The Northern Shooting Show was a great success again this year, providing an exceptional opportunity to see, sample and take part in a huge range of shooting-related products and activities. Here are some of the things that caught my eye.
I was intrigued to see a ‘Blind Shooting’ stand in the show guide. Unfortunately, I left it too late in the day on Sunday to check it out, and the stand was closed by the time I arrived. The kit was still there, though, so I took a couple of photos and checked it out online afterwards. The most crucial bit of kit is a special Swarovski ZE-B 618 acoustic sight. Now discontinued, it produces an audio tone, whose pitch corresponds to the intensity of the light detected in the centre of the image. The audio tone is then relayed to the shooter via headphones. Surprisingly, the design dates back to at least the 1980s, though, being a Swaro, many of the originals are probably still going strong. Acoustic shooting also requires special targets with scoring rings that get progressively lighter towards the centre, and to maximise the accuracy potential of the scope, the target has to be squarely lit with a special halogen lamp. Targets are 17cm square with a 12mm bull, and are typically shot at 10-metres. Without the benefit of sight, the shooter has to match their movements to changes in tone, shooting only when the pitch is as high and as steady as possible. You might think this a bit ‘hit and miss’, but videos online show blind shooters achieving levels of accuracy and precision that are the equal of their sighted peers. Needless to say, I’m impressed, and will try to arrive in time to try it for myself next year.
Cannae Pro Gear
Cannae Pro Gear (pronounced “Can I” or “canny”) take their name from the battle in 216 BC, when Hannibal inflicted a crushing defeat on a vast Roman army through an extraordinary combination of daring and strategy. Indeed, Cannae’s logo is inspired by the Carthaginian general’s dynamic encirclement of the rigid Roman formation. This may seem an unusually combative ethos for a firm that produces ‘only’ clothing and luggage, but then everything in their inventory is designed to measure up to the toughest and most exacting use. Consequently, the items in their clothing range –which includes T- and polo shirts, hoodies, microfleece zip-neck pullovers and soft-shell jacketshave names that buzz with words like ‘operator’, ‘tactical’ and ‘battle ready’, and Cannae’s approach to colour is like Henry Ford’s: anything… as long as it’s black! (To be fair, a couple of items are available in green, grey or tan.) Luggage items include a big carry-all called the Transport Duffle, a full-size duty pack with a helmet-carry flap called the Phalanx and a day pack called the Legion, which is also available in an Elite version, c/w helmet carrier – a feature that is sure to appeal to airsoft players as well as professional MIL/LE. For shooters, meanwhile, Cannae have the Armory [sic] range bag and the Triplex Acies gun bag. The latter isn’t a misprint, but the name of a Roman battle formation with a reputation for flexibility and adaptability. The bag itself can hold two long guns, separated by a sturdy divider and held in place by user-configurable straps. There’s also a 12-inch extension tube to accommodate extra-long guns, drag handles at each end, compartments for magazines, handguns and ear defenders on the front, and hideaway rucksack straps on the back. All materials are top-notch, selected and deployed to provide resistance to abrasion, shock, strain, heat and solvents just where it’s needed. Our Editor, Graham Allen, beat me to it and reviewed the range bag and gun bag last month and this month he looks at the Phalanx Duty Pack and Centurion Performance Fleece in ‘Prac n Tac’.
