Another January has come and gone, and with it was once again the largest event of its kind in the world… The 2018 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show was held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center from January 23rd through the 26th. Covering nearly 6 hectares (14.8 acres) of flooring, an excess of 2100 exhibitors displayed their products and services for some 60,000 attendees of the 4 day event. 2018 signified the 40th anniversary of the SHOT Show which started way back in 1979 with 290 exhibitors covering a comparatively miniscule 0.48 hectares (1.1 acres).
This year’s SHOT Show also marks the 20th time that SHOT has been hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada; and city that is larger than life seems to be a prefect fit for the SHOT Show. Last year saw nearly 3.2 million kg (3,500 tons) of exhibits moved onto the show floor. To put it mildly, the SHOT Show is unbelievably huge. However there is always a catch when it comes to the biggest and best; the SHOT Show is not open to the general public. That is correct, it is only open to members of the industry and trade. Manufacturers, wholesalers, importers, exporters, retailers, training, non-profit organization and media, all of which are involved in Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoors are able to apply to attend SHOT Show.
The SHOT Show is preceded by Industry Day at the Range on the Monday before the show. This day allows only exhibitor-invited media and buyers to come out to Boulder City Rifle & Pistol Club and experience first hand the products offered by over 160 companies. Everything from crossbows to handguns, throwing axes to fully automatic rifles and everything in-between. With over 1400 media and 800 buyers potentially being on site during this day, Industry Day continues to be the premier hunting and shooting event in the industry providing hands-on experience for attendees. The one caveat is the same as during SHOT Show itself, members of the public are not allowed.
This was the author’s 12th year of attending the SHOT Show and I was accompanied by some long time attendees who had an additional dozen or more shows under their belts. The SHOT Show is now less fun and exciting than it used to be, likely due to the more structured and business oriented planning now done by the author. However, attending the event has always left the author with a sense of awe at the sheer scale of firearms and accessories that are even out there. In perspective; Canada’s outdoor hunting, sporting market brings in roughly $6.5 billion in annual revenue. SHOT Show has that value of product and exhibits on display. Damned!
Now SHOT Show does bring in companies that have absolutely anything remotely to do with the firearms industry, and that includes law enforcement as well as other enterprises. However in a dozen years this had to be the first time the author noticed certain things that never had been at the show previously or escaped notice. With an excess of 1800 exhibitors, you will always miss something when attending, but some stuff is also new…
IF you thought that the Industry Day at the Range would be the favourite of the author’s annual pilgrimage to SHOT, you would be very close indeed. However, it is the now huge Canadian event that keeps the author coming back every year. The Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) once again stepped up and hosted the 5th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception, with the support of the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA). This event has literally blossomed from a dozen people gathered in a hotel room, to a huge event that draws in Canadians from every aspect of the firearms community. Hosted at the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower, the event was held towering above the city of Las Vegas 108 stories in the air. The view was incomparable, the food was great but extremely short-lived, and the casual atmosphere allowed for the Canadian contingent of SHOT Show attendees to unwind a bit and relax and talk to other Canadians about anything including shop talk. This past event hosted in excess of 300 individuals that otherwise rarely, if ever, communicate to each other except through emails and phone calls. However this reception in its current state is only possible through the sponsorship of multiple firearms related businesses and individuals. TPF would like to personally thank each of these for their support and will list each and every one here.
Tactical Ordinance Inc.
Double Tap Sports
Holosun Technologies Inc.
Firearms Legal Defence
Korth Group Ltd.
Thanks to these sponsors for making the Canadian SHOT Show Reception possible and for being a part of the event. Here at TPF we will be sure to visit each of the sponsors and look at what they have to offer to our Canadian firearms community. We hope that you would do so as well.
As preparations have already begun for next year’s 41st SHOT Show, which will return to the Sands Expo on January 22-25, 2019; so to have the preparations for the 6th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception. Companies and potential attendees are asked to contact CSSA Director Mike Duynhoven.
As a FYI to readers who are not Canadian, or are not familiar with our listed organizations; the CSSA is similar to the USA’s National Rifle Association, only more polite eh? They are the organization that represents the firearms consumers across Canada with training, and political outreach; but only have two decades under their belt compared to the NRA’s 150. The CSAAA represents the Canadian firearms industry and looks after their interests, similar to the National Shooting Sports Foundation which organizes and runs the SHOT Show.
Here is a few images showing some of our Canadian companies that are exhibiting at SHOT Show! Make sure to visit ALL of them and help them all out.
There are currently over 30 Canadian companies that exhibit at SHOT Show with more and more doing so every following year. We at TPF will strive to get you a list and images of every single one of our Canadian exhibitors next year at SHOT Show 2019. Thank you for reading all the way through this small write-up of the 2018 SHOT Show. We will soon have more reviews and look forwards to future events for 2018.
Fun Fact: Canada, while only a tenth of the population of the USA, has a substantial number of legal firearms owners. For every 1000 firearms made in the USA, 95% of those remain in the USA for domestic sales, Canadian markets account for 80-90% of the those exported from the USA. That means out of every 500 firearms exported from US manufacturers, Canadian markets get 400-450 of those. This is the reason that most firearms manufactured have a slightly longer barrel to meet Canadian Restricted status instead of Prohibited, such as Ruger GP-100 is 108mm (4.2″) in length.
In the never ending debate regarding who makes a better reloading press, most are argued by colour. The big three are the green machines of RBCS, Hornady’s red equipment and the focus of this installment of TPF, the blue of Dillon Precision. Do not let the title fool you as it is a reference to the detractors as well as the supporters of Dillon products, who would be adamant that you, “Do or do not drink the blue Kool-Aid.” Aka, using Dillon’s presses.
As the title and opening lines suggest, Dillon Precision Products are normally painted in a blue colour which sets them as a recognizable alternative to the other press manufacturers. TPF has had some experience with progressive presses from other manufacturers, and has loaded several tens of thousands of rounds on single stage presses, to turret presses, to progressive presses. This would be our first foray into “Blue”. We selected a Dillon XL650 progressive press, as it is considered to be the staple flagship of the Dillon progressive press line. We also decided initially to use .40 S&W as the loading calibre as it is the “bastardized” calibre that usually incorporates parts from both a 9mm and a .45ACP setup, and causes the most headaches for reloaders.
The setup for reviewing:
- Dillon XL650 progressive press (MSRP $589.95 USD)
- 1 primer system with large and small priming parts (appropriate size installed).
- 1 large and one small primer pick-up tube.
- low primer alarm
- 1 loaded cartridge bin
- 1 set of standard Allen wrenches
- 1 toolhead
- 1 powder measure with standard large and small powder bars (small bar installed).
- 1 powder die
- 1 caliber conversion kit – installed
- Dillon .40 S&W die set (MSRP $67.95 USD)
- Dillon Roller handle (MSRP $47.95 USD)
- Dillon Case feeder (large pistol casefeed plate) (MSRP $239.95USD)
- Dillon Powder check (MSRP $70.95 USD)
This time around we are going to change it up a bit and go right to the cons of the Dillon XL650. The reasoning is simple, the two biggest negatives that are outstanding are very important ones that would prevent someone from purchasing this press. We at TPF can sense the pro-Dillon group gnashing their teeth and cursing us for stating this right up front, but please bear with us. These reasons would prevent someone from being able to utilize a Dillon XL650 period, regardless if they wanted one, it is that important to understand.
The first thing that anyone needs to realize is that the Dillon is a large, tall press which towers roughly 81cm (32″) above the mounting surface. That is without the case feeder system feeding/mounting requirements and the optional strong mount component, which add in 16cm (6.5″) and 21cm (8.5″) respectively and with clearance requirements . Most benches and tables are 0.9m (36″) high, when you add in the additional 1.2m (47″) including assembly/disassembly clearance, you are just a 9mm case short of 2.1m (84″). For many basements in older homes this is a very tall press indeed. especially with ductwork and other stuff which can severely limit ceiling height. However as tested without the strong mount option, this XL650 measured 89cm(35″) above the mounting surface and TPF had no issues at the review location.
Other than the height of the unit, the main drawback of the Dillon XL 650 is the initial starting cost. Many people tend to overlook reloading press costs when talking about reloading, but not everyone will have the funds available to acquire a Dillon XL650 without some planning and budgeting. The base unit has a hefty price tag of nearly $590 USD at the time of this review. What if the reloader wants the ability to interchange calibres fast, have fast primer fillers, storage racks for tools and calibre set-ups, etc…? Dillon can provide the components and tools to make it happen, but for a price. When you add in the listed add-ons just solely for this review, the press costs adds up to in excess of $1000 USD. And that is not even the extent of the optional components and add-ones to enhance the XL650 to it’s fullest such as:
- Strong Mount (550/650) (MSRP $50.95 USD)
- Low Powder Sensor (MSRP $42.95 USD)*
- Bullet Tray (MSRP $44.95 USD)
- Toolholder w/Wrench Set (MSRP $30.95 USD)
- Dillon Pistol Three Die Set (MSRP $67.95 USD)*
- Additional Case Feed Plates (MSRP $39.95 USD)
- Machine Maintenance Kit (MSRP $41.95 USD)
- Spare Parts Kit (MSRP $27.95 USD)
- Dust Cover (MSRP $42.95USD)
- Toolhead Stand (MSRP $22.95)
- For additional calibres (*optional)
- Toolhead (MSRP $31.95 USD)
- Calibre Conversion Kit (MSRP $79.95 USD)
- Powder Die (MSRP $12.95 USD)
- Powder Measure (MSRP $84.95 USD)
If you wanted a fully kitted-out Dillon machine with two (2) complete calibres such as 9mm and .45 ACP, your total would be in excess of $1650 USD. That is some serious expenditure for the majority of casual firearms owners. If you are wanting Magnum rifle and exotic calibres, the prices are even higher for those component parts. Space claim, and cost. These are the TWO major obstacles that need to be overcome before acquiring a Dillon XL650 progressive press. That is it. So if you have the ability to fit and afford the Dillon please keep reading on.
