Tag Archives: girsan

SHOT Show Day 3: Ghost, Blackhound Optics, M+M Industries, MEAN Arms, Girsan, SDS, HasGrok, Savior Equipment, Panzer Arms / AR-Five Seven, THRiL, Dasan/Alpha Foxtrot, Recover Tactical, CHPWS, Caldwell

Today is my last day at SHOT; too many personal and professional conflicts to justify trying to work it on Thursday as well. I tried to hit as many places of interest to me as I could in this final outing. This time, I was on the first floor of the expo hall – “the dungeon”. This is the cheap seats of SHOT, and while there’s many reputable vendors there… there’s some sketchier ones as well. There were a surprising number of no-shows down there; I would have imagined they’d be eager to get some eyeballs with some of the big names out of the way.

Ghost: It’s no secret that I shoot a lot of competition and training classes. What I’m maybe less vocal about is that most of the time, I’m using Ghost magazine pouches. Ghost USA imports very high quality pouches from Italy. When I asked them what the big release this year was, they pointed to their Hydra holster. The Hydra tries to split the difference between a race holster and a shell holster, and has a positive locking mechanism for between stages. They have models for all the popular competition guns, and a couple different attachment mechanisms. Unsure that I’m going to run out and buy one tomorrow, but it does look like a nice option for 3gun and the like.

Blackhound Optics: When I was talking to the rep at JOL, he told me that “you may want to talk to those Blackhound guys. They’ll have something of interest.” Well, I’m nothing if not a sucker for a reference, so I went on the hunt for Blackhound Optics down on the first floor. Luckily, I found them and was able to have a long discussion with them about their products.

They’re now selling three lines of products:
1. Emerge – made by JOL in Japan. High-end optics priced like high-end optics.
2. Evolve – made in China. This is higher quality Chinese stuff that just came out.
3. Genesis – made in China. This is Blackhound’s original line of products.

I took a look at the Emerge optics and… they look good! They had features like an elevation turret indicator, lever on the magnification ring, the MOA holdover + mil ranging reticle I talked about previously, and illumination. Glass seemed on point, too, but that’s hard to evaluate in the hall.

What really surprised me, though, was the Evolve 1-6x scope. I had asked where the Emerge LPVO was, and they kinda demurred on it, instead showing me their Genesis and Evolve LPVOs. The Genesis was… OK? Nothing special (sorry, Blackhound). The Evolve promptly blew my mind. Daylight bright fiber optic reticle! On a Chinese-made scope! When did this become a thing? I am very well acquainted with the different LPVO illumination mechanisms, and there was no doubt in my mind at what I was seeing. We can talk about whether the reticle would be improved with some holdovers (it would be!), but this is a real game changer and I’m curious to see where it goes. The Blackhound scopes in this line come with a mount and everything you need to get going, so they’re a packaged solution.

M+M Industries: There’s a new version of the M+M M10X with a shortened handguard and a lighter receiver. It weighs 7lbs. Despite goons on the Internet calling it a two piece AK, it is very, very similar to a Sig 55X on the inside, all the way through field stripping.

MEAN Arms: The guys at MEAN Arms were more than willing to talk about their roller-delayed 9mm AR – it’s apparently on the fifth generation, and it is in production. Expect to see uppers compatible with standard lower receivers, coming in at ~$1200. Given the cost of the JP5, which is exorbitant, this sounds like a real deal if it works as well as I was told it does. The bolt design is really quite clever, and is easily adjustable for different ammo energy.

Girsan: Girsan downstairs was much more amenable to me, and was showing off their new Regard Gen3 and Gen4 pistols, as well as the P35. The Regard Gen3 looks like a super slick Beretta 92 clone, and checks all the right boxes (frame safety, gas pedal takedown, optics cut, and a surprisingly reasonable trigger).

SDS: I wanted to talk to SDS about their fantastic SDS S4 clone of the Benelli M4. Well, if you liked it, but thought the stock was meh, you are not alone – SDS is working with the factory to improve the stock and make it much more like the factory Benelli M4 stock (hopefully shorter!). In less awesome news, the SDS Duo-Sys M3 clone is getting discontinued due to poor sales. Pick it up now while you have a chance, if you want one. The firearms on display were a bit sparse due to some shipping mishaps between Dallas and Las Vegas, but they were quite proud of their retro shotguns.

