doesn’t set close to the barrel. Have the box for it. Also a Benjamin hand pump that’s about 4 months old. Have the box for it also.

                  If you are interested in the QB79 and you don’t want to do HPA. I’ll keep the Air Venturi bottle and you can use a 88 gram Co2 cartridge. Don’t know how many shots it will get on Co2. But it gets over a hundred on HPA filling the bottle to 3000 psi.

                  Let me know.



                    • Michael
                      No don’t have the bottle anymore.

                      And I will email you some pictures tomorrow of those things. Won’t be able to tonight.

                      Well talk tomorrow ok. Unless there is something specific you want a picture of. Let me know and I’ll send it in the email tomorrow.



    • Michael,

      The double bolt Gauntlet got me too!!! Of course, I was only about 2 sips into my first cup of coffee, so I have a good excuse. 😉 I will say,.. I immediately stopped reading the blog and went directly to the PA site to verify what I (thought) I had seen.


  4. As much as I am in awe of the Hammer, I wonder about how the common man will fill it to 4500 psi?
    Seems I need to look at a booster pump before I even think of owning a Hammer.
    Only 1 airgun manufacturer at range day? That is sad 🙁
    Have fun BB !!


  5. Seems strange that Umarex was the only airgun manufacturer to show up on media day. There are so many new airguns coming out that I would have thought those companies surely would have made an appearance to show off their goods.


    • Geo
      From what I seen of Umarex. They are a company trying hard to push forward. Maybe good in some ways. But maybe not. But yep don’t surprise me to see them out there.

      And that was just range day. That’s not the whole show. I’m sure there is alot of air gun manufacturers set up inside.

      And what gets me about Umarex at range day. Those two guns are old models. Or should I say guns that already came about last year. So really nothing new from Umarex the way I see it. At range day anyway.


  6. Looking at the man standing besides the air tanks reminds me why I’ve not yet got into PCP’s: I’m paranoid about the pressurised tanks exploding, or something.


    • Chris,
      I concur, not because I feel the that the tanks are inherently dangerous, but that clothes line method of securing the tanks seems a little suspect. Still on twelves I may have the energy to test the spinners today or tomorrow.


      • Coduece
        That and if something knocks one of those fittings and lines of the bottle that would be bad news. It send those bottles spinning like a top.

        But on the other hand same thing could happen on a buddy bottle or bigger tank. The line gets sheared off at the fitting. 3500psi or whatever is in the tank is going to try to get out fast. Gaurentee you that even with a small buddy bottle you would be holding on to that bottle with all your might to keep it from escaping.

        But we shouldn’t just look at hpa or nitrogen. Same could happen to the tank for a mig welder as well as oxygen and acetylene tanks.

        A oxygen tank got knocked over and hit the corner of a Bridgeport table in junior high in the shop class I went to school at. It knocked the on off valve off that you unscrew to open the bottle. It went across the floor about 19′ then through those blocks that have the two holes in it the wall was made out of. Then up about a 10′ hill and spun around on the track feild deer a few seconds till it was empty. Search and you will find that similar things have happened throughout time.

        I myself have had oxygen acetylene torches in the past and have a mig welder with argon. So I have no problem with using a 6000 psi hpa tank for air guns. But I’ll darn for sure have it secured good.



        • GF1,
          I’ve heard stories about guys in ship yards sending bottle rockets out over the water using a 4 lb beater to knock off the valve. Myth busters also did a show about it. Also I called a weld supply company in indy about 6000 psi bottles they were aware of them but didn’t handle them or know anyone local who did. And he did use the word dangerous.


          • Coduece
            Yes sir in everything you just said.

            I said this before. No matter how careful or thoroughly you think something out. Something could go wrong.

            But yep. That wasn’t very smart what was happening in that picture. Especially at shot show. Sorry it is what it is. But I sure wouldn’t be set up that way.


      • Coduece,

        If you missed it, check out the weekend blog for the angles that I added to your spinners. It’s a pic, so it should be a quick find for you and your still limited time. Take care. Hey, at least you will have a bunch of extra bucks for air gun shopping once things settle back down to normal. 😉 Always a good thing.


