TUFF1’s new grip covers caught our eye. This type of product has been on the market for many years, but this one is for dressing up the looks of your gun as much as it’s for functionally giving you a better gripping surface.
Mel Forbes (r.) has teamed up with Jonathan Brawn (l.) to form Forbes Rifles, LLC. The company is headquartered in Maine and offers a less expensive commercial version of the legendary New Ultra Light Arms Model 24 rifle.
The workmanship on the Forbes Model 24 rifle is every bit as good as the custom guns from New Ultra Light Arms that they emulate.
Lyman’s take on handloading data this year includes manuals specific the categories of cartridges such as “Big Bore” and “Historic Military Calibers.”
The new KleenBore CableKleen uses standard disposable cleaning patches. Patches attach on either side of the brush so you can wet, brush, and re-wet with one pass.
By Scott Mayer
There is so much to see that it’s simply not possible to report on all of the new and interesting products at SHOT Show. Because of that, there are countless cool little things readers will probably never hear about. Here then, are a few of those items we were able to catch between scheduled appointments.
With 15 SHOT Shows under my belt, I can tell you that there is a lot of planning that goes into covering the show from an editorial perspective. You have to schedule your meetings ahead of time so the person you want to talk with is available. If you’re smart, you consult the exhibitor map ahead of time and line up your appointments so you progress from one end of a hall to the other instead of running from one end to the other. Hopefully, you have good industry contacts who trust you and provide new product information prior to SHOT so all you have to do is go by to say hello and verify and finalize your report. But even with all of that planning, there are always countless products you hurry past and never see, or that you only catch a glimpse of on your way to another booth. This year was no different, but this time I made a conscious effort to try and snag a snippet or two on some of the things ordinarily not covered.
TUFF1 Grip Covers
The bright pink grip cover on a Chiappa Rhino caught my eye as I rounded the corner on the way to Ruger’s booth. I paused to take it in and was amused to see the grip cover had little skulls molded into it. Grip covers have been around for years, so they’re nothing new, but until that moment all of the grip covers I could recall were black and either had finger grooves or a simple texture. There are probably others like these, but this was the first time I had seen grip covers used to aesthetically customize your handgun in addition to provide a more positive gripping surface.
TUFF1 have several different texture options including snakeskin and zombies in addition to the skulls and come in several colors so you can customize the look of your handgun. If you haven’t tried a grip cover, they provide a slightly “tacky” surface that I find my hand sticks to a lot better than checkering. Some shooters say they help take the “sting” out of hard-kicking guns, but I don’t have covers on any guns I consider hard-kicking and can’t comment from experience.
These covers simply roll onto the grip frame and you can even cut them to length. They give you that one-of-a-kind look without permanently altering your gun and a better gripping surface for increased controllability. One safety note—don’t install any type of wrap-around grip cover on a gun with a grip safety. It effectively disables the safety.
A $3,500 Rifle for $1,399?
Mel Forbes is the father of the modern lightweight sporting rifle. When you speak with him, he rattles off dimensions and tolerances like a sports reporter recites batting averages and other athletic stats. His guns were originally sold under the name of Ultra Light Arms, and now as New Ultra Light Arms (NULA). He’ll make a rifle in any chambering, profile or length of pull you want, but plan on forking over a minimum of $3,500 for one of his feathery rifles that shoot bug-size groups and seem to recoil a heck of a lot less than even heavier guns in the same chambering.
Every SHOT Show I make it a point to have a pop-in at “Uncle Mel’s” booth for a few minutes to catch up on what has been happening and what new problem he has solved in the world of ultra-light, ultra-accurate hunting guns. This year, instead of showing me a gun in his booth, Forbes introduced me to Jonathan Brawn in the neighboring booth and showed me a new rifle there. Forbes and Brawn recently teamed up to produce a commercial version of Forbes’s famous Model 24 rifle, but at about half the price. The new guns are sold under the Forbes Rifles, LLC brand, with the metal work done in Westbrook, Maine, and the stocks from NULA in Granville, West Virginia.
Forbes showed me one of his custom guns side-by-side with one of the commercial guns. He interchanged parts and when shouldering the two of them I couldn’t tell the difference. When asked why I’d get on a waiting list to buy one of his custom NULA guns instead of buying the less expensive commercial version, Forbes replied that the commercial versions are available in only one configuration, one color, and chambered for .270 Win. or .30-’06. NULA guns continue to be completely custom, chambered in any cartridge you want, with different lengths of pull, barrel lengths, profiles, and finishes. Granted, at $1,399 a Forbes rifle isn’t cheap, but if you’re like me and have always wanted a do-it-all high-end gun but couldn’t swing the several thousands of dollars, this might be the gun we’ve been waiting on.