HasGrok: I’m a geek, and I took a real stab at writing a computer vision program that would be able to sort case headstamps. It kinda worked, but the mechanical part never quite came together. HasGrok has a solution that DOES work, and they told me that they’ve got an improvement coming that will also be able to sort on case profile – so that it can distinguish between 223 and 300 AAC with the same headstamp (ie, conversions) and even determine overall length of a cartridge to determine whether it needs trimming. Super clever!

They’re also working on getting their case feeder set up with WiFi so you can adjust the digital clutch from your phone. Sounds good to me.

Savior Equipment: Savior Equipment’s new 2022 products are some camo rifle bags. I own zero camo anything, so this was not of much interest to me. I still think they make some of the best rifle bags you can buy, however.

Panzer Arms / AR-Five Seven: I had a long, long chat with the rep at the Panzer Arms / AR-Five Seven booth. I’ll skip straight to the import part: the AR-57 upper is coming back. The previous version had some issues, and they took a few years to resolve. (I was also told ProMag P50 mags will never work right, and you should get FN ones.)

We also had a rather interesting conversation about Turkish shotguns. Panzer Arms owns the factory in Turkey. They know precisely what is going in, and they make most of it. They also have copious spare parts to fix things if they go wrong. Many other importers are not in such a favorable position. He was quite insistent that their guns work, and that they can fix whatever lemons accidentally find their way here.

THRiL: I have some THRiL MPX magazines. They work fantastically well. Alas, most people have never heard of them. The company is new (2018), and has some Lancer heritage engineers running the show. Besides having MPX and AR15 magazines, they are also the OEM for PSA’s Scorpion and AK (steel-lined, steel lugs, and steel feed lips) magazines. They’ve got some other OEM projects ongoing, and it sounds like they’re quite happy with the way their new Bantam compact stock came out. This is yet another small company that probably gets unfairly lumped in with a number of smaller companies with lesser products, and I hope they can break past that for the reputation they genuinely deserve.

Dasan / Alpha Foxtrot: Alpha Foxtrot is South Korean Dasan’s US arm, and they sell a variety of rather interesting guns, including metal framed Glocks and 1911s. The cool stuff this year was a compact 1911 that took Shield magazines, and a 2011-style gun that could switch frames between single-stack and double-stack. I know the latter sounds like a bit of an edge use case, but it’s potentially tremendously useful to competitive shooters who want to use the same gun for 3gun and single-stack USPSA/IDPA. It’s not going to be cheap, but I believe the target is still under $2000.

Recover Tactical: Right before SHOT Show, Recover Tactical announced the P-IX chassis for Glocks. According to Recover, this will accept nearly any Glock you can think of. The basic premise of it is to make your Glock into a bullpup – sort of like a Corner Shot, but without all that Corner Shot foldy stuff. The trigger pull was… spongy. Whatever linkage they’re using clearly has some play and/or flex. But the premise seems solid, and it will at least eliminate some of the dust cover flex problems that other chassis systems invoke. They’re selling the chassis for $200 sans a buffer tube / stock / brace – you can install your own to do whatever you want.

CHPWS: The big news at CHPWS is that they are moving to the v5 plate system. This will be thinner, with a redesigned T-nut to maintain appropriate plate strength.

Caldwell: I had one, and only one question for Caldwell: WHERE IS THE VELOCIRADAR? Answer: it’s still on the roadmap, it’s still being worked on, and supply chain problems have made getting the electronics for production a nightmare. It will be at SHOT 2023, but no firm word on release (whether before or after). But they know people want it… badly.

SHOT Show Day 2: Lyman/Mark7, Dillon Precision, Magpul, Girsan, SAR USA, Bushnell, Federal, Kel-Tec, Aero Precision, Hurricane Butterfly

After my last post, I spent some time back on the floor checking out the latest and greatest from various manufacturers.

Lyman/Mark7: No new products for SHOT from Mark7. We had a conversation about my own Mark7 Evolution press, and the growing pains that Mark7 has had in the past couple years. Long story made short, support was not always as good as it should have been. But that has been steadily improving, and I can attest to it from my own personal experience. Once they get their supply chain under control and can ship product faster, I suspect they’ll be even more popular.