While there are a few little quirks and stickling points regarding the press and its usage, they are not reasons for avoiding the Dillon.
Looking at the initial design and the quality, fit and finish of the press when assembled, it is nearly flawless. The main press frame components are cast clean with no flash and a beautiful, even powder coated blue finish. The alloy cast parts are neat and clean as well with minimal parting lines displayed and no burrs or sharp edges anywhere that can be touched. Machined portions are excellent with good surface finished and minimal tooling marks visible. The entire design uses hex head bolts, or hex head cap screws when threaded components are required, the remainder is attached and assembled with E-Clips and various snap rings. A very well engineered design, with good hardware control. Items which are not powder coated, or aluminum are plated to minimize corrosion, which is another added plus. Which brings us to another item. Dillon’s “No BS Warranty!” Every single option and add-on is as well made as the press assembly itself and Dillon stands behind it’s mechanical components for life. Yes for life. You have something break, bend, or otherwise get mauled? Call Dillon, get it replaced.
The instruction/installation manual is extensive and includes all Dillon options for mounting and installation. Loaded with visual images and clear precise methods, the manual includes full part lists and detailed component breakdowns. Bolting and mounting is as simple as can be expected for a progressive press. Set-up of the press is clear and pretty much straight forward thank to the illustrative and comprehensive instruction manual. The manual progresses through the setup of any calibre in an orderly fashion, starting with the re-sizing and decapping, moving on to the primer feed system and powder measure and finally with the seating and crimping portion of the press.
The usage of retaining pins for case keeping at the five (5) indexed positions are very accessible and allow for a simple method of removing/reinserting cases in the middle of the reloading process. A very simple and smart idea. The finished bullet chute works extremely well at delivering the completed round to whatever size of tray you wish to use for the final catch basin.
The slider bar powder system is a tried and true design that has been used for many decades in powder dispensing systems. In the case of the Dillon, the bar has an adjustable orifice which allows for the volumetric control of powder to be dispensed on each operation. With this come the first little quirk as setting your desired volume of powder is a very touchy operation due to the simple hex head bolt system. There are numerous aftermarket components or replacements to this adjustment bolt that allow for a finer control over the orifice size. That being said; once the system is setup, it stays consistent and never shifted during our testing.
With the system setup, TPF churned out over one thousand rounds of ammo in a little under three (3) hours. Please remember that this was our initial setup and test run of this press and we observed all aspects of the press to determine the function and traits of the press. Our biggest bottleneck in reloading? Filling primer tubes. Once we had gotten the system all setup TPF decided to try the quick change aspect of the system and acquired a Calibre Conversion kit, dies, toolhead, etc… for 9mm. Here is where the strength of the Dillon truly shines with the ease of swapping full calibre arrangements back and forth, in under 15 minutes with pre-set toolheads. The new tool head had the powder measure, dies already setup and locked in place, with the only requirements being to remove a few set screws, change the brass plate holder and the pins and VIOLA! The press is ready to go, only for a different calibre. Except for the bending of an Allen-key trying to remove a very secure factory installed insert, the changeover worked very well. We are assuming that this issue will not give us any issues in the future as anti-seize compound was added to the offending thread during the calibre conversion. As long as the primer size remains the same, this is an extremely easy method for swapping calibres.
With the new 9mm setup, we quickly produced in excess of 1500 completed rounds of ammunition. By quickly we should mention that it was in the same timeframe as previously, three (3) hours.
The ONE stickling point…
The primer system…. This is the only truly detraction that the XL650 has regarding it’s operation. Primers are ejected from the De-Capping die into a small removable tray and occasionally the primers will bounce out of the tray and onto the floor, regardless on the manufacture and design of the de-capping pin. So keep a broom handy and watch your step if you hear the primers fall out and empty your spent primer collection tray on a regular basis. The real issue is when installing new primers into cases. Specifically if there is no case to install a primer into… The primer feed system is a positive indexing system so it feeds a new primer with every pull of the handle and if it doesn’t use the primer, well… When the primer loading system cycles and fails to install a primer into a case due to the absences of the case, that primer continues on it’s way around in the primer carousel until it gets dropped. This occurs before the next primer tries to take up the same space. That unused primer then takes a trip off what is known as the Dillon Ski-Ramp. TPF installed the 9mm conversion kit and then heard something hitting the wall with nearly every press for a couple pulls of the handle. Turns out to have been live primers launching themselves off a small sloped path located at the front underside of the main ram platform. This shallow, low ridged ramp, actually managed to stop 1 in 5 live primers during our setup of the 9mm, so if you are doing any setup, do it with an empty primer system.
The Options: As reviewed
- Roller Handle – Very well made, and more comfortable to use that the original handle, but not a requirement for an efficient XL650 setup.
- Powder Check – An excellent and simple design. Easy to use and to move from one calibre set-up to another. A good addition.
- Case Feeder – The unit itself is quiet, very quiet. The low and high speed options are excellent and the steel guide panel is an excellent choice to adjust for the feed wheel edge. Be aware that these case feeders are not meant to hold more than a couple hundred cases at a time due to mass, the motor/clutch can be overloaded. A necessity for any volume reloading.
These last couple items are more of a general commentary on what Dillon can du to improve their product, or at least include to make their customers even more satisfied.
- Primer de-cap tray and the ‘Ski Jump’ – add in a small piece of foam in the de-capped collection tray or increase it’s depth to prevent bounce outs. Change the design of the ski-ramp to have larger walls or into a removable barrier that stops unused primers from launching across the room. There are already aftermarket option out here for this.
- A small tube of lubrication- The greased ramps work well, if a bit messy as if you need to adjust you will come into contact with at least one of these sliding surfaces. That way Dillon can indicate what types of grease to you and frequency of re-application.
- Locator arrow – Station #1 should have an arrow on the locator as it can go in backwards, where it will not work. Ask TPF how they know this…
- The ratchet system – Another company builds a bearing drop-in system that makes the ratchet action as smooth as silk.
- Mounting hardware – It’s $1 worth of bolts, washers, and nuts. Include it with the basic set.
- Spare parts kit – Have some of the more commonly broken, smaller items included as spares, such as plastic nuts, pins, etc…
We have drank the Blue Kool-Aid and have found it a very satisfying… Expensive and not perfect, but a very capable machine for those reloaders who want to maximize their rate of loading with the ability to have multi-calibre stations available to change on a whim. For the shooter who only reloads for one single calibre, there may be other brands which will preform the same for a more affordable price point. However! if you load for two or more (2+) calibres and value your time for setting up a press and appreciate the convenience of fully setup, easily swappable calibre conversions, the Dillon XL650 may be indeed the best flavour of kool-aid for you!
With a base MSRP of $589.95 USD, Dillon Precision’s XL650 reloading press is a solid addition to a reloader’s repertoire of equipment, albeit not inexpensive. Dillon Precision products are available online as well as at physical stores such as the Montreal Firearms Recreation Centre (CRAFM), in Lachine, Quebec. As always, to readers of TPF, the final decision of this product is up to you. Do you think that it falls under the category of Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical?
Some additional images:
OK… The Canadian Shooting Sports Association actually moved it’s main office from Etobicoke to Oshawa on December 1st, 2017. Some may be asking why the office changed locations, and the reality is summed up by one simple answer. Cost of Operations.
Cost of operations is a no brainer. It costs significantly less to rent space and pay for utilities than in the previous location. We are not talking a couple percent, TPF was told it is in the order of 10% cheaper. The move into the new “digs” actually has the office presenting internally a much more professional atmosphere and can accommodate future growth of staff. The hardest part about the new office location? Finding the entrance…
The new office location is Unit 204 – 1143 Wentworth Street W., Oshawa, Ontario, L1J 8P7, Canada
While the actual address is on Wentworth Street West, the closest entrance to the second floor office is on the Boundary Road side of the building.
The toll free number has remained the same @ 1-888-873-4339, but the local office number has changed to 1-905-720-3142, and the FAX number has become 1-905-720-3497.
The author can almost hear you going “Huh? Why are you even mentioning this months after it moved?” To which we are glad you asked. On Saturday, February 4th, 2017 was the date when the CSSA’s Open House actually occurred to commemorate the change. The open house lasted from noon until 4:00pm in the afternoon and while not quite at the levels of the 2017 SHOT Show Reception, still garnered an estimated 90-100 individuals whom came by to wish the organization well and socialize with several CSSA personnel. Such as:
CSSA President, Mr. Steve Torino
CSSA Executive Director – Mr. Tony Bernardo
CSSA Legal Council – Mr. Edward Burlew
CSSA Office Staff, as well as several Board Members and Regional Directors
Also in attendance were a few notable locals from the region and nearby:
Oshawa’s Member of Parliament, Mr. Colin Carrie
Stoeger Canada‘s General Manager, Mr. Spyros Chrysochou
Firearms Outlet Canada, Mr. Fred Pellegrino
S&J Hardware, Simon Beeson
Spatha Tactical, Andrew Clarke
The Gun Blog, Nicholas Johnson
Plus a multitude of others I have missed. Which when you consider that the attendance at its peak was around 50-60 people in the office at one time is understandable. The gathering was chaotic, warm, and loads of fun! The event was amazingly well attended overall and was a very positive reinforcement that the CSSA has the support of many in the firearms community as well as the firearms industry. Kudos to the Canadian Shooting Sports Association for their past and current efforts and may there be success and even more positive initiatives that firearms owners can look forwards to in the future.
If you were at the open house and TPF missed listing you or you know someone who was missed, please feel free to send us an email on the contact page and we will add you and your website link.
P.S: I have heard that the CSSA’s AGM will be held on the weekend of April 22nd in Saskatoon, Regina. Hopefully we will see you there!
