IWA 2015 Firearms Special
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- Last updated: 07/12/2016
First thoughts on visiting the Anschütz stand were that their only new offering this year was a new thumbhole stock in yellow, blue and grey laminate for the 1517 D HB .17HMR. Was I missing something? It turns out I was. Anschütz have taken a second look at their 1780 full-bore rifle – now called the 1781 – and made some rather significant improvements, adding a new recoil stop to the aluminium bedding block; a new steel bushing in the alloy receiver for greater durability, a new firing pin safety block, a smoother cocking action, and an improved fully adjustable match trigger mechanism with selective single- or two-stage operation. The 1781 hasn’t gained much of a following in the UK – not least because it is only available in .30- 06 – nevertheless, mechanical finesse has long been an Anschütz selling point, so more of it can’t be a bad thing.
Obtaining quality barrels for re- barrelling or custom builds can be a frustrating business, but now that Gary Costello (March Scopes UK) has taken on distribution of Benchmark Barrels in the USA, it promises to be a whole lot easier. Benchmark use top-quality 416R and 4140R carbon steel, double hand-lap each barrel to a true consistent bore, double stress relieve the metal, and implement stringent, highest-precision quality controls. Chambering is done via industry-leading CNC and fixturing techniques that give supremely straight and uniform threads and chambers. Blanks are available in all standard contours, a choice of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 land/groove configurations and a variety of twists in most calibres. There are even carbon-fibre wrapped models. Benchmark barrels currently hold 50 world records.
Blaser continues to expand the range of options for their R8 straight-pull system. New this year is a Long Range model chambered for.338 Lapua Magnum. Accommodating this cartridge within the R8 action required Blaser’s engineers to produce a dedicated magazine/ trigger housing. To this they have added a 27 inch barrel in a choice of profiles, with an optional Dual Brake muzzle brake, and fluting. The Long Range can be specified with a fully-adjustable GRS laminate stock, or with Blaser’s own Professional Success stock, allowing it to be fitted with their enhanced, Blaser-branded version of Spartan’s ultra- lightweight Javelin bipod.
Fans of the Professional Success stock can also enjoy a wider range of options, since it is now available not only in dark green, dark brown, savannah, or black polymer but also with your choice of black, maroon, terracotta, teak or sand coloured leather grip and comb inserts. Even smarter is a deluxe version that comprises an alloy chassis housed in a shell of high-grade Caucasian walnut complete with an ebony forend tip and grip cap.
Other neat guns for 2015 include the best-looking T-Bolt rimfires rifle yet: a laminate/ stainless varmint version, and a lightweight left-hander in black/ synthetic. There was also a handsome X-Bolt in an Eclipse laminate thumbhole stock.
Making its swansong this year is Browning’s CCS 525 Elite O/U double rifle. As this is probably the best value O/U rifle on the market, and a proper Browning 525 action to boot, it’s a real shame to see it go.
Chiapa’s standout item this year is the Model 1886 Ridge Runner, a take-down lever gun in .45/70 with a large D-shaped lever loop, a semi- octagonal 18.5 inch barrel with a removable muzzle brake and thread protector, a tubular four-shot magazine, a hardwood stock with a rubberised finish and thick rubber recoil pad, and a choice of matte black or chrome metalwork. The Ridge Runner also has a scout-rifle- style Picatinny optics rail on the barrel, fitted with a Skinner rear aperture sight that is complemented by a fibre- optic bead at the muzzle.
German AR specialists Hera Arms now offer their entire range, except for their 9mm models, in a UK-legal manually-operated format. Cocking is via a special charging bar that mounts in place of a standard T-handle and runs forward along the side of the receiver to a point just above the bolt release. A finely-knurled roller handle projects out at 90 degrees from the receiver and 15 degrees up or down, depending on whether you mount it to the left or right side of the charging bar. Current barrel, handguard and finish options (black, grey, tan or bronze) left me feeling that anyone after an AR in the UK should check out what Hera have to offer.
The UK dealer is Parabellum Consulting Ltd.
The Howa mini action’s bolt weighs 10.2oz bolt, making it 2.9oz lighter than the short action and 5oz lighter than the long one, and it is just six inches long, giving a bolt throw that is 0.9 inches shorter than the short action’s and 1.4 inch shorter than the long action’s. Howa Mini Action rifles are fitted with Hogue over-moulded stocks in a choice of black green or a Kryptek Highlander camo finish and weigh just 5.7lb. They will be available initially only in .204 and .223, but more calibres are promised, hopefully including a .17 Hornady Hornet.