Dillon Precision: The hot, hot new product from Dillon is the Dillon Automation autodrive “DA3000”. There’s some good news, and there’s some bad news. Good news first: it’s real and it works. Here’s a video:

Here’s the bad news: it’s an AmmoBot, there was no sensor suite, and it’s like $2400. I am sure the Dillon diehard crowd will ignore these problems (disclosure: I own a Dillon 650 and have loaded a ton of 9mm on it), but I simply don’t see how this competes with the Mark7 autodrive in any way other than “well, you get to keep your warranty!” It doesn’t seem to know if you’re out of primers… let that one sink in. On the positive side, the DA3000 is probably phenomenal for bulk case processing with the CP2000, because it’s basically just a way to mechanically cycle your press and not much more.

Magpul: Magpul had a few outstanding product releases the week before SHOT, but the most intriguing was the “X4” collaboration between Maztech and Magpul. The X4 is what I thought it was: a heads-up display for your rifle that uses sensor fusion to provide its benefits. The two big ones are a round counter and a laser rangefinder. The Maztech engineer I was chatting with was really enthused about it, and the state of maturity it was already in. He was talking a Christmas release for the civilian side. It’ll work with 30mm and 34mm scopes, but here’s the limitation: you can’t have an objective bell. It needs to be a straight tube. This rules out scopes like the Accupower 1-8x and the Razor Gen2-E. The Vortex Razor Gen3 will be perfectly fine, though.

Hot take: this is Magpul’s attempt to enter Wilcox’s space. We’ll see how it works out.

Girsan: Girsan didn’t have a whole lot to announce. They seemed less than pleased with me when I told the optic they were including on the 1911 was garbage, and they needed some more optics plates included. Not everyone appreciates my expert product management consulting services even if when they’re free, oddly enough. Their big new product of the year is their Browning High Power clone, the MC P35. It feels like a BHP, and it has a trigger like a BHP. It scratches the itch.

SAR USA: SAR USA and the gent I spoke with were quite enthused with their products. I think this is justified; I love the heck out of my SAR K2, but the after-market sight situation is awful. They told me they were working on it this year (in fact, at SHOT!) and to expect better. The rep acknowledged that they’re just not great at marketing, and have made that a much bigger focus going forward. In my opinion, SAR is a hidden gem; they’re the Turkish military’s pistol manufacturer, and they don’t make many lemons. I also saw SAR proper’s rifle display, including a nifty 7.62×51 rifle. Unclear to me if this was going to be imported. It has a carry handle with backup irons… I’m not sure what the use case is.

Bushnell: Not much new from Bushnell on the high-end optics front. The DMR3 and XRS3 were very nice scopes, with excellent reticles (no illumination). A new high-end LPVO is completely MIA, which is a gaping hole in their line-up. The world is ready for an SMRS III, guys… make it happen.

Federal: One of the big SHOT stories this year is 30 Super Carry, and Federal had a nice little display out. I was the only one at it when I visited. That’s a little disorienting, and makes me wonder if there’s really a lot of market demand for it. They had a couple of 1911s (one was a sweet Nighthawk), a Shield EZ, and a Shield Plus there. They all held like +2 rounds when using 30 Super Carry as advertised. My personal feeling is that in this day and age of stagger stack mags in micro compacts, that additional +2 rounds is a lot less critical than it is in single stacks.

Kel-Tec: Kel-Tec is a quirky firm, and they never fail to deliver at SHOT. This year, their hot new items were the aluminum-frame P15 handgun and the P50 carbine kit.

Yes, that’s right: Kel-Tec is making a kit with a stock and a 16″ barrel for $300 so you can turn the world’s weirdest 5.7 pistol into the world’s weirdest 5.7 rifle… and I love it.

The aluminum-framed P-15 is a bit more conventional, but it represents Kel-Tec’s first gun with an aluminum frame (or so I was told). To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even realize I was holding what was apparently a prototype pistol in my hands. It’s surprisingly classy. (I guess this is a Hebrew Hammer Blog exclusive because I’ve seen zero other outlets report on this.)