SHOT Show 2017, Day 2 Evening: Wednesday, January 18th
One of the highlights of SHOT Show for TPF-Online is the event hosted by the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) and the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA). Now for those of you who do not know of either organization, TPF will sum it up very simply.
The CSSA is the Canadian equivalent of the National Rifle Association (NRA) of the United States. Fighting for legal firearms ownership and usage for responsible Canadians. Represents the firearms owners of Canada.
The CSAAA is the Canadian equivalent of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) of the United States. Fighting for legal production, distribution, and retail of firearms to the Canadian firearms community. Represents the firearms industry of Canada.
As always, the definitions are subjective as some may not agree with the workings and machinations of either, just like their US counterparts. TPF has been present in some sort of gathering for nearly every SHOT Show for the past eleven years of attending, and it wasn’t until a short few years ago that this event really began to flourish.
Emails were sent out roughly in late August/ early September of 2016 which included an invitation that stated:
The Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) and the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA) are pleased to present the fourth annual Canadian Industry Reception at the 2017 SHOT Show from 6-10 p.m. on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at Treasure Island Las Vegas.
As a member of the Canadian shooting sports industry, you are invited to participate in this special networking event by sponsoring, attending and inviting your industry guests. The event is designed to showcase the Canadian industry and to provide a social networking opportunity to our industry members.
The origins of this event have evolved from a small social gathering of individuals at timeshares and restaurants into it’s current iteration.
This event has become a great success from when it unofficially started five years ago when the CSSA’s informal Meet & Greet became a sponsored event with a $300 USD budget thanks to a couple select individuals. This gathering, which was to be last of the CSSA’s official Meet & Greets, had an end result of four Texas Mickeys, several cases of pop and water, plus eight extra large pizzas and just shy of twenty (20) representatives of the Canadian firearms industry in a single hotel room for an entire evening. From its humble origins back then in 2013, that marked the first formally organized event specifically for a Canadian attendees of the SHOT Show; this event continues to grow and flourish. This was proven with the 200+ attendees whom signed in at the event entrance, with all but a handful of those hailing from Canada. From a score of individuals to over ten times that in a few years, this event really has become a focal point of Canadian attendees at SHOT Show to interact with their Canadian business partners, associates, colleagues and friends that would otherwise only ever talk via the phone, email, and video-conferences. It becomes an event that these people could network, gain contacts, and just socialize and unwind from the stressful schedule of SHOT.
As the event has grown, so has the requirement for sponsors of the event. It is with many thanks that TPF lists the following sponsors and links to their respective sites, so please feel free to click the links, buy their products or products offered by them and help our industry become even better…
Platinum Level Sponsorship:
- Canadian Shooting Sports Association
- Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association
- Calgary Shooting Centre
- Korth Group
- North Sylva
Gold Level Sponsorship:
Silver Level Sponsorship:
Bronze Level Sponsorship:
Many thanks must be given to ALL attendees of the CSSA/CSAAA event with many new faces, it was a very good and positive event, and you can bet that there will be another for next year! If you have any questions or comments regarding the event and/or attending please email Mike Duynhoven of the CSSA, he wants feedback and to add Canadian Industry for next year’s event. If you do decide to purchase products from or through one of the event supporters, please reference TPF-Online if you care to help us out. Make sure that all of you enjoy the rest of 2017 and until the next installment, stay safe and have fun!
Some images of the 4th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception:
Once again many thanks to the Canadian Shooting Sports Association and the Canadian Small Arms and Ammunition Association for hosting this event! To give readers and idea of who was there, TPF was able to compile a partial list of Canadian industry registered attendees: (In no particular order, and definitely not complete)…
Air Gun Source, Calgary Shooting Centre, Calibre Magazine, Canada Ammo, CTC Supplies, Grand Power Canada, Gravel Agency, Gryphon Energetics, Korth Group, North Sylva, O’Dell Engineering, Practical Performance Products, Select Shooting Supplies, Shooter’s Choice, Tactical Capital Corp., Tactical Ordinance, Tiger Vac, Trade Ex Canada, Wholesale Sports, Wolverine Supplies, X-Metal Targets, X-Reload, The Gun Blog, Metak Distributing, WCDIA, Nordic Marksmen, S&J Hardware, CGN, McColl Sporting Goods, Aztech Armory, Colt Canada, Sebarms, Canadian Tire, Westside Stores 2012, Premier Shooting Center, Ontario Out of Doors Magazine, Prarie Nation Outdoors, European Arms Distributor, Eastern Outdoor Sales, Surplus Militaire Pont-Rouge, Prefiar, Amplis, Londero Sports, Drummond Shooting, The Evans Group, Al’s Corner Store, Pearl Street Media, Trigger Wholesale, Genesis Enterprise, Compass Safaris Marketing, Outdoor Group Media, CDN Gunworx, Blue Mountain Gunsmithing, Think Insure, Freedom Ventures, Transgressive Media, Outdoor Writers of Canada, Brigadeer Security, Lever Arms, Cadex Defence, True North Arms, National Firearms Association, Excalibur Crossbow, Bowman GunPar, Tetregon Dist., AJ Hobbs Ent., Wild West Shooting Centre, Kolder Canada, E&I Sports, Blackthorn Media, Savminter, Grech Outdoors, Kodiak Defence, HiCaliber Services, Scorpion Outdoors, Nanuk Plasticase, Buck Expert, PGW, Wanstalls
Warning: This is a LONG entry, with numerous images.
The week of January 16th once again saw the Sands Convention Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada; host the the 39th annual Sporting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show; also known as the SHOT Show. For those who do not know what SHOT Show is or what it consists of, TPF will give you a quote direct from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) whom organizes the event.
The 39th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show opened its doors this morning at the Sands Expo Center with industry expectations running high in response to the energized market in America for firearms, ammunition and accessories.
Over the next four days, the show will attract nearly 65,000 industry professionals from the firearms and outdoor industry, including 2,500 members of the outdoor press-the largest gathering of outdoor media in the world-and showcase new, innovative products used for target shooting, hunting, outdoor recreation and law enforcement purposes.
Owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, the SHOT Show is the largest trade show of its kind in the world. The show is open to trade members only and not to the public; consumers will see the products unveiled at the SHOT Show on retailers’ shelves during the course of the year.
You read that correctly, not open to members of the public. We at TPF can already hear our readers rolling their eyes and thinking to themselves, “But we are the consumers!” Which is true, except that the consumers that are mentioned the service companies and persons who are directly related to the industry. Not the end user, otherwise known as the public, but those whom supply the products to the end users such as retailers, trainers, ranges, organizations, etc… That being said, there are ways that the public can attend, and do attend as is evident to many who have attended SHOT know. TPF-Online will not go into details or methods for the public to get into SHOT Show. We apologize, and suggest that you utilize your favourite search engine or firearms forum (for Canadians, we recommend Gun Owners of Canada or Canadian Gun Nutz).
So let us delve into the timeline of SHOT Show.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
When Andy Williams sang “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” back in 1963, Christmas truly was the most wonderful time of the year. Everybody looked forwards to getting presents from “Santa” and opening up their gifts from the jolly ole fat man. Fast forward just over a half a century to 2015, and the most wonderful time of the year fell during the third week in January as the 37th annual Sporting Hunting Outdoor Trade Show once again graced Las Vegas, Nevada, with yet another larger than life event.
It started on Monday, January 19th, under a clear blue sky and temperatures that hovered around a chilly 16º C. Alright, it really is not that chilly to us Canadians, but for Las Vegas, it is wintertime. Thousands of media and buyers attended the tenth SHOT Show Media Day at the Boulder Rifle & Pistol Club (BRPC), located just on the outskirts of Boulder City, NV. Having been to several Media Day events from previous SHOT Shows, BRPC has continued to grow and expand as the annual number of exhibitors has also grown each and every year. Over one hundred and seventy exhibitors were there and catered to roughly a thousand invited media attendees and over five hundred invited buyers, dealers, distributors, and retailers for the day.
This year the Monday event was entitled SHOT Show Media and Industry Day and it is the chance to literally try out many firearms “hands-on” and experience directly existing products, new launching products, and prototype future products. A fair chunk of the items on display are not available to the Canadian civilian marketplace due to being categorized as prohibited devices. Compact handguns meant entirely for protecting one’s self, fully automatic or select fire sub-machine guns for law enforcement and military usage while not the norm, were available for ALL attendees to experience. In fact the roughly 1600 media and industry attendees discharged just over a half million rounds downrange from 9:00 am until 4:30 pm. Unsurprisingly contrary to the expectations of those whom are under the impression or belief that guns are inherently unsafe to use, let alone possess; not a single firearms related injury occurred and there were many satisfied smiles amongst the attendees.
However, after the Monday of live fire and big smiles comes Tuesday morning, when the SHOT Show officially begins, the work starts and the long trek ensues. With sixteen hundred and seventy eight (1678) exhibitors this year, that meant that if you were to be able to instantly transport yourself in front of every single booth and instantly launch into conversation with that exhibitor’s representative that you would have exactly 74 seconds of talking to that person. Consider that there are over 19km (~12 miles) of aisles to walk plus lunchtime plus waiting for a representative to talk to and that 74 seconds gets shaved down considerably. That puts it at say 60 seconds per booth with zero waiting and no travel that was not toward the next booth. If someone can ask about a new product and get the representatives to explain it in 60 seconds or less with all questions being answered, then TPF may have a job for you!
Now Canadians and Canadian Companies at the show are not new. TPF has routinely visited long time CSSA supporter Ms. Esteves for years at the Shooting Chrony Inc. booth at SHOT Show. Other Canadian manufacturing companies have been at SHOT for several years such as Toronto based Flash Fog Defense, and last year’s newcomer to the SHOT Show, Modular Driven Technologies. However there was something different about the 2015 SHOT in regards to Canadian companies being represented at the show.
