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2023 SHOT Show overflow

Industry day
Day one
Day two
Day three

This report covers:

  • You Tubers
  • Umarex
  • AirForce
  • Hatsan
  • JTS
  • Leapers
  • Evanix
  • Survival Airguns
  • Bug-A-Salt
  • Summary

Today we look at some of the things that didn’t make it into the other reports. The writing will be terse.

I also want to say that I didn’t see everything at the SHOT Show. Some things that I did see, like companies who came just to make American contacts, may not be represented in this country for many more years. I don’t bother to show you their stuff because you can do nothing about it. I like to write about things you can actually buy and experience now. Other companies that I have seen and even interviewed before talk a good game but they didn’t actually come through. In software this is called “vaporware.” It exists as a concept but may never be implemented. I won’t waste your time or mine on them.

You Tubers

When I started going to shot in the late 1990s, there were perhaps 40 television stations or news crews at the entire show. This year I bet I saw 400 You-Tubers. They are easy to spot. They have a small crew that ranges from the wife to perhaps 3 other guys. There is no dedicated sound board that a professional crew would have. Their lights range from the light on their smart phone to a small but capable cloud box and the guy in front of the camera is all too often tongue-tied. Many of them use smart phones as their primary camera, and I have done this, too.

But they do get the word out and, since many people rather see a video rather than read print, they are successful. They work just as hard as I do, but in a different medium. Video is the way of the future and BB needs to catch up with the times.

 Okay, let’s get started. At Industry Day at the Range I also saw:

Umarex

Umarex was the ONLY airgun company on the range on Industry Day, so every airgun I saw was on their range.

Umarex Emerge — a 12-shot breakbarrel repeater. It has a rotary mag and comes in either .177 (1000 fps) or .22 (825 f.p.s.). It comes with open fiberoptic sights and also a 4X32 scope and mounts.

Umarex Emerge
Umarex Emerge 12-shot repeating breakbarrel.

Airsoft bazooka — a green-gas powered airsoft bazooka that launches a tennis ball-sized plastic shell holding hundreds of 0.12 gram airsoft plastic BBs. The shell breaks apart after leaving the gun, showering the target with the BBs. It was too cold at the range to accept a charge of green gas, and, at $2,500 for an all-plastic airsoft gun, Umarex will probably not carry it. I think that’s wise.

bazooka
Airsoft bazooka.

AirForce

RAW HM1000X Chassis system — is a standard RAW HM1000X (as if any RAW can be called “standard”) in an aluminum chassis stock. The main advantages are additional weight and stiffness. AirForce is still refining this one and may slim down the forearm a bit from what I saw, but they know how to make the chassis, so you’ll see it in 2023.

RAW Chassis
The new RAW HM1000X Chassis system.

RAW Benchrest conversion kit — This isn’t an airgun. It’s a set of parts that convert a RAW HM1000X LRT (long range target) into a benchrest gun for extreme benchrest competition. I suppose you could just order the gun this way, but since many shooters already have a 1000X, this sets them up for extreme benchrest competitions.  It consists of a laminate stock that has no cheekpiece or buttpad, as benchresters don’t touch anything on their guns but the trigger.

There is also a heavy flat steel plate like a hamster (a field target term) that interfaces with the adjustable benchrests competitors use.

RAW benchrest
The RWS benchrest is a kit of parts that converts an HM1000X into an extreme benchrest rifle.

Presslug System — This is a heavy swage with dies that allow shooters to press their own slugs from soft lead wire. There is also a lead mold for casting lead preforms which would be my preferred approach, but AirForce feels most shooters will want the wire.

The beauty of this approach is that you don’t have to chase the correct barrel with just the right bore diameter and the right twist rate for shooting commercial slugs — a multi-thousand-dollar way of doing it. And, if the slugs change or go away — ooops! Instead, you make your own slugs to fit your barrel, which is far less expensive. The system costs over $1500 to get started but anyone who swages bullets knows that is the price you pay. After that you start saving because you make your own slugs. No more $19 for 50. You make them for, what — a nickel each?

PressSlug
AirForce Presslug. Think RCBS A2 reloading press on steroids!

Rok-Loc Stabilizing Weight System — So, your hunting rifle isn’t heavy enough for  benchrest? Add several more pounds with the AirForce Rok-Loc Stabilizing Weight System. This is for firearms, but who knows where it could go?

Rok-Loc
Put on the pounds with the Rok-Loc Stabilizing
Weight System. It attaches to Picatinny rails and each weight is separate.

Hatsan

Hatsan Zada breakbarrel — Cecil Bays also showed me the new Hatsan Zada. It’s a budget breakbarrel that’s scheduled to retail for $120 and comes with a small scope. It comes in .177, .22 and .25 calibers (isn’t it great that Hatsan makes many/most of their airguns in .25 caliber?) with power ranging from 20 to 24 foot-pounds. Cecil tells me the Zada is quite accurate, so I’m putting it on my list to test for you.