On the downside, they did disappoint me by saying that the PLR/SU lines were basically dead for the time being. No MLOK handguards incoming. 😦

Aero Precision: Aero was showing off a Remington 700-style action and chassis. It’s still under development, but, hey, it looks good to me. If you are expecting an ultra-cheap barreled action with bolt, you are going to be disappointed; the rep’s numbers were closer to a thousand dollars if I recall correctly.

Hurricane Butterfly: Finally, we have Hurricane Butterfly. HB was importing some sweet mag-fed Hawk 870s in some oddball configurations a couple years ago, but there was apparently some patent litigation that put a stop to that for a while. It was unclear in our discussion whether they were going to go back to doing those imports. They also brought in some HK416 pistols that were about as close to the real thing (without full-auto) as you could get. It sounds like they’re currently focusing on value-added import/export activities (such as setting up ACOGs with offset spacers) while they figure out their long-term business plan. I’m hoping to speak more at length with them tomorrow, because they are one of the few small firms that seems to be genuinely creative in what they do.

New Blaster: EAA/Girsan MC1911S with Custom CHPWS Plate

Since I have a ton of large pistol primers, I decided I’d supplement my 9mm expenditure by loading some 45 Automatic (aka, 45 ACP). My load recipe is a boring old 230gr coated bullet on top of 5.3gr of Unique with max OAL.

I have a couple guns in 45 Auto, but neither of them is something I’d want to use for a daily driver due to relative rarity (especially my KSN GAL). I splurged a bit, and picked up an EAA Girsan MC1911S, which has a factory optics cut and accessory rail. It’s really quite fetching!

Holster compatibility is problematic, but there are options out there. The trigger pull is nothing to write home about, but not worse than any other cheap 1911. The accessory rail seems to be in spec. The magazine well was tight – maybe a bit too tight, as a couple of random 1911 magazines wouldn’t fit in it. It fired my handloads with 100% reliability, which is not nothing, though.

It came with a factory optic. Said factory optic is a “Derry”, and it is obvious garbage. It sells on Alibaba for $35 in bulk. While I am sure that margins on reflex sights are not horrible for most manufacturers, I’ve got a lot of qualms about the reliability of something that’s retailing for $35 – and other reviews of this pistol seemed to indicate that failures happened quickly. It uses a Docter footprint, which is not really a terrible footprint, but none of the cool guy sights use it anymore. Suffice it to say, I did not bother with this optic at all.

Enter C&H Precision Weapon Systems (CHPWS). Utilizing some shared contacts, I was able to contract CHPWS to develop a better red dot plate with the Holosun HS507K footprint. It was not cheap, and it took a while, but the results were gorgeous, and the HS507K is just the right width for my pistol – a bit of overhang on the sides, but far less than an RMR. It also exudes a sort of quality that the factory sight didn’t even come close to replicating.

The radius matches the slide perfectly. You can see the usual CNC milling angles, which I consider acceptable for this sort of purpose.

When I took my new gun out to the range, I was impressed. The optic was rock solid on the slide, and the gun kept on running with 100% reliability. While I had to fight the trigger a bit to keep my shots in the same hole, when I did my part, the accuracy at 10yds was excellent.

You can get an optics-equipped Girsan MC1911S for about $600 off Gunbroker. My optics plate was a $200 custom job, but keep in mind that normal plates from CHPWS start from $70 on up – so paying a fair bit more for something that literally didn’t exist and probably doesn’t have much of a market doesn’t seem terribly unfair to me – and perhaps it’ll be slightly cheaper for you since the design work is done now. With the 507K, I’m about a thousand bucks in, total.

I’m looking forward to using this gun at a class or two, and for messing around at the range. I suppose I could even run it in IDPA Carry Optics if I felt like being an iconoclast. A trigger job would probably make it a much more comfortable shooter, so that’s an upgrade I’ll be looking into when funds allow.

There’s a touch of overhang because a 1911’s slide is 0.9″, and the 507K’s width is 0.98″. But .04″ off the side isn’t much.

ETA (2/6/2022): the GLS wide holster with a shim works well enough for this gun, especially if you tweak the set screw. The Nighthawk Drop-In Trigger System also works just fine, no safety fitting required. It dropped the trigger pull to about 3.5lbs, which was a rather dramatic improvement.