SHOT SHOW 2011 Preview

The day before SHOT show (SHOT is the biggest outdoor industry convention in the country) Smith and Wesson invited a group of writers to shoot its newest guns and see its latest products.
SHOT Show is hosted in Las Vegas, so on Monday morning myself and a bunch of other outdoor writers made the trip to American Shooters range, which is just a few minutes from the Vegas strip.
American Shooters has a gun range and a store full of tactical equipment and guns. As you can see, they take the Second Amendment pretty seriously.
Unfortunately we didn't get to shoot this baby at the range.
But we did get to shoot Smith and Wesson's M&P 15. Chambered in .223, this gun is really fun to shoot. Smith and Wesson makes a variety of M&P tactical rifles that range from about $1,000 up to about $2,000.
The M&P 15-22 is chambered in .22LR and is a sweet shooter. Ripping 10 rounds out of this gun in seconds is nothing.
Here's the range at American Shooters where all the guns were put through their paces.
If you've never shot an AR before, it's worth your time. Slaton White, Editor of Shot Business, showed me the ropes and soon I was sending rounds down range.
Despite their complex looks, ARs are actually simple guns when it comes down to it. The most noticeable difference to me between ARs and more traditional big-game hunting rifles is your ability to stay on a target and fire multiple rounds accurately and quickly. This is a big reason why they've become a sweetheart at shooting ranges everywhere.
I'd love to take credit for the holes through that orange bullseye, but I suspect they probably belong to Slaton. (For the record, some other shooters had their way with this target before we did, so I'm not going to take credit for all the shots around the outer ring).
Smith and Wesson also had its 1911s on display. The 1911 has been one of the best and most reliable handguns on the market for 100 years.
Smith and Wesson offers at least 16 different models of 1911 chambered in both .45 ACP and 9mm. The thing that struck me about this gun right away was how sharp it looked.
Fitted with a laser site, these guns were a blast to shoot. After all these years the 1911 hasn't lost a step. (If you look closely at the target, you can see the red dot hovering just next to the bullseye).
Maybe the most enjoyable gun to shoot at the range was this little M&P .22.
The handgun has so little recoil that you can just bring it up and let it rip.
Walther also attended range day and here is its PPQ. The most intriguing feature on the PPQ is its quick defense trigger system. The trigger has a 5-pound pull and only a .1-inch reset. You can actually feel when the trigger resets, and the idea is that this will give you a more confident and quicker response on your second shot.
9mm hollow points anyone?
But the Belle of the Ball was the Smith and Wesson Governor. This bulldog of a handgun can handle a .410 shotshell, .45 ACP or .45 colt rounds. The coolest part is that the gun can handle a combination of these loads at once.
The gun is compatible with a laser site which is a deadly combination with the .410 load. It's literally point and click. But one thing we did find out about the gun was that it wouldn't load .410 shotshells easily after it was fired many times and got dirty.
This is Thompson Center's new .22LR. This is a perfect single-shot gun to get kids started on shooting. The pink stock is designed to appeal to younger girls.
Thompson Center was also showing off its new Weather Shield material. The company says that Weather Shield is 50 times more corrosion resistant than Stainless Steel. Weather Shield is available in the Icon, Triumph and Omega Z-5 models.
Performance Center turned out three brand new handguns for 2011. Here is its .17 HMR Varminter. Never thought of using a handgun for varmint hunting before? Think again.
This is the 629 Hunter from Performance Center. It was designed specifically for wild boar hunting and sports a sight that switches from red dot to green dot, with the press of a button.
Then there's Performance Center's 460 with a 14-inch barrel. The marketing guy I talked to said I should shoot this at a can of corn or an elephant to understand just how powerful it is. I think he was joking about the elephant, but I'm not sure.
There were more than guns on display at the shooting range. Bushnell had a wide range of optics there including this item, which has the capabilities to give you color night vision.
Here's the BackTrack GPS. It's an incredibly simple GPS that allows you to store up to five different locations. It also also measures temperature and altitude.
Coleman had a line of new products that featured a chargeable battery pack. You can use the battery pack with all of these items, including a portable cellphone charger.
One of the coolest lights was the magnetic tent lamp. On the back of the light is a magnet, and you simply put the light on the inside of your tent with the opposite magnet on the outside of your tent, which anchors it to the ceiling.
Crimson Trace had a variety of laser sights that were compatible with Smith and Wesson guns. The sights make it easy for you to shoot quickly and accurately in a defense situation when proper shooting form generally goes out the window. Not to mention, they were really fun to use on the range.
Last but not least is Bushnell's new spotting scope, the Legend Ultra HD 15-45X60. It was designed for backcountry hunting trips and is a mid-size spotter with a wide field of view. Price: $400

Before shot show even started we got a sneak peek at some of the new guns from Smith and Wesson. Here's what you'll see on the range in 2011.