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Education / Training SHOT Show 2018: Part 5

SHOT Show 2018: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • Meopta
  • Leapers
  • P.O.I. Airgun Rings
  • Vanquish 700
  • Air Venturi Hellboy
  • ASG
  • AirForce
  • Are we done?

Before I start I want to say a word about who I cover at SHOT. There are plenty of airguns I never look at, for reasons I think are good. These are the fringe companies that have no representation in the U.S., or they have a couple of shyster dealers with bad reputations. I don’t want to give them any attention. The other people covering the show can “scoop” me on these. Yes, I miss a few things, but I also avoid giving credibility to guns that will only break your hearts.

That said, why do I cover Leapers and not other scope companies? Am I getting a kickback? Well, there is a story here. I used to go to Burris, Leupold and many other scope manufacturers, and they all received me the same way. “Airguns? You write about airguns? Sure, we have a couple scopes that could be used on an airgun, I guess.”

Only at Leapers was I met with enthusiasm and interest. When I told them that airguns break scopes with their snappy two-way recoil, they decided to brace all their scopes for that! When I told them about parallax adjustments down to 10 meters, they went down to 3 meters and the Bug Buster line was born. Leapers is a company that cares and wants to play the game. I have only limited time at SHOT and I spend it on the companies that count.


This year I will say that I found one scope at Meopta that adjusts down to 10 meters. It retails for $1,700, but is the optical equivalent of a Swarovski costing almost twice as much. We pay a lot more than that for Nightforce scopes for field target use. Unfortunately this one was only a 4-16, so I doubt many airgunners will go for it, certainly not those in field target. However I was asked by Meopta if I would like to test one. They are curious whether their scopes can take the airgun recoil, which I thought was a brave thing to say! I am tempted to give it a try, because, if we can get Meopta on board, we will have two great optics companies making airgun scopes, and at different price points!

If you are a long time reader you know that I think the world of Meopta optics! If they can come on board, we will have a powerful new source for optics.


I already started testing the new Bug Buster 3-12 late last year. But this year they will be adding an optional feature that all Bug Buster owners will like, I think. It’s a special sidewheel, just for the Big Buster! I am getting one to test for you!

Bug Buster sidewheel
The new Bug Buster sidewheel fits all current Bug Buster scopes. Call for info on older scopes.

Leapers has made several changes to their Accushot scopes. They all now have thinner reticles, many of which are illuminated. They are etched onto glass for reflection reduction. I looked through several different of them in the Leapers booth and, although the types of reticles were different, they were all quite thin! In one case I could only see the floating center dot because it was illuminated. These are features found on other manufacturers’ scopes that cost a lot more.

They are also putting new turrets on this line of scopes. They are wider, so there are fewer turns to go up and down (because of a larger circumference/more clicks on the knobs).

new adjustment knobs
The turret adjustment knobs on the Accushot line will be larger from now on.

P.O.I. Airgun Rings

I saw the P.O.I. scope rings last year, but they were made for Weaver scope bases. This year Leapers will make P.O.I. rings for 11mm airgun dovetails, as well. They will be in all heights and both tube sizes — one inch and 30mm.

These are made in the U.S. What makes them special is the movable jaws are guided by two pins. They cannot get cocked or out of alignment.

POI airgun rings
P.O.I. rings are now made for 11mm dovetails.

Vanquish 700

Leapers also showed me their new Vanquish 700 tactical flashlight. You guys know what a sap I am for flashlights! This one has two buttons, one to turn on/off and the other to manage brightness and the strobe. It does run on 2 CR123A batteries, but those can be rechargables, which is about all I use anymore.

There are other 700 lumen tactical lights on the market. I focus on this one because it’s from Leapers and will therefore be affordable. Also there is good chance Pyramyd AIR will carry it.

Vanquish 700
The UTG Vanquish 700 will be an affordable defense light.

Air Venturi Hellboy

The Hellboy is a CO2-powered AR lookalike that shots BBs. Tyler Patner told me it is remarkably accurate out to long distances with the new Dust Devil BBs!