    • Chris of E
      The danger comes in if they get knocked over and the head or valve of the tank gets knocked off. The bottle will turn into a rocket. So securing them well so they can’t get knocked over is what’s important.

      There are many safety features in the system that will keep them from blowing up. And the bottles do have a life span they are dated for and they do have to occasionally get pressure tested.

      As it goes there are hidden dangers in many things we use and do each day.


      • GF,
        I have long held the view that manufacturers should go low pressure to make pcps easier to fill. I had hoped that after the success of the Disco, MRod & the Maximus this trend would continue with the Maximus 2.0 ( Fortitude ). My dream w a s to see a Maximus with 500 CC bottle and a 1500psi fill pressure, valve tuned to send a 14.3 gr pellet down range @ 800 fps. The lower pressure would keep the weight of the bottle down. Light weight, easy to fill and more shots between fills would be a winning combination in my view. I am s ure that most of the guns sold today would be in the 15- 20 ftlb range
        Just my 2 cents worth.

        Pete


        • Pete
          I agree a hundred percent.

          And I love my .22 Maximus with the Huma regulator. I have the valve tuned for around 800 psi and fill to 3000 psi. I get about 65 usable shots per fill with jsb 15.89’s at around 750 or so fps. And that’s with a lighter 1322 striker spring. Definitely a smooth shooting gun now. Now vibration from the heavy Maximus spring anymore either.

          And when I first got my Maximus I had it tethered to a Air Venturi HPA 13 cubic inch bottle that’s regulated at around 1200 psi. I still had the factory Maximus striker spring in it at that time too. It was getting right at a hundred shots at close to 800 fps with jsb 15.89’s.

          So yes all that high pressure stuff is kind of silly on these types of guns. That’s why I keep wanting to get one of the Gauntlet’s but I just ain’t sure of Umarex with their warrenty deal. I have a Steel Storm made by them that has no issues and had for some time now. But haven’t had good luck with getting parts for other Umarex guns I have. I don’t know. I still may take a chance on the Gauntlet.


      • GunFun1: True, my friend.

        I guess my apprehension of pressurised objects/containers stems from a video I saw showing a man filling up his car tyre at a petrol station. The man over-filled it and the tyre burst, killing him instantly.

        It’s amazing how destructive mere air can be.


  7. BB

    The shot show looks like an absolute blast! 🙂

    The crossbow shooting 1 moa really is unbelievable. Perhaps the price will come down. That kind of accuracy should attract all kinds of target shooters.

    Being a hobby welder, I’ve also been thinking about a large welding tank. Seems like it should be an option.

    I’ve also been contemplating a collapsable shooting bench.

    You must be reading my mind.


  8. B.B.,

    Glad you got to shoot that Mission Sub 1. Let us know if you see the folks from Ravin. Their crossbows are a bit different from the standard compound crossbows, but just as expensive.

    I know you are busy, but I add this link for any who may be curious about the Ravin difference.
    http://ravincrossbows.com/

    ~ken



  9. By way of response, I can only repeat what was said by a character in the recent Thor Ragnarok movie. This person owns the Hulk who is serving as a gladiator and has been unbeatable. But when Thor knocks him around the ring, the owner says: “Whaaaaaat?” The guy said a lot of funny things. Anyway, what I’m referring to is a crossbow that can shoot better than most rifles, even those costing as much, and glasses that withstand a 12 gauge shotgun blast at close range. You could buy a few hundred and make a suit of armor out of the lenses.

    Gunfun1, that sparking is an interesting idea. What causes the sparks? The destruction of irregularities in the blade? I’m reminded of sharpening advice from Cold Steel which makes good quality knives for a cheap price and has an imaginative flair for interesting designs. They said to sharpen until you feel a burr along the edge of the blade which is the metal that has been thinned out to its limit. When you remove the burr, the blade is as sharp as it could possibly be. I’ve never been able to make that work, but their knives are extraordinarily sharp. My first one, a Voyager folder, was so incredible that I finally got the idea of trying to cut through a steel cable with it. This gave me direct experience of folding the blade over. I sent it to them for resharpening, and they ground off a significant amount of metal. But it was never quite the same.