Imagine TPF’s surprise when on every single cover of the thick SHOT Show exhibitor listing guidebook is a large sticker denoting VAULT Distribution and their booth location. Now while Vault Distribution was founded back in 2009; 2015 was its first as an official SHOT Show exhibitor. A Canadian company getting pretty much top exposure to every single attendee who grabs that book, and there were tens of thousands of attendees. Simply amazing! TPF stopped by Vault Distribution’s booth throughout the duration of the SHOW to talk a bit with Mr. Steve Ricker and Mr. Greg Zeitler. Like several other Canadian companies, Vault Distribution has attended SHOT Shows in the past seeking out product lines to deal in and thereby bring those products to the Canadian marketplace. For several years now Vault Distribution has been synonymous with firearms from Kel-Tec CNC Industries Inc., but they also deal with SIG Sauer firearms and Trace Optics to name a couple of other brand names. They will likely be bringing in more products and more brand names in the future, at least we at TPF-Online hope so. However, with how busy the Vault guys were, especially in the latter days of the SHOT Show, odds for Vault Distribution doing just that are better than average!
As has become tradition over the last several years, the CSSA has held various sized Canadian gatherings during the course of SHOT Show. In 2013 was the beginning of the truly sponsored gathering, with a few supporters tossing in a few hundred dollars for food and drink that year. Last year in 2014, the CSSA hosted the first officially sponsored Canadian gathering and it was a great success. In 2015, the gathering was altered slightly in two ways. The CSSA partnered up with the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA), and the event was by “invite” only. Readers will notice that the word invite is in quotes. In 2014 there was a generic posting for the event across every imaginable cost effective medium available, and that included several online forums, and a ton of word of mouth. This time around there was a conscious decision to make the event more geared toward the Canadian industry that was attending the SHOT Show. Businesses were contacted via emails and phone calls and asked if they wished to attend, and were sent initiations via mail. However, even though invitations were distributed, anyone association with the industry was allowed access. It was surprising to see that the CSSA’s rivals, the NFA was allowed into the event as the author knows they did not get sent invitations. As the CSSA hosts stated to TPF, it is a Canadian industry gathering and all were welcome. Kudo’s to the CSSA for not playing the “Invite Only” card, very professional and courteous of them.
A special thanks has to go out to the sponsors of the event, it was easily as large as last year’s in attendance, but so many more industry attendees. Noted sponsors at the event were as follows.
Platinum Level Sponsorship:
Gold Level Sponsorship:
Silver Level Sponsorship
- Canada Ammo
- Calgary Shooting Centre
- Interammo Impex
- Marstar Canada
- The Right Edition
- Vault Distribution
Bronze Level Sponsorship
- Ballistic Bowstring
- Firearm Legal Defence
- O’Dell Engineering
- Select Shooting Supplies
- Trade Ex Canada
- Wolverine Supplies
Many thanks must be given to ALL attendees of the CSSA/CSAAA event, it was a very good and positive event, and you can bet that there will be another for next year! If you do decide to purchase products from or through one of the event supporters, please reference TPF-Online if you remember.
Alas like Christmas, the SHOT Show only comes around once per year… Which may or may not be a good thing. As stated in past installments, the SHOT Show is brain overload for new attendees, with over a billion dollars of product on display including prototypes, new releases, versions of older stuff, and regular line item products. If you ever get a chance and are able to get access, you should attend at least once to experience just how awesomely huge the industry is… Many thanks for reading here at Tactical, Practical and Fantastical.
The origins of the much enjoyed AR-15 platform started back in the mid-1950’s with Eugene Stoner’s 7.62mm semi-automatic rifle design, the Armalite Rifle Model 10, also known as the AR-10. In 1957, Mr. Stoner and two engineers, Jim Sullivan, and Bob Fremont, were tasked to design a scaled down version of the AR-10 to use a .22 calibre cartridge and the result was the Armalite Rifle Model 15. Due to poor marketing of the AR-15 design, Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation, the parent company of Armalite, sold the AR-10 & AR-15 designs to Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company in 1959. Starting in 1962, the AR-15 design was utilized and adopted by the military of the United States in both the original and a fully automatic version, the M-16; and saw the design’s first true widespread usage during the war of Vietnam. There were many issues, which were found during those years of abuse and extreme environmental usage. You may have seen the movies and videos of soldiers of that era equipped with an AR-15/M-16 who religiously cleaned their rifles in every moment outside of actual combat. There is a bit of truth in that, hence why those scenes were so common.
Fast forward, a half a century and the AR-15 platform has become the measuring stick for determining what construes the Modern Sporting Rifle. The widespread definition of a Modern Sporting Rifle, to be called MSR henceforth, came about in 2009, as Mr. Randy Luth, then retiring President and Founder of DPMS firearms, continued to promote the AR-15 platform as a viable firearm to the hunting market in the United States. A MSR is one of which has most, if not all, of the following features:
- Semi-automatic in operation. The redirection of a portion of generated energy to enable self-reloading allows for lower recoil, and thereby faster recovery and follow-up shots.
- Mounts a pistol grip. This allows for more comfortable hold as well as having more ergonomic access to operating controls of the firearm (safety, bolt release, etc…)
- Utilizes a detachable magazine as a means of reloading the firearm both simply and easily.
- Has an adjustable stock which enable the ability to allow for personalized “fit-up” for individual users.
- Incorporates accessory mounts that allow the installation of optics as well as possibly multitude of other accessories that are customized to the individual’s requirements.
With over 50 years of history and production of a wide variety of AR styled rifle platforms, it has become such a popular design that a seemingly endless number of manufacturers offer their own versions. With prices of a few of these ranging up to several thousand dollars before even buying a magazine, the AR runs the gambit for value for the consumer’s ability and desire to purchase quality and performance. The balance point for the individual user is the issue, but stereotypically firearms owners in Canada are somewhat frugal in nature. The old saying of “Knowing is half the battle”, applies to O’Dell Engineering, a Canadian distributor of firearms and accessories has taken that to heart with their recently launched Lightweight Modern Sporting Rifle, or LMSR. It incorporates modern polymers and proven designs to bring a quality AR platform rifle to the firearms community of Canada.
Here at Tactical, Practical & Fantastical; were delighted to acquire one of the original entry level LMSR’s offered by O’Dell Engineering and have brought it to you, our readers.. So without further delay let’s take a look at the intro level LMSR available in Canada.
The LMSR is an AR-15 platform rifle, which incorporates all the features mentioned about for defining a Modern Sporting Rifle, and like a typical AR-15 has three primary components. A lower receiver, an upper receiver and the bolt carrier group. The lower receiver in this case is manufactured by American Tactical and is comprised of injection-molded polymer and is machined to exacting specifications. The standard AR15/M4, six position polymer stock is mounted on the commercial diameter buffer tube and factory trigger comes set between four to five pounds of force. The controls are the standard common versions found on most basic AR platforms.
The upper receiver is an anodized black, A3 flattop profile, that is machined from cast 7075-T6 aluminum which is roughly 50% stronger than 6061-T6 aluminum for superior wear, stress resistance and fatigue levels. The barrel of the reviewed LMSR is hammer forged and 406mm (16.0″) in length. The barrel itself has a surface treatment known as Melonite Nitrocarburizing Process, which not only adds surface hardness, but also improves corrosion and wear resistance as well. Chambered in 5.56x45mm and sporting a 1 in 7″ rate of twist, the barrel also has a protected crown, also known as a recessed crown; and a bolt-on low profile, picatinny railed gas block located at the carbine positioned gas port. The receiver rail and the gas block rail are not co-linear in height however, so prospective users should be aware of this fact.
The furniture is basic and black, with a standard A2 grip and two-piece, carbine length, hand guards. With the rear take down pin movement being extremely snug to insert and remove; the upper and lower fit together so securely that there is absolutely no need for an accu-wedge or shimming to have a solid, rattle-free, assembly.
The Specifications of the LMSR – Intro level (as reviewed)
Classification: Restricted firearm
Action: Semi-automatic, direct impingement gas system
Calibre: 5.56x45mm/.223 Remington
Lower: Black polymer, 6 position M4 style collapsing buttstock, commercial diameter buffer tube, 4-5 lb trigger
Upper: Anodized black 7075-T6, A3 picatinny rail flat-top profile
Barrel: 16″ black melonite finish, carbine length 2-pc hand guard, picatinny gas block, recessed crown, 1:7 twist
Mass: 2.6kg (5.73lbs) w/o magazine & optics
As this specific rifle is to become the test rifle for many future accessories to be reviewed here at TPF, it was only fair for the author to put this rifle through it’s paces and season it. So over the course of the last year this rifle has had several hundred rounds fed through it, both to test accuracy and durability of what is a value priced, entry level AR platform for the Canadian marketplace. For our labour of love the author mounted an Eotech 512.A65 far forward on the upper’s picatinny rail to ensure that there was minimal possible distortion. Once dialed in, the rifle spit 45-55 grain projectiles downrange and consistently was able to shoot 20 cm (8″) diameter steel plates from offhand shooting positions @ 91m (100y) and engage all forms of targets in local 3-Gun scenarios. TPF’s LMSR in the factory configuration has been tried with a variety of magazines, several hundred factory and reloaded rounds of ammunition and has suffered zero failures to fire and eject at the time of this TPF installment.
The LSMR (Intro Level) comes with a 16″ barrel length, which has an MSRP of $899.99 CDN and is assembled and distributed throughout Canada by O’Dell Engineering Limited. To find a retailer near you access their Dealer page. There is a premium version available that is outfitted with a High Standard, chrome lined barrel in 16″, 14.5″ or 10.5″ length options; all of which have a 1/2″-28 threaded A2 flash-hider “birdcage” mounted and sport an bayonet lugged A2 gas block with a fixed front sight for true co-witness ability. The question is whether you the reader feel that the LMSR is Practical, Tactical, or Fantastical.