Air Venturi Hellboy is a new CO2-powered BB repeater.

But, from what I observed, the biggest news in the Air Venturi booth was the fact that Air Arms has finally made the S510 Xtra FAC in .25 caliber. They say it gets 44 foot-pounds, so you hunters should be interested.

Val Gamerman of Air Venturi holds the S510 Xtra FAC from Air Arms. It now comes in .25 caliber!


Action Sport Games showed me a couple nice new air pistols. They license the 1911 from Dan Wesson and build a nice budget-priced pellet repeater. It’s not blowback, and the grip safety doesn’t function but the price is low enough that those things don’t matter. The gun is heavy and has a double action trigger that’s amazingly light. I hope to review this one soon.

Dan Wesson 1911
Dan Wesson 1911.

Bob Li of ASG is one fantastic salesman! He talked up the CZ75 SP-01 Shadow so much at dinner the night before that he has me wanting one in 9mm! But at his booth he showed me the BB version that’s coming this year.

CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow
CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow.

All controls function and this one comes apart! The sights adjust, too, so there is a lot to look forward to.


I’ll finish this report with the new Texan Carbine from AirForce. Some people wanted a shorter-barreled big bore, and with the Texan they don’t give up enough energy to be concerned. The carbines are still more powerful than most other big bores.

Texan Carbine
The Texan Carbine is under the Texan, for comparison. Same calibers. Just give up 100 foot-pounds in .45, which the Texan can afford to do.

Are we done?

Not yet. There are still new things to show you and I will do that later this week. This year bodes well for the airgun industry, I think. It is the year of the price-point PCP and of the budget air compressor, but there are a couple other new things you haven’t yet seen that are quite nice.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

57 thoughts on “SHOT Show 2018: Part 5”

  1. B.B.

    With Hunter FT now allowing 16x scope do you think more scope manufacturers will offer it and not just 12x?
    Glad to see Meopta offer one, now I just need to win the lottery…


  2. BB
    Wow, that Hellboy really caught me off guard, not to mention spellchecker. Did not see that one coming. Fully operational or look-alike plastic ?
    Is this another Airsoft transition rifle or a new one ? And that’s not a derogatory question. I collect Airsoft too, ultra realistic.
    If it is, I hope they remember to leave off the dayglow paint ! 🙂
    Bob M

    • Follow up on the Hellboy. It’s a dead ringer for a few airsoft metal open bolt select fire GBB M4A1 rifles with parts modified for cold (CO2) operation. A little costly perhaps but well worth it. Let the flood gates open wide … I’ll take a black aluminum, enhanced for power, M14 GBB EBR please !
      Bob M

    • The hellboy does have functional controls just like you’d see on the real deal. Granted, they don’t serve an actual functional purpose, but it’s nice to pull back the charging handle and watch the ejection port cover open up. Metal receiver with plastic grip, hand guard and stock. These can be traded out for other items if you’d like, the gun comes apart just like a real steel AR.

      • Tyler
        Appreciate the follow up. Gotta ask yourself if it can ever get better than this as far as replicas go and the answer is .. yes ! Optional colors like desert tan. An Airsoft option now.

        If you try to give a name to an AR with certain options you will eventually go crazy trying keep up with all the various models possible or currently available in the airsoft market.
        I suggest trying to keep the military or manufactures designation issued with various options. Save the outlandish names for seriously one off models that will never be replicated like the Armada.

        Looks like the taboo of making airguns that look like real steel (AKA Replicas) has faded into history. It can be done and enjoyed responsibly. They are usually priced well above what someone would pay for a child’s “Toy” anyway. Using the “Interweb” for purchases with a credit card has also helped keep serious airguns out of kids hands.