Country Sports Wholesale
CSW were showcasing an attractive precision rifle chassis under their new Britannia Rifles trademark. The chassis is made by precision rifle specialists Dolphin Gun Company as their modular F-Class chassis, but CSW have simplified the extensive range of configurations offered by Dolphin, so as to offer only the most popular permutations, namely: inlets for the CZ455 rimfire, and short-action Howa 1500s, Remington 700s and Tikka T3s; a choice of slim or wide/flat fore-arms; and black, FDE or Titanium-coloured finishes. The mid-section accepts AICS-compatible magazines and AR-type pistol grips and shows a broad magazine release ahead of the chunky trigger guard. Precisely CNC machined from 6000 series Aluminium and with a skeletonised forearm and butt-stock, the chassis is light for type but still strong and stiff throughout. Indeed, the butt is supported not by the ubiquitous AR-type buffer tube, but by a bar that is integral to the chassis body, thereby removing any possibility of play. The bar also provides support for a height-adjustable polymer cheek-piece, whilst its underside is cut with a series of transverse slots that mate with matching slots on the butt-piece to offer a length-of-pull adjustment system that is rock-solid once set. Further fitting is provided via a height-adjustable butt plate and a multi-position recoil pad. The butt plate also mounts a forward-pointing carbon-fibre tube for use with a rear bag. All good, but don’t be led by the field-oriented choice of actions into thinking that this is a hunting stock. The design is oriented towards prone or bench-rested shooting using bags, and the need for a tool to adjust length-of-pull, the lack of a proper hand grip at the butt, and the absence of a tactile and temperature-neutral fore-grip, make it less-than-ideal for field situations and conditions. Also from Brittania/CSW, is a range of Picatinny rails in standard and extended formats for popular centrefire and rimfire rifle actions. These include CZ 452, 455, 527 and 550 models plus rails for Anschutz, Howa, Remington, Sako and Tikka. In most cases, the rails slide over the existing dovetails and are secured by downward pressure from verticallyoriented grub screws, a system that gives a low-profile with zero lateral torque. The same principle is also applied in Britannia’s new range of Picatinny scope rings, in which the grub screws lock a floating recoil bar down into the corresponding slot in the rail. Of course this does mean that to remove the rings from the rifle, you first have to remove the scope from the rings, so this is a system for those who like to fit a scope properly once, and then leave it there: i.e. not one for the multirole, switch-barrel brigade! The mounts also feature a self-centring polymer liner, as found in Sako Optilocks or Burris Signature rings, that protects the surface of the scope tube, whilst ensuring torque-free alignment.
I’ve admired DPT’s moderators for some time. Designed and made in New Zealand, they combine light weight and compact dimensions with flexibility and versatility, thanks to their aluminium alloy build and modular format. Start with a base unit that matches the muzzle thread and calibre of your rifle, then add as many individual baffle sections in the corresponding calibre as your personal preference for size or suppression dictates. You can even-out wear by re-ordering the sections after cleaning, or you can buy a stainless steel section that is designed to take the brunt of the muzzle blast. Both muzzle-forward and overbarrel patterns are available and all thread types are catered for. At the show, I finally had the pleasure of meeting distributor Bill Evans, who spotted them in NZ and thought that they were far too good for us to be missing out on. He was right.
You know those neat bits of cool shooting gear you see online? The ones you really want, but can’t get because they’re in the US and the guys that do them either don’t ship internationally or have shipping rates that make your eyes water? Well, a new outfit called Element Rifleworks (ER) is doing its best to fix that. For example, they’re now bringing in desirable product lines from First Tactical (range bags, gun cases, day packs), Rifles Only (slings, shooting mats, rear bags, and moderator covers), and Storm Tactical (sniper’s data books and cards), and director Sam Ball tells me that they’re set up to import any US gear UK shooters want. So if there’s something you’ve been dying to get hold of, give them a call. ER is an RFD too, offering a nice line in custom configurations and finishes for tactical rifles and shotguns, but what really excited me was discovering that they are also the UK distributor for Aero Precision (AP), makers of some very tidy and well-priced AR-type rifles. The first rifles in are semiautomatic .22s, but these are soon to be followed by straightpull centrefire AR15s and AR10s. The AP rifles come as standard with military-weight triggers, but ER will happily fit a more refined unit from the get-go on request.
I had an immensely enjoyable and interesting time over the two days of the show, but I still didn’t get to see or do everything or speak to everyone I wanted to. So, next year I’ll make a special effort to check out the parts I didn’t reach: the field target and bell target, airguns and airsoft, bushcraft and butchery, stocking and engraving, collecting and restoring, dog-handling, deertracking and antler-measuring… oh, and I’ll get some more of those fantastic crusty pies!
Next month, I’ll look at a few more things that caught my eye.
Aero Precision: https://aeroprecisionusa.com [UK: Element Rifleworks]
Aim Field Sports: www.aimfieldsports.com; 01606 860 678
Cannae Pro Gear: cannaeprogear.com [UK: Scott Country]
Country Sports Wholesale: www. countrysportswholesale.co.uk; 01462 743 223
Dolphin Gun Company: www.dolphinguncompany. co.uk; 01205 368 639
DPT UK Euro: www.dpteuro.co.uk; 07448 177 009
Element Rifleworks: www.elementrifleworks.com; 01728 685 005