High-end AR makers JP Rifles had a new bolt-action rifle on show: the MR-10. Tucked into a modular alloy chassis made from 6061 T6 aircraft grade aluminium complete with a folding, Magpul PRS-style butt- stock, an AR-style pistol grip and either a solid benchrest or ventilated tubular hand-guard, the action has a benchrest- quality short action with a Remington 700 footprint, a spiral-fluted bolt with a conical tactical knob, a single-stage match trigger and JP Supermatch barrel. The MR-10 is available as standard in .308 and .260 Rem., with other calibres available upon request. Half- MoA accuracy is guaranteed.
Another brand distributed in the UK by Gary Costello (March Scopes UK), KRG are makers of the excellent and affordable Whiskey 3 chassis system for bolt-action rifles. The W3C combines precise aluminium ‘V’ bedding with tool-less adjustments, (length of pull and cheekpiece height), modular grip panels to accommodate various hand sizes, durability and excellent ergonomics. Out of the box it gives an AICS magazine capability and has numerous accessory points, etc. The latest version, seen at the show featured green, carbon- fibre-reinforced polymer with an alloy bedding insert that offered a genuine drop-in, torque-down, ready-to-go solution. The W3C is available in fixed- and folding- stock versions for the following rifles: Tikka T3 (non-magnum length calibres), Remington 700 short and long action, Badger M2008 short action (uses AICS or AI AW magazines), Sako M995 (AICS CIP length magazines).
Hot on the heels of Lithgow’s impressive rimfire comes a centrefire addition to the Crossover range. There’s a distinctly Tikka-ish feel to the centrefire, which features an ergonomically-pleasing stock in a choice of polymer, walnut or brown laminate, an action with a tang safety and an integral Picatinny optics rail, and a hammer-forged barrel with a threaded and capped muzzle chambered in .223 Rem., .243 Win. or .308 Win., a specification nicely rounded off with a hard- wearing grey Cerakote finish.
M12. Mauser has added new models to the M12 range, including a High-Grade and a Solid version. Also available is an M03 in a GRS stock, with a fluted barrel chambered for the .300 Win. Mag. This is an off-the-shelf rifle – or very nearly so, with order times a fraction of what would be expected from a true custom rifle. Features include the most commonly requested by their customers, and the result is a highly practical, modern design. The M98 Magnum has a practical double square bridge receiver for scope mounting, plus iron sights with a fixed rear blade calibrated for 50 metres and flip-up leaves for 100 metres and 150 metres.
Merkel have been giving some thought to the needs of female shooters (and anyone of smaller build), thus there are now Lady DS version of the RX Helix, K3 Kipplauf, and B3/B4 O/U bergstutzen and combination guns.
Mossberg affordable Patriot bolt- action offers an extraordinary 63 variants, in 11 popular calibres. There are even factory-scoped packages with Vortex optics. The push-feed action is reminiscent of the Remington 700, but has a spiral-fluted, twin-lug bolt with a knurled knob, and uses a detachable, flush-fitting polymer box magazine. The trigger is a duplex-blade LBA unit and is adjustable from 2lb-7lb. Barrels are 22 inches long, free-floated, and button-rifled, with a fluted sporter profile. Stocks contain a polymer bedding block, show classic styling with a straight comb and founded fore-end tip, and come in a choice of walnut, grey laminate, and black or camo synthetic, all with stippled panels and sling swivel studs.
Their MVP range gives shooters a bolt-action rifle in 5.56/223 Rem or 7.62/.308 Win that feeds from AR15 or LR308/SR25 magazines. This year there’s a tactical-precision package called the MVP LC (Light Chassis). It uses MDT’s excellent LSS model (in Desert Tan), with a Magpul CTR adjustable stock, MOE Pistol Grip, and 10 round P-Mag. The package is topped off with a Picatinny rail mounting a 4-16x44 Vortex Viper HS-T MRAD scope in Viper rings, and Harris bipod. Barrels are heavy-profile, semi- fluted, threaded, and supplied with a Removable SilencerCo Saker Trifecta muzzle brake/ QD Mount, and thread cap.
It was good to see Riflecraft with a sizeable stand at the show showcasing Vortex Optics, Barrett Rifles, Bore Tech cleaning products and something I really hadn’t expected to see: the Riverman Gun works MBR (AR15) takedown rifle. Why are they interesting? It’s not so much the ergonomic familiarity and flexibility of their AR-style build, or their ambidextrous cocking, but rather the fact that switching between calibres is as easy as unscrewing the handguard, sliding out the tube, and then reversing the process. Riverman offers the MBR15 for small-medium calibres (.204, .223/5.56, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 Special, .300 AAC) and the MBR10 for medium- large ones (6.5 Creedmoor, .260 Rem., 7mm 08, .308, .338 Federal, .358 Win.).