    ChrisUSA, you overestimate me as usual. Gunfun1 is one of many who know more about knives than I do. I suspect that one reason that knives don’t sharpen as they do is screw-ups in one of the many steps required to make a knife sharp. One particular cause would be the curvature of the blade. Straight blades are easiest. The more curve you have, the more you need to alter the position of the knife which disrupts the all-important edge angle. Recurved knives like the Kukri are just about impossible to sharpen. Otherwise, the mystery is not unlike guns that just will not shoot no matter what you do to them. One gun writer wrote that since his rifle did not shoot after all he had done, maybe he had discovered some new principle. Trouble is, he never figured out what it is. His final guess was faulty barrel harmonics, something intrinsic to his materials. The same reasoning may apply to knives. Grandmaster FrankB has told me that metallurgy will keep some knives from sharpening, and that’s my best guess.

    Matt61


    • Matt61
      I don’t know more about knives. I know about sharpening drills, chasers, taps, reamers, center drills, step drills, gun drills or half rounds as some people call them, knee tools and cut off blades.

      And the sparks are from fine particles of the metal being ground from the tool. That’s common even if you was to take a screwdriver and grind it on a bench grinder wheel. The more pressure you use the hotter it gets and the more sparks you have cause your grinding more metal off. The lighter and more gentle you touch the screwdriver to the wheel the less sparks and the less metal you take off with less heat.

      If you want a smooth sharp finnish on a cutting tool. You allways finnish with a trued grinding wheel or stone then a very light consistent pressure and movement of the tool being sharpened.

      I never sharpened a blade with strop. But I imagine it’s very critical to place the blade on the strop exactly the same for each stroke and move as consistently as possible.


    • Matt61,

      I think that you underestimate yourself. You have the “stuff”. You have invested much time. You are very knowledgeable. I would say that very soon,… you will be approaching the skill set of the legendary O-“BB”-Wan. (aka: The Grand Shave Master-Level 10)

      Chris


  10. I have a short update on the Crosman 101. I sighted it in with the new Crosman 2300S barrel weight/sight this afternoon. Looks like it made a difference. It gives a better sight picture and is on the end of the barrel that all helps. I also used a target I could see better I think that also helped.

    My group of 10 shots at 20 yards is 0.99 inches compared to 1.5 inches before. There were 8 shots in 0.40 inches. I used the .22 caliber Crosman Premiere pellets from the tin. I put 9 pumps in the gun for each shot. I don’t think I can do better than the 8 shot group with a peep sight.

    I’m off to bowling hope I do as good there “not a chance”.

    Don



      • Chris U,

        That 8 shot group may be a lucky one, I bowled a 250 in my second game today. That is way above my average. So time will tell. The tune will go on and the number of pumps and pellet selection could take a long time. That is what makes airgunning so fun. I see a couple more months of testing in this gun, especially since I found a supply of parts. If the 101 was rare I would not be modifying it this much.

        Don


        • Benji-Don
          I’m almost going with the 8 shot group. It does represent the gun I believe. But maybe a few more 10 shot group’s that are similar and I think you got it.

          But that is pretty good shooting for open sights.


          • GF1,

            I think the eight shot group is as good as I can do without a scope. That said I want to get the gun to consistently give that group for as many shots as I want. I think the flyers were the gun, I did not have any pulled shots in that group. I think this setup can be tuned to be way more accurate than me. That defines a keeper in my book.

            Don


            • Benji-Don
              I would be happy with the progress you made on the gun if it was mine.

              And I think you need to try some JSB 15.89 pellets. The .22 Maximus barrels really seem to like those pellets.

              And when I use to shoot the Premieres in the box or tin along with the hollow points. I had those kind of flyers. I do not see that with JSB pellets.

              And if that front band is still rocking side to side I’m sure it’s influencing the barrel also.



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