        I purchased a 22 conversion kit for my AR15 A2 so I could enjoy shooting it for recreation and having the same thing in an airgun model takes it a step further and allows me to do it in my yard any time I want.
        Bob M

        • Should have said the “Interweb” has helped keep seriously powerful airguns from being purchased by children without supervision or permission. Did not intend say kids should not be shooting. As long as they have been trained and or are properly supervised shooting sports will help them become more responsible.
          Bob M

        • Don’t know if I would have picked the name Hellboy for an AR in today’s climate. If it is select fire it will give the Crosman DPMS . First one on the market will win

  3. B.B.,

    Nice perspective on why you pass some by. Limited time dictates priorities. Nice report. Looking forwards to more.

    On the UTG side wheel, I have 3 and love them. However, the 2 very small set screws directly bear down on the inner rubber ring. The ring itself is quite snug, but not enough to leave as is. I actually ended up taking thin metal from a can and made 2 little “shoes” that slip between the rubber ring and housing,.. for the screws to bear down on. It works great, but I should not have to add something that. If UTG wants to use this set up, they need to come up with a similar “set screw shoe” design. The 3 wheels are all on UTG scopes by the way. All 80 mm. version.

    Nice news on the Meopta scopes, albeit a bit rich for my blood. I am pretty sure that Cabela’s sell there own line made by Meopta, but not sure if any are air gun useful or rated. That will be an interesting test to be sure. Very exciting to see some high end stuff getting tested. “would be tempted to give it a try”,..???? HUH? You had better not say no! Just sayin’,….. 😉

    Good Day to you and to all,….. Chris

      • That is actually a soft touch coating on a wood stock. While it is not lighter, the coating is still very much weather proof in my experience. Also, the significance with the new S510 XS line is the fact that they are not only coming in different stock finishes, but also that they are regulated. And while Air Arms has made .25 caliber S510 models before, this new version is going to be more powerful. Previously, they topped out at 36-38 FPE with the power adjuster at max. Now Air Arms is saying 44 FPE, which is more in line with what the rest of the higher end manufacturers are getting out of the caliber.

  4. The AAFTA rules for field target were changed, now the magnification limit for hunter class is 16X (formerly 12X). Hunter class shooters can be seated, and use bipods. It is likely the most popular class in many matches. A nice airgun rated scope that can focus at 10 yds with 16X should be popular.

    • JerryC,

      Well, I still think it’s a little too pricy got competitors, especially given the competition. But no one can fault the Meopta optics. They are simply stunning! If it can be used it will never do anything but give an edge on the competition.

      I’m planning of buying the Meostar 10X42 binoculars that are that much better than my Zeiss NVA 7X40s.


      • Out of my range, too. But I see many shooters with Sightrons, etc. Usually, the hunter class scopes are lesser, but Hawke and others can get up near $1K. There would be a good market for a $500 16X airgun rated scope that can focus at 10 yds…
        I’m happy with my Bushnell Legend Ultra 8×42 binoculars (at $200 on sale), and have not spent big money on a scope (yet).

  5. The Golden Age of Airguns continues! I’ll add my own plug for Leapers scopes–I own 5 and each has been reasonably priced and very reliable. Some are heavy, but they are all very solidly built.

    Curious how the new crop of entry-level PCPs will stack up against the Gauntlet, which seems to be a current leader. I think you had mentioned you’d be testing one soon.

    Pretty sure one of those new Crosman compressors figures in my future…

    Thanks, B.B., and glad we’re not quite done yet. I love surprises!

    • HiveSeeker,

      I have been researching the UTG scopes. I currently have a Hawke 3-9x50AO on my RWS 34P. It’s a nice scope though a tad heavy. I am very interested in the new entry level PCPs coming to market. I think the Hatsan Flash could be a real contender in this price range. Back to the UTG scopes, I would like a lighter more compact scope. From what I have read, the 30mm tube and the glass etched reticle seemed to be best. So I am thinking the 3-12x44mm AO SWAT Accushot, or the 4-16x44mm AO SWAT Accushot would be very good choices. Being that you have five UTGs, I would be interested in your opinion.

      • Geo,

        Either would be fine. I have a 3-12 and a 4-16. Etched glass for sure! The only thing to consider,.. seeing as how you have a 3-9 already,… is what mag. level do you use that at? Are you still focused at shooting at 25 yard pesting? Do you need 16? Are you comfortable with the added picture “wobble” that comes with higher magnifications? You were talking minimal support/brace/rest if I recall.