Zada
Cecil Bays holds the Hatsan Zada.

Shop PCP Rifles

JTS

JTS Strife — Back to the Xisico booth to look at the JTS Strife. The Strife is a recoilless breakbarrel that comes with an extendable buttstock. Recoilless? Yep — BB’s gotta try that one!

JTS Strife
The recoilless JTS Strife. BB’s gotta test this one!

Leapers

Leapers Micro Mini dot sight — Just when we thought that the UTG Micro Reflex dot sight was as small as they could go, they brought out this little guy. It’s wee-teeny and yet gets the same 30,000+ hours of battery life that the Micro Reflex gets.

Micro Mini
The new UTG Micro Mini dot sight. It’s made for specialized mounting adaptors for firearm pistols, but Leapers says they are working on an 11mm adapter.

Evanix

Evanix Rex Ibex — The Rex Ibex comes in .177, .22, .25, .30, .35, .45 and .50 calibers. I suppose when an ICBM becomes available for airguns Evanix will also add that to the list. Cowabunga!

Evanix Ibex
Evanix Rex Ibex.

Evanix Rex Ibex — this was new last year, but BB didn’t cover it yet, so it’s on the list for this year.

Survival Airguns

AEA Defender 2 — This is a two-shot  pistol. Survival calls it a semiautomatic on their website, but with two barrels and each holding only one shot, BB calls it a double barrel. It comes in .35 and .45 calibers. The .35 is supposed to be good for 45 foot-pounds and the .45 is supposed to be good for 50. I say “supposed to” for a couple reasons. First — I haven’t tested either pistol, but I intend to. Second, these pistols shoot from an air cartridge/reservoir that’s filled to 5,000 psi and I’m not yet certain that I can do that. I think I can, but we shall see.

Now, is 45 to 50 foot-pounds good enough for defense? Well, ask yourself this — would you shoot a bad guy with a .22 short standard speed? They generate 65 foot pounds or more and are generally not looked upon for the role of defense. Some will say shooting with anything is better than having nothing to shoot. Others will say you are escalating a bad situation. I think both statements are correct and that it is situationally dependent.

Survival Airguns AEA Defender 2
Survival Airguns AEA Defender 2 pistol.

Bug-A-Salt

I stopped by the Bug-A-Salt booth, just to tell them how much I like their products. I mentioned that I had written several blogs on the Bug-A-Salt Shredder and before that on the Bug-A-Salt 2.0. And, lest we forget, there was An unexpected expedition. I was just at their booth to compliment them on their products and was genuinely surprised when I was handed a Bug-A-Salt 3.0! I really was. I wasn’t there to schmooze them. I even told them I was working on getting Pyramyd Air to carry their products –which I think they should — hint, hint!

So BB has this Bug-A-Salt 3.0. Whatever will he do? Yepper — it’s coming, guys.

Summary

There was a lot more at the show than what I have shown in these four reports. I have seen enough to know that 2023 is going to be a good year for airguns and that we are going to have some fun!

31 thoughts on “2023 SHOT Show overflow”

  1. Tom,

    The AEA Defender 2 if I’m not mistaken is the Scuba Ringer MK2 marketed by Jorge Spräve. This is the improved version with 50% more power than the first version. At 10 meters the arrows penetrated 3 archery mats! As seen here https://youtu.be/PBUsJZijcbg at 23:40

    Things are really looking good for airguns. The Tacticool look hopefully will fade away soon.

    Siraniko

    PS Section Bug-A-Salt 1st paragraph 4th sentence: “I was just ay (at) their booth to compliment them on their products and was genuinely surprised when I was handed a Bug-A-Salt 3.0!”

  2. I too will not miss the tacticool look. I mean, really? I can sorta kinda understand the Ibex, but the Zada and the Strife? Really? You will not see things like that hanging around RRHFWA. AirForce can be tacticool looking enough without having fake magazines and collapsible stocks. Ah well, junior wants something that looks like daddy’s Mattelomatic. I think I will stick with these old gals.

    Now, casting and / or swaging your own slugs (bullets), you have my attention.

    As for the Bag-A-Salt, I am envious.

