I just got back home from Las Vegas on Friday morning …. it was a killer trip and not for the reasons one might associate with this town! I was at the SHOT Show, and as in years past it was a hectic schedule for me. But unlike last year, though I missed media day due to family obligations, I was there for three full days. I caught a late flight in and arrived in Vegas just before midnight on Monday, grabbed a cab to my hotel, and got a decent night sleep. I arrived at the show at 8:30, and as I’d preregistered went straight to the press room. I had a couple quick preliminary meetings with magazine editors, got myself organized, then hit the exhibit floor.
I am contracted to deliver reviews or commentary on SHOT for Predator Xtreme (my publishing home base), for Fish and Game (doing an annual gear guide), Airgun Hobbyist, and Airgun Shooter (UK) on big bore airguns. So in my blog today, so that I’m not stepping on my own toes and plagiarizing myself while trying to write four different articles on the same event, I am going to stick to guns and happenings at AoA. And there was a lot happening there with two of the major releases in the booth; the release of the new Daystate Bullpup called the Pulsar, and AoA’s first foray into manufacturing with the big bore called the Bushbuck! The other two areas of extreme interest (for me) was the further integration of Brocock product line into Daystate, and AoA’s management of the MTC scope line.
The AoA booth was, as in years past, in the British Pavilion and by virtue of that had to only shot British products. Fair enough and there was enough to show that this wasn’t a major setback, except that the AOA Bushbuck couldn’t be actively displayed. This was a shame, in that it is the most powerful production big bore gun in the world, and at a SHOT Show this year with the emphasis on all the new big bores the rifle wasn’t given a chance to shine. Robert, Greg, and Darren were manning the booth for AOA, with Tony Belas (Daystate Dir of Sales and Marketing) and his team in attendance. A great group of guys and a vast amount of airgunning experience between them!
Tony Belas told me that the Pulsar redefines airgun design as we know it. The gun is built on more than a decade of electronic airgun design which has proven very successful in both hunting and competitive shooting, stating that Daystate’s revolutionary CDT system has a significan place in sporting airguns. He also told me that the Pulsar represents the 5th generation of this technology and provides the next major step forward.
The Pulsar brings together Daystate’s established CDT and MCT systems, and updates them into one of the most compact, ergonomic, and advanced firing systems ever seen. The Pulsar’s new electronic GCU system is housed in a rugged waterproof box for total protection against the elements. The ergonomic design is fast to deploy and looks to be a shooter-friendly bullpup packages, which I hope to comment on from an experience users perspective soon. Some of the other features are an integral laser sight to allow the user to wholly concentrate on the shot. The gun is rich in safety features with a sophisticated and multidimensional electronic safety system – a crossbolt safety catch, anti-double loading mechanism, and bolt-open deactivator. All of these features should add up to make the Daystate PULSAR THE gun for shooters that want a bullpup …. and can afford the cover price to the dance . I like the concept of a bullpup, but the realization of most designs leaves me less enthusiastic; if I am going to use a bullpup it’s because I want a compact, light, easy to deploy gun. A lot of bullpups feel like a fencepost in my hands, but I was impressed with the fit and feel of this gun and am anxious to hit the field with it.
The AOA Bushbuck is a massive gun, and is producing massive power. The bolt action has two cocking position, pull it halfway back and you get 3-4 shots at 400 fpe, or pull it all the way back and get two shots at an incredible 600 fpe! This is the most powerful production airgun ever built. I shot this gun in Arizona as it was being prototyped, and think it may well represent the apex in big game hunting airguns. It has a solid trigger that is one of the most tactile and smoothest I used on a big bore out of the box. I’m taking this gun hunting soon and will report more then!
Brocock has been coming up with guns that I really like, they are compact, simple yet elegant in design, great performers, and tend to be very compact. A gun I got my hands on la couple years back, hunted with a lot in the squirrel woods of the Midwest, desert rabbits out west, and pest control all over, was the Specialist. I groaned when I heard the gun was discontinued, but was happy to see that it has been resurrected with a new ambidextrous stock, which is more substantial than the original stock but still weighs in at 4lb and some change. Now here’s where I’ll weigh in with an opinion, when I want a compact hunting gun to carry on long hikes this is what I reach for, not a bullpup, but a well designed, lightweight, compact carbine. And for this type of gun, Brocock is producing some of the best of breed.
I can’t give you a lot of details on the MTC Scopes yet, there was not a wide range at the show, but I will say that the couple I looked at impressed with the clarity of the image in the lowlight environment. These scopes have a very short eye relief, which may take a little getting used to, however if the field performance is on par with what I say at the show, it will be worth the effort of acclimation!
Other fun things for me at the show; we filmed a segment of the American Airgunner Roundtable from the floor, setting up a mobile studio at the Pursuit Channels booth. I was joined by the usual suspects (Rossi, Tom, and Rick) and we each spoke about some of our favorite finds from around the exhibit hall. I also did a full blown photo shoot for Game&Fish/Sportsman magazine, which was a bit wild. I met in a studio they’d set up in the convention center, replete with all the lights and gear, and a staff consisting of photographer, director of photography, makeup artist, etc. I had to change into my camo and strike heroic poses in front of a white screen with an air rifle over my shoulder to calls of ” a quarter turn, raise your chin, look into the camera, look serious, be the expert”. Will see how it turns out, I think my face is better suited for writing or radio!
Have lots of guns coming to me over the next few months, one of the first things I’ll do is an upcoming hog hunt with the Bushbuck…. I’ll keep readers up to date!
BTW: If you want to get a broader look at the SHOT Show, I’ve got a two part video posted, stop by for a look