        Either would be good, but answer the above questions and you will have your answer. The other thing,.. which I have mentioned before,… is that light quality between you and the target can affect the sight picture at higher magnifications,.. mostly a bit hazy. You may have also caught that I ran my 4-16 up to 16 indoors under controlled lighting and I could not have asked for anything better. 16x at 41′ and crystal clear.

        Hope some of that helps you to arrive at a conclusion.

        • Thanks Chris U, always appreciate your input on things. Yes, my range would still be in the 25-35
          yard range. I normally keep my Hawke on 9X all the time and it is perfectly adequate for 25 yards. I can see a 1/2″ bulleye pretty well with it. So, probably 10X would be used for most of my shots. Also, I normally always shoot from some sort of rest, be it from my shooting bench, a doorway, or the top of my SUV. I’m not steady enough to take shots at 25 yards unless just plinking at an apple or something.

          I do remember you saying that the glass etched reticle was better than the wire model. Also, I think you mentioned that a 30mm tube would work better than a 1″ tube. Thanks again for your input.

          • They are both 44 mm objective by the way. Yes, 30 mm is better as it allows more light to the pupil. The higher the mag. level, the less light to the pupil. If I have that wrong anyone,.. please feel free to “jump in”. 1″ may work and may be a few ounces lighter?

            I take it that the Hawke is staying on the 34? And,… I am assuming that you are looking at a new scope,.. for a yet undecided new air gun?

            • Yes, my plan is to keep the Hawke on the 34. You have it right in that I am researching a new scope for a yet undecided new PCP. My objective is to pick an entry level PCP that is light and compact with acceptable quality. That takes the Gauntlet off of the list. The new Hatsan Flash, Gamo Urban, and possibly the Benjamin Fortitude are under consideration. I also want a PCP that is not loud. Those three have all the attributes I am looking for. Oh, and it has to be hand pump friendly too. Those rifles are all 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 lbs so I don’t want a top heavy scope on one of them.

              BTW, UTG also has a 4-16x44mm scope. As I recall it has a wire reticle though and is longer than the 3-12x44mm.

              HiveSeeker & Bob M have made some good comments below as well. All good info.

      • Hi Geo791,

        I now have 3 of these compacts, though the full size version is also good. They are very solid, which does make them heavy, more noticeably on my 2400KT than on regular rifles. I really like the SWAT parallax adjustment, compared to an adjustable objective lens. If you want something lighter I have a Hawke Sport HD 3-9×40 my wife uses that is good, and the Mantis scopes also look to be lightweights.

        • I too like the idea of the SWAT parallax adjustment. You say you have three compacts? Are they all Leapers? Do you prefer the etched glass reticle? The one you linked to is the cheaper wire reticle model. Don’t know anything about the Mantis scopes but I see them included in combos which tells me they are economy scopes and maybe not the best bang for the buck.

          • All three of my compacts are the same model–see the photo and link–yes with the wire reticle. If you can afford the etched reticle that is certainly better as it allows finer aiming. If weight is an issue, when I last researched it you had to go to a cheaper scope to get less weight. The Mantis series seemed to have good ratings and be lightweight, though I can only personally attest for the Hawke.

      • Geo & HiveSeeker
        God knows there are a lot of options out there for scopes and I believe I can safely say that no one scope can do everything and each has its good points and bad. They have been compromised to perform best for a specific use, for the most part.
        Don’t know if it exists yet but we need a check list to follow that would eventually point to the type of scope we need. Using a scope for various situations will throw everything out the window and require lots of homework.
        Take etched glass reticles. I have an extremely fine etched glass UTG 4-16X58 Accushot with a bubble leveler. In my opinion this is a beautiful long distance target shooter that will not obscure the target. However, the etched glass reticle is so fine that it is all but lost when shooting in a high brush area with no white or light background.
        On the other hand my UTG 3-9×32 new gen 3 yard Bug Buster has a wire mil-dot reticle that is not as fine but still thin and is very easy pick up when used in a very busy background.
        So is an etched glass reticle always better? In this case probably not. It probably goes with high priced scopes because of cost.