Barrett’s 98B Fieldcraft has a lighter receiver than the standard model, an improved barrel attachment system for enhanced accuracy, and a handguard with KeyMod slots for maximum configurability with minimum weight. It is available in 300 Win Mag, .308 Win, 7mm Rem Mag, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .260 Rem and in black, Bronze, Multi-Brown, OD, FDE and Tungsten (grey).
Sabatti’s Rover 870 is a rifle we still don’t see enough of in the UK. It comes in an ever- increasing range of formats. This year’s additions include a model with a synthetic thumbhole stock reminiscent of the Blaser Professional Success, available in slate and mid grey, and in FDE. This stock also appears on a short-barrelled Compact Scout model, complete with open sights, muzzle brake, Picatinny railed quarter rib, and 10 round detachable AI magazine.
Sako’s TRG M10, has everything you’d expect of a modern tactical precision rifle: alloy chassis, adjustable folding stock, a pistol grip that accepts different sized polymer inserts to match it to the size of the shooter’s hand, a tan-coloured Cerakote finish, and even an adjustable folding rear monopod with a ski foot. Most importantly it’s a switch-barrel system!
Their Carbonlight is a variant of the model 85 bolt-action rifle. A stainless-steel action and fluted 20 inch barrel are complemented by a sleek stock made from carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer to produce a rifle that weighs just 4lb. Calibres: 22-250 Rem, 24/3083 Win and 7mm-08 Rem in a four round box mag.
Sauer’s 404 aims to resolve any doubts hunters may have that this is the switch-barrel rifle for them. Changes include: a tang-mounted cocker/de-cocker; a receiver milled for a QD mount, improved barrel-change system. Plus a trigger that is adjustable for reach, angle and offers four, selectable pull weights (1, 1.5, 2 and 2.5lb) and an interchangeable bolt head. A wide choice of barrels, stocks and finishes makes the 404 the most practical and versatile rifle yet from this premium brand. They have also added three new variants to their affordable –and excellent- 101 model. Now available in various finish, size and calibre combinations including the Artemis a ladies’ version!
It was evolution rather than revolution for Steyr Mannlicher this year, so the most eye-catching items on their stand were a synthetic- stocked CLII and SM12 SX, presented as a package with a Schmidt & Bender Stratos 2.5-13x56 scope and QD mounts, and all finished in the smart new ‘Demorphing’ camo pattern from German clothing firm X-Jagd: all a far cry from the combination of walnut, blued steel, leather and loden usually associated with German hunting gear.
Few guns are more fun to shoot than semi-auto .22 rimfire military look-a-likes, and for 2015 Walther have added the Heckler Koch G36. It features a distinctive top-mounted, ambidextrous charging handle that reciprocates with the bolt and a sturdy folding stock. The battle sights offer a windage- and elevation-adjustable rear unit with a choice of two apertures. The 18.1 inch barrel is all- steel and magazines come in 10- 20- or 30-round formats.
Winchester has a new centrefire called the XPR, which also subscribes to the budget ethos now gaining popularity around the world. It looks little like a Model 70 and a lot more like Browning’s A-Bolt 3; hardly surprising seeing as who owns who. But doubtless it will shoot and work well and the price will be highly competitive.
Not new as such, but Browning have given their rimfire T-Bolt straight-pull a rather nice makeover. Called the Varmint Stainless laminate, the name says it all with a heavier, varmint- style SS barrel/action and a grey laminate stock. Chances are we will be seeing other options such as the 3-colour Green Mountain Camo too.
Anschütz: www.anschuetz-sport.com; (UK)
RUAG UK: www.ruag.co.uk
Barrett: http://barrett.net; (UK)
Benchmark Barrels: benchmark-barrels.com; (UK)
March Scopes UK: www.marchscopes.co.uk
Blaser: www.blaser.de; (UK)
Blaser Sporting UK: www.blaser-sporting.com
Chiappa: www.chiappafirearms.com; (UK) Edgar
Brothers Ltd: shootingsports.edgarbrothers.com
Hera Arms: www.hera-arms.com; (UK) Parabellum
Consulting Ltd: www.parabellumconsulting.co.uk
Howa: http://www.howarifles.eu. (UK) Highland
Kinetic Research Group: www.kineticresearchgroup.com; (UK)
March Scopes UK: www.marchscopes.co.uk
Highland Outdoors: http.//highlandoutdoors.co.uk
Mauser: www.mauser.com; (UK) Blaser