P.S.: The LMSR has, as of mid-2014, been upgraded with a second generation lower with added features and manufacturing advancements. The new rifle designation is the LMSR2. If you want to ask the Distributor questions you can reach them on facebook HERE.
If you want to shoot at a target with repeatable accuracy you need some form of sighting system. Thankfully every type of firearm has a sighting system already installed on them or comes with the ability to mount them in some fashion. Even most short barreled handguns use a have a form of sighting system on them. So then the question for some is what type of sighting device do they want to use on a specific firearm. Is it to be used for self defense, plinking, hunting legged or flying game, competition? What range or ranges will targets be engaged at? How much? How heavy? How well does it work? That’s a lot of options and unfortunately unlike the storyline of The Lord of the Rings, there is no one single sighting device that rules them all.
So first TPF will break down the basic types of sights for firearms:
Iron sights are simple sights. That means that they are mechanically a simple in design. A notched rear blade sight with a post-style front sight are the most common iron sights used on firearms with rifled barrels. Aperture, or “peep” sights use a ring instead of an open notch. In general, iron sights are very simple and cost effective while being lightweight.
These optical sights use lenses encased in tubular mounts, in order to place an superimposed reticle on the target. The aiming pattern appears to be at the same focal point as the target which allows for a single required focus. The construction of these sights is far more complex than iron sights, but allows for magnification effects which make the target appear closer. This obviously allows for longer target engagement ranges and greater accuracy.
Reflector sights are a version of optical sights that are more commonly known as reflex sights. The most common versions currently in use are red-dot scopes which use a light emitting diode (LED) to project a single dot image on a mirror surface of the objective lenses that reflects the reticle image back towards the user. A closed style reflex sight is mounted in a tube akin to a telescopic sight and can use filters and shades to prevent glare and such. The open style reflex sight is simply the objective lens mounted in a simple encompassing ring and are lightweight compared to tube versions. These LED powered sights can operate for extended durations due to the minimal power requirements.
The most advanced optical sight commonly available are holographic sights. Holographic sights use a laser to project an aiming reticle onto the surface of an objective lens which is then observed by the shooter’s eye. While they are similarly to open style reflex sights as they have a single objective lens mounted, there are more electronics contained inside. Usually have a slightly a finer aiming reticle than reflex sights.
Unfortunately we are all growing older. In the case of the author of today’s TPF installment, wearing corrective lenses has been the norm for over twenty years. The usage of fibre-optic enhanced or tritium embedded iron sights has allowed for faster target acquisition and better sight alignment, but sometimes an upgrade in sighting systems is desired. For many that means magnification optics for greater target resolution at range, or electronic sights that have a red-dot or holographic aiming reticles. So now enter the See All Open Sight, to be referred to as SAOS subsequently.
The SAOS is an attempt to create a lightweight, cost effective, accurate sighting device which is accurate at short and longer ranges. Built into a compact package the SAOS masses in at just a hair over 55 grams (1.8 oz) which is a fraction of most optical and electronic sight masses. Measuring 57.5mm long, 25.7mm wide and 25.4mm height (2.26″ x 1.01″ x 1.00″), the SAOS has an incorporated weaver/picatinny mounting profile. Unlike many such mounts however, the SAOS needs to be slide overtop of the rail into it’s desired position. Instead of the common bolt clamping though a groove of the rail, the SAOS uses a pair of set screws to secure its position via tension. This means that the SAOS can be mounted regardless of number and positioning of slots in the rail.
The sighting mechanisms and components which are situated inside the black anodized aluminum body are as follows:
- An optical lens
- An aiming reticle mounted on a light gathering polymer block
- Elevation and windage adjustment screws
- Set screws for mounting
The fixed optical lens is plano-convex in shape and by looking through it, magnifies the reticle image on the polymer block. The reticle itself consists of a horizontal line with a triangle, which is less than 1.0 mm (0.04″) wide. These are scaled up depending on the user’s eye proximity to the lens itself. The contrast of the triangular reticle and the green polymer block was very easy to distinguish and very easy and fast to acquire. The design in itself lends itself to the claim of being parallax-free in that you do not need perfect eye/sight alignment.
Usage of the SAOS is akin to using a holographic sight, but with the size of an open reflex sight and the contrast of fiber-optic enhanced iron sights. Various other individuals have mounted and tested the SAOS through a variety of firearms including hard recoiling Mosin-Nagants, AR platforms, shotguns, in addition to centre-fire handguns as well as the plethora of rim-fire firearms out there. TPF, used a tried and true Ruger 10-22 to be the basis of this evaluation. The SAOS was mounted on a dovetail to picatinny adapter and torqued down by hand. Initial shot impacts centered roughly 50 mm (2.0″) up and to the left at 23 m (25y). Very acceptable starting accuracy out of the box. This could be attributed to the length of the mounting rail which runs the whole length of the sight in aiding initial sighting alignment. Approximately 250 rounds later, the SAOS was still holding it’s point of impact, and underlined its ease of use and the bright, easy method of acquiring your target and also establishing your sight picture.
Are there smaller reflex sights out there? Yes. If the user is willing to spend several hundred dollars for an electronic sight. Which brings up another feature that may get overlooked; the SAOS doesn’t use any electronics at all. It’s rugged aluminum body has large protective sides and protects the sight from most handling abuse. The light gathering block allows for lower light conditions. The result? A very capable, short range, sighting system. It is an excellent accessory for use by those who want a simple, high contrast, fast targeting sight, and the ease of use makes this an especially valuable accessory for firearms used to introduce children and other people new to shooting.
The positives are pretty substantial for the SAOS:
- Small and lightweight, yet rugged
- Fast and easy to acquire a sight picture
- Excellent contrast
- No electronics/batteries and good low-light ability
- Adjustment is 2.3m (90″) vertically and 3.8m (150″) horizontally at 91m (100 yds)
The SAOS does have a couple things which may be a detractor for some who read this.
- Tension mounting system. In some applications, use of a thread locking method may be a mandatory addition, and over-torquing is a real possibility
- No adjustment clicks, may make re-zeroing the sight difficult (centering)
- No field of view through the sight itself. The large block the reticle is mounted on cannot be seen through
The See All Open Sight, as manufactured by Oversight Shooting Technologies has an MSRP of $98.99USD and Canadians can purchase this sight directly from their website SeeAllOpenSight. As is commonplace here at TPF, it is up to you, the reader, to determine if the SAOS is Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical!
Author’s note: The newer generations of the See All Open Sight have since removed the “See All” logo from beneath the triangle reticle to minimize any distractions while trying to acquire target alignment.
The authors of Tactical, Practical, and Fantastical have to thank Mr. Andrew Craig of Canadian Reload Radio fame for this review of Hornady’s Lock-N-Load Auto Charge. Hornady and The Korth Group were kind enough to provide TPF-Online with this product for reviewing and Mr. Craig gladly provided us with his viewpoint and writing style for this dispenser. We hope the readers of TPF-Online enjoy this review:
When it comes to reloading there is only a single step that is as big and as important as getting the powder charge right.There are many ways to do this, but few that roll it all into one easy step. Hornady recognized there was a need for a more economical solution to weighing and dispensing powder, and introduced their own version of an automated powder dispenser a few years ago. I finally received the opportunity to sit down with one recently, and, the results were both interesting and impressive.
Out of the box the Auto Charge includes the integrated scale/dispenser, powder silo, universal power adapter, two check weights (10 & 50 grams), flash pan, and a long thin brush for dusting out powder. Included with the manual is a comprehensive quick-start guide that allows for getting the Auto Charge up and running in a matter of minutes. If you do choose to jump right in with the quick-start guide, be sure to read both sides completely, as, the instructions for calibrating the scale are quite specific, and need to be followed in order to get under way quickly.
The Auto Charge has a powder silo large enough to hold 1lb of powder. The guide recommends at a minimum that the silo be filled to the top of the base of the unit, in order to ensure there is enough powder in the hopper to dispense accurately. I had a small amount of Varget that just managed to fill the hopper to the top of the base as indicated, and after following the calibration instructions, quickly began to dispense 42.0 grain powder charges.
Dispensing powder was as easy as entering the charge weight into the keypad, and pressing “enter” in order to set the machine to the desired charge. All that was necessary then was to press “dispense”, and the machine took care of the rest. The Hornady Auto Charge is essentially a digital scale combined with a powder trickler. The powder tube is internally threaded, and angled downwards slightly, so that as it turns, powder is scooped up and moved along the length of the tube, subsequently falling into the flash pan below. As the dispensed powder reaches the desired charge weight, the Auto Charge slows down and enters into “trickle mode”, where it pulses a fraction of a rotation at a time in order to drop the desired charge weight one or two kernels at a time.
There are three different speed settings for dispensing powder, slow, normal, and fast. Depending on the type and quantity of powder being dispensed, there is an ideal setting. I found that the bulkier powders were able to be dispensed on the fastest setting, whereas your finer, ball type powders tended to prefer the normal. Really fine powders, such as those used for shotgun or handgun really didn’t dispense well, or, required the machine to be set on the slowest setting, which meant a significant increase in time between charges. This really has to do with how the machine operates. During dispensing, there are in fact two speeds. An initial, high volume rate of dispensing, which varies based on the selected speed, and then a final trickling speed, which is more of a pulse. Depending on which speed you choose, the trickling mode will kick in sooner or later, so as to allow for as much powder as possible to be dropped into the pan before the final trickle to the desired charge weight.
For testing purposes, I used both Varget, and Ramshot TAC. The Varget was able to be dispensed at the fastest rate, as, it is a bulkier extruded powder. It had a tendency to remain in the trickling tube and only drop one or two kernels at a time during the trickling mode, allowing for a very fast dispensing time, with minimal overcharge errors. The Ramshot TAC on the other hand is a much finer, ball type powder. It was far more likely to cascade out of the tube, resulting in the machine having to be run on the normal speed setting. I found on average that the dispensing time for 43 grains of both Varget and TAC to be 20-30 seconds. As I mentioned, the Auto Charge will result in an overcharge error if it’s run on too fast of a setting. I found that Varget only returned an overcharge error 1 in 10 times on the fastest setting, which meant having to re-dispense the charge. TAC resulted in an overcharge error almost every time on the fast setting, but had no issues when set to the normal speed setting.