        Now, what if you illuminated that very fine reticle? That will solve everything right? No because it was not designed to be a close range Bug Buster.
        The only way to choose a scope is to pick a price range, identify the need and situation for it’s use, and find out what options will help you achieve your goal. Asking around will obviously help, but you may not get answers that fit your specific need unless you get very specific with your question. I need to consider my vision using glasses.

        No easy way out. I suggest doing a lot of research if you want the perfect scope. You will probably find out a lot more in doing so and increase your chance of actually getting it !

        Now if you have a lot of airguns you can work it out backwards ! Find an airgun that fits the scope. 🙂
        Bob M

        • Thanks for your input Bob. You make some very good points, and there are so many options to choose from. My goal is to purchase a new PCP in the spring…or when some of them become available. In my post above to Chris U I kind of outlined my ideas. My main purpose of having an airgun is to dispatch house sparrows from my bluebird nesting boxes behind the house at 25 to 30 yards. I have a nice RWS 34P .22 cal which was reviewed and tuned with a Vortec kit by B.B. last summer. The problem is that I can not shoot 1″ groups with it at 25 yards…not that I have not tried. Thus the thought of a new PCP that is not so fussy about the hold and technique to shoot it accurately.

          • Geo791
            Try this for your hold technique – first, look at the picture of BB shooting offhand in part 4. Put your elbow down on your solid rest and the rest your rifle on your fingertips. Keep the butt away from your shoulder and hold the trigger thumb directly behind the trigger – not to the side. Take up the weight of the back of the rifle on just your shooting middle finger. This is as radical an artillery hold you can get without an artificial rest.
            I’ve been shooting offhand like this at my indoor 15 yd target with my XS25 which is just like your 34P and getting one hole groups except for when my body fails me. Good Luck.
            Larry in Algona

          • Geo
            I may not be the one to help you much there. When I want to dispatch a critter I almost always go to my FX Independence. I don’t get too serious shooting others.
            When I got it, I checked it out with a simple Leapers UTG Golden Image dual mil-dot reticle 4×32 scope. The rifle never causes any shift.
            It worked out so well I just left it on. Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating when I use this setup. If I miss I know it’s not the fault of the rifle or scope. In addition I don’t need to use a compressor and every shot is with the same pressure.

            In hind sight it really is a good choice. When you are in a hurry to get on your target, or when it’s on the move its always in focus. Nothing to set up or adjust, no batteries or special hold.. But most of the time I’m shooting at around 30-50 yards or close to it. The targets refuse to stand still for long !

            You may hate yourself for not getting a PCP earlier as far as shooting it goes. Filling it is another thing. I would try to keep it topped off as much as possible if you hand pump it and think about a 2,000 psi model with that if you want an easier job of it.

            Sounds like you need an easier rifle to shoot and a PCP is a pleasure to shoot although some have an irritating ping that needs attention. Pick your price range and research the options. I’m sure there are a lot less PCP’s than scopes to chose from. This blog and BB will surely help you decide.
            Bob M

  6. My CZ75B is more accurate than any 9mm I have shot. Used gun; refinished, new grips and front sight, and some other improvements by Paul Bracaglia. It’s a bit heavy – but a perfect, solid feel in (my) hand.

  7. B.B.,

    I’m usually not one to rhapsodize about scope rings, but those P.O.I. scope rings make other rings, even premium ones, look like bargain-basement remainder stock by comparison. They look elegant and thoughtfully designed. But the most significant differences to me are the rounded curves all-around and recessed TORX heads. The sharp angles of other rings will from now on look jagged to me.

    Really sweet.


      • B.B.

        I have lots of good things about the Leapers UTG scopes. Are these scopes manufactured in the US, or do they come from China? In any case, they appear to be of high quality for the price point.