    • Hehe, RidgeRunner, “Bag-A-Salt” indeed!
      Are you sure, you weren’t born in 2006 ?! Happy Birthday, ol’ boy! 🙂

      My current salt shotgun is slightly more powerful than my previous, version-2-copy, but it does have a better safety, because it stays on, or off, for as long as I leave it thus. 🙂

      And then, I also copied someone’s idea of fitting a circlip…

    • “I think I will stick with these old gals.”
      RidgeRunner,
      I’m with you; the “Mattelomatics” are not speaking to me.
      Lately, the only airguns for which “I have a hankerin’ ” are at least 50 years old…
      …more like 100…LOL! 😉
      I’d like to see some more pics of your old gals sometime;
      and I’m likely not the only one. 😉
      Happy shootin’ to ya,
      dave

  3. B.B.

    I wish you would have told Cecil Bays that Hatsan needs to improve their Customer Service before they bring more stuff to market that will require Customer Service. Hatsans Customer Service is shameful!

    -Yogi

  4. Maybe my experience with Hatsun customer service is an exception. My air spring version of the Hatsun 95 failed after two years. The barrel was accurate so I wanted it repaired. Hatsun Repair gave me the option of replacing with either an air spring system or a coiled metal spring. I chose the metal spring. The job was done quickly. This all happened just before covid and is my only experience with Hatsun Repair.

    Deck

    • Decksniper: Your experience with Hatsan USA Repair is the same as mine. My first Model 135 in .25 would not group. As I recall, I sent the first one back to P/A and received a replacement and then that needed help. I sent it in to Hatsan and had it converted to a gas spring. That improved the shot cycle but it was still inaccurate.

      Some fellow BB Blog readers thought it was a problem of piston seal, but I thought otherwise. It proved out that the seals were all fine, The problem was elsewhere…

      What i finally found was that the bore is OVERSIZED. I read that the JSB Exact King III was oversized (in a complaint about them fitting the breech). I tried them in the 135 and a new rifle was born! What was oversize in other .25 bores was just right in the Hatsan .25.

      I hope that Tom Gaylord might someday to a review of the Hatsan .25 bore size. Was it a fluke that two successive 135’s were oversize, or is this a problem with Hatsan manufacture? If the Zada is like my experience with the 135, there will be some consternation by purchasers, to say the least.

      • LF,
        I have a couple of .25 Hatsan breakbarrels bought 2019-2021 and they seem normal-sized. But reading the reviews and comments before buying them, yes, oversized bores were mentioned a lot. Maybe they had a bad batch for a while?
        A more general question might be, what to do about oversized bores? Pick a fatter pellet like you found? Pick a softer skirt pellet that will blow out and seal? “Moly” coat the bore to narrow it 0.001″? Add a choke?
        Mike

    • Deck,
      Strange the gas spring failed so early. That said, comparing the gas and metal spring on the same gun is what I am interested in. Can you tell me the difference you felt in the two? Accuracy, vibration, twang, hold sensitivity? I would love to know the back to back apples to apples difference

      Doc

      • Doc

        This replies to your questions to me on 1/24/23 several comments above.
        There is both good and not so good. First the good. The air spring on the Hatsun 95 produced a high ping sound during the shot cycle. That has gone away I am pleased to say. I used TIAT on the metal coiled spring which dampened both feel and sound of the shot cycle. The not so good is it slightly less accurate which I believe is due to the rifle being more hold sensitive now. Before with the air spring I got best accuracy balancing the rifle on a narrow bag rest and touching only the trigger area with my hands.. Group sizes with 10 shots at 25 yards were about 1/8 inch smaller before using the same measured pellets. Best accuracy now is with what I call a modified artillery hold. The rifle is not touching the bag but my left forearm is supported by it. Everything else is as loose as I can be and still get the sear to release. This is easiest for me if my slightly curled left palm is under the forend near the barrel hinge. This rifle is still a sub 1 inch shooter at 25 yards so I live with it. At this power level for break barrels only my FWB Sport and Sig ASP20 are more accurate. My Diana 34 T06 beats all 3 but is not quite as powerful. I should point out that power means little to me as I don’t hunt with air guns, just punch paper from the deck.

        Deck

          • Doc

            Forgot to mention I tried other premium pellets too thinking harmonics had changed. Also I’m not going inside to mod the spring. Too old and too much arthritis plus the forward stock screw begs to not be messed with.

            Deck

  5. >>> a hamster (a field target term) <<<

    BB,

    Do you know where this term came from? I've often wondered if it was an oblique reference to the rodent or some kinda FT "in joke".

    The swaging press has my interest. With the price (and sporadic availability) of slugs a press would pay for itself quickly. Considering the hours of entertainment one could get from developing the perfect "golden slug" it would be a cheap investment for someone who is a compulsive tinkerer 😉 The danger is that swaging your own slugs could become (another) hobby unto itself – like my fly tying is to my fly fishing. I'll have to compare the PressSlug System to the Corbin press that I've been looking at for a while, wonder if it uses the standard 7/8-14 thread on its dies. IIRC, the NSA and FX Hybrid slugs (both proven designs) use Corbin dies so that is a strong bias towards the Corbin.