Once you’ve settled on a desired charge weight, and dispensing speed, you have the option of running the Auto Charge in either a manual, or automatic mode. Manual simply means that you have to press dispense each time, whereas, on the automatic mode, all you need to do is press dispense, and start dumping powder charges into your waiting cases. Each time you place the empty flash pan onto the scale, the Auto Charge will dispense the next charge as soon as the weight reaches zero. I found that with the machine set to its fastest setting, in combination with Varget, I was able to keep up an almost constant pace of charging cases, with only a short wait between dumping powder into the case and waiting for the next charge to be dispensed.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Auto Charge worked. It’s a nice clean, simple unit, and was very easy to operate. I found that its ideal use is for load development, where you might have a number of different charge weights that you want to try. It is equally suited to regular reloading duties as well, however, a standard powder measure is still faster, and capable of dispensing most powders within the same accuracy range. What’s nice about the Auto Charge however is that you know every single time just how much your charge weights, and that there’s no potential for a mix-up, or double charge. Additionally, the Auto Charge can dispense close to a pound of powder, and not need topping up in order to maintain its accuracy. Having a scale built right in ensures you get the exact same, consistent charge weight.
Hornady is a very much renowned reloading manufacturer based out of Grand Island, Nebraska, and Korth Group are a Canadian importer and distributor of many manufacturers and brands such as Hornady. Again, thanks to Andrew Craig for his submission on the Hornady Lock-N-Load Auto Charge powder dispenser. The product as reviewed has an MSRP of $317.21 USD. This and other Hornady products can be found in a variety of brick and mortar shops across Canada as well as online venues such as Grouse River (which has both!). TPF’s standard clause still applies to our readers to determine if this piece of equipment is Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical for themselves.
“The second most tedious thing?” That was surely the question of most readers when looking at the title of this installment of TPF-Online. Yes, the author did mean to say the second most. The number one most tedious job from the majority of reloaders is trimming brass to length and there are a multitude of methods to do exactly that. However this instalment is about the second most tedious thing for reloaders who utilize progressive presses from Dillon, Hornady, RCBS, etc… So what is the second most tedious thing in progressive reloading? Filling the priming system of the press.
There are currently three common methods used in primer feed devices. Tube, Strip, and Box fed priming systems. Lee progressive presses, like the Loadmaster, utilize the box feed systems for their progressive press designs and it is by far the fastest for reloading primers. RCBS progressives now routinely use a preloaded primer feeding strip system since it’s introduction over a decade ago. But for the rest, a primer fill tube is used for the reloading process to be have one hundred primers ready for reloading. This has, for many, been done via the old fashion method of using a primer flip tray and a primer collecting tube and manually forcing each individual primer into the fill tube. It can take several minutes for an experienced user to pick up a hundred primers, and so many people pre-load several of these fill tubes prior to reloading, which is hard on the hands.
Luckily however, the author occasionally peruses the internet for firearms related products and businesses at random, and it was not too long ago that TPF came across a Canadian IPSC shooter, Mr. Nik Papadhopulli, who decided to open up a small business to supply Canadian shooters with various items to help with reloading and equipment to help competitors with the shooting sports. One of these products offered is an accessory to help speed up primer tube filling. Now TPF knows about Dillon’s RF-100 primer filling station, which is a hands free filler. You put a box of one hundred primers in the top of the unit and press a button and couple minutes later you have a full tube. This option is quite costly with a price tag of nearly $400 including the option to be able to fill both large and small primer tubes. However, at roughly half the price of the RF-100, Red Tip Bullet offers an alternative to Canadians. The Pal-Filler, designed and manufactured in Italy by Palvik, is a hand held, battery operated, primer tube filler.
Smaller, cheaper, and faster, this product already includes the ability to load both small and large primers. Now the Pal-Filler is not some complex, ergonomic and aesthetically beautiful product. It is in fact relatively plain and basic is shape and operation. Included is a double-usage primer tray, where one side is for small primers and the opposite side is for large primers. This tray is attached to the handle/grip and a primer tube is inserted in the appropriate opening. Operation of the Pal-Filler is a simple affair and assumes that the proper primer tube is already pre-inserted into the Pal Filler tool.
- A box of primers is dumped into the flipping tray, and shaken until all primers are anvil side up.
- Once primers are all oriented properly, the user inserts the retaining lid.
- With the unit tipped slightly towards the tube filling hole, the user flips the switch.
- The vibration caused by a rotating offset mass vibrates the Pal-Filler and the primers all fall in sequence into the open tube top.
- Did TPF mention it was fast? From the primer box to a tube filled with one hundred (100) primers in roughly thirty (30) seconds.
The concept for the Pal-Filler is very simple. Use proven, existing technology in a compact package. The small electric motor is wired in series with the simple on/off switch and the battery holder. The motor mounts an offset mass that creates the high frequency vibrations in the unit itself. It indeed is simple and one may think that should not equate into a high cost. Normally TPF would agree, except the Pal-Filler is completely manufactured on CNC machines. The aluminum grip halves are both machined from a billet of aluminum, inside and out. The tray is CNC machined from a block of high density plastic. The motor retaining bracket is machined aluminum as well. Even the battery holder is given a CNC machined base to be mounted on. The design features for ruggedness and longevity are apparent when looking at the Pal-Filler.
Made from quality materials, with quality craftsmanship, this is a fine tool for the reloader who does not want to load primers into tubes manually and is especially suited to volume usage as done by many progressive reloaders. The Pal Filler as reviewed has an MSRP of $189.00 CDN and is available from Red Tip Bullets (
http://www.redtipbullet.com). The question posed to our readers is if this piece of equipment is Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical.
Addendum 2017… We have been informed that Red Tip Bullets has since closed its doors. Which is unfortunate.
The authors of Tactical, Practical, and Fantastical have to thank Mr. Andrew Craig of Canadian Reload Radio fame for this review of one of the few Canadian designed rifle scopes available on the market. Scorpion Optics was kind enough to provide TPF-Online with one of their scopes for reviewing and Mr. Craig gladly provided us with his expertise on optics. We hope the readers of TPF-Online enjoy this review:
Scorpion Optics Venom Hi-Grade 6-24 x 50mm Rifle Scope
Scorpion Optics has a complete line of hunting and sporting optics with a full range of magnification options. The model provided for review was a Scorpion Venom Hi-Grade 6-24x50mm long range rifle-scope with a one-piece 30mm tube.
Statistics indicated for this particular optic:
6-24 Power range
50mm Objective lens
Side focus adjustable from 15 yards to infinity
One-piece aluminum tube construction
30mm One-Piece Main Tube
Fully-Multi coated lenses
Trajectory Compensating Reticle
1/8 MOA windage & elevation adjustments
>50 MOA adjustment range
For this review, the rifle-scope was mounted to a Robinson Armament XCR-M, a semi-automatic, non-restricted, rifle chambered in .308 Winchester. This particular rifle has a picatinny rail running the full length of the monolithic upper which allows for a wide range of mounting positions and optic styles and designs. A set of extra high Weaver Tactical rings were required due to the space requirements of the optic’s 50mm objective lens. With these rings there was just enough room for the scope’s objective bell to clear the rail.
Initial sight-in was done at 25 yards, with the point of impact being approximately 4 inches low and to the left. Windage was adjusted by simply looking through the optic and turning the adjustment dial until the cross-hair was inline with the initial shot. The adjustments dials are graduated in 1/8 MOA, which means one click moves the point of impact 1/8″ left or right at 100 yards. This allows for a very fine level of adjustment, which can be of benefit for a very accurate varmint rifle. Adjustment knobs are of the finger click type, and yield both a firm and audible click when being turned. The turrets indicate which direction they must be turned in order to adjust the point of impact, but, are not re-settable to zero once adjusted.
At 100 yards, the optic was dialed up to its maximum power of 24X. Power adjustment was very smooth and quick, made easy by an oversized tab on the adjustment ring. The Venom line of optics from Scorpion have fully multi-coated lens surfaces, which is a key feature in maximizing the amount of light gathered and transmitted to the eye. This, coupled with the 50mm objective lens results in a very bright image, with it darkening only slightly at the highest magnification setting. When fired at 100 yards, elevation only needed to be adjusted a minor amount, and it should be noted that windage remained spot-on from being set at 25 yards, and after making adjustments to the elevation at 100.
This optic includes a side focus dial for parallax correction at different distances. The Scorpion 6-24×50 is capable of being adjusted down to 15 yards. Most optics with this feature have a low-end limit of 50 yards, which usually limits their use to outdoor settings where there is more room to shoot. Having the ability to focus down to 15 yards means that this optic can be used at much shorter distances, such as an indoor range where one might wish to practice at a closer distance. The side focus adjustment is very firm, requiring a fair bit of effort to turn. This level of friction ensures that it wont turn if rubbed up against a shoulder while being carried with a sling. There was a slight bit of backlash noticeable when fine adjustments were being made to the focus, but, this did not take away from the rifle scope’s ability to be focused at any distance desired.
As a standard feature, the Scorpion Venom 6-24×50 includes an etched-glass “TCR” reticle. TCR stands for Trajectory Compensating Reticle, and includes hold-overs for distances out to 500 yards. When zeroed at 100 yards, and employed at 200 yards using just the TCR reticle, I had no difficulty hitting the 8 inch metal swinger shot after shot. When using the TCR for your rifle, be sure to verify where your rifle hits at the different distances, as, this type of reticle is of a one-size-fits-all variety. This is common, and you should find that your specific load will be within an inch or two of the hold overs at each distance.