Chiappa Zombie Blaster
The Chiappa Zombie Blaster is a clever twist on their Italian made 1887 Winchester lever action shotgun. It has an 18 1/2″ barrel and a cut down, polymer stock. If you don’t want the zombie graphics but you like the gun, they do make a “T” model that is the namesake of the famous appearance of the 87 in the first Terminator movie. Fast forward to 2012 and zombies, not robots from the future, are the threat, so it was a natural evolution for this to become the next big zombie gun. The 87 copies aren’t inexpensive, over $1,000 street price, but they are ten times the gun that the Chinese Norinco 87 guns are, and they have a special 2 round loading system for SASS. We hope to get a Zombie Blaster in at some point. It is a neat gun from Chiappa.
Subject-Based Loading Books
If you’re a handloader, you’re probably familiar with the “Loadbooks USA” series of handloading manuals that take a single cartridge and give you a compilation of loading data from several bullet and powder makers. They’re great little booklets, and having them caliber-specific is great if you shoot only that caliber. But what if you shoot a “family” of chamberings?
New this year, Lyman introduced a series of loading booklets that consider cartridges as groups, or families. Some of those groups are what you’d expect, such as one manual covering .24-, .25-cal. and 6.5mm rifle cartridges. The really cool ones though, I think are ones that group cartridges differently from what I’ve ever seen like the one on “Big Bore Rifle” or “Old Military Rifle Calibers.” Think about it—one manual dedicated to loads for your World War I collection of ‘03 Springfield, Moisin-Nagant and S.M.L.E. rifles—and being Lyman, the manuals also cover cast bullets. While enthusiasm for shooting cast bullets in centerfire rifles less than .40-cal. mostly died with with the late Col. Harrison, there are still some of us who do it, and if this economy doesn’t turn around, more shooters will try cast bullets.
Every year, Matt Foster over at KleenBore almost never fails to give me one of those “Ah-ha!” moments when he’s showing me something new at SHOT Show. This year it was their variation on the pull-through type of bore cleaner—the CableKleen.
Pull thorough cleaners are pretty useful tools, but some need to be washed occasionally while others need specially cut patches. The CableKleen doesn’t need washing and it uses standard disposable patches. The cool thing is that you can configure a CableKleen to have a patch on either side of the bore brush. That arrangement lets you lay down a little solvent to lubricate the brush, and with the same pull, wipe out the loosened fouling and lay down a new layer of solvent to work on the fouling for the next pull.
There are several variations of the CableKleen kit, including one specifically made to cover all of your cleaning needs in 3-Gun competition. There is also a dedicated rimfire CableKleen with a brush that actually fits through the tiny ejection port on .22 semi-auto pistols.
Concealable Subsonic/Supersonic Suppressed Sniper System
I was taking a shortcut through McMillans booth when the sight of this gun stopped me like a clock. A picture really is worth 1,000 words on McMillan’s new CS5. The one shown here is the “Stubby.” It’s a .308 Win.-chambered bolt-action rifle with a 12-inch barrel that’s only 23 ½ inches long when disassembled. Put all of the pieces together, and the Stubby spans a full 38 inches. These guns are modeled after the Tubb 2000 and are sold as compact and concealable precision tactical rifles. You can especially see the Tubb influence on the buttstock that is infinitely adjustable to fit any shooter from any shooting position. When not in use, the buttstock latches onto a section of rail near the ejection port.
The CS5 is set up to use SR-25-type magazines and fire either supersonic ammunition or subsonic ammunition with a suppressor. Since subsonic loads tend to use heavy-for-caliber bullets, the Shorty’s barrel has a 1:8-inch twist to stabilize longer projectiles. Both loads are guaranteed to produce 0.75 MOA groups. At $6,500 the “Stubby” comes with a suppressor and all NFA rules apply. Clearly the targeted market for the Stubby is military or law enforcement where space is limited and there is even less room for compromise.
Even if you’re not military, LE, or have your NFA paperwork, you can get close to the Shorty via McMillan’s CS5 “Standard.” At $5,500 the suppressor on this model is optional and the barrel is increased to 18 ½ inches. Reasoning that the Standard will see more supersonic than subsonic loads fired through it, the barrel has a 1:11-inch twist.