Chris Parkin checks out the latest firearms, scopes and accessories from the BSS
As a reviewer, the opportunity to see and handle what the makers had busied themselves with for the last two years was refreshing. There were many usual variations on a current theme in terms of stock options, colours etc. plus one or two fundamentally new highlights that certainly quenched my thirst for i
Among a plethora of Howa and Lithgow rifles, Highland was keenly promoting MDT stocks and rifle accessories. The highlight was the latest HNT26 stock, which weighs just 26oz. This carbon fibre and magnesium creation is beautifully made and if you ever fancied a chassis for a stalking rifle, this is it. It almost floats in your hands, yet remains thoroughly rigid in all locations, including the folding buttstock. New copper bullets and Aguila rimfire ammunition were strongly promoted, along with the latest Triggercam 2.1 scope camera.
Contact:Highland Outdoors - www.highlandoutdoors.co.uk
Accuracy international AT-X
This was possibly the first public opportunity for Accuracy International to show the AT-X competition rifle, and although I have shot and briefly reviewed it, I found it refreshing to see that they have released front upper rail accessory carriers as well as a long-awaited Tikka T3/T1 inlet for the semicustom rifle crowd.
Contact:Accuracy International - www.accuracyinternational.com
The growing Bergara range on the RUAG stand continues to offer excellent rifles at a modest cost and the highlight would seem to be the BMR rimfire, a straightforward, lightweight, synthetic stocked hunter’s rifle at £560. The styling cues follow on from the HMR genetics that still impresses in centrefire format, which is now also applied to more hunting rifles, like the 18” barrelled Wilderness Ridge centrefire - everything needed to hunt medium game for just £1030.
Contact:RUAG Ammotec - www.ruag.co.uk
Haenel’s straight-pull Jaeger NXT surfaced online a few months ago, seen here in laminate stock format with heavily promoted use of recycled materials. The rifle handled nicely with fast, assured bolt operation and the ability to carry the action un-cocked, yet prepared is a fantastic safety feature. The trigger pull was crisp and the rifle demonstrated fast pointability from its neutral weighting. Integral Weaver bases make scope setup simple and the barrel comes screwcut. This is a creative step for Haenel and I’m looking forward to seeing one.
Contact:Viking - www.vikingarms.com
The latest Geovid Pro 32 is a delightfully compact binocular rangefinder. It accommodates all the excellent ballistic capabilities of its older brothers in superb proportions for the hill or mountain hunter wanting to save weight. A 2300m rangefinder with +/- 23cm accuracy is an assured companion in the field and it will also couple to the Kestrel 5700 for superior long range shooting performance. It's available with 8 or 10x magnification and weighs 820-grams.
Contact:Leica - www.leica-camera.com
p>Surely any UK shooter will love the higher energy available from .22WMR over the .22LR? Well, this AR-15 format rifle from a UK maker hits the spot. An 18.5” medium weight Border barrel with 14” twist rate couples to a 7075 aluminium upper and lower. There is plenty of KeyMod and Picatinny for accessories as well as a 6-position telescopic collapsing buttstock. They haven’t quite perfected last round hold open on the 14-round mags yet, but final modifications are in process on a rifle for which first impressions were very positive.
Contact:Guncraft - www.guncraftltd.co.uk
Hawke has continued to further their superb mid-market ranges. The latest Frontier 34, 5-30x56 FFP tactile/ precision optic looks like it will increase the performance and appeal beyond its smaller 30mm brother. Reliable tracking and excellent price point optics with clear reticles is what I love about Hawke, so this 29 MRAD elevation enabling unit, with a minimum 15m parallax capability, for £999, should appeal to multi-range shooters and I can’t wait to use one.
Contact:Hawke Optics - www.hawkeoptics.com
The R8 Ultimate X was announced recently and seemed to polarise online opinion, as fans weren’t really sure of its purpose. So, to clarify, it’s a long range/ precision rifle with a greater shot capacity. I wondered if the stock/receiver extension would compromise ergonomics and have studied the dimensions in detail, yet can happily say that you hardly even notice the extended layout change, which encapsulates a magazine in front of the trigger, rather than above it - fantastic!
Contact:Blaser - www.blaser.de/en/
The R8 Ultimate-X was among many developments on show from Blaser
Schmidt & bender
S&B displayed the 6-36x56 incantation of the PMII line. It showed a 6x erector tube to encompass the magnification range, with updated illumination controls external to the left side parallax dial, rather than on the rear/ left side of the tube (which limits ring spacing). This is coupled with either double-turn or multi-turn elevation turret options and a new, 3-position turret locking lever allows free travel, locked or a new intermediate stage engaging an 'MTC' (more tactile click) every complete MRAD.
Contact:Schmidt & Bender - www. schmidtundbender.de
Four years ago, I walked away from BSS with the new entry-level M18 in .243, and what a fantastic rifle it has been. Well, now a stainless steel version is available that is seen as ideal for the UK. Most common calibres are on offer, starting with .223, .243 and .308. Perhaps the fastest 60º turn bolt rifle in the business (and I have sampled a few), with a reliable twin stack polymer magazine, it looks set to take on the omnipresent Tikka T3 head on!
Contact:Mauser - www.mauser.com
Tier - one
This West Yorkshire manufacturer was showing their prototype ELR competition bipod. It's not an unfamiliar design concept for precision shooters but certainly UK made to the lowest possible tolerances from superior materials. It's designed to attract shooters choosing minimal unwanted play in adjustment axes, as well as versatile positioning capability for rifles with Picatinny rails. This unique, V1 prototype was popular and so the V2 (with minor detail changes) goes into manufacture imminently and will fit ARCA rails as well.
Contact:Highland Outdoors - www.highlandoutdoors.co.uk
I have found Schmeisser SP-15s to be excellent rifles. They are built to a very good standard using high-quality materials. Their latest 9mm version is going to be very popular, as the ammunition is surprisingly good value thanks to massive bulk manufacture for pistol use. I suspect this gun may even be attractive to pest controllers and I can’t wait to see what it may do with subsonic ammunition. A whole new challenge for handloaders with solid lead bullets?
Contact:Edgar Brothers - www.edgarbrothers.com
H&N pellets and slugs
H&N were one of the few international exhibitors, with technical experts to discuss all your airgun ammunition woes and requirements. Hot topics were non-toxic, tin pellets that are in constant development to assure our shooting future, plus high ballistic coefficient airgun slugs in all popular calibres.
Contact:John Rothery Wholesale - www.bisley-uk.com
This US manufacturer is supplying their Fury rifles with twin-lug bolt actions showing a 70º lift, plus exotic carbon stocked layouts. They look like a great asset for Raytrade. The 'Fury' carries a half MOA guarantee and is available in the current precision calibres like 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC and 28 Nosler, for those pushing the ranges with a conventional hunting rifle. There are lots of trick colour options and ceramic finishes to choose from.
Contact:Raytrade UK - www.raytrade.co.uk