Some final things to consider with this rifle-scope include a stated mass of 860 grams (30 oz), and an overall length of 400 mm (15 in). This is no small rifle scope, and will be ideally suited towards a long range varmint rifle where a bipod, shooting stick, or other stabilizing method is to be used. The model provided for review came in a smooth matte black finish, but on Scorpion Optic’s website, there are options that indicate it is also available in a silver finish. Eye relief is a short 75-81mm, however I found there to be plenty of room behind the eyepiece when shooting, and had no issues positioning my head for a clear image.
All said and done, the Scorpion 6-24x50mm Venom rifle scope provides the user with everything as promised. Features that stood out when using the optic included a very smooth, fast power adjustment, making it possible to change power on the fly without having to look up from the rifle scope. The TCR reticle makes it very versatile for a number of different ranges, and being capable of focusing down to 15 yards means that this optic can fill a larger variety of roles for the target or varmint shooter.
Scorpion Optics is based out of Manitoba and fields a variety of firearm and bow accessories such as the Venom HG 6-24 x 50mm rifle scope. Again, thanks to Andrew Craig for his submission on the Scorpion Optics Venom HG 6-24 x 50mm rifle scope. For the readers notes, the rifle scope as reviewed has an MSRP of $599.99 CDN which is an impressive price point for a high magnification, large objective lens rifle scope. Scorpion Optics can be found in a variety of brick and mortar shops across Canada as well as online venues such as Outfitter’s Supply Online. As always it is up to our readers to determine if this piece of equipment is Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical for themselves.
Combat pistol shooting has been around since the early 1900’s as military forces and law enforcement began to use handguns as a means of defense. Even back nearly 50 years ago, combat shooting was practiced by law enforcement as a means of training law enforcement officers (LEOs) to be able to effectively and accurately use their service pistols in a variety of shooting positions. A six shot revolver chambered in .38 Special was the standard staple of these LEOs so accuracy was an extremely important skill to have with their limited ammunition capacities. Remember that while a 1911 was designed over a century ago, most semi automatics were very expensive compared to the revolvers even just a few decades prior to today. This version of Combat Shooting has survived today as Police Pistol Combat (PPC) and is seen as the for-runner to current dynamic action shooting disciplines. It wasn’t until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s that the true combat shooting was starting to take shape in today’s version which incorporates drilling the concepts of threat identification and tactical awareness as well as accuracy while under stress. For readers who are in the younger generations, TPF recommends you go and look for the movie Magnum Force (1973), starring Clint Eastwood, and you will see a small snippet of the fore-runners of today’s action shooting with the “Combat Shooting Championships” in the . Please remember that movie is nearly 40 years in age and at the time action shooting sports had not been truly established. While PPC was, and is still today, practiced both a discipline and sport, it was the foundation for what developed into the modern action shooting sport, such as International Practical Shooting Confederation which was officially formed in 1976.
As the concept of getting into action shooting sports has already been addressed in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, this installment is to those individuals have already tried their hand at the fun filled world of action shooting. As TPF has inferred in the aforementioned posts, the majority of the experienced people who participate in action shooting are extremely friendly and open. Now some of these people now train others and use their vast amounts of experience and knowledge and years of refined skills to help jump start newcomers into shooting, and to enhance skills of those familiar to the sport. TPF, on behalf of the CSSA was able to interact with many of the shooters in the previous installments and get a quick tip from them. Please recall that many of these people make a living from training people how to become a better shooter and as such will only give small snippets of advice outside of a training session. TPF is honoured by the following individuals for their time and efforts at promoting the shooting sports and for their willingness to assist new shooters in some tips which they have found helpful in being a superior competitive shooter.
A huge supporter of IPSC and the owner of Freedom Ventures in Canada, Mr. Sean Hansen graciously gives TPF readers a quick tip on improving your shooting ability.
STI International sponsored competitive shooter, Mr. Blake Miguez is very open and a great individual whom was very forthcoming when asked to share his insight of how to improve one’s shooting prowess in action shooting. Mr. Miguez’s Facebook site here.
Michael Voigt is one of the true veterans of the shooting sports with many years of experience and skill under his belt. You will not how much he enjoys discussing the sport he has loved for many, many, years of dedication. Mr. Voigt’s website here.
Rob Leatham is to Action Shooting what Wayne Gretzky is to Hockey. Considered by many to be the overall grand master of knowledge and techniques from years upon years of being one of the best in the world in action shooting. Mr. Leatham’s website can be found here.
Angus Hobdell has been shooting CZ handguns for so long that the two are nearly interchangeable when talking about one or the other. A great great love for the shooting sports and a very friendly nature to all, means that Angus has no issues in letting TPF readers in on one of the small secrets for a successful shoot. Visit Angus Hobdell.s wesite here.
With a good sense of humour and a great demeanor, Ms. Tierani Hendrix is a credit to the shooting sports with her outgoing personality. While at the 2012 SHOT Show, she spared a small amount of time to give new action shooters a tip for improving. Her website can be found here.
Ms. Randi Rogers is pure gold in her enthusiasm for shooting sports and has an amazing level of skill and energy which she is always more than happy to share with new shooters. TPF was able to “co-erce” Ms. Rogers into offering a helpful hint just by asking her. Find Randi Rogers’ website here.
Para-USA Shooter, Travis Tomasie was yet another professional shooter who is happy to help out prospective shooters aquire higher skill sets and compete in action shooting sports. Travis’ website can be found here.
TPF would like to thank all the professional shooters who were willing to spend a moment of their time to assist TPF in these videos. Unfortunately these videos were all done in a limited time frame and due to these time constraints only a few were approached. If readers have any specific shooters, or questions to have asked of these shooters, please ensure that you write us with your suggestions here!
Regardless if it is Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical; the popularity of action shooting sports is on the rise. Thanks for reading!
Since its inception back in 1999, the Canadian Shooting Sports Association has held a fundraising dinner which has since become known as a “Stick to your Guns” dinner. Originally an annual event, this dinner has been expanded to be held several times a year in various locations across Canada. These dinners have had such notable speakers like Sandra Froman (former NRA President, 2005-2007), and long time supporter and a true friend to Canadian firearms owners, MP Garry Breitkreuz. In recent years a specific annual version has become linked with the CSSA’s Annual General Meeting, and this one was held on April 28th in Gatineau, Quebec.
The last time the author was in the region, the city of Hull had not been amalgamated into Gatineau and the author had barely begun to become involved with firearms. It seems so long ago, but the city and region hold many worthwhile attractions for visitors. So if you get a chance, please ensure that you visit one of the many museums in the area. Now, as this was to be the first of the CSSA AGM’s held in the province of Quebec, there was some anxious times for organizers leading up to the event as turnout was an unknown factor, but all the their worries were for naught. Nearly ninety (90) individuals braved the somewhat chilly weather to attend the CSSA AGM, of which roughly half were from the province of Quebec. With many questions asked by individuals in attendance and a great wealth of information about the efforts of the CSSA, the AGM was alive and resulted in a large volume of information disseminated to those in attendance. As always the CSSA is humbled by the sheer volume of support from its membership, and hopes to be able to do even more in the coming months and years both domestically and abroad.
With the AGM wrapping up just after noon on the Saturday, the CSSA had decided to arrange a tour of parliament for the late afternoon prior to the fundraising dinner and this was available for attendees of the AGM. TPF was unable to attend the tour, but had heard that the tour was phenomenal with people being right on the House of Commons floor and sitting in both the seats of the Honorable Andrew Scheer, Speaker of the House as well as the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada. The entire structure of the parliament building is a monument to history and grand construction of generations gone by. With exquisite stonework and inlaid patterning, it is amazing how well made the building is when one considers that the wiring and plumbing is nearly completely hidden from casual sight as you walk through out the building.
At 6:00pm the “Stick to your Guns” dinner officially opened and began the festive evening, with it being the first CSSA fundraising dinner since the historic April 5th, 2012. This was officially coined as the 1st Annual Dead Registry Celebration, as it occurred mere weeks after the historic passing of Bill C-19. Even with some last-minute scrambling for setting up the prize tables, the evening proceeded with very little snags and errors. With Tony Bernardo being the Master of Ceremonies and Mr. Brian Lovig of the Daily Split being a co-host, the evening was anything but dull. Not one, but TWO speakers were in attendance that evening with Mr. Garry Breitkreuz being the initial speaker and telling about the trials and efforts that have been endured and overcome by the CSSA and those who believe in firearms freedom. The keynote speaker was mister Phil Morlock, one of North America’s leading experts in promoting heritage outdoors activities that include hunting, sport shooting, fishing and trapping. The praise which came from the mouths of these two individuals was humbling to the CSSA but also invigorated those in attendance to continue to stand up and fight for the Canadian firearms community.
With good food and nearly one hundred attendees, the dinner started off on a great note and the sheer number of prizes were astounding. There were many spectacular prizes available and the top ones were two of the four rifles available that evening. To quote the host’s repeated mantra, “Did we mention that these rifles were UNREGISTERED?” Many thanks to those who won the Chaparral Winchester Model 1866, the Carl Gustav 63 target rifle, and the plethora of prizes that were available. Many thanks must also go to Mr. Brian Lovig for his professional assistance in auctioning off some prizes, such as the Model 1866, to the attendees. Some of the raffle draws were very well received and quite innovative such as the Joker Draw which was a beautiful stainless Ruger 10-22 rifle with laminated wood stock. The catch? There were only 12 tickets available so it was a 1 in 12 chance to win. Just amazing and so well received by the audience.
A special thanks to the following for their support and help in what was a truly extraordinary evening. These companies and individuals are part of Team CSSA and contribute to the success of the organization to keep the fight in the face of the gun grabbers and ensuring what is accomplished is lasting and stays beneficial for Canadians.