          • B.B.,

            Thank you for sharing my praise with the Leapers folks. Obviously, I love to complain, but when I see something that is just outstanding, I feel obligated to praise it. I hope they continue this design element with other mounting hardware. If they do so, people will start to notice (in a good way).

            And frankly the Torx fastener shape provides so much more contact area than other heads, just seeing a maker use it signals quality to me.


          • B.B.,

            Something I read a few years ago and I had not considered is that in China, almost everything is made by hand, not through automation. I-phones are assembled by hand. The height of technology made by HAND. This is because human assemblers are still much cheaper than is automation in some parts of the world.


        • Geo
          Aside from the fact that it’s not good for America, I don’t think it matters much who actually makes something anymore as long as the designers create extremely exacting specifications and verify that they are adhered to.
          I think the problem comes when China, or whoever, does the designing as well as manufacturing and markets it to other companies for rebranding. You are at the mercy of the manufacturer and only have their reputation to rely on. Unfortunately the bean counters tend to follow this path in my opinion.
          Bob M

          • Bob M,

            I could not agree more.

            When an American company designs in-house, has a hand in the materials and material suppliers chosen, quickly rejects sub-par examples, and has a good QC system in place, there is no reason the product can’t be of excellent quality.


  8. B.B.,

    I’ve noticed that the ASG 1911 is available in a Hatsan skin. O.K., except it has the largest and most ugly “billboarding” on it’s slide that I have ever seen on an airgun. I hope if it turns out to be a good shooter that it is also available dressed like the one you show above.


  9. ‘Val Gamerman’ – what a wonderfully unique name.

    The main product in this report for me would be those POI rings.

    Regarding you missing one or two scoops, BB: You can’t be absolutely everywhere, mate.

    Regarding your focus on Leapers: I, for one, think that receptive, warm, quality companies like that *should* be given the limelight.

  10. I’ve been reading this blog for awhile and finally registered I enjoy all the history lessons and tips . I nearly gave up on airguns till I read more and learned a lot thanks to you guys and BB

    • Welcome Buckaroo. This is the ONLY blog I follow on a daily basis. You will find the folks here to be very experienced in airgunning and most helpful as well. I can attest to the fact that there is much to be learned. I have been following the blog for a couple of years, or more, and I learn something new almost everyday.

    • Buckaroo,

      Howdy and welcome to the mad house. Good news is there is a method to the madness. I’ve been here about a year and a half and have learned so much. You can also share what you know ( and you already know enough to share here, trust me, you just need to wait for your moment) and nobody is gonna give you grief or ridicule you. Very unique environment, if you ask me. This blog and the author and all the followers have renewed for me an interest in a hobby that I had pretty much abandoned back in the 80’s. There are many opportunities today to grow in this hobby compared to then but very few are as enriching as following this blog. My $.02


      • Chris,

        I have to pore over my bookmarks to make certain, but I believe I was a regular but casual reader of the blog from mid-2007 through early 2010. In early 2010 I became an every morning type reader. I really think of 2010 as the year I got swallowed by airgunning, and this blog is what did it.

        I recall that I got my Avanti 499 after reading B.B. report on it in 2010. (Never have found a Diana Model 30 gallery gun, though.) I “lurked” for years as a reader before making any comments, however.


  11. There is a u-tube video out there and the commentator states that you really don’t need a lot of the enhancements or options offered by scope makers today, that its just fluff to raise the price. If you look at it that way you could say the same thing about a Ferrari. Nobody “Needs” a Ferrari and if your only concern is cost it may well be true.

    Fortunately a lot of us have already met our “Needs” and can move on to “Wants” and companies like UTG / Leapers and a lot of airgun companies are working with us, making the most of new technology, and turning us into a lot happy campers. Now which of the 36 colors do I want to use today ?
    Bob M

    • Bob M,

      I know so little about optics I can’t even describe my ignorance. But when I read knowledgeable folks’ discussions about scopes, I notice they talk about robust build, sharpness, brightness, and fine reticles.

      Fancy doo-dads? Not so much.


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