    Some of the new airgun "designs" make me wonder. I have no problem with form following function (even if it is not my "traditional" tastes) but these "form follows fantasy" designs are a waste for good plastic. Hope they shoot better than they look 'cause they look like cheap toys.

    Happy Monday all!
    Hank

    • What really annoys me is how airgun makers take design elements from assault rifle that put stock and bore in line to reduce recoil. This makes sense in a firearm, and a very high distance between bore axis and sight is no problem if you shoot at human sized targets.
      But for an airgun, such in line designs make zero sense. Our targets tend to be smaller than the distance between sight and bore axis. Ultra high sights work for specialized long range airguns, but are problematic for the average airgunner.

      • Mel83,

        Yeah, ultra high sights are a problem – especially at longer ranges where the effects of cant are more noticeable.

        It’s not just copying the assault rifle configuration, it’s the above the bore mounting of the magazines that forces the use of high scope mounts on many airguns.

        Think that the Weihrauch HW100 has the best magazine design on the market – the below the bore design doesn’t interfere with scope mounting, it’s solid metal, has no moving parts, easy to load (even one-handed), protects the pellets from damage and is pocket (lint) proof. After many thousands of shots I’ve yet to have a mis-feed/misalignment or any concern about magazine induced inaccuracies like you get with the plastic dial-a-pellet merry-go-round style magazines.

        Hank

      • Yogi,

        So they are named for the rodent.,. OK, Seen those attachments rested on a knee or palm of the hand for stabilizing the rifle – and still wasn’t seeing the connection to the rodent.

        So I googled about the FT hamster and this is the best explanation I could find on the subject …

        >>> I have a vague memory of this being discussed before and the conclusion was it came from the time when FT shooters used very large side wheels and some wag commented on someones palm rest looking like a hamster running around in a hamster wheel <<<

        Makes sense to me now 😉

        Hank

  6. BB-

    I checked out the Presslug website. Looks like great quality work coming from the Czech Republic. It appears that at this time there is only one die per caliber and I see no adjustment available for increasing or decreasing finished slug diameter. The handle would need to be replaced with a 90 degree roller type if one were to use the press for more than a few slugs at a time. Most swaging work requires a stout, heavy bench. I think I would be inclined to employ a hydraulic press setup for swaging in order to get my shoulders to last a few more years. Beyond the cost of dies, you’re only looking at a few hundred dollars for a press.

    • Pacoinohio,

      I have been watching their website for some time. The only distribution outside of the Czech Republic that I could find was the South African Outfit. Something seems to be happening in SA as one of their main airgun forums seems to have gone dormant just this past year! Hopefully it isn’t some Draconian change in their laws.
      Now that AirForce seems to be involved perhaps something will break loose.
      Looking at photographs of their Dies indicates B.B. is likely correct that length and therefore Mass/weight is adjustable to some degree; but diameter (Caliber) is very limited (one each caliber) as you pointed out.

      I was hoping for competitors to Corbin as a way increase choice an to perhaps lower prices.
      Watching!

      shootski

  7. That defence air pistol thingy was created by a German YouTube self promoter who got quite a large business running by selling German legal self defence weapons. As the air pistol fires the arrow from a spigot, it was not considered an airgun and thua could be sold freely.
    The government followed and put these spigot launchers in the same category as firearms. Now the YouTuber sells them painted yellow as a underwater speargun, as spearguns are not regulated in Germany…well I guess when it comes to selling borderline legal arms you are smarter than the government until one day you aren’t. But as there is a market in Germany due to the firearms regulation, it is obviously a very high revenue market. Umarex also tapped it with very large caliber CO2 “shotgun” airguns what can be made to shoot arrows.

  8. BB Pellitier, a.k.a., Tom: When you test the Hatsan Zada, please pay particular attention to the fit of the .25 pellets to its barrel. My VERY limited experience is that the .25 as produced by Hatsan is oversized and requires a JSB Exact King III to obtain obturation and proper head size-to-bore fit for accuracy. I look forward to your findings when the Zada test is done! Thanks for what you do….

  9. B.B.,
    Was there anything new there from Barra? I saw a pic of their booth at the show.
    Also I’m hoping you’ll test that new Umarex Break Barrel someday too. I love the idea of a multi shot break barrel, but the leader of this type of gun (Gamo) doesn’t have it nailed down in my book. Looking for someone to take the lead.
    With the double barrel defense pistol, heck make it accurate (sights on it?) and I think it would be a cool plinker lol. Just me.
    Doc

  10. I’d buy a Bug-a-Salt from Pyramyd tomorrow if they stocked one. That is just the type of item I’d look for to put me over the free shipping threshold of many orders. They have until April, when bug season starts around here.

    Mike

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