- John St. Amour, Marstar Canada
- John Mock, Stoeger Canada
- Bob Nichols, R. Nichols
- Daniel Legault, Browning Canada
- Anthony Toryni, Trade Ex Canada
- Ken McRory, Vortex Optics Canada
- Brandon Bulter, Battenfeld Technologies (Caldwell/Tipton)
- Ben Krete, The Gun Centre
- Mandy Esteves, Shooting Chrony Inc
- Dave Landsborough, Triggers and Bows
- Lee Morgan, Gunzilla Canada
- Tony Bernardo, Canadian Institute for Legislative Action
- Brian Lovig, The Daily Split
- Garry Breitkreuz, CPC Member of Parliament for Yorkton-Melville
- Hornady, Kershaw, Forster, Lyman, and several more companies
- Luc Thivierge, Chris Youngson, Norm Lapierre, and so many more individuals
After all the food had been eaten and all the prizes had been doled out to winning attendees, the evening was far from finished. The CSSA went the extra step and provided a live band for the remainder of the night. “Reloaded” was a garage band made up of some veteran and professional talent from the ranks of the CSSA itself. Armed with his Gretsch guitar, Tony Bernardo lead the group with professionalism, Rob Alexander invoked his keyboard with practiced skill, Brant Scott wailed with purpose on drums and Dave Weston put up the backbone bass with fingers flying. With the occasionally addition vocals provided by Tony’s daughter, Kira; the night was filled with electricity and was possibly the finishing stroke in completing a picture perfect day of energy and enthusiasm.
Many thanks to all who helped make the entire day a memorable one and hopefully TPF will see you again next year at yet another CSSA AGM, if not sooner at more of these fund-raising dinners.
Video games such as Call Of Duty, Battlefield, and other first person shooters have greatly increased the appeal of firearms to the younger generations. For this TPF cannot apologize, as despite knowing that such video games turn violence into a hyped up and marketable commodity, it has done more to get the next generation of shooters into the sport than almost any other combination of approaches. That in itself shows how much farther all shooters need to reach to not only accept the newest members of our sport and hobby, but how much they need to get off their own derrieres and teach the unknowing masses what they are missing.
Unfortunately it seems that fewer people nowadays are hunting and the reason for that is because for the last couple decades, firearms have become publicly of crime and unlawful activities. Nothing can be further from the truth as 99.9% of firearms owners are caring, safety conscious individuals who, outside of hunting and wilderness survival, would find it very difficult to ever commit any form of violent act against another living creature. TPF authors personally know individuals who are firearms owners and refuse to even consider playing paintball or air-soft games for the simple reason that to play those games one would have to point a “gun” at another person. That being said the author has no issues with paintball, nor air-soft, as both are akin to the firearms community. They build teamwork, camaraderie, and just as actual firearms usage, safety is the number one responsibility of all those involved.
While hunting with firearms appears on the surface to be in decline, the reality is that more and more shooters are gravitating towards handguns, “black rifles” and action shooting sports. Readers should recall that in June 2011, TPF did indeed mention some of the various action shooting disciplines available to people. This time around TPF-Online is proud to have been able to enlist several individuals who compete professionally and have them give a tip or two about what to do if you are interested in this category of extreme sports. Be advised that many of these shooters are based in the United States and have a much more prominent network for action shooting information and contacts.
Getting into Action Shooting – Part 1! – On behalf of TPF-Online and the CSSA!
First up is Canadian shooter Sean Hansen. President of Freedom Ventures Limited, and a multiple IPSC Provincial Champion in Nova Scotia, is a strong supporter of action shooting and enjoys many years of good memories and experiences regarding his efforts in action shooting and has many more years to create more.
Next up is Blake Miguez, whom at just over 20 years old holds the title of 2011 ISPC World Champion and is proof that shooting for fun can lead into more opportunities.
The lovely and talented Julie Goloski Golob shares a bit of insight on the simple and easiest method of getting into action shooting.
Talking to these individuals is a great pleasure for reasons mentioned previously. Such individuals are thankfully not rare in the action shooting sports, and by that TPF-Online is heartened by the open and welcoming attitudes which many, if not all, of these top competitors have.
TPF hopes you the reader, and viewer in this case, hold your judgement until you see some more future shooting personalities in later installments, but as always; action shooting. Is it Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical?
Just a bit more to whet your appetite as well…
Jerry Miculek – The fastest trigger in the world and arguably the best revolver competitor that ever existed.
Todd Jarrett – A world level competitor with millions upon millions of rounds of of experience and a great ambassador to the shooting sports as well.
Sincere apologies for the delays, the individuals behind TPF have had very poor luck with a variety of things lately, including health, holiday time, and being overworked in both professional and volunteer endeavours.
HOWEVER! Now that the CSSA has an official fund raising account for Canadian Gun Nutz, the list has been created for the selling of reviewed products. The official list of products offered can be found in this thread at CGN.
If you have questions please email TPF-Online. Your email will be answered within 24 hours.
Thank you all for your support, especially the companies which have helped TPF-Online become a reality and want to help the Canadian firearms user become familiar with products that are available.
It has been a distinct privilege to be supported by SOG, Gerber, Hornady, CRKT, ATI and so many others.
Many thanks for the CSSA for this opportunity to help other Canadian firearms owners as well as the CSSA itself. Also, many thanks to the folks at Canadian Reload Radio, specifically Andrew Craig and Chris Anderson, for without their influence and example, TPF would have never existed.
A snippet of what is to come:
Products from Chiappa, Hornady, CRKT, SOG, etc…
Thank you all and on behalf of TPF please enjoy the holiday season.
In Canada, more acutely in Ontario, the display and use of firearms in an entirely legal manner has under gone many years of social engineering and regulation. Gone are the decades past when you and your other high school buddies brought their .22LR rifles to school for show and tell. Gone are the years past when the schools had rifle clubs and small shooting ranges established on school property. Gone are the days of being able to show off your firearm to friends and neighbours as a source of pride and safe recreational activity.
Or is it? Some are trying to break out of that mold, such as outgoing and publicized events like the following:
TPF had the chance to attend the East Elgin Sportmen’s Association’s (EESA) 11th Annual Open House, which was held just this weekend on the 11th & 12th of June. Being TPF’s first time at EESA, it was an awesome event to see the numbers of EESA club members which helped make this event possible. Now in its 11th year of running, the EESA Open House has continually grown and helped promote shooting for exactly what it is. A fun enjoyable recreation when performed safely. Safety is always the number one priority, with having fun a very close second. TPF talked to literally dozens of people and when asked how much they were looking forwards to the day, or how they liked their time at the open house; the answers were ALWAYS with smiles and positive attitudes.
EESA’s current president, John Evers, is a stalwart supporter of promoting shooting and encouraging people to at least know about firearms by experiences such as that offered during the EESA Open House. While appearing to be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of organized chaos involved in running the open house, TPF talked to a few of the EESA members present and they agreed that the passion that Mr. Evers has is one of the top ten things that are required to make this sort of event successful. John’s skills and passionate disposition to firearms has him running several high profile roles including being a Regional Director for the CSSA and a successful media personality for firearms related issues. John has been quoted as saying that the EESA Open House is “The best weekend of the year for me.” At the end of day two of the event, he and his crew of volunteers are spent physically. Emotionally, they all love it as the event allows them to bring smiles to the faces of others and it is immensely satisfying to teach new shooters how to have fun with firearms in a safe environment.
Day one of the Open House was not the best in terms of weather with a small smattering of rain imposing itself, but when all was said and done, nearly 80 people were lined up at the entrance waiting for the event to open at 10:00am Saturday morning… Taking a quick tour around the facilities proved to be very enlightening. The various ranges were appropriated for various firearm groups. Indoor facilities were strictly for Handguns while the 85m range was dedicated to smallbore and air rifles. At the 100m range, dozens of firearms were available for use in some of the more popular calibres currently used by the shooting community Exotic and larger calibres, such as the incomparable .50BMG were located at the 300m range. By the end of the first day, the numbers showed that 586 people came through the gates to attend the open house.
The second day of the open house was less wet, but was several degrees colder during the day and the wind picked up significantly. That did not discourage the multitudes of people from flocking to the gates of EESA to have their chance at shooting one or more firearms. Not surprisingly some of the most popular firearms were AR-15’s (Of which there were at least 3 at the 100m range). Add in the additional rifles chambered in .223 Remington and it was a foregone conclusion that by 3:30PM on Sunday, there was not a single un-fired round of that calibre remaining at the entirety of EESA.
Just a listing of SOME of the firearm calibres that were being offered:
- .177 Pellet, .17 HMR
- .204 Ruger, .22 LR, .22 WMR, .22-250 Remington, .223 Remington
- .270 Winchester, .30-30 Winchester, .308 Winchester, 7.62 x 39mm
- .300 Winchester Magnum, .300 Weatherby Magnum, .30-06 Springfield
- .338 Lapua, .375 H&H, .45/70 Government, .50 BMG
- 9 x 19mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .44 Remington Magnum, .50 Action Express
- AND MORE!!! (including the tons of 12ga)
The most convincing aspect of how much people are enticed into trying these events is obvious by the line ups for the various ranges. The longest line ups were for handguns with some people waiting nearly 90 minutes to have their chance at firing a handgun for their very first time. Their was a separate line up to shoot the custom .50 BMG rifle at the 300m range and you could hear that shot clear across the length of EESA’s property. Despite a steep cost per shot there was no shortages of takers to try out the giant .50 BMG rifle with line ups usually being thirty or forty people in length.
By the end of day two the weather was thankfully cool, the volunteer’s bodies were tired and feet sore, and the sense of another great Open House at EESA was evident. Day two’s final tally posted a record 829 attendees for a weekend total of 1415 people who attended this year’s 2011 EESA Open House. What a remarkable event dedicated to getting the public to come and try shooting for the very first time and educating those who attend that the use of a firearm can be a great source of fun and recreation.
Update: June 14th, 2011. Total round count during the 2 day event, 63565 rounds of ammuntion. That is an average of 45 rounds of ammuntion PER attendee!